Stepping out of your comfort zone

Show notes:

Today I’m chatting with Bernadette Chapman. Having spent 21 years in the wedding industry and being the sole founder of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, recently Bernadette has made some big business decisions. We dive deep into how she has stepped away from the career she loves, the state of the wedding industry in 2024 and how we can all strive to be better at the business of weddings.

Time stamps:

Procrastination and Subconscious Resistance (00:00:00) Explanation of why people procrastinate and resist change due to subconscious fear.

Introduction to Bernadette Chapman (00:00:24) Becca Pountney introduces Bernadette Chapman, a veteran in the wedding planning industry, and discusses her experience and insights.

Starting a Wedding Planning Business in the Pre-Internet Era (00:01:36) Bernadette Chapman shares her experience of starting a wedding planning business before the internet era, including the challenges and lack of resources.

Challenges of Getting First Clients (00:05:04) Discussion about the challenges of getting the first wedding planning clients and the unexpected experience of Bernadette’s first wedding.

Launch of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (00:10:07) Bernadette discusses the reasons for launching the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners and its impact on the industry.

Common Mistakes in Wedding Planning Business (00:12:42) Insights into the common mistakes wedding planners make, including overemphasis on aesthetics and the importance of training and education.

The Misconception of Instant Success in the Wedding Industry (00:15:37) Discussion about the misconception of instant success in the wedding industry and the importance of hard work, experience, and adaptation.

Importance of Onboarding for a Smooth Client Experience (00:19:26) Bernadette emphasizes the importance of onboarding for creating a positive first impression, setting boundaries, and automating processes for a smoother client experience.

The importance of quick response and automation (00:22:04) Clients’ expectations for immediate answers, automation systems, and quick processes in the wedding planning business.

Efficient onboarding process (00:24:01) Creating a smooth and quick onboarding process for clients, including proposal, contract, deposit, and welcome email.

Using systems to streamline processes (00:25:16) Discussion about using software and systems to automate processes, making it easier for clients to pay and streamline operations.

Challenges and decision to close the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (00:27:20) The emotional impact and reasons behind the decision to close the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners after 21 years, including the need for joy and the toll of emotional support.

Reflections on entrepreneurship and business decisions (00:32:06) The pressure to grow a business, the importance of finding joy in one’s work, and the freedom to create a business that aligns with personal values.

Moving forward and building connections (00:39:08) Plans for business consultancy, in-person workshops, and coffee mornings focused on building connections and helping wedding businesses scale.

Understanding and overcoming procrastination (00:41:18) Insights into recognizing and addressing subconscious barriers leading to procrastination in business ventures.

The mindset and procrastination (00:42:41) Discussion on the mindset and procrastination leading to lack of confidence and the importance of delegating tasks.

Overcoming procrastination (00:43:53) Speaker 2 shares personal strategies for overcoming procrastination and the importance of self-reflection.

Recognizing imperfection (00:44:54) The importance of recognizing imperfection and overcoming imposter syndrome in business.

Promoting business outside social media (00:45:28) The availability of a free workbook for promoting businesses outside of social media and the importance of exploring other marketing strategies.


Bernadette: You start to talk yourself out of it and the reason why is because it’s easier to stay where it’s safe. So our subconscious is telling us, don’t do that thing because that’s a bit scary. So just stay where you are and it will be fine. Just keep doing what you’ve always been doing. We don’t need to do anything different.

And so because of that, that’s why we’re procrastinating.

Becca: I’m Becca Pountney, wedding business marketing expert, speaker and blogger, and you’re listening to the Wedding Pros Who Are Ready To Grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level.

If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today, I’m chatting with Bernadette Chapman. This lady really knows weddings, having launched her wedding planning business back in 2002 before social media.

And when very few people even had a website. Over her 21 years in the industry, Bernadette has seen it all and she’s got many stories to tell. In 2004, Bernadette launched the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, promoting professionalism across the industry and has been a spokesperson for our industry ever since.

She is truly fabulous and I always love chatting to her. Bernadette, welcome to the podcast.

Bernadette: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here chatting with you, Becca.

Becca: It’s a pleasure. It’s been a long time coming. We were saying before I hit record, we’ve been back and forward about arranging this podcast, but we finally found a time that we can both do, and it’s great to be here.

So excited. Now, I love that in your bio online, it talks about when you first started your wedding planning business before the internet. And I always get people to go back to the start of their journeys on this podcast. So take me back to this time that can’t even really remembered. existed pre internet and starting a wedding business.

How did you end up doing that?

Bernadette: Yeah, I think so. Back, back in the day when I was oh, so much younger, in my early twenties, I worked for an American blue chip corporation, used to chat with, you know, the PAs in America, and they would talk about their weddings and having wedding planners. At the time I was planning my wedding and being a planner, I’d already mapped out having children and all of that.

And I thought I didn’t want to go back to the city and it just planted a little seed in my head. And so I started doing as much research as I could, which actually was a bit difficult because as you touched on, there were no websites to look at, there were no training courses, there, there was nothing.

And in fact, I think all I did was subscribe to Martha Stewart’s magazine and get it shipped to me from America because there was nowhere to buy it in the UK. So That kind of planted the seed and then when I was on maternity leave, after I’d had my first son, he was six months old, that’s when I launched.

So, which is kind of crazy when I think about it now, when I knew nothing about the industry, but I put a website out there, And I remember visiting a local wedding fair and it just was all really surreal. I mean, you didn’t know about any wedding planners. Back then it was hitched, so it was actually hitched that started getting me introduced to other, other wedding planners very slowly.

So yeah, it’s, it’s crazy to think about it now that, yeah, that the only way ready to chat to people was either at a wedding fair or on a chat forum.

Becca: Yeah, it’s, it’s just crazy. And I think, I actually love that you started your business before this, because it means that you understand all the other ways to get business that aren’t just what people talk about now, which is just go on Instagram, just go on TikTok, go on social media.

Actually, there’s a whole load of other stuff you can do. I’m imagining you like flicking through the yellow pages, looking for people to contact.

Bernadette: It’s, but you know, you, you did. I mean, you know, with everything you did. I mean, I. I remember when county wedding magazines launched, you know, they have all the regional magazines.

So they started with an Essex wedding, and I found out they were going to be at Lakeside Shopping Centre, which is a big shopping mall in Essex. And so I dragged my husband and young baby to Lakeside Shopping Centre. and pretty much pounced on the editor. I was like, hey, can I write for you? And I wrote for them for years until they stopped having, you know, outside, outside writers.

But that’s what you did. You went out and you hustled and you got the business. You didn’t just sit in your little home office with your beautiful website and your beautiful Instagram profile. And expect the business to come to you, you thought about how is it I can get those clients. See,

Becca: so talk to me about that then because that’s one of the struggles I think when people start any wedding business is getting those first clients.

They think, yeah, I’m going to start this business. I’m going to be a planner or I’m going to be a florist, a cake maker. How did you get your first wedding planning clients?

Bernadette: God, how did she find me? I still remember her name Natasha and Tom and so I launched my business in, at the end of 2002. They hired me maybe the very start of 2003 and they were getting married that year and I did everything.

I’m trying to, they probably, Maybe it was just going on the search engines because there would have been no one else around. I mean, there would have been no one in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, I mean, pretty much I would have been it. And I remember meeting with her and saying to her, you know, I am new and I still remember her saying to me, Well that’s okay because you’re going to do, you’re going to try even harder then aren’t you?

And she was absolutely right. But the funny thing about this wedding though, it was only afterwards that I realised okay this wasn’t normal. Like she, because I didn’t know this obviously, but I did everything. She wasn’t interested in choosing her readings or her hymns, she wasn’t interested in choosing the flowers.

So I was in charge of everything. She, she didn’t care. She didn’t care. She hired me, just go and do it, Bernadette. And it was only on the wedding day I was thinking, why if she doesn’t like what I’ve done? And it was only obviously later I realized, okay, that’s not normal. That’s not normal. That’s not normally what happens.

A wedding couple will normally choose what they want. I’m just facilitating it. But actually my very first wedding I chose everything. That’s brilliant.

Becca: It’s like you were on your own episode of Don’t Tell the Bride where you were planning someone else’s wedding without them knowing anything about it and hoping they liked it on the day.

Bernadette: I mean, I’ve had a few like that. I’ve probably had two more like that and I always find it really strange. But, and the other thing that I always remember is at this wedding, again, I didn’t really know how you were supposed to dress. And so I was dressed like a wedding guest, which was a mistake, because people thought I was a wedding guest.

I mean, I looked beautiful in my little lilac number. I still remember. I think lilac skirt, like a lilac lace top. That was a mistake, but I remember, I remember insulting auntie, and I said, oh, you must be grandma. Because I was expecting grandma with a Like a walking stick, mobility, because we’ve been, I’ve been told about that.

How dare you? I’m not grandma. I’m, I’m the auntie. And another thing, don’t send invitations out to auntie and uncle. And I had to say to, I know you would normally do to Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Smith, but the, the bride really wanted to do it to auntie. She hated me. She absolutely hated me. And that was my very first wedding.

So my very first wedding, I had an auntie. Who hated me and made sure that I knew it.

Becca: I love that though, Bernadette, because it just is a reminder to everyone listening. Everyone starts somewhere, whether they are really well established, everyone has to have their first wedding. And what I really like from what you said is that bride’s attitude, that actually being new isn’t a bad thing.

Being new means you’ll try extra hard. And I think often there’s this perception that In wedding planning and across the industry that I’m never going to be ready. When can I possibly do my first wedding? People won’t like the fact that I’m new. And I think that’s a really fresh perspective to have. Yes.

Bernadette: Yeah. I mean, as, as you know, Becca, you know, the second business I launched was the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners and I. trained wedding planners, which again is crazy because I started training wedding planners when I still knew myself. But there was, there were lessons that I learned that I made sure my students knew and one, never assume it’s, it’s grandma because it might be auntie.

And the second thing is, it’s never going to be perfect. And if you wait for something to be perfect or for you to know everything, it’s never going to happen. And in fact, it doesn’t matter what business you have. And I’m sure you’ve come across. People that take course after course and work with coach after coach, read books, listen to podcasts, but they never implement what they’ve learned and they never actually take action.

And if you wait for something to be perfect before doing it, it’s, you’re never going to do it. I know people that Say they’re going to be a wedding planner and I know they will never be a wedding planner because they’re concentrating too much in learning everything first.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. Done is better than perfect every single time.

There’s no point being perfect if you don’t ever do anything. So you mentioned there about the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners. It’s what you have been most known for over the last, you know, years. Yeah. Why did you start it? Where did that idea come from and what was your goals for it?

Bernadette: Yeah, so I mentioned at the start how really the only way you could chat to people was on hitched because social media wasn’t around.

So you would have a web directory. So there was hitched and I think confetti, that was the very, pretty much the only ones. And they had chat forums. And so I would answer couples questions in these chat forums, but also I’d begun to build up relationships with planners that were beginning to launch and so there was one planner We were chatting and we both used to get people contacting us to say One of two things one.

I want to be a wedding planner. Can you tell me how to do it? That was one thing that was happening again and again, and we just kept giving advice all the time And then the second thing that happened is I was having wedding couples come to me in tears to say that they’d hired a wedding planner and they hadn’t turned up on the day, they’d given money, that money hadn’t, they hadn’t booked the stationer, they hadn’t booked the cake and so that was frustrating me because there was nothing to differentiate me from them.

So really it’s those two things were the catalyst and so that’s why we, that’s why we launched. It started with doing like a one day course. And then that one day course became a two day course and that two day course became, we launched another course. We had two two day courses and then loads of mini courses and a membership that completely thrived.

We held really the first seminar for the wedding industry called Wedding Planning Excellence. This is way before coaches were a thing. It was way before any kind of workshops or seminars. There was nowhere ready for you to learn business for, for the wedding industry. There just wasn’t. So, yeah, and I’m, I’m very proud of what we’ve done and I was chatting to some past members yesterday, actually, and They said how, how much of an impact the Alliance has had on them personally, but also in terms of their business.

And I’m very proud of everything that I achieved in the 19 years.

Becca: And you absolutely should be. You were a leading light. You led the way in education and you set standards high. You, you made sure that people were getting the best and that they understood what being a planner was. Now, in your time, you’ve worked with a lot of planners over those 19 years.

I’d love to know what are some of the common mistakes that you see planners making or have seen planners making over that time?

Bernadette: Okay. So I would say one of the common mistakes in recent years, has been putting too much emphasis on what I call the pretty. So beautiful aesthetics, the most amazing website, you know, beautiful images on their social media, but they don’t actually have any understanding of who they’re targeting, where they sit in the market.

They don’t know, they don’t really know how to market. Now you are an exceptional marketer, you know all about marketing and we can’t be expected to know everything, can we? And I get that. But I think, I think that is one issue that I see, is that they think that pretty images will bring them clients, and it doesn’t work like that.

And I think the, I think the, the other issue is, and I think this is a society thing, perhaps. And I’m not saying that you have to do a training course, but there definitely is a difference in the quality of planners. who have taken careful consideration into their training. Now a training course doesn’t make you suddenly an expert at that thing, but what it did is like our courses taught the reality of wedding planning, of how to price your services, what services to offer, you know, how to do a consultation.

So we took them through everything, and that, it’s not that that made them an amazing planner, it took them on that journey. And as a result, honestly, Many of the top planners in the UK have come through that. Not because of the Alliance, but because they took their education seriously and implemented it.

And I think that’s, yeah. And it’s, I don’t want to come across as I’m saying that you have to do a training course to be successful. You don’t. I think it’s the, it’s more their mindset that they wanted to learn, but then implement. And then they flew. They just flew.

Becca: Yeah. And it comes back to what we were saying earlier, really about being an action taker, because often the people that do the best are the people that learn and do as they learn, but also the people that are not afraid to get their hands dirty and will go and get the experience or go and work in a venue.

Shadow a caterer or another planner.

Bernadette: And, and actually that’s a really good point. So it kind of leads on to what, what I said. I think, I guess social media has got a lot to answer for. Because the thing is, people will look at Pinterest and Instagram of other planners and there’ll be, Oh my God, it looks amazing.

You know, that, and they feel that, that, that is really easy. And they feel that that top planner has almost just like woken up one day and gone, Oh, I’m the most best planner in the UK now, you know. But they have the grit and determination and tenacity, like I’ve seen them, them grow. That didn’t happen overnight.

You know, it, it, they did the stout shoots, they did the shadowing for other planners. They did the on the date coordination. They did the partial planning before they got the full planning. They did the minimum fee for planning weddings until they were getting the six figure weddings. You know, it, it didn’t happen overnight.

And I think that’s the problem. And I think that’s not just in the wedding sector. I think because you see, you see obviously the beautiful images and you think it’s possible instantly, but you also see the stories online of, you know, make 100k in 24 hours and, you know, all those kind of things. That I think it puts unrealistic expectations.

They think it’s easy and no business is easy, is it? And also, I mean, I could talk about this for hours, but you’ve got to realize that you’ve got to adapt because business changes, recessions hit, pandemics hit. Trends change and you’ve got to flow with it. Like, you know, Instagram is, is declining. And so all those people that were putting all that emphasis on Instagram are now panicking.

I was actually going to swear then. I don’t normally swear, do I? But they are panicking because they’re not too sure how to market themselves now. Because that’s what they did and it’s not working for them.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. Hard work is, is often unseen but is so important. And I think that’s why I love doing this podcast and talking to people about their stories and going right back to the beginning.

Because I think from the outside people can look like an idiot. overnight success, if that is such a thing, but actually what they don’t see is all of the steps on that journey to get there. So if you’re listening to this and you are new, it’s not an impossible dream, but equally you’ve got to put in the work, you’ve got to do the learning, you’ve got to get the education, you’ve got to get the experience, build those connections up and put in the hard work and down the line you’ll look back on that journey and realize how far you’ve come.

Bernadette: Yeah, and I think also, you know, the trouble is sometimes. like say wedding planners, not just wedding planners, but say a new wedding planner launches with that beautiful website and the beautiful, you know, social media and everything. And they’ve done a styled shoe. And so, you know, the images of that, and they, they think they can charge What the top planner is charging and and you know and part of me thinks well, yeah, okay You know, you don’t have to be cheap because you’re new Absolutely, you don’t but they wonder why they’re not getting the bookends Well, they’re not getting the bookends because you don’t have the proof of it yet You, you gotta kind of be in the trenches for a little bit.

Generally speaking, there’s always exceptions to the rule, but yeah, you’ve gotta, you gotta get rough and ready and dirty to build up to that. So just having that luxurious website does not mean you’re instantly going to get those clients.

Becca: Yeah. Really helpful reminder. Now, one of the things that I know you’re passionate about talking about is onboarding.

And I think that leads nicely from what I talk about, because obviously I talk about marketing, attracting the clients, closing the sale, and then I kind of let people go off into the distance and do their own thing, but that’s not my bag, but actually that is a really important part of this business journey, although often our clients will only use us once.

They’ll recommend us onto their friends and we need to give them the best experience. So when you talk to planners about this, you know, they’ve signed the contract, now what? What are your biggest pieces of advice to make that smooth?

Bernadette: Yeah, I think first of all is recognizing that business is tougher. So although it’s easier in one way for wedding planners now because of websites, because of social media and all of that.

On the other hand, it is harder because there is more competition. And so you have to ensure that you are standing out. So you’re standing out through your touch points. So ensuring that your, your messaging, which is obviously what, what you cover. So your messaging, your brand identity and all of that stands out, but then it’s about that consistency throughout.

So let’s assume someone wants to then work with you. How do you create that journey? You want to make a really good first impression of what it’s going to be like to work with you. Instead of. Like a hot mess, you know, you don’t want them to suddenly regret Working with you. You’re supposed to make their life easier.

So the onboarding is Helping you create that first impression. It’s helping you set boundaries Which is so important because wedding planners can have a tendency to Over deliver. So if you set boundaries in that onboarding process That makes it much smoother. And, but also if you can automate part of that, it makes you look more professional.

It ensures that nothing is forgotten, but also it helps your profitability because you can now spend your time attracting new clients and also serving the clients that you have. So it has so many benefits for you. Because I think sometimes. there can be sort of like a misconception that you just assume that your client knows everything.

Use an example. So in the wedding industry, we know that OOS means order of service. You know, other people won’t necessarily know that. And I think we need to remember that we can’t assume that they know. We also can’t assume that they’re going to read the website where you’ve answered all of those questions.

So in an onboarding process, you can, for example, pre schedule. emails that is answering questions before they ask the questions. So they’re not bugging you in the nicest possible way. But then they think, Oh, this is so amazing. It’s like, I don’t even have to ask. They’ve already answered it. And that goes across the board, not just wedding planners, but all businesses.

If you can preempt what are normally asked beforehand and schedule those emails, it’ll make your life easier.

Becca: And I think as well in the world that we’re living in, we’re used to getting answers immediately. We’re used to having systems that automate and that we can log into and we can see our client portal and we’re getting lazier as consumers because everything is at our fingertips and therefore our clients are probably going through the same thing with us.

They forget that it’s just us running a business. They think that we’re one of the big Corporations they’re used to working with every day.

Bernadette: Yeah, and okay, I’m gonna liken this to, like, not connected to the wedding industry, by the way, but as an example, recently I needed to hire a carpenter, okay, to fit a couple doors in my home, and I hate the telephone.

I just don’t like talking. I actually love chatting on video, but I don’t like talking on the phone. And so put a shout out in my local Facebook group, a social media manager who works with someone tagged her client. I went onto his page on his Facebook page, liked what he did. There was the option to WhatsApp.

I WhatsApp him. He comes back straight away, tells me he’s available. I sent him pictures of the area. He tells me his price. Boom. Like the whole process was less than an hour. Compared to a lot of tradesmen that would say, What if you call me? I’ll give you a quote. Or I’ll come out and visit. Like, you’ve lost my interest.

And it’s a similar thing with wedding businesses, like you want to be quick, you want to get that contract out quick, you want to make it easy for them to sign. None of this printing your contract and sending it in the post like I did in 2002, like get with it. It should be, like if I was going to create an onboarding process, let’s say for a wedding planner, it would be a proposal is sent.

In that proposal, they have the option to accept it. That brings up the contract. The client then signs the contract. That then triggers the deposit invoice. Client then pays the deposit invoice. That then triggers a welcome email. That welcome email is setting the boundaries. It’s telling them what they can expect.

It’s giving them access to either a client portal like old planner or Google drive. If you’re keeping it simple, doesn’t matter. Either option works, you know? And so if you’re doing that, it’s smooth, it’s quick. And that’s what people are expecting. And I think it’s the same as. Sometimes wedding planners, their call to action is book a call.

But, sometimes, someone may not want to jump on a call with you yet. They’re still seeing if you’re the right person, so you have to ensure the marketing touch point. I’ll get in them with different call to action. Keep them on your website, getting them looking at your portfolio, getting them looking at your testimonials and all those things before it’s booking a call.

And I think this is why I always say to my clients, look, review your business every 90 days, what’s working, what isn’t working and tweak and adapt because what worked one quarter won’t work the next quarter. And as you said, people are lazy. You need to make it as easy for them as you can.

Becca: Yeah. And I think people might be listening to you talking about onboarding and panicking and thinking that sounds like a lot of work, but actually there’s loads of systems out there that will make this easier for you.

I’m actually trialing a new wedding. Pro system at the moment which I’ll be talking about more soon, where it does this stuff for you. And you can even pay someone to set it up for you. Like at the agency that I have, Wedding Pro Agency, we’ll set it up for you. And what you can do is you put all your clients in there and this system I’m trialing, I keep going back to them to try and, you know, Cause I want them to make it as easy as possible so that you can send a contract.

They can literally accept it, sign it, and then pay now on Apple pay the deposit. So they don’t even have to go and get their card out. You don’t even have to have the paper invoice. The easier we can make it for people to pay for things. The quicker they will do it. So if you’re listening to this and thinking that sounds amazing, do some research.

There’s so much software out there. There’s people that will help you get this set up. And once it’s set up, you can use it time and time again, and it will actually save you time in the future. So, so good.

Bernadette: Yeah. I mean, you, you’ve got obviously two ways of doing this. You’ve got, you know, as we know, platforms that will do not just this, but so much more for your business.

But even if you’re starting out, you know, you’ve got email systems that, you know, for example, like MailerLite, that doesn’t cost anything, or it’s very minimal, and you can have a lot set up even just within that. So, if you don’t have the funds for A CRM system right now. There are still ways that you can automate most of this to make it easy.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. I’m a big advocate of MailerLite. So I think there’s actually a podcast episode. If you go back a few, all about MailerLite. So if that’s of interest, you go and find that in the podcast player. Now, Bernadette. At the end of last year, you made what I would say was a shocking announcement.

I could not believe it. So when I saw it myself, I think someone’s screenshot it and sent it to me. And you announced that you were actually closing the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, which was just unbelievable to me after so long. So talk to us about that decision. I’m sure it was a huge decision for you and why you made that decision.

Bernadette: Yeah, and it’s interesting because actually this wasn’t a quick decision, but boy did it send shockwaves through the industry. Like the messages I was getting and people almost in tears. Who’s going to hold the industry accountable now? You know, people were genuinely worried about who and, and that’s part of the reason why I closed.

So I am very proud of what I’ve done, setting standards in the industry, training over a thousand wedding planners. During the pandemic, I was pretty much being interviewed every single day. I was supporting people emotionally and practically, I’m sure you were as well. But I’m a big believer in if it doesn’t bring you joy anymore, then you shouldn’t be doing it.

And in 2019, I had, I remember standing at our annual mix and mingle, which was we were celebrating 15 years. 15 year anniversary. It was amazing. And I remember standing there thinking, this will be the last mix and mingle. I mean, actually it was, but for different reasons, but I remember thinking, this is it next year.

I would have sold my business and then obviously 2020 happened. So then I had to put a pause on that supported members and not just members. I had X members, X students calling me in distress and likewise with 2021. And then, so then I started the process of getting everything ready to sell it, getting my sops ready and all of that.

And, and I realised I just was procrastinating and I wasn’t doing it. And, I kept sort of speaking to my husband, like I felt this duty to keep the alliance going. The thought of closing it just made me cry. Still. Makes me choked now. Phew! It wasn’t an easy decision. Oh God, I’m going to cry on your podcast, Becca.

Becca: It’s okay. You can, you can be vulnerable because I can see it was a huge decision. And this is difficult. These are difficult decisions. And this is the important stuff because people are making difficult decisions in their business all of the time.

Bernadette: Yeah. And, and the thing is, It was nothing to do with money at all.

I mean, I closed down a business with multiple passive incomes. You know, daily sales on not just membership, but courses and downloads. I had so much passive income. But I’m nuts. You know, like, people are like, why, why are you doing it? And I felt like I had a decision I either had to go big and like really grow it, but I just, I just didn’t want to, that didn’t bring me joy.

And, and really the ultimate thing is when I launched, there was nothing, nothing. There was no memberships, there was no industry bodies apart from. Maybe photographers. But there was, you know, there was nothing, nowhere to get support for your business, nowhere to train, to be a wedding planner. And there were no seminars when I was doing seminars.

There were no workshops when I was hosting workshops. There were no coffee mornings when I started doing coffee mornings. None of it, like, there’s been so many firsts. And I felt, like, the big thing with the with the alliance, it was never about getting big. And I’ve said this time and time again, and I know that’s what a lot of membership models are based on, that wasn’t my membership model.

My membership model was about us being a family. It was about a community. It was about us supporting each other. And I noticed that was declining and that was declining because there are so many other memberships out there. Now there are so that Facebook and Instagram and da da da, that I just felt that it wasn’t needed and, and that I launched it because it was needed and I didn’t think it was needed anymore.

And it didn’t bring me joy anymore. Though I, I wanted to streamline. I wanted to know what it was like to have just one business for goodness sake. I hadn’t run one biz, I’d only run one business for just under two years. Between 2002 and 2004. When most of my time was spent being a, like, young mum. I wanted to experience what’s it like just to run one business.

And, and I think there’s so much pressure sometimes to go big, to, you know, be a multi millionaire, to go big, to launch another business, launch another service. And actually I didn’t, I didn’t really want that anymore. I’ve been there, done that. I was talking to Nicola from Proposed PR just yesterday, who’s been my PR agent.

And I said, do you know what? Towards the end, I was being interviewed on TV and I didn’t really tell people about it. I mean, I’ve been featured in every single broadsheet. here in the UK. I, you know, and I was just like, so blasé about it. And that’s not right, is it? And when I closed my wedding planning business down, it’s because it didn’t bring me joy anymore after 19 years.

When I closed the Alliance down, it didn’t bring me joy. But it was hard, and it was hard because of the emotional support that I gave to so many. And actually that took a bit of a toll on my health, particularly during the pandemic. Because I emotionally helped so many people. And, and it’s hard to say no if someone, if someone’s crying and you’re supporting them.

Like, how can you say no? I need to actually do stuff that’s bringing money into my business, but instead I was spending hours and hours and hours giving emotional support to people.

Becca: And that’s the side of the business that people don’t see. And I know that because I have my own course of membership, but it is mentally exhausting.

It is draining. It’s. Hard work. And this is why I love you, Bernadette, because I think me and you are on the same page with our values and our ethos, you know, for me, my stuff’s always been about community and there is so much pressure to, you know, be bigger and brighter and charge more and all of these things and, and.

it’s hard to kind of push that away and go, no, I’m just going to be authentically me and do the things that bring me joy. And I think that’s an important message you’ve shared today with people because actually that is the most important thing in our lives. Because if we’re not finding joy in what we’re doing, we’re just spending our lives serving other people for money.

That, that doesn’t. Give us any, you know, like that’s not fun for anybody. And actually sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones that we have to make. And actually, although other people might want us to keep it going, you know, there’s things I’ve done where people say, why aren’t you still doing that?

And I think because actually it doesn’t fit in with what I’m doing now. It doesn’t fit with my family. It doesn’t fit with my life. And although I know you want it and you’ll pay for it, actually, that’s not the most important thing.

Bernadette: And it’s, and really one of the reasons why I didn’t sell it in the end, I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone with it.

Because of all the messages that I was getting, I thought, how can I possibly give that legacy to somebody? And what if I completely, well I’m going to swear now, shit all over that legacy. So, you know, I don’t need that, I don’t need to sell it. I, I, I don’t, you know, financially, we don’t need that. Me to sell the alliance.

We don’t I’m quite happy about it. Just sit in there so, you know, it is closed down. I won’t reopen it But I won’t sell it unless it was the right person that approached me because it’s it’s not right and I think There is all that pressure on business owners now, you know to to launch passive Income, it may not be right for them.

I think there’s a misconception that running a membership is easy It It really isn’t a lot, you know, I had a lot of support in my in my business to help run the alliance You know, I had a social media manager. I had a v. a You know, I had a graphic designer I mean, it’s there was a big team of people and there was so you know so much to help that membership tick over and I think people don’t realize that and I think It’s important for, for, for businesses to understand that it’s okay to create a business that’s right for them.

You do not have to be like anyone else like I never wanted to do destination weddings I couldn’t I had children and I didn’t have that sort of support that would be able to look after my children So I had no interest in doing destination weddings and I think it’s it’s okay to create a business that’s right for you I’ve spoken to a photographer the other day and she only works in a very small area where she is She doesn’t, she’s got a young baby.

She’s not interested in going further and that’s okay. If you want to just work in your town, just work in your town. If you want to work across the UK, work across the UK. If you want to work abroad, work abroad. If you want to close the business down, close the business down.

Becca: Absolutely. And I think that’s such an important message for people to reflect on.

And if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking actually my business isn’t bringing me joy anymore. Take. Take a moment to think about why that is. Is it because you’re just burnt out? Right? We all have those moments where we have a moment where we go, I’m just going to quit it all and go on holiday.

And then, you know, we take a rest and then we realize actually that’s not what we want to do. Or is it actually a deeper thing? Is this a recurring thing? And is there things that you can change? Is it that you actually decide to do? Less weddings in a year, or you do add in a second income stream that brings you joy, or is there something completely different?

I’ve got a photographer at the moment who is continuing with photography, but is also doing some crafting things on the side because it brings her joy. And although she knows it probably won’t make her loads of money, it’s another income stream that she enjoys doing. And that’s okay. There’s no one size fits all model.

Bernadette: No. And you know, at the end of the day, this is why you become an entrepreneur, isn’t it? So you’re not working for someone else. So you can do what you want to do. You can work the hours that you want to do. You know, take, if you want to take so many weeks off holiday a year, do it. It’s, it should be something that’s right for you.

Because if it isn’t right for you, it’s not going to work. And that’s the thing, so, Wedding planning was right for me for 19 years until it wasn’t. You know, the UKWP was right for me for so many years until it wasn’t. And I’ve written a blog post on this before that apparently we all have five careers in us.

Nice. I read. I know. I was quite interested in that little statistic. I love a statistic. And so it’s, you know, it’s okay if you want to, you know, I’ve, like, I think of like the wedding planners I’ve trained, ex lawyers, ex teachers, ex police women, you know, a huge range of careers that have decided, and they would have been earning substantially but they decided no, I want to be, I want to be creative.

I want to be a wedding planner and that’s okay. And they may do it forever, but they may do it for five years. They may do it for 10 years. They may do it for 19 years.

Becca: So Benedette, what’s next for you? Because you’re not off the scene entirely. You’re still around, you’re still in and around the industry.

So what, what is it that’s bringing you joy now? Where are you taking your business over the next couple of years?

Bernadette: Yeah, so when I I’m a big believer in reflecting and thinking about what does bring you joy and for me It’s the connections with my clients. So I’m Concentrated on my business consultancy.

So I work with primarily wedding businesses Helping them scale. Sometimes that’s going in a complete different direction and just really helping them You know refine that customer journey refine You You know how they’re working because sometimes businesses find that they’re procrastinating because actually it’s not the right path for them anymore.

And so I’m a bit of a ninja at getting into your head. to find out what’s blocking you, what’s stopping you. And then we work on that strategy. So I’ve got some really exciting things planned for this year. So along alongside my one to ones, I’m going to be launching Coffee Morning. So in Essex and in London.

So we just, I used to love doing them for the Alliance and bringing that back. I’ll be bringing back in person workshops as well, because again, I used to love teaching. I, you know, I used to do, do the training in person. before the pandemic sort of made me launch an online course. But you know, I used to do it all in person and I loved it.

I love that connection that you get with people. So connection is my word of the year. So everything I do this year is going to be tailored around me building that connection back up with people because I, I love that. I love hearing people’s stories and I love hearing how I can change their story.

Becca: I love it.

And I can see the joy and excitement in your face just as you’re talking about it. And I, I must get along to one of those coffee mornings. Cause I can imagine it’s going to be a great space to be in and to be connecting with like minded individuals. You mentioned briefly, and I want to touch on it very briefly, procrastination.

I love that you said you’re a bit of a ninja in that area. So I’m hoping you can give me some quick fire tips because this is definitely something that I struggle with where, you know, I’ll have an idea. So even when I wanted to launch this podcast, it took me a year to actually do it because I kept getting in my way.

So how do we identify when we’re blocking ourselves rather than when it’s just not the right idea?

Bernadette: Yeah, I, I find this fascinating. So, you know, don’t get me wrong. I love strategy. So I’m very good at the strategic element. No surprise in considering my background, but I’m also fascinated with your subconscious mind and how it stops you and the stories that you’re telling yourself.

So quite often that is what’s leading to procrastination. So quite often you say you want to launch something, whatever it is, but you don’t because you’re trying to make it perfect. Or you think no one’s going to buy it. You think you’re not good enough and you start to talk yourself out of it. And the reason why you do that is because it’s easier to stay where it’s safe.

So our subconscious is telling us Don’t do that thing, because that’s a bit scary. So just stay where you are, and it will be fine. Just keep doing what you’ve always been doing. We don’t need to do anything different. And so because of that, that’s why we’re procrastinating over whatever it is that, that, that you’re going to launch, say a new, new course or whatever.

And so it’s part of recognizing that it is your subconscious that is stopping you, and it sounds really crazy, but you ask yourself a question. Why am I not doing this? and be, you know, journal it, but just, just be ready, you know, ask, be a bit of a crazy person and just ask yourself those questions. Why am I not doing it?

And see, and see what comes up, because then you’re able to analyze your crazy thoughts to work out what is blocking you and to change your story. So to work on, you know, to work on your, you know, whether it is imposter syndrome or confidence. So a lot of women, especially in this space, suffer with lack of confidence.

and not feeling that they’re good enough. So it’s kind of strengthening them with that. So yes, quite often it’s the mindset that leads to the procrastination in many ways. But sometimes also procrastination is because it’s not really your zone of genius. So you’re doing something that you don’t enjoy.

Whereas actually it should be delegated. So I’m using a new CRM system and I was trying to get my lead magnet done and I Lincoln, I hate tech. And then I sat there, I was like, why am I trying to, why am I doing this? So then hired you know, a tech PA that specialize in this specific system. So sometimes it’s recognizing.

That actually, you’re not meant to do it. Delegate it to someone else.

Becca: I find it a fascinating topic. I probably could sit in a room with you and talk about this for hours and hours about my own procrastination. I always laugh with my members because I know that I suffer from some of these things and my way of overcoming it is to announce to them that I’m going to do something before I’ve done it.

Because then it makes me do it. So for example, this year is the year I’m going to write a book. And I keep telling people I’m going to write this book But by, by the end of the year, because I know I won’t do it otherwise, but knowing that I’ve told people I don’t like letting people down. So watch this space.

It will come, but that’s my way of dealing with it. But I think it’s fascinating to go into this mindset stuff. And I’m sure every single person listening has got something that they need to ask themselves that question about. What is it that means I’m not? Why am I not doing this? What is it really at the heart of it?

Bernadette, we are out of time. I’ve, I could talk to you all day. I might have to get you back for a second episode, but I always, always love chatting, always end the podcast with the same question. And I’m going to ask you that now. And it’s this, what’s one thing you personally wish you’d known sooner in your own business?

Bernadette: Oh gosh, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? I guess, I guess the one thing is, is recognising that it’s okay to be imperfect. Like I had a lot of imposter syndrome, you know, brought up on a council estate, went to your local school, didn’t go to university, so definitely I think, I think that. So I think just recognising that you are good enough how you are.

Becca: Yeah. So, so important. But is it, if people want to find out more about you, find out more about what you’re doing these days in and around the wedding industry and to find out about these upcoming coffee mornings, where’s the best place for them to find you? Yep.

Bernadette: So if you, you can follow me on social media, really simple, just my name, Bernadette Chapman, appreciate it is long blame my husband and my mother.

So you can find me there. But then also if we’ve spoke about kind of marketing and touch points, so I do have A free workbook, which talks about other ways to promote your business outside of social media. So if you, I’ll give the link to Becca and you’re more than welcome to download that.

Becca: Sounds perfect.

I will make sure I put it in the show notes and I’m a big advocate for it. It takes us full circle back to the start. When you started your business without social media, there are other ways. So I recommend lots of people go and grab that. That download, I’ll put it in the show notes, Bernadette. It has been such a pleasure.

Thank you for being here. And I hope to see you in person somewhere soon.

I love that conversation with Bernadette. I hope you enjoyed it too. We went all over the place. I’m sure there was something in there for each and every one of you, but I think the biggest learning from it is the importance of reflecting on your business, your current circumstances, and whether or not it’s bringing you joy.

And if it’s not, maybe it’s time to change something. After all, you went into this business because you wanted to do something that you love. Let’s do more of that. I’ll speak to you next time.

Becca xo