I started following Nancy Liu Chin on Twitter because of some great posts she had on her blog about pricing. This gal knows her stuff! (I highly recommend you dig in and study all of her points on pricing.) And, with 10 seasons under her belt, she is definitely a sage wedding pro. I love how generous she is with her knowledge. And, that’s just talking about the “business side” of things. Her designs are AMAZING. Nancy’s business is the perfect marriage of business smarts and creative beauty. It’s a match made in heaven! Congrats Nancy on all of your success! Here’s to many many many more years.
Nancy Liu Chin
Owner, Nancy Liu Chin Designs
San Francisco, CA
Why did you start your business?
This is a great question. I did decided to start my own business after working in corporate American for over a decade. Having always been a creative soul, I wanted to do something for myself. After 9/11, I realized that life was short and that I wanted to find something that I could stand behind. So a month later, I officially went to SF’s city hall and the rest is history. Another part of why I wanted to start a floral and event design business was that I struggled as a bride to find someone in the Bay Area who could turn my vision into a reality. There were so many wonderful floral designers but very few who could take flowers and work them into the space and the decor. There was a couple high end celebrity designers at the time who did the whole thing but no one who did it for bride’s with smaller budgets.
What book do you recommend to new business owners?
Do you have any cool goal-setting tips to share with us?
Definitely have a 1, 3, 5, 10 year plan. You don’t need a fancy spreadsheet, just write down where you see your business in 1 year, 3 and etc. Look at your numbers, project your numbers. Realize how much you need to take home at the end of the day. Don’t think your product or service is enough, set some marketing goals. Understand the Law, rules and regulations. It’s hard to set goals so for short term, try to do something within the month, 3 month, and 1 year. Don’t pick too many goals and then write 3 steps within each goal so that you can do them one step at a time.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a business owner?
People are unpredictable. Consumers are unpredictable. Other people are never as reliable. Loyalty in this business doesn’t often mean long term. You constantly have to do it better and better. Production and creativity takes time. Not enough hours in the day to do everything. Technology doesn’t always mean easier or simpler.
If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?
Not sure if people really want to know my answer. If I had to do it again, I would have taken longer to work with someone far more experienced. I would have spent more years shadowing, apprenticing. There just wasn’t enough opportunities for people to shadow and assist when I was starting so I had fewer options. Today, there so many companies so I think the chance to learn is key. To learn from people who are experts in their field is quite valuable. There are so many programs today that just wasn’t around when I started. The training from a mentor is something that I can’t go back and attain so I would strongly encourage new business owners to partner, shadow and apprentice. Learning good strategies, communication and technical skills are foundations to a good owner. Many people don’t realize that you a good worker, doesn’t make a good owner. To have a chance to work side by side with an owner in a managerial role will benefit people in the long run.
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