Sage Innovators – Follow Along on Instagram (#sageinnovator)

Image-1We have been featuring our favorite Sage Innovators this month on Instagram. We are so excited about this! These are people that are rocking the industry and doing some cool, different things. These are people that inspire us, wow us, and change the way that we participate in the wedding industry.

Follow along with us with our hashtag: #sageinnovators at



When Your Contractor Doesn’t want to be Categorized as an Employee

You may get to the point where you have to change the terms of your working relationship with a contractor to that of an employee. Some contractors DO NOT want to be classified as employees. Keep in mind… this isn’t really a choice that you or they make.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

(Make sure to review this post and this post on the difference between a contractor and an employee. You may be breaking the tax law.)

One of the reasons a worker may not want to be classified as an employee is that taxes will now be deducted from their pay. And their thought is: “I don’t want to pay taxes.” {this is a a misunderstanding of how taxes work}

Here’s the thing…

Even tho taxes are NOT directly deducted from the a contractor’s pay, they ARE paying taxes. This is one of the reasons companies are required to provide 1099s. Income stated on the 1099 is what that contractor has to report on their 1040 tax filing. Contractors are required to pay tax on April 15th on all 1099 income. (They aren’t getting it deducted from their paycheck… but they are ultimately having to pay it when they file their taxes.)

Here is the other thing… contractors actually pay MORE in taxes than employees. Contractors are responsible for paying ALL income tax (and social security, FICA, medicare), whereas employees share taxes (social security, FICA, medicare) with employers.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

(these tax rates are random examples and not indicative of real tax rates)


Pay:                    $1000
– Taxes                  $200 (20% tax rate – ALL due from CONTRACTOR)
Net Pay              $800


Pay:                    $1000
Taxes:                $200 (20% tax rate –> but half of this is required of EMPLOYER)

Employee pays $100 in taxes; Employer pays $100 in taxes

Pay:                    $1000
Taxes:                $100 (10% tax rate –> EMPLOYEE responsibility)
Net Pay              $900

So… you can see… a contractor is paying $100 more in taxes than an employee in this example. (This difference is called ‘self-employment tax’.)

What does this mean for you, the employer?

As you can see, this also means that YOU, as the employer, are responsible for paying taxes that you wouldn’t otherwise have if this worker were classified as an employee. But, in my experience, the added taxes are completely worth the ability to really invest in that worker and to have them invest in my company. (And, like I said, you don’t have a choice in the matter. Know the tax law where contractors are concerned, or you could owe fines and penalties on misclassified workers.)

It also helps for you to explain this to a contractor that needs to be classified as an employee. They’ll see that the financial benefit is actually a good one for them.

Do you need to know more about contractors and employees? Do you need help on hiring, training, and managing your team? Check out The People Plan, our hiring toolbox: .

5 Must-Ask Interview Questions

Interviewing employees can be quite the challenge. How do you find quality individuals to do a consistently outstanding job for you? I’m a big proponent of hiring for values before skills. So, how do you get to the heart of somebody? How do you determine whether that individual has values that align with your business’s core philosophy?

InterviewQsHere are…

5 of my favorite interview questions:

1. Share a time where you went above and beyond for the client.

This question is one of my favorites because I believe that service is important regardless of the position. Even if you have an employee that’s behind the scenes, this person should still have a team mentality. And, a team mentality requires that every employee, serve one one another. I want to make sure that this person knows what it means to go above and beyond… whether it is for a client, or for me, or for a coworker of theirs.

2. Tell me about a situation where you faced a huge challenge (in a work situation). How did you solve the problem?

I want problem solvers. I want people who can think out-of-the-box. I want people who are resourceful and creative. Again, regardless of the position, I want people who are thinkers. In my stationery business, I hired assembly workers. Even though this wasn’t a highly analytical job, I needed to be confident that an employee would be able to do damage control in a time of crisis. This didn’t change the fact that I still needed to TRAIN my employees. But, knowing that employee of mine is a good problem-solver is going to make my job a bit easier so that I don’t have to hover over them while they work.

3. Tell me about a situation where you made a mistake in your job, and how you fixed it.

Again, I want to get a better feel for how this potential employee solves problems. I also want to make sure that, if a mistake is made in the job, this personal takes responsibility for it. Mistakes do happen. How do we move past them?

4. How do you deal with tedium and repetition(insert your situational description)

This is a very specific question that I used to ask people that I was interviewing for invitation assembly. When you’re constructing thousands of invitations that are all the same, you can get extremely bored. But some people really love the rhythmic nature of putting something together repeatedly. (I found it to be incredibly cathartic, personally.) I want to know that they will thrive in that situation, or have strategies to push through.

This question should be tailored to the nature of the job for which you’re interviewing. Basically, you want to get a question that addresses the worst aspect of the job that you’re asking for. If it’s invitation assembly, it’s tedium and repetition. If you’re interviewing for a wedding planner associate, you’d likely want to ask how to deal with difficult people. A good question might be: “How do you deal with people yelling at you?” The goal is to put that candidate in the position that they might face in the job (a worst-case-scenario) and find out how they would react.

5. How would you benefit by having this job?
(In other words, what sort of experience are you looking to gain? What motivates you to work for my business?)

I’m a firm believer in being a mentor to any of my employees. If I know upfront what motivates someone to work for me, I can determine whether this job is a good fit for that person. You see… hiring an employee is more than just filling a role in my business. I really want to know if this job is going to help somebody out in terms of their future. It could be an entry-level job for somebody who’s in college… and I want to know what sort of experience this will give that person in their “real job.” Or, it could be somebody that is looking for a secondary job to just pay the bills… and that’s fine. If I know upfront what motivates this person to apply for this position, it makes it so much easier for me to customize their job a little bit more so they have more job satisfaction. I have found that this gives people an incredible amount of loyalty. If I’m invested in this employee’s future and career, then they are going to be a lot more invested in my business.

What do you think? What are your favorite questions to ask in an interview? Please share and comment below.

If you want to know more about hiring, training, and managing employees, make sure to check out our human resources toolbox, The People Plan: .

Announcing Be Sage Conference Panelist: Michelle Edgemont

We are excited to announce a panel that we are assembling for Be Sage Conference! Our panel discussion will address a critical question we continuously hear from experienced wedding professionals:

How can I diversify my income?

Finding ways to diversify income for the wedding professional can be incredibly beneficial to a small business’s financial stability. You should consider finding additional revenue streams for any of the following reasons:

  • cushioning the seasonality of your income
  • creating a more stable (predictable) source of income
  • creating passive income streams
  • diversifying your energy and attention
  • spreading your eggs into a few baskets 😉

MichelleEdgemontWe introduce our first panelist to you: Michelle Edgemont!

Michelle is a New York event designer with an unconventional, modern style. She is a trained textile designer and not many people realize that in addition to the gorgeous weddings that she styles, she has ongoing contracts with HGTV for styling photo shoots. This introduces additional income that diversifies the way she makes money. We want Michelle to share her smarts with you and teach you how to go about doing the same for your business.

Here are 5 things that you’ll learn from Michelle:

  1. How to diversify your revenue streams
  2. How to partner with big brands and smaller companies
  3. How to intentionally balance your workload throughout the year running a seasonal business
  4. How to be a blog contributor
  5. How to create revenue streams that use your talents

We feel pretty strongly about partnering with companies and individuals that mirror and augment our own core values. Here are 3 of Michelle’s core values:

  • Work smart
  • Be kind
  • Family comes first

We’ll see you this November 1-3 in Dallas!


Registration is open for Be Sage Conference.


Announcing: The Simple Plan Workshop – Chicago, June 16-17

Join us for easy-peasy business planning in Chicago this June 16-17, 2015!


We love doing workshops in Chicago! It’s no lie. The Midwest communities are friendly and collaborative. And, Chicago is just lovely in the summer. Make a trip out of it: see the Art Institute, catch a baseball game at Wrigley Field, go shopping on the Mile. (The Chicago workshops sell out fast, so don’t hesitate.)

The Simple Plan is our 2-day workshop where we guide wedding pros through the writing of their business plans. (You will walk out of the workshop with a written plan in hand.) Our goal is to give you a solid foundation for success in:

– your business’s over-arching vision
– your marketing strategy
– your operational strategy
– your financial strategy

Business planning is goal-setting at its best… for wedding pros, at every stage of their business. (Goal-setting never ends.)

The Simple Plan Workshop
Easy-peasy Business Planning
June 16-17, 2015
Rick Aguilar Studios 

Learn more and register for the workshop by clicking here.

A BIG BIG thank you to our gracious host and sponsor, Rick Aguilar. Rick is wonderful!


We will also be in San Francisco May 18-19 and DC July 6-17 in 2015, if those cities are more convenient. (Make sure to check out Be Sage Conference if you already have your goals for the next couple years and are looking for education on how to take your business to the next level.)

Watch this lovely little video to see us in action at The Simple Plan.