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Interview with Dawn from PartyBluPrints (Page 4)

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Dawn: Yes, and I think that’s the thing that we found that was missing every time as we flipped through magazines and saw all these beautiful pictures. And you kind of know that’s unattainable for you, you know? Whether it’s because of money or time, or just the fact that you can’t put an arrangement together that way, or you have a little apartment. Or you could find a great recipe, and it sounds delicious, but you don’t have four hours to spend on one recipe.

So I think what we were good at, was taking all the elements of the party: the dinner, the tablecloths, the cocktails, the music and putting it in one package for people so they had it all in one place. So they knew it was easy, it was simple and they knew they could do it. They didn’t have to spend hours surfing the net or flipping through magazines to try and put it all together.

That was the thing that we felt was missing. It just all wasn’t in one place, and it was hard.

Sarah: How is it having a partner? You were friends first, has it been stressful at times? Has it always been easy? What’s that been like for you guys?

Dawn: Thankfully, it’s always been pretty easy. We are about as opposite as you can get. We are the odd couple, we are totally opposite. But you know, if you’re going to go into business with somebody, that’s the perfect person. Because I like the technology and the finances. She loves writing. I think Beth is going to be the one that will write our book. I don’t really have any interest in doing that, you know? I love the blog and I love taking the pictures. So it’s good that we don’t get in each other’s way, but we work great together. If you drew a line right down the middle of our business, she does one half and I do the other half. It’s perfect.

Sarah: That’s great. Now, is there any specific advice, other than the trademarking and service marking ideas we spoke about earlier, that you would want to tell people about how to start a business?

Dawn: I would say you have to know that there is a need in the market for what you want to do. You have to be realistic, you know? You can’t say, I’m going to make paper tissue flags and everyone is going to buy them! I mean, that just wouldn’t work. But if you’re a lady in Nebraska and everyone loves your cakes, and you’re getting really good feedback, then you should take that as a sign that you’ve got something!

And the other thing is that I would say don’t be surprised if you don’t start making money right away. I think that really discourages people. You start this business, and it’s not really making money yet, and maybe your husband is like “You’re spending a lot of time on this, and you’re not making any money!” Stick with it anyway, and don’t give up.

I mean, the deal with Microsoft, we got was a lot of traffic and we got to say we did a deal with them. And it was a way to brand ourselves as experts. And the other things I would say is reach out to other people who are starting up too. There is so much bartering that goes on, especially in the beginning. For example, I just had to move my blog from one platform to another and I met this guy on Twitter who helped me do that, and I did some things for him…and it was free for both of us.

It doesn’t have to be for money in the beginning. I think that’s a mistake some people make. I mean, you have to have goals for yourself, of course. But people quit when they’re not making money. And of course, don’t throw good money after bad, but you have to really be realistic.

Sarah: Thanks for that, that’s a great point. Is there anything that you wish you hadn’t done or things you wish you could have done differently?

Dawn: You could exhaust yourself with everything that people want you to do. You need to learn how to have a filter.  Find a place that’s good for you to work and that works for you and narrow down your opportunities to one or two and really work for them. I think in the beginning, I spread myself way too thin. Trying to do everything and be there for everyone. I kept thinking, “Oh I have to be on this blog, or that one, and we want to be in magazines” and it was just too much.

We didn’t have anything left for our business. We were giving everything away. And when you give everything away for free, why would anyone want to come and buy it?

The other thing that might have been a mistake in the beginning was being too structured in our thinking about how we were going to make money. We have tried different ways to make money: advertising, affiliate commission, selling e-party plans, providing content to others — don’t attach yourself to just one way. Go with what works it is your sign or answer from the marketplace. Keep all your option open including bartering.

Maybe the one thing you think is going to work, doesn’t. So don’t be afraid to try other things.

Sarah: The only other question I have for you is, was there anything you wanted me to ask that I didn’t?

Dawn: Well you know what I would say? I would want people to know that this is so much work. It’s seven days a week and if you don’t really love it, it’s going to be too much. I really think a lot of people end up dropping this because they realize it’s a lot more work than they thought it would be. And they’re right. Especially in the beginning.

So if it feels like it’s a lot of work in the beginning, it’s just going to get worse. So love what it is. Because if you love what it is, it can feel fun. All the hard work is fun. I mean now, when I plan a party, I just think “Oh! This is the best party yet!”

Check out Dawn’s blog, PartyBluPrints.

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