Picture this … Recently I spent a good amount of time and expertise on a proposal for a large nonprofit event, only to lose the opportunity to another planner. This happens in business, right? We can’t win them all.
However, I discovered that the other planner’s proposed fees were $15,000 less than all the other proposals for the same statement of work. I dug further (had to know) and found that this planner is independently wealthy but enjoys planning events for fun.
I think his work is good but I also think he is a “fauxpreneur.” If he wants to donate his time and offer his expertise to nonprofits, he should create a foundation. Unfortunately, he also plans weddings and other events and seems to follow the low pricing strategy for all of them. Why is this a problem?
We should be driving the bus. Every proposal we create, every price we pitch, every idea we suggest and every meeting we facilitate with clients and potential clients teaches them who we are, what we offer and what the going rate is for professional event services. We lead the discussion. We educate. We drive the pricing conversation. We know why we charge our rates … we know how to strategize solutions for clients … and we know how to communicate effective proposals …
Here comes the “but” … A big problem caused by “fauxpreneurs” is that they are sending the wrong pricing information. They are lowering the standards we need to be upholding as an industry. When any of us fall into the price-gouging trap, we hurt ourselves and the industry as a whole. Please don’t do it!
Anatomy of a “fauxpreneur”: The planner I described is just one kind of “fake entrepreneur.” Many people throughout our industry fall into this category for many reasons. It is not an intentional ploy to ruin our industry or bankrupt the rest of us; I just think most people either don’t know better or they fall into the trap of fear-based decision-making that eventually leads to fauxpreneurship. Here are some examples:
You could be a “fauxpreneur” if you…
1) Start a business in the event industry before you’ve ever worked for someone else. Example: You’re a great cook (all your friends say so) and the logical step is for you to start a catering business immediately after you made all the food for your Mom’s birthday party. This feels right. You have no experience but everyone has to start somewhere, correct?
Wrong! Work for someone else first. Learn. Take classes. Join associations. Pay your dues. If you help someone else fulfill their dreams in business, it will be way easier to fulfill your own later.
2) Treat your business like a hobby. You cannot live on the salary your company pays you. You do not have insurance. You never grow creatively, financially or personally. You cannot afford contractors or staff. You always have to rob Peter to pay Paul. The harder you work, the less you make and the more miserable you become. If this is you, get help immediately or go work for someone else. (Sorry: It’s tight but it’s right.)
3) Build a product/service, not a company. Lots of people make products to sell in our industry (floral arrangements, tents, lighting, entertainment, props, recipes, venues, etc.) and start a business to offer these products to the market. If they are smart, they can sell these products and make good money. Many offer services, and the same is true for them.
This process however, does not make them an entrepreneur. It makes them a purveyor of goods and services.
Entrepreneurs are so much more. They are moved by beliefs, they create movements, they want to build a legacy not just for themselves but also for their team and ultimately for the world. They take a stand, they attract talent and success follows naturally.
4) Are unwilling to share or give. I believe this aspect greatly differentiates the very successful from the less successful. Many in our industry are afraid (there’s that dirty word again) to share their ideas or processes with others because that would give their competitors an edge over them. Some of my seasoned event friends seem like sharers but they are only willing to tell you certain truths like “Five ways to…” and “Eight reasons to …” and they will charge you a lot for that slim amount of information.
It is not wrong to charge for coaching, teaching and speaking–I do it too–but we have to be willing to share all if we really want to help others do better in the industry. We need to present an educated, united front to the consumer instead of the disjointed, ragtag, price-gouging lot I see too often. (Ouch, I know.)
“Fauxpreneurs” hoard all their information and ideas to ensure they have the competitive edge. They are not interested in elevating an industry but instead seek to make a name for themselves. They do not understand that we rise higher and faster together. They are lone wolves lacking the strength of the pack.
5) Never innovate or invent new things. Many of us are drawn to the event industry because we are creative. Creativity is great; its definition is “the use of the imagination; the production of an artistic work.” You may be able to see a blank room transformed in your imagination with all the decor an event needs; this makes you creative.
Innovation is a level up: you know how to improve on existing ideas. You may improve the way room layouts and designs are presented to clients or installed or stored or priced. You look for ways to improve products and processes.
“Fauxpreneurs” don’t think this way. Instead, they look to see what are others are doing and incorporate those ideas, prices, processes into what they are doing.
Level up again: invention! Like the word suggests, invention involves creating something new that has not existed before. This is where pioneers live–never satisfied with where they are but always pushing forward with the new. Taking risks, failing, trying again, not listening to the naysayers–these are entrepreneurs at the top in products, services, processes and people.
“Fauxpreneurs” will never reach this level; it is not even a consideration for them. Instead, they are satisfied doing just what needs to be done to impact themselves and achieving their short-term goals.
We should be very wary of “fauxpreneurs.” They are dangerous and destructive.
Sadly, they are on the rise in all industries but have taken hold in the event community as well. We need to recognize them and either coach them up into true entrepreneurship or coach them out into a different line of work.
This article provided by NewsEdge.