* * *
"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"
"The Small Business Professor is a site that should be bookmarked by every entrepreneur. In today's business environment, it is difficult to gather information and obtain answers to the myriad of questions that face business owners. Bruce Freeman's 'Ask the Small Business Professor' column is an excellent resource that provides guidance, up-to-the-minute information, mentoring, and more."
"Bruce Freeman, The Small Business Professor, is a most valued and enthusiastic guest contributor to the business segment of our radio show dealing with the challenges facing today's entrepreneurs. His practical and insightful advice has served to enhance our ability, as broadcasters, to help business owners move ahead in their various fields of endeavor. ....Thank you, Bruce."
"I've been working with patients for almost 10 years as a Chiropractic Physician. I'm always looking for new ways to increase awareness of the valuable clinical services provided at my centers. Bruce Freeman has given me insightful ideas to assist in my marketing efforts. I rely on his 'Ask the Small Business Professor' column to keep me abreast of new trends and developments in the field. I couldn't ask for a more knowledgeable and capable advisor as my companies move forward into providing nationwide healthcare for patients."
"I find the column inspiring and helpful to me in running my own small business."
Entertain the Idea
Sikky Rogers of Charlotte, NC is what is known as a southern lady, someone who is honorable, gracious, and patient. She has wonderful taste, and is admired for her ability as a hostess, making guests feel as if they are the most pampered people in the world. As the proprietor of Entertain the Idea, a wedding and party planning business for almost 20 years, Rogers puts these qualities to good use.
Rogers attended the Women’s College in Greensboro, North Carolina, but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life professionally. She became a secretary for a year and then, got married and raised her two children for the next 12 years. As the children went off to high school, she and a friend pooled saved grocery money to start a consignment shop, which sold items handmade by local artisans and crafts people. The Buttercup grew into a very successful business, but Rogers sold her share when her parents grew ill and she was needed to take care of them.
After her parents passed, and her children graduated from college, her daughter married. The wedding details filled Rogers’ life for almost a year. On that special day, everything was perfect except that Rogers missed parts of it, including her daughter’s first dance, because she was busy running the reception rather than enjoying it. Realizing that people needed help when entertaining on this scale, Rogers and a friend opened Entertain the Idea in 1987 to help brides and their families design weddings that would be beautiful, emotion-filled, and yet, carefree for the family and their guests. For the first time in her life, Rogers felt like she had found what she was supposed to do in the professional part of her life.
Entertain the Idea’s first wedding taught Rogers some valuable lessons. The family wanted the wedding outdoors by the pool and would only approve minimal preparations for rain. Rogers insisted on a tent, but one extended leg had to rest in a corner of the pool to make it work. Everything was set up outside when the wind began to howl and a thunderstorm began in earnest. Guests under the tent were okay, but there was no way to get back to the house and its facilities without being drenched. The wind blew the table cloths into the candles, which caught fire, the sound equipment got wet and the band couldn’t play, and the tent leg did $3000 worth of damage to the pool.
Rogers learned that it was clear that mistakes were going to be made, but she was determined that she was never going to make the same one twice. She began writing lists of what went wrong and used them to create rain plans, and eventually plans for every weather situation. Rogers won’t work with anyone who refuses to have a weather plan as she believes the odds of having some weather-related problem are at least 90%. Over the years, Entertain the Idea has planned over 300 successful weddings.
Rogers’ business cannot take advantage of economy of scale; it takes almost as much time to plan a wedding for 50 as it does for 500, and her fees range from $6,500 to $12,000 depending on what is required. The most expensive wedding she ever produced was $500,000 and average weddings run $80,000 to $100,000. Since it takes a year to plan a wedding, Rogers’ fees are reasonable and ensure that the families’ investment is secure.
The Small Business Professors' Words of Wisdom
Sikky Rogers does business the old-fashioned way. She returns calls on the same day they are received and she says, “Let me see what I can do,” rather than, “I can’t”. She keeps a promise early in the relationship, giving her immediate credibility. Exemplary service is her credo. If something goes wrong, she smiles and acts as if everything is fine because looking nervous and upset makes everyone else feel the same way. Rogers is always prepared to work – she knows what everyone does, and how they do it. In a pinch, she makes flower arrangements, does set-up and tear-down, serves food and busses tables, pours wine and cuts cake. She has even crawled through windows in the rain to hook up electricity. With her reputation on the line at every single event, Sikky Rogers knows the buck stops with her; keeping her clients happy no matter what happens is what she does.
- Case History: Sikky Rogers
- Entrepreneur’s Strategy: Plan for the worst and be prepared to step-in to do whatever needs doing.
- Could This Work For Me? There is no substitute for planning, but you can solve problems if you’re willing to get your hands dirty in the process.
Rogers won’t work with anyone who refuses to have a weather plan as she believes the odds of having some weather-related problem are at least 90%.