On Starting A Fun Creative Date Planning Service

$1K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
product
SOS Romance Plann...
from Charlotte, NC, USA
started June 2018
$1,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
1.24K
followers
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Start A Romance Planning Service

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hey good people! My name is Danielle Price and I own SOS Romance Planning Service. I help couples spend time together in a fun, creative, and romantic way.

I work with the fellas (and the occasional lady in need) and they call me “The Female Hitch.” Just like Will Smith in the movie, I help them step their game up in the romance department to woo their women.

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I started the company 2.5 years ago as a way to combine my three greatest passions - Romance, Event Planning, and Travel. AND because I could not take another boring dinner masquerading as a date!

SOS is all about helping couples keep that spark in their relationship. It isn’t just about date night planning, but creating a romantic atmosphere for romance to thrive. This can be done with a Suite Experience or a Deluxe Picnic Date.

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I also specialize in Romance Travel. Everything from Honeymoons to Staycations to Getaways for Two.

Honestly, when I started this business I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. I called myself a Romance Planner because that was the only way I could accurately describe what I did.

My ultimate goal is to save marriages. I want to change the narrative that marriage is boring and sexless. Romance is an avenue for me to do that. If I can help couples tap back into the thing that made them fall in love in the first place, then my job is done!

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Oh, man! I had been laid off for about a year and every door back to Corporate America was firmly shut in my face. I mean, I have an engineering degree coupled with a Master’s in Adult Education and I could not get a job! The only gig I could get was at Target. No lie.

Hands down partnerships have SAVED my business. Connecting with the right businesses to provide services that would enhance their value and add sales to mine has been the lifeline of my business.

I had not been able to get a job. I have worked since I was 15! What do you mean I’m unhirable?! Talk about humbled. So I took the time to think about what it was I really wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone else, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I had a failed business before, so honestly, I wasn’t too keen on starting another one. But I did anyway LOL!

While I was brainstorming about this new direction, I realized there was one glaringly consistent thing in my life - event planning. From volunteer activities to corporate engagement events to my own wedding. I loved planning events, so I knew whatever I came up with had to involve that.

My husband and I also fell into a rut, as most couples do, of going to the same old places, doing the same old things for date night. We were only 1 year in! I said to myself, I cannot go another 65+ years like this. We gotta switch it up! So we started alternating planning our dates. It got him involved and turns out he’s great at it! He even likes it!

I took stock of where I was personally and professionally, asking myself what business could I start that would encompass my passions for Romance and Event Planning? I created the title Romance Planner and thus, SOS Romance Planning Service was born.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Initially, I had 3 offerings - Date Night Planning, Just Because Gift Service and a Date Reminder Service. I went to a local pitch event because at this point the ideas were in my head and I didn’t have a clue if they were viable or not. There were a ton of men there and they were all on board with my ideas so I said ok cool. Let’s roll.

Next, I took my idea to SCORE (which I HIGHLY recommend) to help me flush it out. We met for about 3 months, every 2-3 weeks. I took them through the entire process from the time someone calls/emails until they return. They helped me see that I was operating as a travel agency. I couldn’t see it at the time, nor did I take their advice initially, but it turns out they were right!

My very first client wanted anniversary planning. I had the process in my head of how I wanted to execute it and for the most part, I was right. I knew I needed a location, lodging, and activities. I started with a survey to get those answers then based upon those answers I’d build a weekend’s worth of activities. In theory, great. Execution, not so much. My process did not account for multiple last-minute changes by the client, budget (or lack thereof), or an ER visit (by me). It felt like everything that could go wrong did. AND because my process was not thoroughly fleshed out, I only got paid half of the total bill.

A total mess.

I went back to SCORE licking my wounds and left with a plan to incorporate romance travel into my business model.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Launching was easy. Dealing with a failed launch and not knowing why was hard.

I did everything I read I was supposed to do - an LLC, a website, business cards, social media accounts, email list setup, right? WRONG! I did all of that and was so gun shy about talking about the business that I didn’t.

Yes, I put up all the cutesy stuff, but I had no marketing plan, no content strategy, and I rarely told people I was starting a business - because of fear. More specifically, fear of rejection. What if it didn’t work and I was back to another failed business? How embarrassing?!

So quite honestly, I didn’t have a successful business launch. I did not get one single sale the first month I was in business, but I stuck with it. I hired the right help, created strategic partnerships, joined a professional industry organization, read books, and have grown by leaps and bounds ever since.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Wow! I have a lot of what works, and a lot of what has not worked.

What worked:

Strategic partnerships. Hands down partnerships have SAVED my business. Connecting with the right businesses to provide services that would enhance their value and add sales to mine has been the lifeline of my business. Having a unique, complementary component adds value to my business as well. Companies have been able to offload a portion of their business that they have no desire to work in, but comes highly requested, to me. I have become the secret sauce to help them continue to serve those customers while they focus on the areas of their business they want to hone in on and grow.

Hiring help. I was drowning trying to figure it all out myself and knew I needed guidance and help so I hired a business coach. I had only made $185 in 4 months and for me to have a business, I knew I needed sales and FAST! In that program, I was able to lay the right foundation for my business, get clear on my ideal client, and learn organic marketing strategies that have helped me enhance the visibility of my business.

What didn’t work:

Winging it. You know, posting with no real strategy behind it. No clear direction on what you want your audience to do.

Being unclear about my target audience. I went from focusing on the fellas to the ladies and now I’m back to the fellas.

Expecting family and friends to support you because they’re your family and friends. Hear me - YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE MORE THAN LIKELY NOT YOUR IDEAL CLIENT. Stop holding their fund's hostage simply because you have a relationship with them. If they NEED your product/service, they will buy from you. If not, they won’t.

Looking at what everyone else is doing. The business building takes time. I can’t compare my 2.5 years to someone else’s 10 years, million-dollar empire.

My very first FB Ad - when I thought I was going to start coaching ladies:

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I am extremely optimistic about the future of SOS. I’m hyper-focused on what SOS will look like on December 31, 2030. That is what’s driving me to invest more, sell more, learn more, and give more.

2020 was my best business year! In the middle of a whole global pandemic. I had to pivot to survive. It took me assessing my business and moving on those decisions quickly. I eliminated services, expanded into digital and physical products, and partnered more locally. It worked because I made 5x what I made in 2019 - largely due to strategic partnerships.

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I invested heavily in branding and protecting my business with registered trademarks. I went back to SCORE for a Marketing analysis. The analysis helped me scope out a new potential market, identify how to increase my own market share in the Romance industry, and helped enhance my website. My overall grade was a C. I have work to do, but I’m glad I know where I stand and have a plan to raise my grade.

In 2021, I am focused on protecting my brand legally, creating EXCELLENT content, increasing visibility through print and media advertising, and continuing to develop strategic partnerships in our new market of Charlotte, NC. I am expecting SOS to double its revenue.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” ~ Arthur Ashe. This is the quote that got my butt in gear when I was stuck on having stuff like logos, headshots, etc., thinking that I needed those to make money. As if not having a headshot would REALLY stop someone from hiring me.

Stop the comparison rabbit hole before it starts. Of course, we want to compare what we do to others, but please remember there’s only one you. Nobody can do what you do like you do! So before you go down that rabbit hole, STOP and celebrate them! Progress in your industry is sure to help you.

Most times when we feel resistance we don’t address the why behind it. I have learned to feel the emotion, identify the why behind it, reframe it into something positive, and do it anyway. Yes, I can be afraid to pitch a company, but am I going to let that stop me from getting to that million-dollar enterprise on December 31, 2030? No! I’m going to visualize what I want the result to be, pump myself up, and do the work to get it done!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I use PayPal because it was easiest when I started. I haven’t had any issues with accepting payments, so if it ain’t broke, I’m not fixing it.

My website is on the Wix platform. Although building the website was a bit rough (mostly because I couldn’t figure out the design placement tools), I figured it out. I have a paid version because I wanted to use my business name as the domain name and sell digital products.

I use Google Suite for EVERYTHING. I love that it automatically backs up. There’s nothing worse than losing posts you’ve spent HOURS on.

I am toying with the idea of switching to HoneyBook because from what I have experimented with, it’s a one-stop-shop for contracts, credit card information storage, and payments. I like that, so I will be exploring that further.

With tools, I suggest going with the free version (except emails and websites) until you need the paid version. Expand as your business expands. There’s no need to create additional expenses when you don’t have the revenue to support them.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Profit First - A MUST READ! This is how I learned that my business is profitable from day one!! I know right?! Totally mind-blowing. It talks about how to set up your business financials as well. Very actionable and an easy read.

The One Minute Salesperson - ANOTHER MUST READ! This book teaches you how to sell without being sleazy. This book helped me with my sales calls and honest to God my close rate is close to 100%.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Literally, just start. You can course-correct along the way. There is no such thing as perfection, only procrastination.

Work on your mindset every single day. As my future, million-dollar business coach Marshawn Evans Daniels says, “What you believe, you build.” You have to believe that what you’re building is worth the investment of time, energy, and funds. You have to face your fears head-on. Once you identify those roadblocks or triggers you can deal with them and move past them.

Write down your weekly business goals. Put it somewhere you look at every day and say them every day.

GET A PROFESSIONAL EMAIL. Invest right off the bat. It looks more professional and boosts your credibility immediately. I cringe when I see @gmail.com or @yahoo.com.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Absolutely! I realized I needed a digital marketer like yesterday! I think I’m a pretty good writer, but I need someone to help me create better engaging content. I also have no clue how to create a content strategy.

I’d like to pay someone to create content and graphics for me every month because honestly, I don’t like social media that much to do it.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Danielle Price,   Founder of SOS Romance Planning Service
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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