After being a bridesmaid for many friends, Jen Glantz wondered if she could turn the role into a paying job.
She posted an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone would want to hire a professional bridesmaid, and after receiving hundreds of interested emails, Glantz decided to make her idea a reality.
First, she identified the main requests from her clients and strategized what services she could offer that would be beneficial to brides in need.
She built a website, and worked her first handful of weddings as case studies.
Since starting the business over six years ago, Glantz has worked with hundreds of clients and continually finds ways to optimize and improve her services.
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I first got the idea to start a company called Bridesmaid for Hire after I’d been a bridesmaid at over a dozen of my friend’s weddings. One night, two distant friends called me up and asked me to be their bridesmaid, and I thought to myself, ” Jen! You hardly speak to these people. This should be a job! You should get paid.”
I acted on that idea shortly after, posting an ad on Craigslist offering my services to strangers as their hired bridesmaid for the day. I knew the idea was worthy of a full business plan because so many people vented about how their friends just couldn’t be the support system they needed on their wedding day. Other people said they didn’t have a lineup of people to pick from them, and had to ask distant relatives or friends they hadn’t spoken to in years.
After I started the business, so many people told me they thought of this idea years ago, but never acted on it. And while having a business idea is great, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t act on it. I did, and turned my idea into a business that’s serviced hundreds of clients over the years. Here’s the five steps I took.
First, I tested the idea with an audience
Once the idea popped into my head, I acted instantly. I knew if I asked people in my life what they thought about me starting a business where strangers could hire me to be their bridesmaid, they’d probably laugh or completely dismiss it. But they weren’t my target audience.
So I went to a place where a lot of people go to look and search for things — Craigslist. I posted an ad there offering my services as a professional bridesmaid. I hoped the ad would tell me if there was general interest in this idea, and also the reason behind the interest. I posted the ad and got hundreds of emails from potential customers who wanted to hire me. This helped me validate the idea and then start designing a business model.
I now had to identify the ‘why’ behind the problem
I went through the hundreds of emails I received, started to read through the problems and reasons behind why these people wanted to hire me, and began to notice common things.
People wanted to hire me because they had friends who were filled with drama or had complicated, busy lives. People wanted to hire me because they didn’t have close friends anymore, but craved a support system for their wedding. People wanted to hire me to have an unbiased person to vent to and provide advice along the way. After identifying these buckets of problems, I was able to create my initial package offerings to attract customers based on their specific needs.
Next, I built the infrastructure for my business
Within days of the ad getting a lot of traction, I built a website, shared package details, and gave people an opportunity to reach out to me if they were interested. This allowed me to establish a brand for the business, build credibility, and give the idea a home.
I was able to educate potential customers, share details of what to expect using a brand new service that never existed, and even allowed them to learn more about me as the business owner and service provider. Doing this allowed me to put the idea into motion and legitimize the business quickly.
I launched with a few test weddings
I booked my first five weddings in less than a week after posting the Craigslist ad. They were all paying customers, but I used their weddings as case studies to help me understand how to improve my business. They taught me what details I needed to add into customer contracts before we worked together, how to restructure my pricing to account for pre-wedding phone calls and meetings, and more. These test weddings allowed me to get mistakes out of the way and improve the business fast.
I continued to optimize and improve over the first year
To make sure the business continued to grow and be successful, I had to innovate a lot during the first year. Within months of launching, I added new packages (virtual bridesmaid and packages for maids-of-honor) and hired people to help me work the influx of weddings that were coming in. Keeping a growth mindset allowed my business to grow and scale fast.
The best businesses start off with an idea you can’t forget about. But what makes one person take the idea and run away with it first is a strong passion, a tight strategy, and the determination to not let rejection or failure stop them.
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