Last week, Solution Entertainment celebrated its 10th birthday at Food & Desire’s new venue WHITE LANE in the CBD. There was champagne. There were oysters. There was 10-piece gospel choir. We know how to throw a party. But what was more exciting was the feeling in the room. 150 clients, suppliers, friends and family. People who had been with us from the beginning.
We started as an entertainment agency booking DJs and have grown into a full event production and entertainment agency facilitating everything from small bespoke events to major public activations on a national scale. At our 10-year celebration, it was amazing to see how far we’ve come as a company, how different we are from when we set up shop a decade ago and yet how much nothing has changed.
So without getting sentimental (ok, maybe just slightly), here are my 10 top takeaways from the last 10 years of business.
Obviously relationships with clients need to be nurtured. But it’s the relationships with staff and suppliers that are the key. My team are the face of my brand. They humanise my company. I never forget that without my team and my suppliers, Solution Entertainment just couldn’t do what it does.
2. Reputation is everything
This advice was given to me when I started and it’s proved true time and time again. No matter what industry you are in, people talk. If you treat you staff badly, if you have a negative dealing with a supplier, people will know about it. If you go above and beyond for a client, if you deliver beyond what was expected, people will know about it. It all comes out. And it sticks. You never know which potential client will hear something about you that will change their mind about working with you for better or for worse.
3. There will always be curve balls
Just when you think you have everything under control…BAM! For one event we organised, we were sent a fake bank note for a huge sum of money. This meant that we were paid a deposit but never paid for the remainder. We lost a huge amount of money ensuring that every single supplier was paid. This was a defining moment for me personally and a defining moment for the business. It was one thing to say that I value my supplier relationships and that reputation is everything, but I made sure my actions backed up my words. How you treat people when the going gets tough says a lot about a person and a company.
4. It’s not a straight line
Success isn’t a straight line on a graph leading to a final destination. As a business owner, there will always be highs and lows. It’s a moment by moment balancing act. Enjoy the highs. Relish them. Celebrate them. Learn from the lows. Celebrate them too. They will pass, along with the highs. Nothing is permanent. It’s all growth.
5. Customer experience is key
In the events industry, it’s all about the customer. Whether they want to make a splash in the media or throw a great party, our job is to ensure they are happy. But it’s not about the end result. It’s about the whole customer experience. They should feel heard, in control and confident throughout. They will remember an epic party. But more so, they will remember that you were there from the beginning and how hard you worked to make it happen.
6. Love it
We love what we do at Solution Entertainment. We love the interaction with suppliers and clients. We love thinking of fun ideas, and seeing them come to life. There are all sorts of inspirational posters telling you to love what you do so that it doesn’t feel like work. They’re a lie! It’s not all dancing and race cars, it’s a LOT of hard work and sometimes (most of the time) it feels like hard work. But we put in the effort because we never forget why we do what we do.
7. No rest for the wicked!
Things change fast. Just blink and your website is out of date! Another blink and there’s a new trend in entertainment. Plan for change. With the way social and digital is headed, we feel like we’re constantly trying to stay on top of things. We’ve just updated our branding and launched our new website. Accept that things change and always keep moving.
8. Work / life / life / work
Get a life. There will be moments that work completely takes over. But where you can, make sure you give yourself time with your family, your friends and do what you love to do. You’re far more efficient, creative and hard working when you’ve had the time to regroup and reconnect with what you love outside of work.
9. Personality plus
My business is who I am. I inject my personality in my business. That’s how I connect with the right employees and attract the right clients and develop relationships with suppliers that have spanned a decade. I have an amazing support network of people who have helped build my business, from loyal clients to suppliers that I call friends. I can’t separate my business from who I am. It means I take things personally when things go wrong. But it also means that I put everything I am into what I do. It’s about being authentic and connecting with others who run their business the same way.
Number 10 is…. yet to be written. Because after 10 years in business, I know the most important lesson is…we don’t know it all! Every day is different. Every year sets us on a new trajectory. The opportunities are endless. The hurdles are many. But we leave space for the unknown. For the good and the bad. The ups and the downs. We put it in the hard work. We remain true to our vision. We leave room for the unwritten rules. Here’s to the next decade and the learning yet to happen….