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This article was submitted by Angel Neal of The Wedding Guide. Angel has spent the last five years working in the wedding industry in the US and the UK, and was thrilled to find a business opportunity in that area in Spain. Angel is a driven individual but knows how to recognize and compensate for her weaknessess - a fact that she thinks can be the difference between success and failure for new businesses.
Moving to Spain was a huge turning point for me. Over the New Year celebrations, I looked back at 2005 and wondered if the new year would be as much of a struggle, and feel as stale as the old one. I worked hard, and yet never seemed to be able to save. The weather was gloomy and depressing, and limited any outdoor activities. My flat was damp and unwelcoming and a new house seemed years away. While I had a good job, it didn't offer any challenges or opportunities to advance. After a week's holiday in the South of Spain in January, my decision was made. Like many others, the lure of warmer weather and a relaxed lifestyle seemed too good to ignore. Moving was a big risk, but also offered a chance to change my life for the better. I gave myself one year to see what would happen.
One of my biggest goals for my new life was to have the flexibility and fulfillment of running my own business. I spent weeks thinking about ideas, and how I could find my niche in this growing community. In an area where the number of English speakers is growing faster than services and suppliers, there are lot of opportunities to start a business. However, there are also several flooded marketplaces. Fortunately, I am not a hairdresser, plumber or aspiring bar owner trying to make a living alongside many others like me. The question was, what could I offer that nobody else could? The key to success was finding something that filled a need, and used my unique knowledge and skills. Not an easy task.
The answer came to me at a local networking lunch for business women. Several people I spoke with were running businesses tailored for special events, and specifically weddings, yet there was no central place for brides-to-be to find these people. In fact, I had spoken to several young couples who had struggled to find reputable, English speaking suppliers and vendors for their Spanish wedding. Having worked in the wedding industry in the US and the UK, I knew what a lucrative industry it was, and I was amazed that no one had formed a directory of these suppliers. I was also delighted, as this gap was exactly the opportunity to suit me. With a strong background in the wedding industry I already had plenty of ideas of how to bring brides and suppliers together. My experience in marketing, website building, and publishing would also prove invaluable.
While I was excited and confident about my idea, I had seen many new business ventures fail because of lack of preparation, experience and commitment. Having run my own business in the past, I knew that there was more to success than finding a good idea. At the end of the day, the figures have to add up, and more importantly when 'living the dream' they have to be realistic. Fortunately, in this case, the figures looked good. I had the expertise to personally do most of the work myself without hiring third parties, and the financial risk was low. I spent many hours weighing up the pros and cons of the business, but at the end of the day the best wisdom comes from experience, and sometimes the only way to see what will work is to try it.
In January 2007, the first local issue of The Wedding Guide (covering the Costa Blanca/ Costa Calida area) will be published, listing vendors and suppliers ranging from florists to venues to entertainment. The partner website, www.theweddingguide.eu is further reaching, covering the whole of Spain, providing English speaking brides a great resource to finding local vendors and suppliers for the wedding anywhere in Spain. By 2008, I hope to have four published Wedding Guides, and be one of the top online resources for brides planning a wedding in Spain.
Ten months into my 'trial year' and I have no regrets, and no intention of going back to my old life. As an added bonus, I am thrilled to be able to provide employment for other ex-pats in Spain, as salespeople for space in the online and published directories. 'The Wedding Guide' projects will help to build other small businesses in Spain, and provide opportunities for more people to experience the freedom and excitement of bringing in their own income whilst 'living the dream.'