Anti 9-to-5 profile: Liene Stevens

July 26th, 2007

blueorchiddesigns.jpgThe anti 9-to-5er: Liene Stevens, Scottsdale, Arizona

My job: Event consultant and designer. After working in events in both the non-profit and corporate sectors, I opened up shop for myself in 2006 with the creation of Blue Orchid Designs, a luxury wedding and event firm.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: Working for myself, I try to have a paperless office as much as possible. Faxes are sent from and delivered to my email inbox, my phone can sync with my calendars, and the phone numbers roll to my cell so I can have the office wherever I’m at. I semi-joke that my car is my office and that I’d be lost without my laptop or phone.

I work more hours than I have in any other job, but the difference now is that I love what I do so it isn’t draining. I can work in the middle of the night and have the freedom to take an extended lunch with a friend who may be in town. Having burned out while working for a non-profit, I knew that I wanted to set up a flexible structure so that I could stick this out for the long haul. Now that I have that freedom in my life I can’t imagine going back to the 9-5 cubicle.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I worked in both the accounting and event planning fields for seven years. Polar opposites, but knowing how to crunch the numbers has more than paid for itself in venturing out on my own.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I usually take a long time to make decisions, but with this one, I decided to start the company and within a few days had registered for my EIN [employer ID number from the IRS] and my business licenses and was filing the rest of the paperwork. I had some money in savings, so that helped float my living and startup expenses. After starting up, I wrote my business and marketing plans. I know that I am going in reverse order to what all the experts advise, but it is what worked for me.

My biggest obstacles: My biggest obstacles were probably my own naivete of how the industry ran, specifically the wedding industry. I had been involved in business and charity events, but the wedding industry is an entirely different animal. I have been fortunate to have partnered with some honest, genuine, and like-minded people, but the wedding business can be very harsh, back-biting, and full of ego.

My tips for other cubicle expats: For people specifically wanting to get into the wedding planning field, I would recommend really pinpointing why you want to. It is a lot of fun, but it also includes giving up weekends and a lot of evenings and can lead to burnout really quickly if your heart’s not really in it.

I’d also recommend finding like-minded people and being choosy as to which organizations you join, as several are outdated and are more for name recognition than education and business building. Most will let you attend a meeting or two as a guest so you’ll be able to get an idea of whether or not they will be a good fit for what you are doing.

Also, advertising can suck you dry, especially in startup, so really research which avenues will give you the best ROI [return on investment] for those dollars.

What’s that link again? Blue Orchid Weddings and Blue Orchid Blog

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Entry Filed under: Anti 9-to-5 profiles

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cicely Rocha-Miller  |  July 26th, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Kudos Liene. You are doing an excellent job and I am proud to be your friend!

  • 2. Barbara Saunders  |  August 22nd, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    It’s interesting that the first thing you cited as making the business anti-9-to-5 was the paperless office. In other words, you are efficient! Shouldn’t 9-to-5 businesses be striving for the same thing?

  • 3. j.brown  |  October 20th, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    i appreciate how specific she was about how she started up. useful info for me.

  • 4. Amy Petrovsky, Sensational Events  |  December 16th, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I believe in the same philosophy and wouldn’t have my world be any other way!!!

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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