Tell us about yourself and your company.
My name is Jodie Gray and I’m the owner and director of Moor Hall Wedding Venue, an exclusive venue in Aveley, Essex.
How did it all start? How long have you been doing it for?
My parents bought it as our family home sixteen years ago, and we have always had big family parties and events here. We would hire marquees for the garden, and they would usually be quite damp and not really put away properly so it was in the back of our minds to get one for ourselves. After my mum’s 50th birthday party here where we had Jocelyn Brown sing as a surprise, it was such a great time and after that my dad decided to do it properly and make it in a venue. A week later he started laying the foundations for our permanent wedding and event location! That was in 2012 and we had our first actual wedding August 2013.
We had planned to start in 2014 but things evolved quicker even though it took a while for my mum to come around to the idea, she didn’t want people roaming around in her back garden. My dad owns a wholesale florist and was still doing that, I was still working full time initially in the City as a PA and then two years ago I moved to an office job closer to home but still working full time and doing the weddings part time. In December 2017 I left my job and started working at the venue full time.
What do you love about being a business owner?
I love not having to answer to anyone! And not making tea for anyone else! It’s not about running anyone’s else life or business now, but it does come with a lot of responsibilities and that’s daunting in itself. I couldn’t see myself being able to work a standard 9-5 now in an office, but I wouldn’t say its out the question forever.
What are your dreams and ambitions for your business?
To grow really – that’s our biggest dream, reach our maximum capacity for weddings, become much established and better known, which comes in time and we are heading in the right direction.
What advice from your experiences would you give to other women business owners, and to women thinking of starting up their own business?
I think that you have to believe in yourself 100% and follow your dreams. There is a big risk in giving up your day job, give yourself a deadline or a goal to work towards; for me I decided I wanted to have left my full-time job by 30 and be doing the weddings full time which I did. It’s important to stick to the goal, keep it in your head for something to really work towards.
Are you part of any networking circles that you would recommend? How have they helped your business?
I have recently joined one to one business coaching with Tanya Hill of Action Coach, which enables me to network with other business owners. I am also part of a Facebook group for wedding venue consultants – it’s a closed group designed for people in the same position. The Action Coaching has encouraged me to mix with like-minded people that are about owning their business and taking it forward in the best way possible. It’s made me learn you have to change things to make a success.
The biggest thing for me was learning about the financials side of things, I didn’t know any of this before. One of the first questions Tanya asked me was about the company turnover and I didn’t have a clue really. Initially you start thinking “oh no am I the only one who doesn’t know these numbers” and then you realise there are plenty of people out there in business who are the same. I’m not from a financial background, I didn’t understand profit margins, growth profit, didn’t know the difference between revenue and turnover… and now I do. I’ve attended some business workshops recently and it’s given me a boost of confidence in running the business, but it’s also opened up my eyes to the fact there is SO much out there when you run a business that you have to be aware of. I would highly recommend taking the time to work alongside a business coach, it is a case of you get out of it what you put into it, you have work and be willing to learn but it’s a great way to do it with the right support in place.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t doing your current job?
When I was a PA if I was asked that question I would have said an event organiser, so I guess that’s actually come true. I studied performing arts at college and thought I would be an actress for most of my life. I suppose if I had a choice I would be an actress and a singer! I do all the front of house stuff now for the weddings though, get on the mic and be the MC, I love it!
How do you make your home/work life balance?
It was tough for a while, I was working Monday to Friday and then working on the weddings on Saturdays so Sundays were a case of recovering and getting ready to work again on Monday. Giving up my full-time job was a massive step in making the work/home life balance for me. Now I make a conscious decision on my working hours here and stick to them. As it’s like a home away from home I could end up staying here all night so I make sure I finish and go home. Because I work weekends I take Mondays off and I make time for myself. I don’t do any work related things and I think that’s really important.
One thing for me that really helps although I realise it’s not possible for many people is I removed my work emails from my phone so now I only ever really reply to people when I’m in the office. I did think to myself should I do that, but then I was replying to enquiries at 11pm at night and it was getting too much. I have a real bugbear about people using their phones at the dinner table, I was brought up to have that family time together, to sit and talk about your day, and I don’t want technology to take over that.
What’s your top organisational tip?
Make lists! I used to be super organised when I was a PA for someone else but I don’t feel so on top of it all the time now I’m running Moor Hall. I love a list though, writing it down on paper and crossing it off when I’ve done it, it’s a great feeling ha!
While visiting we were able to take a tour of the grounds of Moor Hall and it is a really beautiful place. We love what Jodie and her family have done to make it a special wedding venue!
Check out their website http://www.moorhallvenue.co.uk/
Or speak to Jodie Gray for any enquiries on firstname.lastname@example.orgSubscribe To Our Blog