FAQs: When did you get your first million dollar job?

(Step Up, Step Down image via Cygnus921)

Last week I wrote about being in debt for over a million dollars 15 years ago. Getting a few of these high-end jobs was the only possible way I could have been able to pay back that money and stay in business.

It’s very uncomfortable for me to even write about money because this is a big, dark secret most of us hide for a few reasons:

  1. We do not want to be perceived as if we are showing off.
  2. We do not want our competitors to know what we are making.
  3. Culturally, it’s a no-no.

The only reason I have descided to talk about this is that I have a very strong feeling that we are all in the event industry, but most of us have no clue about the time it takes to grow a business.

In order to do this, I’d like to give you a general history of how my company grew financially.

Before I do, let’s answer the question above: It took me 22 years before I was fortunate enough to do a complete transformation for the cost of 1 million dollars.

However, we all have our own journey, some faster, others slower, but ultimately it is about doing the work and having lots of faith to allow this, to happen organically.

My Time line:

  • 1980 My first job doing weekly flowers. $200
  • 1983 My first client’s daughter getting married lead to my first wedding for 250 $4000.
  • 1985 Another milestone: a wedding for 300 people $10,000
  • 1988 A corporate event for Christie’s galleries $15,000
  • 1990 Job in tent in Connecticut $22,000
  • 1995 Wedding for 500 people in New york $50,000
  • 1996 Fashion show event for Mr. John Galliano $100,000 (I thought I died and went to heaven)
  • 1997 Wedding for 1000 people $250,000
  • 1998 Another wedding transformation $450,000
  • 1999 First event overseas $500,000
  • 2002 Complete transformation and decor $1 million

When I hit this million dollar job, it was without question a dream come true. However, this dream did not happen over night. There were many up and down prices in between the milestones, including a very bad recession in the early nineties.

As I said in my post yesterday, if you are going to dream big, one of the most important points to remember is that you are going to need lots and lots of PATIENCE.

I believe most dreams die because of our lack of waiting.

I know because I have also had many of those.

Do you have a financial dream goal? Are you blessed with patience? Do you feel your company is growing at the right pace? What do you think is stopping you from reaching your financial goal?

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  • http://YOURWEBSITE Future Event Planner

    Thank you so much. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I was just speaking to my husband about letting go of this dream and moving on. It’s been 3 years and I just felt as if I wasn’t where I wanted to be…..

    Your story really made a difference

  • http://www.an-elegant-affair.net Brenna Taylor

    Thanks so much for this post. It definitely puts things in perspective for me. Gotta keep pressing!

  • http://www.joanatomova.com joana tomova

    As I said before, you are amazing person, I dont’t know many people who will talk about money /I can’t think even for one…./ . My big dream is to become “Preston Bailey” in Bulgaria some day… And when that day comes I’ll come to America and give you an autograph on my first book! :-)))) I think that dream is big enough :-)

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    Thank you for having the courage to share your story with us. Yesterday’s blog was timely for me as it was my birthday. As so many of us do, I took an evaluation of my life and promised this year I would begin my foray into event planning. Your recent posts have encouraged me and reminded me to be patient. Your words have also reminded me when my time comes (and it will) to pay it forward.

  • http://www.inwater.ie Emma

    I am sure i am with thousands and thousands of florists across the world ( i am in Ireland) when i ask , would it ever be possible that you would think of running some sort of eg competition to allow a florist of you choice to come work with you for experience !!!???? LIVING IN HOPE!!!

  • http://Inthemaking April J. Banks

    I was just looking at you website and you have made my day.

    I feel like I have been given hope and direction in my life.

    I am starting my own business and I am trying figure out were and how do I begin.

    I love Event Planning and Venues. I want to begin right away but I am not sure how to start.

    Do you have any ideas? Please help, I want to be just like you.

  • http://www.dragonflyevent.com Thom Green

    After 7 years in DC we downsized and moved to New England. We cut out all corporate events and most social events. Got kind of scary but now we are attracting 50 to 100K weddings. Maybe it’s our one event per weekend with a high minimum. I don’t know but I’m working harder now than then only I have lots of spread time between events which is really sweet, go figure. It seems to snowball.

  • kaye

    Thank you. I am a school teacher during the week and I design any and every event when given the opportunity. I have a strong passion for both my current and dream careers. Being a teacher however does not pay very well a d it requires a lot. I merge the two by giving my students never before seen decor at prom, homecoming, graduation. .. I am the in school event designer. I am nothing to the world right now but I’m kind of a big deal to my school family. I very recently discovered more problems with my ever increasing debt. I sat thinking of a new plan and it included leaving both education and events. It seemed as if I am running very fast with all my might, only to realize I am on a treadmill. I read this… and I see that if it took someone as amazing as you are 22 years, then I can’t expect overnight (or 2year) succes. Thanks for giving me back my hope.

  • https://www.google.com/profiles/109748370553744581491 Tracii

    Many times I have hit the “I should just walk away” point.(I there right now) The time line you have shown is most certainly perseverance. I guess I should revisit my goals & see which ones I hit & missed and write some new ones. I love what you do, I love how you share & dang you look MARVELOUS at 61 !!!!!

  • http://www.events-ualities.com L

    “if you are going to dream big, one of the most important points to remember is that you are going to need lots and lots of PATIENCE. I believe most dreams die because of our lack of waiting.”

    Thank you — I needed that, Preston.

  • http://etsy.com/shop/CorrineONeill Corrine O’Neill

    I am learning patience. My business is growing and for that I am thankful; my hard work is starting to pay off. I would like to double my growth by January 2011. I am lacking the funds for advertisements and this is holding me back. I know that if I had more views I would have more sales.

  • http://www.awincyglassndesign.com Wincy

    Very timely information for me. Thanks for your openness

  • http://prizmatikinteriors.com Jonathan bates

    Your candor speaks to the wisdom that has guided you through the years. You’re exactly right, it takes time and patience. My business is beginning to grow but I realize that as you stated, “time” and “patience” are the factors that will see me through to reaching my ultimate goals for prizmatikinteriors. Thanks again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/UrbanGypsy3101 Urban Gypsy

    I was going to give up today. Then I saw your post. Thank you for your inspiration. I’m making a plan to find a way to stick with with. It’s taking off, but I have to hold tight for it to take off AND come back. Thanks for everything Preston!

  • http://www.eventswithexcellence.com Nishaka

    Excellent Blog! You are absolutely right. We lack patience. Each person’s journey may or may not deliver major results fast, but if you are seeing some incremental growth each year that is awesome. Especially during this down economic season. Waiting is hard because we want things right now. If we stay focus on our passion, focus on opportunities to continue to improve, make new connections, and leverage existing relationships, we will continue to see growth.

    My Financial Dream Goal is on my Vision Board. I look at everyday. I have patience in some areas and God continues to expand my patience through people and situations. Each year, I have seen incremental growth the 3 years I’ve been in business full time. For 2011, we are potentially on track to double the revenue. Signing new contracts now for next year. In the next 3 years-5years I am expecting to hit the Financial Goal. At this time, nothing is me holding back. There was at one time, but not now. I am continuing to learn business knowledge and strategies through mentors and coaches, make great connections, be visible, and build my team.

    Thanks Preston for your openness share!

  • http://www.dossiea.com JESSICA@DOSSIE-A

    I just have to say, as a fairly new business owner, it is hard not to compare yourself to the ones you look up to and not be disappointed. Not knowing their struggles to get there, it’s just assumed they walked into a fully functioning and effectively successful business.
    Your post brings it into perspective and a reality young business owners, like myself, need! It’s encouraging and I appreciate your willingness to share!

  • http://www.thefrenchbouquettulsa.com/blog Savannah (Pearls and Pages)

    Just had to comment, again, Preston. :) What a very interesting post. I think you hit it on the head that a lot of dreams die because we lack patience.

    My new company (Pearls and Pages: Blogging & Social Media Marketing) is already well above where I could imagine for having only begun this summer. But, of course, I would love to grow bigger and faster, but with each day I have to be grateful and continue working hard. I know that some times I may feel like my business is sluggish, other times it’ll seem as if I have died and gone to heaven– it’ll never be consistent and knowing this, and being patient and continuing to work hard and well, are the keys to success. It’s always great to hear little reminders like this, and to even see a timeline laid out. Thanks!

    I haven’t laid out a particular financial goal right now. My goal is to gain at least one more client by the end of Q1 2011 and I just know I can do it. It’s not a small goal, nor is it extravagant, but I believe it is attainable with a lot of hard work and dedication. I must stay optimistic and just press on– through good times and bad. :)


    The French Bouquet: http://www.thefrenchbouquettulsa.com/blog

  • http://sjbweddingsandeventsblog.com Shanika Butts

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog. Your honesty and transparency is humbling and extraordinary. I think of this very topic everyday. I’ve been in the wedding planning biz for 4 years and I own a bridal boutique. It has been a very slow climb, but I’m blessed to say that I’m still climbing. I’ve thought that it just takes this one client, or this one business deal to propel you to the top, but by your list of milestones it obviously takes many. I can’t say enough thank yous for posting on this topic and your continuous encouragement.

  • http://www.CamilleVictoriaWeddings.com Camille

    Thanks for sharing! It can be difficult to talk about the realities of starting a business, but your experiences are definitely encouraging!

  • http://www.sweetchicevents.com/blog Charlene @ Sweetchic

    Thank you so much for your honesty and this inspirational post!! It’s reassuring to know that even the great Preston Bailey didn’t get to the top overnight, and is a lesson in patience!

  • http://www.myfleurjourney.blogspot.com Evon

    Am speechless after reading this post, as other bloggers have commented, it really puts things in perspective. It is easy to look at your success now and forget the long and windy road you took to get to where you are. Oh, you must start writing an autobiography (yes, on top of the million of things you are doing!) I just can’t help but wonder about all the details of exactly how things happen since your first job in 1980..

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Annmarie



    When i put my heart and soul in to my work, and when the bride and all her guess love what we have created….. That is worth a million to me…:)))) i love what i do….my goal would be to do a real high profile wedding… NOW THAT WOULD BE THE ICING ON THE CAKE!!! X

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Izzy

    Thanks for the post. Yes, I agree it is all about baby steps and having smaller goals that just keep you moving forward. Patience is the key. We are growing, we do our very best every time and with time we just hope to break into larger brackets. If you love something you have to be ready for long term. :)