Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Can You Create a Full-time Income From Balloons? by Guest Blogger Sonia Payne

Can You Create a Full-time Income From Balloons? by Guest Blogger Sonia Payne

This question is something I frequently get asked by people growing their balloon businesses. It is also a question all balloon business owners ask themselves at some point. For some it is before they start their business, and for others it comes a little further down the line. In this blog I am going to look at whether it’s really possible and what you need to do in order to create a full-time income from your balloons business.

Full-time Income Means Different Things To DifferentPeople

Before we get into whether it is possible… I guess we need to understand that full-time income means different things to different people. Your personal circumstances, household income, expenditure and number of dependents will obviously have a big impact on this. The hours you have available to dedicate to growing your business and the experience you have at running a business also have a bearing on the success of a business.

If They Did It… So Can You!

I ran my balloons and venue decor business full-time, as the sole-earner for my family, for nearly a decade, and totally believe it is possible but as the market is shifting constantly, I like to keep abreast as to what is happening outside of my local area.

Every year around this time I ask the question “Is it possible to create a full-time business from balloons only?” on The Qualatex Balloon Facebook Group.

It is my personal thermometer of how the industry is performing as a whole. I am astounded every year by the response and the positivity within the industry! When I asked this week, I had 77 comments responding to the question! Of all the responses, only 5 felt it was not possible at this time. Many of the full-time balloon business owners had been running their full-time businesses for decades, as well as employed lots of staff and earned hundreds of thousands of pounds annually. Two companies reported earning over a million dollars per year just from balloon sales. Now if that is not inspiring, then I don’t know what is!

You can read their responses and thoughts on taking your balloon business full-time to the question here:
You will need to be a member of the group to view it!


And, if you are interested the 2021 responses during Covid they are here:


I decided to dig a little deeper by searching Companies House here in the UK, and found numerous companies accounting 5 or 6 figures, reinforcing my belief that it absolutely IS possible to grow a full-time profitable balloon business!

What Does it Take to Create a Full-time Profitable Balloon Business?

Okay so now we have established it is possible, the next question I usually get is can anybody do it? 
I firmly believe that with the right mindset and business skills anybody can build a successful business from balloon decoration that delivers a full-time income. What do I mean by right mindset and business skills? There are some key elements to becoming successful, and these elements were repeated in the facebook posts above by all the truly successful balloon business owners:

You need to believe you can do it…
Sure there will be days every business owner wonders if it is actually possible but you need to get up every single day with the belief it will happen and that you are capable of achieving what you want. Mindset is key to running a full-time profitable business!

You need to have a clear vision and destination for where you are taking your business.

You also need to work out what it will take to get you there in terms of investment and growth, how much sales you need to bring in and the profit you need to make to grow your business. Set end goals and stepping stones along the way to reach those goals. Check in with your destination daily and make sure everything you are doing is moving you towards your end goals

You need to CONSISTENTLY price for profit.
The key to any successful balloon business, including one that delivers you a full-time income, is that you need to price for profit and growth in your business. You also need to be constantly watching the cash flowing in and out of your business and making sure you are generating the profit you need. The biggest reason people don’t achieve a full-time income often comes down to poor pricing and poor control of finances.

You need to consistently market your business to the type of customers you want
and need to grow a full-time business.

You need to actively get out there and find them. It’s not enough to hope or pray the right people find your business… you need to work out who they are, where they are and then get in front of them! It takes more work than you think to find the right customers who will grow your business full-time, but once you do the magic really starts to happen!

You need to put systems in place so that you can become super productive
and ensure the time spent in your business generates the right level of profit to create a full-time income. Time is the most valuable asset any balloon business has, and you need to maximise and spend it wisely!

Today’s business world is fast paced and constantly evolving… You need to constantly adapt to the marketplace. You need to spend time working ON your business as well as in your business to ensure your business is capitalising on opportunities, and you are ready for any challenges that lie ahead.

But What About Balloon Skill?

It may surprise you that nowhere in the list above have I mentioned balloon skills… Whilst undoubtedly being an amazing balloon artist will help, unfortunately there are many hugely creative and talented individuals within the industry who are struggling to make a full-time income out of balloons. Maybe you are one of them and that’s why you are reading this blog post? It may surprise you but I promise it is actually more than possible to make a successful profitable full-time balloon business doing only the more basic balloon decor. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to build a profitable and successful balloon business if you are highly skilled in balloons but don’t understand how to run a business…

The Good News Is Anyone Can Learn to Run a Business!

Before you throw your arms up in despair at that last sentence… I just want to leave you with a final thought… anyone can learn to run a business. That includes you! All the skills you need to run a full-time profitable business can be learnt. It’s no different to learning any skill set. Some of it you will learn by trial and error as you progress, but I would encourage you to consider that in order to run a full-time profitable business you need to spend as much time, energy, passion and money on learning to run a business as you do on learning new balloon skills and equipment. If you look across the industry at those who are carving amazing businesses across the world, it’s clear that they invest in themselves, their knowledge and their business!

🎈Until next time… Stay amazing!🎈

Sonia x

About the author: Sonia Payne is the founder of the Balloon Business Academy. She has spent over ten years growing her own balloon and decor business. She now works with creative entrepreneurs to show them how to start and grow a balloon business the quick and easy way! Having previously spent 10 years coaching in sales and marketing, she can show them how they can create an amazing profitable and sustainable business by showing what really works to get quick results without the stress!

To find out more about Balloon Biz Academy and read more of Sonia's great articles visit https://www.balloonbizacademy.co.uk

What a great post, and thank you to everyone who responded to Sonia's question on the Qualatex Facebook page.

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me @suebowler

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ballooning Decorating Formula's

When calculating the number of balloons that you will need to create decor, knowing which formula's to use can be a hugely beneficial. 

Let me give you an example: I want to create a garland of balloons to cover a hoop, see example below. How can you calculate the number of balloons you will need?

Photo courtesy of AeröPole System

There are several formulas that you can use to give you an accurate answer.

Let's start by determining the size of a hoop.To work out the circumference of the hoop your first need to measure the diameter. 
  • The circumference is the measurement of a circle around the edge of the hoop or any circular frame.
  • The diameter is the measurement straight across a circle or hoop from one side to the other.

To get started you will need to measure your hoop or circular frame from edge to edge to find the diameter.

For this example let us say that our hoops diameter measures 6ft or 1.82m.

To calculate the circumference of our hoop we multiply 6 (the diameter of the hoop in feet) by 3.14 (the value of π) which equals 18.84ft. For the circumference in meters, the equation is 1.82 (the diameter of the hoop in meters) multiplied by 3.14 (the value of π) which equals 5.71m.

Now we know what the circumference of our hoop is we can calculate the number of balloons that we are going to need to cover it. 

If we are using balloons inflated to the same size, then this should be pretty straightforward. You will need the Spiral Garland Chart. To be honest, I have no idea why it is called a Spiral Garland Chart? Personally, for me it is just a Garland Chart, and it only becomes a spiral when different coloured balloons are used to create the spiral pattern! 

So now we need to decide how big we want to inflate our balloons. On a 6ft or 1.82m wide hoop, you don't want the balloons to be too big or too dominant on the frame, unless that is the look that you are aiming for. For this example we are going to use balloons inflated to 8" or 20cm's. We are going to make our Garland using 4-balloon clusters, aka quads, as many balloon professionals call them.

In the green section in the chart above, the balloons are measured in inches and in the peach section the balloon are measured in cm. 

The chart suggests that when you inflate balloons to 8" you will need 7.6 balloons per foot of garland, and when you inflate the balloons to 20cm's you will need 25.10 balloons per meter.

We already know that to cover our hoop we will need: 18.84ft or 5.71m of Garland

So, to calculate the total number of balloons that you will need:

Multiply 7.6 (the number of balloons per foot) x 18.84 (the total length of Garland we will need to cover the hoop) = 143.18 (which will be roughly 35 clusters or 140 balloons)

Or multiple 5.71 (the number of balloons per meter) x 25.10 (the number of balloons per meter) = 143.321 which is exactly the same as the result above - phew, thank goodness!

So to summarise: to cover a 6ft or 1.82m hoop with a garland of balloons sized to 8", I will need approximately 140 balloons. 

If you want to make your hoop in an organic style, how can you calculate the number of balloons that you will need to cover the hoop? For this equation you will need to create your own chart which will determine how many balloons that you use per foot or per meter when making an organic garland. Many decorators have an organic formula where they use 'X' as the number of 11" and 16" per foot or meter, and the sizes that they will be roughly inflated to. This is the only way that you will be able to use this formula when making your organic decor - always allow extra balloons for organic style decor for the add-on's that you will use to enhance the organic look to your design! 

How many balloons would be required to cover a ceiling? 

For this example, we will use 11" balloons inflated to 11" using helium to calculate how many balloons we will need to fill a ceiling that is 15' x 15'. 

To start,  we must first determine how much space an 11" balloon takes up? 

The first thing that we need to determine is the radius of an 11" balloon.
  • The radius is the measurement from the centre to the outside of a circle or sphere.

The radius of an 11" balloon at it's widest point is 5.5"

Now we need to calculate the amount of space an 11" balloon will take up.

5.5 x 5.5 x π ( π = 3.14) = 95 square inches per 11" balloon (the volume of space an 11" balloons will take up.)

Our ceiling space is 15' x 15' which is equivalent to 180" x 180" (we have converted our equation to inches because our balloon is measured in inches.

We now need to calculate the total number in square inches we have to fill.

180 x 180 = 32,400

We know that an 11" balloon is equivalent to 95 square inches, so we need to divide the total ceiling space size size (32,400") by the size of one of the 11" balloons ( 95").

32,400 ÷ 95 = 341

Therefore, we will need approximately 341 x 11" balloons inflated to 11" to fill a 15' x 15' ceiling! 

If this all sounds overly complicated, there is an easy solution that you can use. Balloonpro.co offers custom resources made for the balloon decorating industry. With online design tools and calculators you can easily create beautiful and intricate balloon columns, arches, walls and organics. 
Included with membership, you will also have access to:
  • Organic Calculator
  • Balloon Column Calculator
  • Loose Balloon Quantity Calculator 
I used the Loose Balloon Quantity Calculator to calculate the same example as above.

The result using Balloon Pro versus the method that I showed above is very similar. My calculation suggested 341 balloons and Balloon Pro suggested 339. The great thing about the Balloon Pro tool is that you can do the same calculation working with 3 different sizes of balloons and you can select the % of space that you want each size of balloon to fill, and to be honest I really don't think that I would even want to attempt to work that out manually! 

You can try out the Design Tool for 7 days to test out this fabulous tool!

I use Balloonpro to help me design balloon walls, columns and arches, and of course to help me with those tricky calculations! For me, it is one of the most valuable tools for balloon artists!

I know that understanding math is not for everyone, and for me it is definitely a challenge! I really like to make my own calculations before I check them using the Balloonpro tool, so that I can feel satisfied that I do understand how to get the right answer.

I hope that this post has helped some of you.

Happy Ballooning! 

Follow me: @suebowler

Sunday, June 5, 2022

What Stops us Growing our Balloon Business from Little Acorns to a Mighty Oaktree!

How many of you look at Instagram and balloon-related Facebook Groups and see pictures of large scale decor, and worry that your business will never be big enough to do anything like that? 

Corporate Decor by Colin Stewart, CBA, of Stewart's Baskets & Balloons
in Toronto, Canada.

What's stopping you? 

  • Confidence
  • Experience 
  • Contacts
When you start out in any profession, the learning curve is inevitable, and balloon artistry is no exception. We need to understand the basic techniques and master them, we also need the opportunity to grow our skills through practice, and finally we need to grow our portfolio so that we can 'wow' our customers with our work! 

There will always be others who have more confidence and appear to have the ability to wing it through life! However, for most of us, confidence grows with experience. 

Experience can be gained in a number of ways: 
  • By attending hands-on training courses and ballooning events
  • By offering yourself as a volunteer to work with other balloon professionals at their events.
  • And of course, practice, practice and more practice! 
Last week I taught a group of students how to make a balloon wall using QuickLinks. The end result was fabulous, and they all agreed that learning how to make the wall first hand gave them the confidence to make it themselves and promote and sell them to their customers!  

Space theme Balloon Wall made by Sue Bowler & Students on her 
'Whats Hot Right Now' course.

It is often quoted "it's all about the contacts!" But how do you get those contacts?
  • Attend Business Networking Events: The first step in successful networking is to go to places where you can make connections. In the UK, BAPIA, a trade organisation for the Balloon & Party Industry, are offering BAPIA Fundays to their members and non-members, where balloon artists can meet up at regional events, and network with other members, wholesalers and manufacturers. 
  • Get Social in your 'Off Hours.' Business networking doesn’t just happen between the hours of 8 and 5. Networking can happen any time and day. It just requires you to step outside your comfort zone and start talking to people. Strike up a conversation with people at the gym or talk to other parents at your child’s activities. You never know when you might meet someone who can be a useful source. The most successful networkers are those who look for opportunity every place they go!
  • Be Able to Articulate Your Worth: How many times are you asked "what do you do for a living?" I can assure you this is a conversation that I have had on numerous occasions, especially on flights when travelling to events and training around the world! It would be so easy to simply say "I work with balloons." However, saying something like "I design and make decor for events and parties and create spectacular results!" - is a fabulous way to open up a conversation! 
  • Always Follow Up. In order to establish rapport and build lasting relationships with other people, you need to look for reasons to keep the connection going. Making the contact is only half the battle; you also have to take the necessary steps to continue the relationship. Make sure you exchange contact information and try to find at least two to three opportunities each year to reconnect with the members of your network. 
Look for opportunities

If you are waiting for "that call" it will probably never happen! If you want new opportunities you will probably need to go out and find them yourself! Once you start to establish good contacts, it will definitely become easier. But you should always be looking for new opportunities! 

There are so many opportunities that you may have never even considered... Sporting events for example! 
  • Find out from your local department of parks and recreation when and where local sporting events will be held. Visit with the person in charge of the event, and offer an arch or some columns, and maybe you could even offer them an introductory deal? This will give you the opportunity to get new pictures for your portfolio that you can use to promote this type of work on your website and on social media!
  • Visit youth organisation websites and search for games and tournaments that will be held in your area.
  • Advertise your business in school newsletters. Remind parents that you can create sport themed decor for parties or create sport theme deliveries to celebrate their kids' athletic accomplishments.
  • Build relationships with schools to provide decor for their games, dances and other events.
  • Create a flier that you can use to promote sport balloons and decor to Sports Bars, Pubs and clubs!
  • React to big sporting events! Every year there are high profile sporting events. Take the opportunity to create displays that will attract sports fans. A column or an arch can really stands out, and you never know what it might lead to!
  • Remember, sporting events have many visitors; you may just attract the attention of a CEO of a large corporate business?

Colin & Jeannie Stewart of Stewart's Baskets & Balloons are masters when it comes to creating decor for sporting events, I strongly recommend that you take a little peak at their Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/STEWARTs-Baskets-Balloons-189142114442664 and be inspired! 

Sporting events are just the tip of the iceberg; think about all the other opportunities that you may not already be exploring! As we know, it can take many years to grow an acorn into an oak tree, but with a little hard work and determination, we can certainly start that growing process! 

Happy Ballooning!
Follow me @suebowler