In ancient Egypt, people would gather to “shower” an expectant mother with gifts and affection to celebrate a new life. Since then, the practice has spread to different cultures ensuring that mothers receive advice, gifts, and other necessary products to prepare for the birth of their first child. Bridal showers started the same way.
In 16th Century Western Europe, if a young bride’s father refused to pay dowry for a marriage he didn’t care for, the townspeople would offer products and gifts to help the bride gather the things to start her new life.
These are the things the dowry would have provided for. The bridal shower has since evolved into a gift-giving extravaganza where friends of the bride “shower” her with gifts to help make her transition to marriage easier.
As showers with time have come to include new fathers and grooms, so too have they evolved to include entrepreneurs. Business showers are growing in popularity for entrepreneurs launching new businesses, startups, or ventures.
They’re taken as seriously as anniversaries, weddings, and birthdays. A business shower is an event where someone can invite their nearest and dearest to celebrate the launch of a new venture. They’re similar to baby or bridal showers but instead of marital or natal gifts, these are more business-enabling gifts.
The idea of a business shower isn’t new, but some attribute it to Elon Musk who said, “Instead of Baby showers, let’s host a Business shower. When a friend starts a business, we all come together, celebrate them & bring resources to their business.”
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Business showers are ordinarily hosted before the new business launch. However, there are no set rules as to when people should hold the business shower. It can all depend on the schedule of the business. Showers are usually intimate affairs. This can be done on the evening of the launch after most of the guests have left.
The business shower is a great way to intimately explain the core concept of the business to close friends and family. This helps them understand what the business needs, and how it can be further supported.
This can also be a great way for loved ones who are business owners to network and share resources with the newly minted business owner. They can also provide advice; the way experienced mothers and wives do for baby and bridal showers.
In these events, the women share horror stories and the wild solutions they used to resolve any unforeseen matters. A business shower is a great resource-sharing and bonding event where a new business owner can get reassurance and nice tips and tricks to navigate the trade.
Owners can also come together to help an upcoming entrepreneur who may have needs down the line. The shower doesn’t have to be held by the new owner. An established business owner can host the shower, as happens with some bridal and baby showers, and get people within the community to contribute to the new business’ success.
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Launching a business for the first time is a stressful experience. It’s taxing mentally, physically and emotionally. There’s always the worry that something will go wrong or that the business will fail before it has found its feet. Experienced entrepreneurs can show how the glamourization of hustle culture is misguided and misrepresenting. They can show how things are different in reality as compared to social media, and how different businesses find success at varied thresholds. It can be hard for a new entrepreneur to believe that they may not be a great success immediately but having grounded connections who have realistic experiences deletes the façade of how things “should be”. The connections made during a business shower can help new business owners as they navigate this journey.
Business showers are also a great way to get first-hand product feedback and generate leads for future sales. The attendees of the business shower can sample products or get displays of services provided by the business. By sampling, this intimate circle can provide unadulterated feedback to help the business iron out any lasting wrinkles before the business is launched to the public. A business shower is a great way to set up brand promotion.
By inviting other business owners, and business neighbours, the business shower becomes a networking event. This promotes the visibility of the company to businesses within the area and among establishments that are within the same industry. This helps create community and reduces the isolation that comes with launching a new business.
The business shower can also be a soft launch of the business. It points out any blind spots there may be when opening the business to the rest of the public. For example, if the launch requires a demonstration, doing an initial launch with business shower attendees helps identify any bugs that come from customer use. Other business owners can also provide rich insight that may not otherwise be achieved from a public launch.
Identify the people you would like to attend the event. This includes neighbouring business owners and workers, friends, family, previous work acquaintances, coworkers, investors, and other business owners in the same industry. Once the list is ironed out, make the necessary arrangements to deal with throwing a party, such as invitations, catering, and choosing a venue. If the office space has enough space, it’s best to hold the shower there to add a tour of the business where possible.
Invitations help an event organiser determine how many people are attending. The invitations are also a great way to make a first impression. They convey the type of business you are launching and can also offer an introduction about what it’s about.
The invitation should clearly show how long the event will take. If the business can get a keynote speaker who is notable within the industry, this can boost visibility. A business shower differs from a business launch because it’s intimate and is meant to reduce the burden of preliminary operation. It can be held before the official launch which the public attends.
Due to the intimate nature, the business can first send out feeler messages to select the best day to host the shower. Coworkers, friends, family, and neighbouring businesses can receive these messages to help the new business owner identify the best day to host the shower. Select the end of a work week to reduce the amount of travelling the attendees may have to do.
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A registry is a wishlist of items that attendees can purchase for the business. For a business shower, it may be necessary to choose gifts that are easy to transport or carry in one package. The shower can also forego a registry and ask for donations instead.
The registry can be a great way to crowdfund for some items the business may still need. Using e-commerce websites to create the registry makes it easy for people who want to support the business to make their purchases. This also removes the risk of repeat gifts.
Add an introduction to sell the business and its story to encourage people to support it. Incentivise contributors by providing discounts or freebies for products or services the business sells.
Showcase the gifts received and shout out other businesses that have shown support. This helps contributors feel like they’re part of the business’ growth.
For every guest who RSVPs “No”, the business can send thank you cards, more contact information, and perhaps branded paraphernalia. At the event, there can be a photographer where framed photos can be sent to attendees. Gift bags are another great way to show gratitude to attendees.
To run any event successfully, the planners need to outline the objectives. For instance, the business owner must establish if they want the shower to be a networking event, a social mixer, a fundraising event, or just an intimate affair. This helps identify who to invite, and the type of event–whether it will be a tea, cocktail, or a casual event.
Knowing the agenda beforehand also lets the organisers plan the program and activities for the shower. For instance, using the premise of a baby shower, the organiser can:
A business shower shouldn’t be held before the business is ready to allow customers in. The business should be operational. There shouldn’t be construction still ongoing or having the products in a beta testing stage. The business shower should be held just before the official launch with enough time in between for any necessary adjustments. This also keeps any marketing or brand visibility momentum flowing from the business shower.
The business shower is a great way for networking opportunities. It’s also a lovely way to ingratiate the business into the ecosystem it's joining. By getting to know the other businesses around, the new business owner knows how they can establish a symbiotic relationship with the neighbours.
When inviting other business owners, and investors, allow everyone to create connections as much as they can. The intimacy of the shower allows entrepreneurs to spend more time together than they would at larger networking events.
Give guests materials where they can collect information such as badges that show their names and the businesses they work for. Guests can also receive a branded business card holder, notebook, pen and a gift bag for all the networking material they will collect.
Social safety nets aren’t reserved for friends and families. They can be greatly beneficial for business owners, especially those new to an industry. When businesses come together to ensure each other’s success, it reduces the burden of having to entirely rely on oneself. It also makes it easier to establish relationships with neighbours and other important figures in the industry. A shower can also help a business receive more investment, funding, or direct assistance for any products it needs to streamline operations.
Support isn’t one size fits all, and comes in different ways. Donations, social media followings, celebrating each other’s wins, and coming together after a loss can ease the burden of managing a business.
Success doesn’t have to be a lonely business.