Small Business of the Month: Fitsum-ISM

Photo courtesy Fitsum Misgano.

Fitsum Misgano is described by a client on her website as a “superwoman in disguise,” and it’s easy to see why. In 2016, Misgano started Fitsum-ISM, her own day-of wedding coordination business through which she single-handedly ensures that the most important day of couples’ lives goes off without a hitch. Her passion and distinctive business plans won the InnoVentures competition at Optimism Brewing in 2017, and she is now a member of the Ventures Nonprofit board of directors.

Fitsum-ISM sets itself apart by aiming to serve the modern couple. Misgano explains, “Couples in this age are empowered to do their own planning through the technology and resources available to them. But after they complete months of planning, my services allow them to enjoy every bit of their day.”

Misgano moved to Seattle from Ethiopia with her family in 2002, and she wore a few different professional hats after graduating from the University of Washington in 2012. “I have always played with the idea of starting my own business, but the idea always felt so out of reach,” she says. “It was almost like learning a different language and I wasn’t sure where I could go to test the waters.”

She soon connected her love of event planning with her desire to be an entrepreneur. “I have always jumped at the opportunity to host parties for friends and families…I had the opportunity to coordinate a few weddings of friends and completely fell in love with it,” she explains.

Fitsum Misgano speaks at the 2018 Innoventures event.

Misgano connected with the City’s Small Business Development team to get information on resources available to her as an entrepreneur. The Small Business Development team also referred her to Ventures, a local nonprofit (and Office of Economic Development partner) dedicated to supporting small business owners who have limited resources. “Since July of 2016, I have been working with Ventures closely to help me define my target market, the services I provide and marketing strategies,” she says. “The classes, training and coaching I received from them are incredibly useful and helped me bring my game to the next level.”

Her business’s name came from a term her previous manager used to describe Misgano’s “positive attitude, hard work, and willingness to learn.” Fitsum-ISM reminds Misgano of what she’s capable of: “I knew there will be ups and downs in owning a business and having the name has been and will continue to remind me to look on the positive side.”

Misgano recently expanded her business by hiring a virtual assistant, and she has detailed plans for Fitsum-ISM’s future. “My goal is to increase number of couples I help by 30 percent from last year,” Misgano says. “I want to do that by being really smart with my time and how I prioritize different parts of my business. For example, one of my biggest initiatives this year is focusing on finding systems that allow me to get through client acquisition seamlessly.”

Misgano has one big piece of advice for those who are thinking of starting their own business: start now. “Including myself, many people who want to open their own business wait to start on their dream until everything aligns,” she says. “The truth is, there may never be a perfect time to start the journey. YOU have to make now the perfect time to start.”

Those interested in opening or expanding a business can contact the Office of Economic Development at oed@seattle.gov to get connected with free resources, information, and business coaching. Visit Fitsum-ISM’s website, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.