Daydreaming right now from your cube or home office about the notion of starting an event planning business? Perhaps you have been working in the events and meetings industry for several years and think that now is a good time to figure out how to work for yourself. Or maybe you have helped organize a few events in the past and feel that this could be your life’s passion.
Those mentioned above are all good reasons to pursue this profession. But anyone who contemplates the fantasy of starting their own event planning business must follow some important steps before you even beginning to talk to clients.
Choose a niche
There are many different types of events you can work. While some event planners are generalists and work on a wide-variety of functions, it is easier and more lucrative to choose a specialty. Figuring out what niche you want to focus on can be a challenge, but if you mind-map your passions, interests, experience, and knowledge you can narrow it down relatively easy.
Here are some things to consider:
• Do you prefer working with social clients (weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, engagement parties, retirement parties, etc.), corporate clients (trade shows displays, conventions, company picnics, holiday parties, meetings, etc.) or non-profit clients (charity events and fundraisers)?
• Would you like to do big events (over 50 people) or small events?
Just like any other industry, prior experience is essential to starting a successful event business. Would trust your only car to an uncertified, tentative mechanic to replace its engine? If not, then why should someone trust you with their events if you have no professional experience or certifications of your own?
Consider the many certification courses out there to prepare you for all of the ins-and-outs of event management. Even if you have previous experience organizing events for a company, organization, or local group, it is always best to have some formal certification which solidifies your experience for clients. Not to mention, there is always something new to learn.
Create business plan
Every planner needs a solid business plan. This may be daunting, but you can obtain a business plan template from most banks when you go to inquire about setting up a business account. These templates are extremely useful as they contain all financial modelling templates that you will require to produce your year on year projections. Using the bank templates may also come in handy if you require bank funding for your business. When creating your plan, it’s essential that you do your market research! Knowing your audience and your competition is essential to finding your niche and in deciding how and where to promote your services.
Discuss the legal side of your business
Register your event planning business in whatever state you reside in, obtain all necessary business licenses, cover workers compensation insurance for your staff, and general liability insurance is also a must. Don’t let legal tedium prevent you from being thorough.
Secure funding for your business
Most businesses require an operating budget, and it will be important to have access to a comfortable base of cash while establishing the firm. While it is possible to establish a business on limited funds, it is still important to have enough money to start your business and cover any living expenses while waiting to become profitable.
Market your business
Choose two to three methods that you think you’ll enjoy doing and spend time each day working on those methods. If you find yourself dreading a certain method, or that it’s not effective, drop it and try something else. Now that you’ve got your website in place and you’re actively marketing your business, it’s time to connect with potential clients. Some experts believe you should follow up with five to ten new prospects a day until you have a constant flow of customers in your pipeline.
Develop your network of suppliers and staffing resources
It’s time to try to lighten the burden of business structure for a moment. Now it’s time to consider who you want to include in your network of suppliers. Event planners work with a variety of suppliers, including caterers, florists, photographers and more.
And although you may think that you can handle all tasks, ultimately you are going to need to establish an infrastructure of resources to support your events and overall operations. This includes staffing resources for administrative, sales, marketing, communications, legal, accounting and other functions.
You will need a network of resources to make your events a reality, such as caterers, entertainers, technical experts, technology suppliers, and marketing experts.