Event planning business has been growing at a breakneck pace over the last decade or so, and it does not show any signs of slowing down, with a projected growth rate of 11 percent for the next ten years. It means that right now, you have a golden opportunity to get your hands on a very lucrative business while the competition is still relatively manageable. However, running an event planning company has its peculiarities, and you cannot just take basic business knowledge and simply apply it to this industry. In this article, we will discuss some tips and suggestions that can help you build a successful event management business from the ground up and avoid some of the typical pitfalls awaiting new entrepreneurs in this segment.
Decide if event planning is the right fit for you
Running an event planning business requires a very specific type of personality: you should be sociable, creative, ready to work at irregular hours, and capable of dealing with ever-changing plans without losing your cool. If you do not like meeting new people and prefer a job with little interaction with clients, event planning is not a very good career choice. Try working in an existing event planning agency to get the feel of the business and see if you are at home with it.
Start building your network from day one
Networking is essential in any business and any career – but there are few places where it plays such a crucial role as it does in event planning. Your success largely depends on who and how well you know, ranging from vendors and suppliers in your area to specific legal experts to specialists you know you can trust with a particular task. Take event management courses, participate in industry-specific events, make use of your college’s alumni services, attend trade shows – in other words, do everything you can to get to know people that may be useful in your line of work. Find ways to be useful to them. Maintain these relationships.
Do not try to do everything for everyone
Nobody has achieved success by indiscriminately trying to do every job in their industry. Event planning is not homogenous: different companies specialize in various types of events. There is a division between social and corporate events, high- and low-scale events. Some planners even fully concentrate on a particular type of event, and it may be a good idea to do the same, especially in the beginning. It not only makes it easier to acquire the necessary experience but also makes it easy to focus on a particular type of equipment. For example, if you do not have a specialization buying a realistic dinosaur costume may be a bit too expensive. If, however, your company focuses on dinosaur-themed events and will use it for almost every event, it is a good investment.
Do your homework
Before you make any actual steps in founding a business, you should be sure you know everything you need to know about this industry. Everything from books to specialized TED talks is going to be useful. You have to study your local market, find information on vendors and suppliers, learn about your competition and so on.
Get the necessary certification
Getting a university degree in event planning and management can be a valuable step at the beginning of your new career. You can also consider getting special certificates: CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional) and CMP (Certified Meeting Planner). All this is not strictly necessary to start and run an event planning business, but it makes you look more professional. Moreover, many larger organizations and business entities are wary of dealing with people who do not have documented proof of their professionalism.
Decide upon the type of business you want to start
Before you start out, you should choose what legal structure your business is going to have. There is no straightforward answer to this question because the optimal solution can be quite different depending on the amount of capital, the country you live in, the size of your business, and your business model. You may be better off as a freelance event planner or set up a company. Read up on this topic and consult legal experts if you are still not sure. Consider the following aspects:
- Your personal liabilities;
- Startup and ongoing costs of establishing and running each type of business;
- Tax conditions of each type of organization.
Write your business plan
Every business, from a one-man nonprofit to an international corporation, needs a well-developed business plan before it gets off the ground. You need it to have a basis for future decisions, show it to your potential lenders and investors, and keep moving in the right direction even when the going gets tough. You can find detailed instructions on how to write one, on many websites dedicated specifically to this purpose.
Your main tool in securing the funding is going to be your business plan: how realistic and professional it is determined whether a potential investor is going to be comfortable giving you money. However, you do not have to limit yourself to asking money from banks, as the modern business environment offers many other ways of obtaining the necessary funding: from asking the members of your personal network to crowdfunding.
After everything else is in place, it is time to start promoting your business to potential clients. The most promising place to do so is your own personal network: both the people you know directly and those with whom you are acquainted through social media. The latter are particularly useful in this industry – you can find plenty of groups uniting people with similar interests and serving to connect them with clients and fellow event planners.
Starting an event planning business is a huge and complicated task – you should not jump in blindly. However, we hope that after reading this article, you will know enough about the basics to get you started!