When it comes to venturing out and starting a business as against keeping a 9 to 5 paid employment, an avalanche of people get scared of taking that giant step of faith that might land them into their fame and fortune. The truth is that, there are several business opportunities an aspiring entrepreneur who is still keeping a paid employment can test run without leaving their jobs, and one of such opportunities is event planning.
One good thing about event planning is that most often than not, events are done during weekends and if you are lucky not to be working during weekends, you can successfully test run an event planning business part time. The truth is that, most of the basic skills needed to effectively run an event planning business are some of the soft skills you are likely going to acquire in your work place.
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What is Event Planning?
Event planning is all about helping corporate organizations, government, groups and individual plan and execute their events from start to finish. An event planner ensures that they work with the stipulated budget of the organization or individual and ensure that they deliver a successful event as agreed. In some cases, it is the responsibility of the event planner to draw – up a budget for the organizer of the event once they get a brief of the nature of the event.
Events planning require that you take off the burden of planning an event from the shoulders of your clients. This is whether it is a corporate of informal event, or an informal party. Therefore, you would need an eye for details in addition to the physical eyes you have got. Confused? Do not be, that was on a lighter note.
What Does It Take to Start an Event Planning Business Successfully?
Now, the truth is that you would need to be extremely detailed. You do not want to come across to your clients as one who leaves some important details out. If you do not possess this skill now, you may consider building it up.
The key to a successful event is to ensure that all that is listed in your event planning checklists is ticked. As a matter of fact, if you undergo event planning training, you are going to be taught how to draft event planning checklists for various events and key components that must be listed in your checklists.
The event planning is such an industry that needs you to be vast and well informed about news about the industry. What does this mean? This means that you have got to be alert about everything as it concerns events planning all around the globe. You may consider reading up a whole lot- do not be far away from information. You can successfully pull off being a researcher off by reading books on this business, as using the internet.
22 Steps to Starting an Event Planning Business from Home With No Money
1. Understand the Industry
According to Inside Business, the event planning industry is expected to grow to 20% with the median income of an event planning being $42,180 a year. By 2016, this industry is expected to grow to over 60,000 jobs.
Interesting Statistics About the Industry
Statistics has it that the top 5 highest paying location in the united states for event planners and their average annual earnings are;
- Virginia – $54,770
- New York – $57,300
- New Jersey – $57,730
- Massachusetts – $58,860
- Washington DC – $67,120
So also the top 5 states in the United States with the highest numbers of employment for event planners are;
- California with 7,730 event planners are employed
- New York – 7, 250 event planners are employed
- Texas – 6,320,event planners are employed
- Florida – 3,560, event planners are employed
- Virginia – 3,500 event planners are employed
No doubt the event planning / management industry cannot be said to be oversaturated despite the fact that the entry bar for starting an event planning business is pretty low. As an event planner, if you are creative and hardworking, you can successfully create your own steady market. It is safe to say the industry is still growing especially with the advent of new social media platforms.
For example in recent time, a world class event planning / management company in city in the United States of America can successfully organize an event with active participant from all over the globe participating in the event without living their country. This is possible with the aid of teleconference, and Skype et al
Some of the factors that encourages entrepreneurs to start their own event planning business could be that the business is easy to set up, the start – capital is indeed affordable and the running cost can be put at the minimum level; you can actually start your own event planning business from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is to create an office somewhere in your house.
Lastly, event planning / management business is not restricted to just organizing conference, corporate events or parties, but also organizing big international events such as Olympic and United Nations Events.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographics composition of those who need the services of event planners cuts across people from all works of life and organizations et al. There is no clear cut distinction on those that would naturally need the services of event planners especially when they can afford it.
Over and above, if you are tinkering with starting an event planning business, then you should direct your marketing efforts to those who can afford your services. Of course corporate organizations, government agencies, business owners, religious organizations, schools and individuals falls within the demographic composition for an event planning company.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
On the average, it is the practice for most standard event planning companies to handle all aspect of event planning that ranges from wedding planning, to annual general meetings (AGM), to corporate events, to end of year parties et al. This is so because there are little or no difference with the planning and execution of events.
However, you can decide to build your event planning company around an area of specialization in the industry and these are some of the basic niches ideas within the event planning industry that an entrepreneur who is looking towards starting an event planning company can specialize in;
- Wedding Planning
- Corporate Event Planning
- Outdoor Party Planning
- Children’s Party and Birthdays Party Planning
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the event planning industry depends largely on the location of the business, and of course the niche of your event planning company. If you can successfully create a unique brand identity for your event planning company or carve out a unique market, you are likely going to experience less competition.
For instance; if you are one of the few event planning companies in your country or state that handles all government events but at local, state and federal level, you are sure going to be making constant mega box year after year. This is so because it is normal for government to organize several events all through a calendar year.
However, it is important to state that the event planning industry is to a large extent a very competitive one and this is why one have got to stay abreast with happenings in this domain. Those who already walk this path successfully know that once one begins to relent at doing some fundamental things, then there is the tendency for your competitions to catch up with you and even overtake you.
So as an event planner, in order to stay afloat in the industry and continue to make profits despite the competition in the industry, you must ensure that you continue to come up with creative marketing ideas that will help you attract your target market and stay competitive.
These are some of the well – known event planning companies / event planners in the United States of America and perhaps in most parts of the world;
- Bassett Events
- Berkeley City Club
- Bompass & Parr
- Colin Cowie
- David Beahm Design
- David Tutera
- Debi Lilly
- Event Fusion
- Events & Company
- Fun Events Group
- GBK Productions
- Kai’s Catering + Events
- LJF Events
- Love Luck And Angels
- Luxurious Wedding
If you are looking for a business that requires less stress to set – up and perhaps minimal start – up capital to start, then you can consider starting an event planning business. The cost of running an event planning business when compared to the turnover you get annually can be poles apart (this is applicable only when you have been able to establish your feet in the industry and secure retainer – ship with big corporations and even government agencies).
On the average, most people who start event planning business start the business from a small office space / shared office space or virtual office and still make headway in the business. One thing is certain when it comes to event planning business, most of your meetings prior to winning the contract and planning for the event will be in the office or home of your client.
The truth is that, the cost of running an event planning business can be kept to the barest minimum because there are always ways you can cut operational and overhead cost. As a matter of fact, most people that runs event planning business choose to run the business alone or at most with a handful of full – time employees just for the sole aim of reducing overhead, and maximizing profits.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to making a choice whether to start a business from the scratch or to buy a franchise, there are loads of factors that should influence your choice. Generally, the reason why you want to start a business, your business goal, business mission and vision should help you make informed decision.
Good enough, any entrepreneur that wants to start an event planning business may not have the option of buying a franchise simple because you can hardly find one to buy. So you should brace – up and be ready to start your event planning company from the scratch.
One thing is certain, if you want to have full control of your business and you intend exploring every form of creativity within your capacity, then it will pay you to start your event planning business from the scratch. Starting your business from the scratch has loads of benefits despite the fact that you would have to work hard and smart to achieve your business goals and objectives.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own event planning business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established event planning company / event planner within the same location where yours is located or the arrival of other event planning companies. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on specific – target market. It could be individual clients or corporate client et al.
Another threat and challenge that you are likely going to face when you start your own event planning company is economic downturn; if the economy is in bad shape it automatically affects the purchasing / spending power of the general public and that can impact your business negatively.
So also, unfavorable government policies could as well affect the profitability and growth of the event planning industry. For example, if a government decides to ban all public events in a location due to security reasons, it will directly affect the organization of outdoor events.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
If you are considering starting a standard event planning company, a company that will work for government at all levels and big corporations, then you should take the selection of the legal entity for the business seriously.
When it comes to choosing a legal entity for a business, the nature of the business, the industry the business falls into and your business goals should inform your decision. When it comes to choosing a legal entity for an event planning company, you have the option of choosing from a general partnership, a limited partnership, an LLC, a “C” corporation, or even a “S” corporation. It is important to clearly state that these different forms of legal structure for business has its own advantages and disadvantages; which is why you must weigh your options properly before making your choice.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your event planning company; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes. If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your event planning business, you will agree that Limited Liability Company; an LLC is most suitable. One good thing about LLC is that, you can start your event planning business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or even a ‘S’ corporations especially when you have the plans of going public or selling franchise.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your event planning company so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company; you will enjoy flexibility in ownership and in your management structures amongst other benefits.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When it comes to Choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represent. Usually, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own event planning company, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Sharon & Shannon Event Planners, LLC
- Shavonne Wedding Planners, LLC
- BVN Corporate Event Planning Company
- Tony & Tammy House of Events, LLC
- Rosemary®, LLC
- Delights Party Planners, LLC
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers in place that is required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it becomes important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you when it comes to choosing the best insurance policies for your event planning business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own event planning business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Credit insurance
- Deposit insurance
- Payment protection insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are then starting your own event planning company, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection / trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties or trademark.
However, if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you. Then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. Please note that the final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
If you are considering starting an event planning business, you do not necessarily need any professional certification to kick start or manage the business. However, you can go ahead to source for any professional certification course that can help you perform effectively as an event planner.
There are several professional certifications that you can acquire as an aspiring event planner and here are some of them;
- Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM)
- Certified Manager of Exhibits (CME)
- Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM)
- Global Certification in Meeting Management (CMM)
- Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
- Global Certificate in Event Design (EDC)
- The Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP)
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
These are some of the basic legal document that you are expected to have in place if you want to run your own event planning business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
- Contract Document
13. Write a Business Plan
When it comes to starting a business, one of the first steps that you are expected to take is to consult experts to help you draft a good and workable business plan or you can make use of business plan template to prepare your business plan. The truth is that, in order to successfully run an event planning business, you would need to have a good business plan in place.
A Business plan is the road map that is needed to successfully run a business; with a workable business plan in place, you will reduce the trial and error approach of doing business. You will be able to manage your business with purpose and perhaps precision; you will know what to do per time and how to handle business challenges and business growth / expansion.
In essence, if you want to start your own event planning business, you are required to write a detailed business plan that can pass reality test when subjected to it; you should work with the facts, figures and other indices in the event planning industry as it applies to the locations / country you intend starting your event planning business.
The whole idea of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but a detail guide on how to effectively run your business from the scratch. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to manage and grow your event planning business.
The rule of thumb in writing a business plan is to try as much as possible to be realistic and never to over project when putting figures on income and profits et al. As a matter of fact, it is safer to underestimate when writing a business plan so that you won’t be so disappointed when reality sets in.
These are the key areas that should be covered in your business plan;
Executive summary and Company’s descriptions
You are expected to write about the concept of your business, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, mission statement and where your company will be located and also if you intend partnering with other companies or opening offices in different cities in the United States of America and in other parts of the world.
Other key components that should not be missing out from your event planning business plan are product offering, SWOT analysis, competitive analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, target market, market goals, pricing, costing and financial projection, publicity and advertising strategy, expansion and growth strategies, budget and start – up capital generation et al.
14. Prepare a Detailed Cost Analysis
Starting an event planning business can be cost effective; this is so because on the average, you are not expected to acquire expensive machines and equipment. Basically what you should be concerned about is the amount needed to secure a standard office facility in a good and busy business district, the amount needed to furniture and equip the office, the amount to purchase the required software applications, the amount needed to pay bills, promote the business and obtain the appropriate business license and certifications.
When it comes to starting a small scale event planning / event management company, the following expenditure should guide you;
- The Total Fee for incorporating the Business – $750.
- The budget for basic insurance policy covers, permits and business license – $2,500
- The Amount needed to acquire a suitable Office facility in a business district 6 months (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive) – $40,000.
- The Cost for equipping the office (computers, software applications, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets and electronics et al) – $ 5,000
- The Cost of Launching your official Website – $600
- Budget for paying at least one employees for 3 months plus utility bills – $10,000
- Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al) – $2,500
- Miscellaneous: $1,000
Going by the report from the market research and feasibility studies conducted, you will need about $70,000 or less to set up a small scale but standard event planning business in the United States of America. You will need over two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) U.S. dollars to successfully set – up a medium scale but standard event planning business firm in the United States of America.
If you are considering starting a large scale event planning business with several professionals under your payroll and offices in key cities in the United States of America and perhaps other parts of the world, then you should look towards budgeting from 1 million United States dollars and above.
15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting an event planning business can be cost effective- especially if you choose to run the business from your home, share office space with a friend or make use of virtual office. Securing a standard office is part of what will consume a large chunk of your start – up capital, but if you choose to start the business on a small scale with an office from your home, you may not have the need to go source for fund to finance the business.
No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first thing and perhaps the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan in place, you may not have to labor yourself too hard before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your event planning business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank / banks
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
The fact that you can operate your event planning business from your home does not mean that locations have little influence on the success of this type of business. If you have taken your time to study the event planning industry, you will realize that event planning companies are always located around busy business districts especially event planning companies that specializes in corporate events.
So, if you are looking for a location for your event planning company, ensure that it is a place that is located in the hub of business in your city, a place that is visible and easily accessible. Of course you would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirt of town. Your clients should be able to drive down and locate your office with little or no difficulty.
Having said that, these are some of the factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your event planning company;
- The demography of the location
- The nature of business activities in the location
- The purchasing / spending power of the residence of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The numbers of event planning companies in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community / state
- Traffic, parking and security et al
17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Aside for relevant event management software applications that will help you with registering for events, booking for seats or space and hotel reservation et al, and also the aid of social media tool for promoting and marketing events, there are no core technicality when it comes to starting an event planning business. The business is easy and straightforward to run especially if you have the required soft skills; basically organizing skills and business management skills.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the event planning company you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a large event planning company, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning.
As regards the numbers of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Business Development Executive / marketing Executive, and Customer Service Officer or Front Desk Officer.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 10 key staff to effectively run a medium scale event planning company.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Making money as an event planner is all about ensuring that your clients are satisfied whenever they contract their events to you to handle on their behalf. The truth is that once you are able to meet or surpass the expectations of your clients, you are likely going to get repeat businesses and in most cases you will also get referrals. You will quite agree that word of mouth advertisement from satisfied clients will always go a long way in increasing your revenue and also promoting your brand.
So, the bottom line is that whenever you secure any event planning contract, be sure to clarify all that is needed to be clarified from your clients before going to work. Anybody that asks loads of questions hardly derail in pursuit of a goal or in locating a destination. Hence, if your intention is to meet or surpass the expectations of your clients as an event planner, then one of the key things that you should do is to ask them loads of questions to clarify any grey area and to fully understand the brief. You can as well go ahead to work with your clients in setting goals for the event.
As a professional event planner, you would have been trained on how to engage your clients in such a way that they will be able to answer any question you ask them as regard the event or any related topic that will help you deliver a fantastic event.
Over and above, the service delivery for an event planner covers budgeting, scheduling, venue selection, acquiring necessary permits, coordinating transportation and parking, arranging for keynote speakers, motivational speakers, master of ceremony (MC) or entertainers, arranging decor, event security, catering and emergency plans.
The hallmark of an event is when the success benchmarks are meet or even surpassed. So part of what you need to ask your client as a professional event planner is to know key measurable areas where they would want the event to be assessed. It could be the numbers of participants that attended the event, the feedback they got from the event and it could be any success indicator as agreed by the organizers of the event.
18. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
People and organizations will hire your services as an event planner to help them handle all their events if they know that they are going to get value for their money which is why you should have done your proper homework and be ready to deliver excellent events when contracted.
Hence, when you are drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your event planning company, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company’s profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to helping people and corporate organizations handle their events from the planning stage through the execution of the event. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for contracts from corporate organizations and government agencies.
Please note that you when you bid for contracts from corporate organizations, you will be called upon to defend your proposal, which is why you must add presentation skills as part of your marketing skills.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your event planning company;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the corporate organizations and businesses in the United States ( if you are just starting out as an independent event planning business, you may want to concentrate on individual clients)
- Promptness in bidding for event planning contracts
- Advertise your business in relevant entertainment magazines, local radio stations and TV stations (make yourself available for related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radios)
- List your business on local directories / yellow pages (both online and offline)
- Attend relevant event planning expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your events planning, people will consider you an expert in the field and would want to do business with you)
- Join local chambers of commerce around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you especially if you can afford it.
19. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The event planning industry is indeed a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive is to continue to ensure that you go all length to make available top notch and affordable services to your clients and potential clients alike. The truth is that people will always come to you when they know that they are likely going to get what they are looking for and good value for their money.
Another competitive strategy you should adopt is to maximize the internet when it comes to marketing your event planning business and also ensure that you provide a wide range of complimentary services as it relates to event planning. Services, such as consultancy services and rental services will cut it for you.
20. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customers’ retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to satisfy your customers always whenever they contract their events to you to handle. If your customers are satisfied with your services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service provider or products.
Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service provider or product is when there is a drop in quality or if when most often than not they tend not to get what they are looking for when they visit your shop or office as the case may be. Another reason is poor customer service.
If you can continue to improve on the quality of your customer service delivery and also give your customers options, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers.
When it comes to managing your customers and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software. With a customized CRM system you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick survey, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can send bulk SMS and customized e – mails and above all you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
21. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity to the public, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secret of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
If your intention of starting an event planning company is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from, then you must be ready to spend money on promoting and advertising your brand.
In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.
Another strategy is to sponsor relevant TV and radio programs, advertise your business in relevant events magazines and newspapers and also ensure that your workers wear your customized shirts during working hours.
22. Tips for Running an Event Planning Business Successfully
The truth is that, irrespective of the kind of business you run, your ability to get all the members of your team on same page at all times is one of the keys you would need to successfully run the organization.
As the chief executive officer or president of the event planning company, it is you responsibility to give direction to the business. Part of what you need to do is to ensure that you create time for office meetings; a time where challenges, feedback, projections and relevant issues are discussed. The meetings could be daily, once in a week or once in a month – just ensure that it is consistent.
Carrying out appraisals on a regular basis and training your employees will help you run your organization effectively. Encourage your employees to pursue certifications in their various area of specializations as it relates to your business; it will help your organization’s profile and of course it will help the individuals. You can choose to sponsor some of the certifications or pay part of the fee.
To sum up, you should keep your doors open for suggestions from members of your team and you should be willing to reward excellent performance as at when due.