How to Start An Event Planning Business
This guide covers pretty much all aspects of starting and operating a successful party and event planning company. Save it as a checklist to prepare the launch of your event planning company and triumph with success.
Build Up Your Skills
Skills needed to get into the event planning business:
- Exceptional People Skills
- Project Management
- Eye for Detail
- Knack for Entrepreneurship
Gain as much experience as you can
Search for a job in an event planning company
Look online for entry-level positions, for example, an administrative assistant, events associate, catering coordinator and so on. Although the compensation is low, the experience is priceless. Reach out to hospitality companies or the organizers of events you admire and see if they can make use of your service and help.
Throw a party for your friend’s birthday, organize a dance evening or a concert for a local university rock band. This does not require much experience, but a lot of passion.
The best event planners are tech-savvy and often rely on tools to catch up with their busy schedules. Explore applications like Casual, Slack, Eventribe, Zapier, to name a few. Here is a long list if you are hungry for more information.
An events planning job does not require any formal education, but a certificate will boost your market value. It is especially useful if you plan to work with corporate clients.
It’s hard to start a business on your own and to acquire all the required expertise. So, partnering with someone who has event planning experience might be a very wise decision. He can also guide and support you in the pursuit of knowledge.
Here are some of the most vetted designations:
Study the Market and Competitors
Do not just believe you have a good idea, find some facts or at least unbiased opinions to confirm this. Analyze public data and reports on the web and reach out to companies that issue tenders for event planners. Talk to your potential clients to clearly understand their needs.
Pick Your Niche
- Corporate events include conferences and trade shows, exhibitions, promotional sales, staff workshops and holiday parties and more. They tend to be less personal, have more participants and a larger budget than private events.
- Charities often organize fundraisers for different purposes and in various forms. It can be anything from a concert to a marathon. For these events, you are likely to attract volunteers and sponsors.
Not everyone wants to plan their birthday parties, weddings or reunions on their own especially if these personal gatherings are big. If you choose this market, your clients will be private individuals. They are in general very emotionally invested in the event. You, therefore, have to be sensitive to their needs, and friendly and optimistic.
- Wedding planning is the most in-demand service and the most saturated market for event organizers. But it is also the most profitable among private celebrations, because of very large budgets. The average spending on weddings in the US is about $33,400.
- Birthday Parties are the second largest market for event managers. Some of them can get huge, wild and quite expensive.
- Other Family Celebrations. There are plenty of occasions to throw a party: baby showers, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversaries, reunions, christenings, and engagements. Each of these occasions will have a list of specific requirements.
These are typically ticketed and aimed at entertainment rather than celebrations or business goals. The problem for a new business is that you have to find a sponsor or risk your own funds in the hope that people will buy tickets.
- Conventions are public events devoted to a specific interest or hobby. Comic-Con is a great example.
- Cultural events such as music or movie festivals, art shows and many more.
Focus on your strengths. So, narrow down your operations to a specific niche in line with your skills, network, and passion. Take action and do your best. But avoid trying to become a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ type of company.
Draw a solid business plan
- Vision. What differentiates your event planning company from other companies?
- Company profile. Core services and activities, values and mission.
- SWOT Analysis. An overview of your strengths and weaknesses. And also research the market possibilities and competition.
- Customer profile. What your clients will look like. How old are they and how much do they earn? How do they spend their free time and what do they cherish? You may also make a list of potential clients to approach.
- Marketing plan. How are you going to attract customers and make money? We’ll talk about the options soon.
- Financial plan. A summary of cost structure and predicted revenue streams. How are you going to make money and how much? What are your pre-launching expenses and how will you cover them?
Plan Your Revenue
As part of the financial plan, attempt to plan your money streams for the next month, three months or half a year. Do not forget the costs of starting a party planning business, as well as payrolls, utility bills, taxes, insurance, and all monthly expenses. Your fees will vary depending on the market segment served, local cost of living, your experience and reputation.
- Microsoft Office Event Budget Template
- Smartsheet Event Budget Workbook
- Tidyform Event Budget Template
- FreebieFindingMom Event Budget Worksheet
- Guidebook Event Budget Planner
When developing a business plan, think over where your initial startup capital is going to come from. In some cases, party and event planners can start with as little as $5,000-$10,000. For a home office, an event planning startup kit includes a computer, phone and a large network of contractors with their own equipment and personnel.
However, you still need to pay your bills before the business becomes profitable. Calculate how much you need and compare it to the forecasted cash flow. Discuss it with your family and partners. If possible, do not opt to take out loans. Save as much as possible before committing yourself to the business or consider alternative income options like a part-time job, grants for new businesses, sponsorship or crowdfunding. Your business plan will be of great help when reaching out to investors on AngelList, CrowdFunder, or Fundable.
Here is a great guide to calculating your startup costs from U.S Small Business Association.
Kick-Off Your Business
Follow this business launch checklist do it the right and professional way:
Register Your Company
- A sole proprietorship (a single freelancer with personal accountability),
- Partnership (two or more people),
- Limited Liability Company or LLC (easy and inexpensive to set up, has the least administrative requirements. You will be protected from personal liability when it comes to the company’s debts),
- S Corporation (generally not recommended for smaller organizations),
- C Corporation (the most complex type, typically far more than the average event planner will ever need),
- Nonprofit corporation (probably not your choice, since you do want to make a profit).
Set Up a Bank Account
You might need to do the paperwork and sign the documents in person. It is, however, essential to have online banking and an online app. A personal bank manager is also highly recommendable.
Obtain Relevant Insurance
Here is a small guide on insurance types, but we advise you to consult a reputable broker to get the insurance that suits your needs best.
Know Your Taxes
At first, glance, filing and paying taxes may seem extremely complicated. But here is a rule of thumb: hold back a third of your earnings to pay legalities. However, on average, the small business tax rate in the US is 19.8%.
- Have clear requirements for the jobs you need to be done. At the dawn of your company, you might benefit from having a virtual assistant or outsourcing accounting, copywriting, social media content, and design.
- Hire on a project basis. Paying other people’s salaries is a big responsibility (and big money too). If you can’t afford it, use sites like Upwork or Fiverr to hire freelancers.
- Recruit local students to take internships. Especially for students who take management or hospitality classes. They are interested in getting experience even with little or low payment.
Do not hire your friends, family or hobbyists. You don’t want to be a boss to your husband or wife or criticize the work of your best friend. They can be your partners, but not employees. Hobbyists just want to have fun, they usually have neither the skills nor the dedication.
Develop Your Network of Suppliers
Create Your Brand Identity
If you are not sure about your visual creativity skills, hire a designer. They can also help with business cards and websites.
Set up a Marketing Plan and Budget
- A website with your project portfolio,
- Business cards,
- Ads (we suggest online advertising in search engines and social networks, both with targeting within a 50-mile radius in your area),
- Travel expenses to attend networking events.
The goal of early-stage marketing is to get your first clients. If you deliver a memorable event experience, they will stick around and recommend you to others. Then your marketing expenses will eventually go down.
Use these guides and templates to create your marketing plan.
Try to introduce your business value and unique selling points in 60 seconds or less. Write the speech down first. Edit and rewrite. Practice it in front of the mirror. So that when you meet a potential client or sponsor, no opportunity is wasted.
Write Proposal Templates
Every event will be different, but you should be able to respond quickly every time you get an inquiry or find an interesting opportunity. It would be easier to change a thought-out template slightly than writing every letter from scratch.
As soon as you finish your first event and get paid, ask the client to write a few words about your work that can feature as a review on your website. It will boost your reputation and brand.
Add photos and videos of successful parties to your portfolio every time after an event (ask for permission first). But have them professionally filmed and edited.
Develop Business Opportunities
Trends are fleeting, but people still want to have what is in fashion now, so make sure you know what it is and give it to them. Pinterest is a good place for inspiration in this case.
Constantly Improve Your Skills
The world of events is constantly developing, so you can’t afford to be lazy. You need to grow as a professional and improve your service. You can film the backstage, the process of creating an event, to demonstrate that you are open and keeping up. Try completing an online course on event management, like this one on Udemy.
Humans are social creatures. We want to get together to celebrate an occasion, accomplish a shared goal or indulge in our interests. And oftentimes, we do not have time and discipline to organize these events. There will always be a job for all the types of event planners who are experts in coordinating dozens of moving parts of the great happening and occasion.