Want a Career Change? A Guide to Start an Event Planning Business
If you want a career change, you might want to consider starting an event planning business. According to IBISWorld, the event planning industry in the US has realized an annual growth rate of 2.9% from 2014 to 2019, bringing in total revenue of over $5 billion as of March 2019. So, more entrepreneurs are clamoring for a piece of this lucrative marketplace, which is fortunately large enough to support new endeavors.
Do you enjoy planning events and hosting get-togethers? Do you like working in a fast-paced environment while coming up with creative solutions to the most frustrating problems? If you do, event planning might just be the profession for you. If your heart is all set on becoming an event planner, here are a couple of tips to ensure you get off on the right foot:
Obtain insurance for your event planning business
For events to go off without a hitch, there is a myriad of finer details that have to be well-managed. Unfortunately, however careful one is, accidents and/errors are occupational hazards that happen more often than not in this space. And because of the highly competitive business environment, clients are becoming increasingly exacting in their demands.
That is why you need to consider professional liability insurance. It safeguards you in case a client or third party is dissatisfied with your service and brings a claim against you for reimbursement. Among several benefits this coverage brings, it protects you, your employees, and/or contractors from a range of possibilities, including:
- either assumed or actual negligence
- poor performance
- inaccurate information and
- improper advice
A general liability insurance policy, on the other hand, safeguards you from claims brought on by:
- bodily injury
- property damage and
- liquor liability
In addition to covering your legal fees, medical reimbursement claims, and other related expenses, both general and professional liability insurance will give you that peace of mind you need to focus your efforts on aspects of the business that require your absolute undivided attention.
As with other industries, having prior experience is an integral part of becoming a successful business planner. If you don’t have the requisite experience, there are a plethora of certification courses that, in addition to teaching you the A to Z of event management, will also help you manage challenges further down the line.
Even if you have previous experience handling events for businesses, local groups, or organizations, it is best to obtain formal certification. In addition to giving you something new to learn, it ramps up your credibility and will help you secure a larger client base.
Determine your target market
What types of events are you interested in planning? Special events can be social or business-related or a little bit of both. Though there aren’t any hard and fast rules, events can be divided into four broad categories.
- Celebratory events – Exciting and fun, these events include birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, baptisms, anniversaries, reunions, parades, and fairs.
- Promotional events – More formal occasions, promotional events pertain to product launches, trade shows, tech conferences, fashion shows, and political rallies.
- Educational events – As a means to develop professional skills, advance and change careers, and promote networking, these gatherings are typically very formal and heavy on information.
- Commemorative events – As a way of remembering people, events, and developments in the past, these civic get-togethers and ceremonies are usually solemn, formal services.
As someone taking the first steps into event planning, first determine your niche market. Taking on general event planning is risky because you will need specialized staff, expansive resources, and solid experience to handle different platforms. Concentrate your efforts on one space and build up from there.
Design a comprehensive business plan
Integral to the success of any business is a robust business plan. In addition to helping you strategize your goals, plan your resources and operating structure, it will also help you achieve short and long-term objectives, thereby enhancing your chances of success.
Plus, with a structured plan in place, you increase your opportunities of securing that coveted banking finance or venture capital to kick-start your venture. According to Forbes, a comprehensive business plan is one that includes the following:
- Cover Page – Include your business name, your name, and contact details so that lenders and investors can get in touch with you.
- Executive Summary – Explain your unique selling point (USP), financial estimates, the amount of capital you require, and why your business will be a success.
- Company Profile – Provide an overview of your business, which includes its location, when it was established, and the type of legal entity it is.
- Industry Analysis – Describe your niche market, its size, and trends.
- Target Demographic – Define your target demographic and which specific needs of theirs you are looking to fulfill
- Competitive Analysis – Specify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors while detailing how you will have the edge over them.
- Marketing Plan – Explain your event planning services in detail and how you want to position your brand. Dedicate a section to your promotion plan as well and describe how your customers will be able to contact you.
- Operations Plan – Identify steps required to achieve success and how you intend accomplishing milestones over one to three years.
- Management Team – If you have a partner or manager/s, illustrate who your team is and why they are
qualified to help you in your endeavor.
- Financial Structure – Detail how your event planning business will generate revenue, how much capital you require, how you will allocate these funds, and what your financial projections are.
- Appendix – Include your complete financial forecasts and projected income statements.
From figuring out your initial expenditure for establishing your event planning business to determining how long it will take for you to break even, a business plan is an essential road map that will help you drive the success of your venture. Then as your business progresses, it will need to be updated to include variables and to reflect changes.
Cover the legal aspects
By establishing your event planning business as an entity, you will limit your liability. However, regardless of whether you choose to do so or not, or whichever state you live in, you will need to:
- Register your event planning business for several state and federal taxes that may apply.
- Secure all requisite business permits and licenses.
- Ensure your employees have workers’ compensation coverage.
- Obtain general and professional liability insurance if you haven’t done so already.
When you have all your legal bases covered, you mitigate the risk of financial loss in the future.
With your business plan in place, your legal aspects dealt with, and adequate coverage to diminish your liabilities, you increase your chances of obtaining quality funding. Among the several traditional and more creative avenues you could try, the following are the most viable options for start-ups:
- SBA loans for start-up businesses
- Loans from family and friends
- Business credit cards
- Business lines of credit
- Angel investors
- Venture capital
- Government grants
- Microfinance from Non-Banking Financial Corporations (NBFCs)
Depending on how much equity you are okay parting with, you will need to choose an option that is more aligned with your goals.
Build your resource network
Events are a cohesive effort between various vendors. From caterers, technicians, photographers, and sponsors to marketing experts, entertainers, graphics designers, and florists, securing the right vendors is critical.
While each contributor is responsible for delivering part of the puzzle, your organizational skills will help it all come together. But regardless of whether an error is a vendor’s fault, you are accountable for it, which is why researching vendors and developing a reliable and strong network base is key to the success of your business.
Since your reputation will ride on the back of your vendors’ capabilities, it’s important you check their:
- Better Business Bureau rating
- Reviews on sites and social media platforms like Facebook, Angie’s List, Google
- References from clients and other event planners
Once you have a good team in place, it is important you foster good working relationships with them because they can help you scale that ladder of success that much faster.
Market like mad
Promoting your event planning business will help you grow your client base significantly. Among the plethora of marketing solutions, here are a few affordable and inexpensive options you should pursue:
- Social media marketing – Geared towards creating a big impact, platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are some of the best marketing ploys that will help you build your network and put your business on the map.
- Business cards – Though small in size, business cards are powerful marketing tools, which you can distribute between vendors and prospective customers. Many event planners prefer a tri-fold business card format because it is more informative than conventional alternatives. Ensure it includes:
- Your name and the name of your business
- Your logo if any
- Contact information – phone number, email, and website address
- Networking Events – By attending networking events, in addition to increasing awareness of your business, you enhance your chances of making useful connects for the future.
Since you will be at the helm of organizing events, it is imperative you ensure all issues are handled appropriately. Events you organize will be one of your most important marketing tools because they will help you build engagement levels and wow potential new clients.
Integral to the success of your endeavor is that you mitigate future financial risks by getting your legal documents in order and by arranging comprehensive insurance coverage. So, while your client base grows and you increase your return on investment (ROI), you have that peace of mind knowing your future is secure and you can fully hone in your efforts on making your dream a reality and a complete success.