Starting Your Own Business
Starting your own event-planning business can be very challenging. However, it can be very exciting, rewarding work. There are some scenarios that make going it alone less risky. The level of experience you have when you are starting out may determine which path you choose when starting your own event-planning company.
An event-planning business is unique in that it does not require huge overhead to get started. The client absorbs most of the costs, and very little money comes from your bank account when planning an event. You will be working with many vendors that are equipped with their own facilities, so the space you need is minimal. There are so many businesses these days supporting the event industry, from party rental companies to florists to bakeries to venues, you may find your time is divided between your office and off-site locations.
For these reasons, working from your home is not a bad idea until you have built up your clientele and business. This is also a good idea because you may find yourself with an unsteady income in the early months. Not paying rent for an office or facility space will save you money until you are comfortable with your budget. You might also find that spending money on marketing or going to a trade show is a better investment early on than having an office.
When you choose to work from home, it is easy to never close your office. Be certain you strictly adhere to your office hours. For a home office to work for you, it needs to provide you a home life as well. Working around the clock in your home will likely lead to burnout. The key to a home office is a balance between work and rest.
Your home should be the first place to look when setting up an office. The space needs to be large enough for a desk, a computer, wall-mounted shelves, and a filing cabinet. If your personal space is not large enough or just too personal, look elsewhere to set up shop. Here are some options for finding office space outside your home:
Ask your vendors: As long as your business does not conflict, your vendors' facilities would be a great place to set up shop. A caterer may not think it in her best interest to share an office with you because she employs her own event planner, but your florist who has a conference room in her shop may welcome the extra exposure. Also try personal and private chefs who may not have a relationship with a separate event planner, as well as bakeries, small hotels, bed and breakfasts, and photographers.
Ask a Realtor: Occasionally a landlord or homeowner may have a small space that can be the perfect spot for you to set up shop.
Ask friends and family: If a friend who is a massage therapist is looking for a space to put his chair and office, maybe partnering up with him and sharing a larger space will be more cost-effective. Similarly, an arrangement could be made with a family member who is willing to give up a spare bedroom to you for a period of time.
Find an art studio: The artist community in your area might be a resource to explore for an inexpensive alternative to an office space. Artists and photographers seek out large open studios or lofts and may be willing to rent out a corner to an event planner.
Large-Scale Event Planning
You have decided your niche market is large-scale events. Rather than paying for rentals, you have decided to purchase everything that you will need to plan a great event. To get to this point, you may have had to secure an investor or two and develop a business plan. After the initial development stages, you will want to revisit your business plan and establish how many events per year or per month you will need to meet your profit margin.
On-call employees are essential for an event-planning company. Unless you have standing events every week, such as catering office lunches, you will come to rely on your on-call employees. On-call staff members call in or are notified when events are taking place. An e-mail list has become the most popular form of communication when announcing your upcoming events to staff.
You have searched for and found a facility that is part warehouse, part kitchen, and part office, complete with a conference room for entertaining clients. Your staff is complete with part-time and full-time junior event planners working under you, and you have a complete back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house staff employed on an on-call basis. To accomplish the needs of your new company, it will take a great deal of networking and marketing.
Whether you have decided to go small or large scale, it could be in your best interest to find other event planners in the same field or level of industry to partner up with. It may be a casual or more concrete relationship that you develop, but by doing so you can offer your services in an otherwise slow season and collaborate with other planners at the same time.
Get creative when determining a suitable business partner. Note people who have similar experience or who share common interests in the event-planning world. Consider an associate you have worked with in the past and might be looking to make a move from party planning. Think of the fledging chef who would like to expand his personal catering business. Team up with your favorite, trusted photographer who is looking to shoot more specialty events.
Your Niche Market
So you have secured your working space. Next you will need to find your niche market. Again, this will likely be in an area that you may have some experience in. Getting started means you need to get your name out in your community. To do this, you must first have a name and a brand. You might have an idea and a specific marketing plan in mind for your business. Otherwise, there are companies that specialize in brand marketing that you may want to consult for ideas. If you are having a Web site developed (which is strongly recommended), your graphic designer may offer this service and help you develop collateral such as a folder outlining your services and business cards.
Finding Work Outside of Your Business
Assisting other event planners is a way for you to gain more experience while your fledgling company is taking off. For example, the holiday season is a notoriously busy time for restaurants and hotels. Event planners in these industries frequently hire temporary help to assist through the holiday season. You may be a wedding planner with one wedding planned for the winter and offer your services as an assistant to a hotel or restaurant planner. This way you are gaining experience, adding to your income, and, when appropriate, still marketing your company. While you are getting your business up and running, you should be trying to secure clients while offering your services to other events.