How to start an event planning business in 8 steps
In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis changed everything for event planners. Whether the industry thinks of 2020 as a deviation or devastation strongly depends on how planning professionals adapt to uncertainty. One thing's for sure, virtual and hybrid meetings are here to stay, with the virtual market at $94 billion in 2020 and an expected compound annual growth rate of 23.7% between now and 2028 .
With all the change in the air, enterprising event entrepreneurs build social connections no matter the distance. So read on to avoid being amongst the 50% of all small businesses that fail in the first 5 years—and, more importantly, to give your new event planning venture the right start.
1) Evaluate your event planning skillset
It's common for event planning newbies to believe the business is all about showmanship, champagne, and shindigs. While that's the final product of your meticulous preparation, things behind the scenes are much less spectacular. There are a hundred to-dos that the planning professional must check off for every event to guarantee an enjoyable time for the client and guests.
Amongst other tasks, you may have to:
- Create an event theme or design.
- Find a venue.
- Arrange entertainment.
- Book vendors.
- Send RSVPs and marketing info to attendees.
- Balance the budget.
- Coordinate with staff and subcontractors.
- Decorate the space.
- Oversee the caterers and bar staff.
- Supervise the event.
If you want to start an event planning company, it might be smart to test out a job or three before making the dive. To begin, think about signing up as a personal assistant or apprentice for an experienced party planner. That way, you can evaluate whether the work is a suitable match before venturing out on your own.
Or you can look below for traits you already possess or ones you're willing to pick up as you go.
- Attention to detail. Planning events requires diligence with finances, logistics, and time management.
- Customer service. Event planners must contact their clients often. Thus, excellent customer service may help build the planner's reputation and improve client satisfaction.
- Education or experience. Knowledge of best practices and prior event planning experience help. A party planner may have also attended college or earned a certification.
- Interpersonal relationship skills. During a single event, an event planner will need to engage various people, many of whom will not be the planner's staff. Therefore, it's critical to form solid interpersonal connections and work effectively with a wide range of personalities. An event planner is the ultimate "people person."
- Negotiation. Event planners negotiate with suppliers, entertainers, and contractors to reduce expenses while ensuring the client receives what they want.
- Organization. Every event has many moving components that planning professionals must manage, and good organization is essential throughout the process to guarantee that nothing is missed or neglected.
- Under-pressure performance. Even with the finest preparation, unforeseen problems will arise during an event. Event planners must create solutions to issues fast and always think on their festive feet.
Create your event planning business plan
"Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do."
Those words are from the man who has created more magical experiences than anyone else. Walt Disney's quote sounds like inviting people to your party, and his wisdom is perfect for those who make a living by bringing folks together. But before you can show the world how well you do what you do, consider the following questions when starting your business :
- Executive Summary: How would you describe the business and your potential success?
- Overview: What's the business's background, legal structure, and other key attributes?
- Industry Analysis: What does market research reveal about the event planning industry in your area, including size, opportunity, and current trends?
- Competitive Analysis: Who are your competitors, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
- Marketing: What is your marketing strategy to reach potential customers?
- Management: What unique skills do you bring to the business?
- Operations Plan: How will you manage the day-to-day tasks of the business?
- Financials: What are your estimated revenues, expenses, and profits for each of your first 5 years?
2) Find your event planning niche
Finding a niche is as simple as picking a subset of the broader event planning industry to concentrate on or specialize in. A niche allows you to shine in an overcrowded marketplace and helps your target market track you down. Saying yes to the wrong client is saying no to Mr. or Mrs. Right. So, find the niche that matches your expertise and focus.
Take a look below for common niches and types of events.
- Award ceremonies
- Charity and non-profit events (such as fundraising events)
- Corporate bonding retreats
- Corporate meetings and seminars
- Fashion shows
- Golf events
- Grand Openings
- Experiential events (such as pop-ups and product or service launches)
- Holiday parties
- Networking events
- Trade shows
- Baby showers
- Bachelor/bachelorette parties
- Bridal/wedding showers
- Milestone birthday parties
- Murder-mystery parties
- Theme parties
- Surprise parties
- Wedding planning
3) Uncover your event planning unique selling proposition (USP)
Your unique selling proposition expresses what distinguishes you from every other event planner. According to top business thought leaders, in a world where clients are drowning in options and competition is fierce, 90% of a small pie is preferable to 10% of a large pie. So, for example, an enterprising event planner might create the USP, "Grand Opening Specialist for Luxury Retailers."
4) Pick your event planning business name
Are you ready for some fun? Business ideas move to the realm of reality as soon as a company has a name. Pick a name that blends your niche, USP, and expertise as an event planner. Perhaps it's as simple as Grand Openings Event Planning Company or as whimsical as Lux Influx Events. Try a business name generator , research competitors, or brainstorm with friends and family.
5) Figure out your financial plan
According to event planning tech company EventForte, profit margins in the industry can go as high as a healthy 40% . But don't rush off to the bank quite yet. To earn top dollar, you have to get those financial duckies in a row. So, if numbers are not your cup of event planning tea, you can always rely on a bookkeeper, software, or your favorite accountant. Then, when you're ready, you need to crunch your upfront costs and set up your pricing.
Calculate your startup costs
If you're starting as a side hustle, you'll need little more than a home office, computer, phone, website, some marketing materials, and event management software. It's common for people to get started for less than four or five thousand bucks. Furthermore, Entrepreneur.com estimates between $8,000 and $31,000, with the lower end for home-based business and the more expensive side for the type of business that launches with an office space and a few employees.
Structure your pricing strategy
How should you charge for your planning services? Your location, expertise, niche, and competition will help you set your fees. Below you'll find the five most prevalent ways of pricing event planning.
- Hourly rate. A typical hourly fee for a novice event planner may be as low as $25 per hour and over $100 per hour for top event planners. Usually, a corporate event generates approximately 30% higher rates than social events.
- Flat fee. A flat fee makes it straightforward for you and the client and is probably the most common arrangement. It is customary to charge a price for your services and a percentage of total vendor fees. A typical vendor commission runs from 10 to 15%. For instance, if a caterer's fee is $4,000 for an event, your cut for finding and arranging that specific vendor would be $400-$600.
- Percentage of the event. Some event planners choose to charge a portion of the entire event budget, such as 15 to 20%.
- Day-of coordination. At some point, a client will ask you for day-of coordination. This fee structure is most common for wedding planners, but it may also occur at other types of events.
- Vendor commission. A small percentage of planners opt to either drastically reduce their fees or charge nothing for their services, earning all their money via commissions from the vendors they choose.
6) Get your paperwork in order
It's just a few hurdles to jump, and you're racing toward the finish line.
a) Register your business name with the state
Before you find your first clients, you need to register your business entity with state and local authorities. Also, you'll need to pick a type of business structure such as sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation.
b) Apply for your EIN
Your employer identification number (EIN) identifies your business for taxes. Surprisingly, getting one is both free and easy. Get your EIN here .
c) Open a business bank account
Once you have your EIN, you can open a business checking account, apply for a loan, and separate your personal and business finances.
d) Obtain permits and licenses
This step separates the planners from the pretenders, but it's well worth the hustle to protect your reputation and potential clients. Your state will likely require several permits and licenses for your business and events. Standard ones include:
- Building permit (tents). You need one for carnivals, political demonstrations, pop-up performing arts, races, and many other outdoor events that require tents.
- Business license. Almost all businesses require licensing with the state to operate.
- Event permit. The requirements vary by city, so contact the local government for relevant ordinances.
- Fire/fireworks permit. You must check with your county if it's legal to display fireworks for your event.
- Health permit. You can get this from your county's health department.
- Liquor license , if applicable. You'll have to get this if you're planning to serve alcoholic beverages, and you can check the Alcoholic Beverage Control board for your state's specifics.
- Noise permit. If your event's outside, you'll likely need one.
- Seller's permit. You may need this as an event planner.
- Temporary use/structure permit. There are two kinds of temporary use permits. One is for vacant land, and the other is for temporary space for parking, vendors, and loading areas.
e) Insure your event planning business
Some first-time event planners forget about insurance until it's too late. When you're dealing with the public, there's always the potential for the unexpected. Every event planner needs solid small business insurance —that's why it's essential to shop around to lock in the best deal. Check out this overview of important coverages you may need to insure your event planning business :
- Workers' compensation : This coverage protects your employees if they get sick or injured while working in your event planning business. Every state requires workers' comp, and the consequences of skipping this coverage could cause the state to close your business. (You can get a quick estimate on what you'd pay for workers' comp with our 60-second workers' compensation calculator. )
- General liability insurance : This policy protects your event planning business if you're sued for a property damage or injury claim. (Expensive lawsuits can quickly put an event planning service out of business.)
- Property insurance : This policy protects your event planning equipment, such as your laptop or other devices you use in your business or home office from perils like fire or theft.
- Business interruption : This coverage, also called business income insurance, provides financial support to your event planning business if you must close because of a covered reason.
- Business Owner's Policy: This policy bundles general liability, business property, and business interruption insurance for your event planning business in one convenient package.
7) Hire your first employees
Many event planners launch as solopreneurs, but they soon look for a personal assistant. Or perhaps you want to hire a junior planner, salesperson, or office manager. Of course, you'll need workers' compensation insurance to operate legally whenever you add that first team member. After finishing your paperwork and legal requirements, head over to the Small Business Administration for a helpful checklist.
8) Spread the word about your new event planning business
Event planners are marketers at heart. After all, who's better at promotion than party planners? Now, you can parlay some of that creativity to advertise your new business. When building your marketing strategy to attract new clients, you could:
- Build a website . Get the domain name for your business. A service with templates like Weebly or Squarespace can make this easy.
- List your local business on Google and Yelp. Sign up for your Google My Business and Yelp profile.
- Launch your social media profiles. Get your unique Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and other handles relevant to your niche.
- Distribute brochures, flyers, and business cards. Call it old-fashioned, but it still works, and you might get your foot in the door with new clients.
- Create word-of-mouth. Small Business owners know there's nothing better than word-of-mouth advertising, and the best way to get it is to please clients with a service they can rave about. Ask happy clients and customers for video testimonials that you can post on your website and social media accounts.
- Partner with related businesses. Businesses such as caterers, florists, and photographers can be excellent referral sources.
Bonus: Check out these tips for running a successful event planning business
You're just about ready to start your own event planning business, so it's time to break out the bubbly. But before you pop the top, perhaps you're still thirsty for more best practices. Here are a few places with knowledge you can sip on:
- Event Manager Blog : A great online library of articles, webinars, and videos covering every facet of the event planning industry.
- Meeting Professional International (MPI): "Meeting Professionals International is the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide. The organization provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities, and business exchanges, and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry."
- #EventIcons Podcast : The hosts interview event-industry luminaries and up-and-comers, and the topics span from the everyday to the unexpected. The show has a friendly atmosphere and is a wealth of information for both beginners and seasoned experts. If you want to watch, #EventIcons is also accessible in recorded video format.
This article's been a lot to absorb. Maybe you're pondering just how to stay sane as an event planning entrepreneur .
If you're still crazy enough to start a party planning business, you can get insurance with Huckleberry in about the same time it takes to make your favorite caterer's samples disappear. (Getting a quote is free, easy, and 100% online.)
Buy business insurance online in less than 5 minutes.
No paperwork. Instant coverage. No-commitment quote.
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How to start an event planning business
If you’re looking to snag one of the 116,700+ (on average) jobs available to meeting, convention, and event managers out there, here’s what you’ll need to get started.
Step 1: Determine if it’s a good fit.
Like most jobs, your skill set and personality will largely determine your success in this field. And while you don’t need to check off all the qualities on this list, here are some things to consider before you start an event management business :
- You can keep the big picture in mind while still taking care of all the little details.
- Whether it’s Sunday brunch or the company holiday party, you’re everyone’s go-to person for all group events.
- Working within a budget and strict timeline makes you feel creatively stimulated, not stunted.
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Step 2: Research certifications.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that demand for event managers will grow an additional 11% by the time we reach 2026. With such a positive industry outlook, it’s good to find new ways to stand out amongst the competition as new event planners enter the market in coming years.
Certifications are fantastic ways to add credibility to your business , regardless of your experience level. Besides proving you’re dedicated to further your education in the field, these credentials show that respected institutions can vouch for your abilities (and your business).
Some of the top certifications event managers pursue include:
- Certified Special Events Professional
- Certified Event Planning Specialist
- Certified Quality Event Planner
There are lots more options to choose from, but these serve as a great jumping off point. However, if you aren’t able to acquire one right now, you can still get your business off the ground without it.
It’s worth noting that beyond certifications, there are no strict college degree requirements (although it seems most event planners do have some sort of bachelor’s education under their belts when starting out).
Step 3: Fill out an event management business plan.
Any cursory Google search for the phrase event management business plan will inevitably lead you to some free wedding and event planning business plan templates .
However, you’ll find that the one we’ve created (below) provides a not too much, not too little approach you won’t find in any other guides.
Each point has been carefully selected so that you can create the event management business plan of your dreams without getting overwhelmed or missing out on details you definitely need to include. As long as you check off the items we listed, you’ll have a solid business plan ready to go in no time.
Step 4: Handle all the necessary paperwork.
To start an event management business, you’ll need each of the following:
- An event management business plan (use the free template we made below)
- Approval for a tax business structure that suits your financial needs
- General business liability insurance
These documents cover all the basics. But as you gain more experience, you might want to add on things like home-based insurance or upgrade to a new tax entity once you enter into the appropriate bracket.
We won’t get into these more advanced concepts for this beginner guide, but make sure to revisit these categories before you’re officially open for business.
Step 5: Figure out finances.
To be clear, you definitely can start an event management business with no money ! However, whether your funding is from your own bank account or someone else’s, small businesses in the events industry should consider starting out with these budget line items:
- Office space and essentials. You can use the computer, printer, and supplies you already have, assuming you do have (or can at least borrow) those things now. But keep in mind: if you’d like to write off your in-home office space on your federal taxes, your room must be secluded and have its own door.
- Advertising. At the very least make sure you have a small batch of business cards and a portfolio website ready to go. If you have some cash to spare, consider getting into paid social media ads or printed marketing materials like mailers.
- Software. The good news is there are plenty of great free event management software programs available these days, so you might not even have to budget for this one!
And that’s basically it! Depending on your niche or preferences, it would be good to also use this startup costs guide created by the Small Business Association to see if there’s anything else specific to you that might be missing.
Step 6: Choose a team.
Vendors, chefs, marketing agencies, software providers, event staff, and personal or office assistants all make wonderful additions to your event management business.
You can start out on your own (which, according to small business statistics , most people do) or you can go through the process of finding, interviewing, and hiring employees.
Depending on the amount of new business you plan to take on, you may or may not need to ever hire someone to help you part-time. At the very least though, you should start compiling a list of people who fit into this network so you can collaborate, get referrals, and perhaps even sub-contract them in the future.
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What is your vision for an event planning business?
Once you’ve completed all of these steps, it’s time to review the big picture. As you figure out your plan, budget, and staffing options, your idea of what you want for your business might change. And that’s totally okay!
Learning how to be flexible is a skill all small business owners must learn. Just make sure you adjust now so you can carry your vision with you for future decision making.
How to write a personal event planning business plan
1. create an executive summary.
- Objectives. Write down your realistic and measurable business goals .
- Mission. Check out these inspiring company mission statements for ideas.
- Keys to Success. Also known as why you think your business will succeed and how you will make sure it does.
2. Make a company summary
- Company Ownership. If it’s just you, consider doing a sole proprietorship .
- Start-up Summary . Think of it like a company overview . Include your business’s back story, location, and anything else you’d basically put on your website’s About section.
- Company Locations and Facilities. Include the address you’ll put on your taxes and any long term rentals like kitchen prep spaces or coworking offices.
3. Identify your products and services
- Services. Event management services can really vary so use this section to outline what you do and what you don’t do.
- Prices. The average yearly event planner’s salary comes out to about $50,000 so plan accordingly.
- Competitive Comparison. Who are your immediate competitors? What do they have that you don’t? Record this research and look for imaginative ways to stand out. Be very honest with your assessment of how your business stacks up against them and what you should do to improve your chances of success.
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4. create a marketing analysis summary.
- Marketing Segmentation. Targeting means finding what area, demographic, or behavioral patterns your high ROI prospects all have in common, just like you’d do for any customer-focused corporate event.
- Target Market Segmentation Strategy. Now that you know who you audience it is, it’s time to research and define all the ways you plan to gain their business.
5. Do a strategy and implementation summary
- Sales Strategy. Here are the two best advanced event business pricing strategies to choose from.
- Sales Forecast. It’s a bit complicated, but figuring out how much money you think your business will make over the next six months to a year (or more) makes studying a sales forecasting guide well worth the effort.
- Milestones . Whether your goal is the total number of sales or income from sales (or something else entirely), you’ll want to formally establish what milestones you’d like to hit by when. Just leave wiggle room for the unexpected and adjust expectations as you go.
6. Write a management summary
- Organizational Structure. For event management teams, clearly defined roles are more important for teamwork than pretty much anything else.
- Personnel Plan. Here are some things to know about hiring staff for an event specifically that will also apply to your company as a whole.
7. Create your financial plan
- Important Assumptions. Business plan assumptions can be fairly complex. For now, just focus on listing your anticipated fixed and variable event planning expenses , marketing costs, and what taxes you’ll have to pay on your earned income.
- Break-Even Analysis . How much did you invest? And how much will you need to earn (after taxes, equipment costs, etc. are subtracted) in order to equal your initial investment? Keep this number handy – it’ll help you decide whether or not to take on more projects, motivate you to upsell whenever possible, and give you a realistic for success.
- Projected Profit and Loss. The IRS might want to see your profit and loss statements at some point, so make a point to regularly record your expenses and sales in one organized document.
- Projected Cash Flow. This free (and very helpful) small business book says to calculate it one month at a time for more accurate figures.
- Projected Balance Sheet. If you’ll be acting as your own bookkeeper, check out this balance sheet template to speed up the process.
- Business Ratios. Even if you’re not a math person, you can definitely handle this last (but very important) event management business plan step. There are lots of business ratios to choose from, but if you want the quickstart version go with these 3 most important balance sheet ratios for professional services firms .
Now you know how to start an event management business!
How do you become an event planner? You plan. Plan your business, plan your client’s events, and plan for a successful future.
There are lots of details involved but if you follow the ideas laid out in this guide, you’ll have yourself a healthy event management business plan along with some great strategies for reaching your goals!
For more on starting your own company , check out these tips for financing your event business , current event statistics worth considering, and event trends you should know for 2019.
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How to Start an Event Planning Service Want to be an event planner but not sure how to start your own event planning service? Discover how to start this business in our step-by-step guide.
Feb 22, 2001
Some people get a lot of personal and professional joy out of making big events and special days even better for their attendees. If you have the hosting itch, and if you love to tackle complex problems and make big days go smoothly, you might have a future as a professional event planner.
But whether you choose to work alone or with a small team, starting an event planning service is no small task. Today, let's break down how to start an event planning service step-by-step.
What are the basics of event planning?
Event planning is the art (and sometimes science) of event ideation, planning, coordination and operation. When a big, important event needs to go smoothly, it's time to call an event planning service or coordinator.
Event planners are key service providers who can ensure event production and execution happens smoothly. They perform these duties for trade shows, senior events, nonprofit galas and much more.
Related: Find Your Event-Planning Niche
Event planning is most often used for purposes like:
- Big educational meetings, like graduations or conferences.
- Major promotions, like marketing events, product launches and fashion shows.
- Corporate events, like after-work cocktail hours, galas, etc.
- Celebrations and social events like parades, weddings, birthdays, reunions, etc.
Event planning is highly important to make sure the above and other major events go off without a hitch, especially so that the most important guests can enjoy themselves.
The primary duties of full-time or part-time, on-site event planner jobs include:
- Doing research prior to the big event.
- Event design and team-building for project management.
- Finding the appropriate site for the event.
- Creating event budgets and running fundraisers if necessary.
- Arranging for decor, entertainment and food for the event.
- Sending invitations to potential attendees.
- Planning transportation for attendees to and from the event.
- Arranging any other necessary accommodations, like seating.
- Coordinating activities for event personnel, like caterers or entertainers.
- Supervising activities at the event site.
The events industry, both for wedding planning and other events, requires good communication skills. Additionally, obtaining a bachelor's degree in public relations or related areas can be helpful but is not absolutely required. Let's look closer at this job type and business.
Why do people hire event planning services?
People primarily hire event planning services for two reasons:
- So that event-goers and guests of honor can enjoy themselves without focusing on the event.
- So that the event in question goes smoothly.
Imagine a typical example of a wedding. Many engaged couples hire event planners or event planning services to coordinate, organize and carry out their wedding plans. In this way, the couples can enjoy their special days and focus on getting married rather than worrying about things like catering, parking and kicking out rowdy guests. Instead, the wedding planner takes care of that stuff.
Furthermore, some events are so complex – particularly those with hundreds of guests or more – that it's almost impossible to properly plan and organize them without the help of a specialist. Knowledgeable, experienced event planners know how to organize groups of people, how much food to provide and other details that can make or break an important event.
Related: The Price Is Right: Turning a Profit in the Event Planning Business
Who should become an event planner?
You might consider becoming an event planner if you love hosting parties and the thrill of organizing a complex event and running it without an issue. Planners often have to handle many moving parts at once. Many event planners have histories as managers or coordinators in other industries. You should become an event planner or start your own event planning service if you feel that you would enjoy this kind of work.
It's also worth noting that event planning often requires you to work on weekends or holidays (since these are the days when people have free time to schedule and hold events), as well as handle chaotic, sometimes confusing work and competing agendas. You should also consider acquiring certification for your event planning service, as it can help you acquire relevant professional skills and attract more job opportunities . Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is an association that offers a list of degrees and certificates from colleges and universities. The right degree or certification can lead to more job opportunities and even pave the way to a higher salary.
Alternatively, try to become a CSEP or Certified Special Events Professional or CMP or Certified Meeting Planner. Both of these are given out by the MPI or the ISES (International Special Events Society), which also highlight your skills and designate you as an expert event coordinator.
Now that we've covered the basics, let's get into the steps you need to take to start an event planning service:
Step 1: Make your company
Your first step involves making your company and filing the right paperwork. You should first draw up a business plan, which will include details like:
- The business's name.
- The business's tax structure (like a sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.).
- How you'll make a profit.
Related: Check out these business plan templates to get started.
You'll also want to get an EIN, or employer identification number. This will allow you to hire employees for your event planning service if you desire later down the road.
Step 2: Choose your target market
Next, do market research and pick the target market you want to work for. For instance, if you want to primarily work with weddings, you need to research that target market to know how much to charge for your services, what's involved and what you need to be experienced in.
By doing some research ahead of time, you won't find running your first events to be too overwhelming. You'll also know how much to advertise your event planning service to be competitive relative to other services in the area.
Step 3: Consider startup costs
When you start an event planning business, you'll have to consider startup costs. Working from home or primarily by yourself will keep costs low as opposed to hiring employees (who will require salaries).
However, if you want to expand your event planning business, you'll eventually need extra equipment, business premises like an office or warehouse and more. All of these things can add up, impacting the kind of business you begin.
Note that you can always scale your business after acquiring steady work. For instance, you can start off as a one-man event planning service that only provides services to small events you can tackle by yourself. After you save up some money from some successful jobs, you can hire a few more employees and rent out a warehouse for your equipment, like cameras, chairs and more.
Step 4: Understand the work involved and hire employees (optional)
For your event planning service to be successful , you need to fully grasp the nature of the work involved and understand whether you should hire employees.
Planning and executing an excellent event generally involves:
- Designing the event, which means sketching out the feel or look of the event in question. Some clients will have very specific ideas you'll need to incorporate into the design.
- Putting together a proposal for your clients so they can improve your plans.
- Organizing the event, which involves almost everything else, like renting the site for the event, hiring vendors, hiring entertainers, organizing caterers and much more.
There's a ton of work that goes into planning even the smallest event. Fortunately, as you acquire experience, you'll be more adept at anticipating and completing this work.
Related: The Event Planning Recipe for Success
Generally, the larger the events you want to manage and coordinate, the more employees you need to hire. At a certain point, you can't be everywhere at once! Consider hiring employees when you have the cash to do so; this will allow you to plan events for larger groups of people and make more of a profit.
Step 5: Settle on a price structure and fee basis
How you price your event planning business will impact how often you get requests. You can determine your pricing structure and fee basis by things like:
- The market segment you serve: For instance, social events usually have different fee structures than corporate events.
- Your geographic location: If you have a higher cost of living, you are justified in charging your clients more to plan their events.
- Your experience and reputation: As your business gets a reputation for success, you'll be able to charge a higher premium for your services.
Step 6: Start marketing your event planning service
Once you have all of your ducks in a row and you know how to charge your clients, you can start marketing your event planning service. Do this online through Google PPC (pay-per-click) ads, social media marketing and other efforts. Don't hesitate to use in-person marketing materials, like posters or TV ads, as well.
Related: 8 Savvy Ways to Promote Your Event Planning Business
As you can see, starting an event planning service is a matter of preparation and deep consideration. If you plan everything properly, your event planning service will launch smoothly, and you'll get your first batch of clients in no time.
Check out Entrepreneur's other guides and resources today!
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Business , Education , General Tips , Your Event Career
How to Start An Event Planning Business From Scratch
Starting a new business in event planning can be a very profitable venture . However, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get started. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to start an event planning business from scratch in 6 easy steps!
We’ll also provide tips on how to market your new company, advice on what services to offer your clients, the type of training you should get, and more. So, if you’re ready to start planning some amazing events, keep reading!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How much does it cost to start an event planning business.
First thing’s first: you need to have an idea of the money required to build an event planning business. The cost of starting your business can vary, depending on a number of factors – such as the size of your company and the services you want to offer. However, in general, you’ll need to invest in some basic start-up costs, such as:
- A computer and/or laptop
- Telephone line and headset
- Business cards
- Business website
In a recent article published on Shopify’s blog, it was stated that in an entrepreneur’s first year of business, they’re likely to spend an average of approximately $40,000. Keep in mind that many of Shopify’s customers are business owners selling and shipping physical products from an online store. So, some of the data within this article may not necessarily apply to an event planning business owner. Still, the data within this blog post is definitely worth the read!
Additionally, you may also want to consider purchasing software that can help streamline your event planning process, such as wedding or event management software. How much you end up spending on start-up costs will largely depend on your specific needs and budget.
What Does an Event-Planning Entrepreneur Do Day-to-Day?
The next question to consider is: what does an event-planning entrepreneur typically do on a daily basis? How many hours will you be working each week? Will you have enough work to pursue this endeavor full-time?
The answers to these questions depend on a lot of things. (Although we can say that the answer to that last question is a resounding YES!)
In general, an event planner is responsible for the organization and execution of a wide variety of events. This may include everything from weddings and corporate functions, to birthday parties and charity galas. An event planner will typically work with clients to get a clear understanding of their vision and budget, then develop a plan of action that meets both requirements.
Moreover, they’ll also be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the event on the day-of, from coordinating vendors to ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
It’s important to note that the job duties of an event planner can vary, depending on their level of experience and specialty. For example, if you’re just starting out in this industry, you may only have limited experience working with specific types of events. In this case, you might want to focus your business on providing services such as event planning consultation, venue scouting, or contract negotiation. As you gain more experience, you can then expand your services to include things like catering coordination, decor design, and even budget management.
For even more information on this particular subject, check out our blog article all about a day in the life of a wedding planner !
How can i start an event planning business with no experience.
Starting an event planning business with no experience can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible! In fact, many successful entrepreneurs got their start in the event planning industry by starting small and gradually building their business over time.
One way to gain experience in the field is to volunteer your time at local events. This will allow you to learn about different types of events, as well as the logistics involved in putting together a successful event. You can also network with other professionals in the industry, attend workshops and webinars, and/or read books and articles on event planning.
Another option is to take online courses that specialize in event planning . These courses will teach you everything from how to plan corporate events, to wedding etiquette, to event decoration. They can also help you get started by providing tips on marketing strategies and business management. Furthermore, completing an accredited online course will also arm you with a reputable certification to add to your resume!
We’ll delve deeper into the type of online event planning training you should get a little later on in this article…
How Much Should I Charge for Event Planning Services?
There are many factors that go into pricing your event planning services. Some of the questions we recommend asking yourself include (but aren’t limited to):
- How long have you been in business?
- What are your qualifications as an event planner?
- How much in-field experience do you currently have?
- How many clients do you have at the moment?
- What type of events will you be working with (i.e. weddings, private parties, corporate functions, etc.)?
- Are you planning to launch your business with a team, or solo?
- If the former, how experienced are your staff members/team members when it comes to planning events?
- Do you specialize in any sought-after niches, or intend to?
- How much time does each client take up per month or year?
- How profitable is this particular industry within your region/niche market space right now?
Once these questions have answered, then you can better determine how much money it would cost you to run your company over a set period of time, such as the first year, years 2-5, and beyond. This article by The Balance Small Business provides further information on the topic of pricing your services. So, we recommend giving it a read!
What Type(s) of Services Do I Want to Offer My Clients?
When starting an event planning business, it’s important to decide which services you want to offer your clients. For example, will you be specializing in weddings? Corporate events? Social events?
You don’t have to limit yourself to one area! In fact, many event planners offer a variety of services, such as wedding coordination, theme design, catering management, and more. Either way, it’s important to choose the services that you’re comfortable with and that you know you can deliver on successfully.
Here are just some of the services you can offer your customers:
- Private event planning
- Wedding planning
- Destination wedding planning
- Luxury wedding and/or event planning
- Event decor
- Floral design
- Virtual event and/or wedding planning
- Corporate event planning
- Promotional event planning
- Travel and tourism services
- Festival and live event planning
Fun Fact: Did you know that QC Event School offers internationally-recognized training in ALL of the above events services? It’s true! Learn about our full list of self-paced, online courses here !
Alright, now that we have some of the most popular FAQs answered, let’s jump into the 6 steps involved in building an event planning business from scratch!
Step One: Get Trained and Certified as an Event Planner!
First thing’s first, you’re going to need training in this industry. Although technically, event planning isn’t a regulated industry, this does NOT mean you won’t be much better off with proper training under your belt. In fact, we’d even argue that getting professionally certified is the single BEST way to become an event planner and achieve success!
When it comes to obtaining a solid event planning education, there’s no better option than to enroll in an accredited, internationally-recognized school! QC Event School, for instance, offers a variety of courses in multiple different areas of professional planning.
The best part? All of our programs can be completed at your own pace and right from the comfort of home!
Plus, our courses aren’t only geared towards those already working within the industry, who are looking to upskill or add additional services to their company. They’ve also been carefully designed for entrepreneurs who want to start their own business, too. In fact, this is why all of our courses offer an entire unit specifically dedicated to business training.
This means that regardless of your skill level or past experience, you’ll absolutely benefit from the knowledge and expertise offered in QC’s wedding and event planning courses! And once you’ve completed our course(s), you’ll receive an internationally-recognized certification that’ll demonstrate your skills and knowledge as an event planner!
How awesome is that? Talk about taking your resume to the next level!
Step Two: Figure Out What You Want Your Business to Look Like!
Alright, so now that you’ve got your education under your belt, it’s time to start thinking about what you want your business to look like. How will you structure it? How much money are you willing to invest in getting it started up and running smoothly (as well as how long)? Do you eventually want to hire on fellow team members/staff, etc.?
Now is also a great time for some self-reflection! Ask yourself:
- What kind of events am I really interested in planning and coordinating (i.e., weddings, corporate events, social parties etc.)?
- How flexible am I when it comes to working evenings and weekends during event season(s)?
- Do I have enough money saved up to get this business started and support myself while I’m in the beginning stages?
- How much money do I need/want to make?
- How many hours am I willing to work per week, month, or year?
- What are my short-term and long-term goals for the business (i.e., what do you want it to look like a few years down the road)?
Your Business Name and Brand
You’ll also want to start thinking up some ideas for your company name! This can be fun AND stressful all at once, so don’t sweat it too much if you’re struggling with how to come up with one. If all else fails, try using an online business name generator. There are lots of great ones out there that can really help jump start the process!
(And once you’ve chosen your business name, don’t forget to get it legally registered. That way, no one else can swoop in and take it from you!)
Lastly, you’ll also want to figure out what you want your brand to be . What do you want your business to look like? How do you want people to perceive it? What kind of vibe(s) are you going for (i.e., fun, elegant, modern etc.)?
Do some research and figure out what would work well with the audience(s) that you’ll be working with! The key is to find something that you feel comfortable with and will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Step Three: Come Up With a Plan for Your Event Planning Business!
Now that you’ve got your education under your belt, have decided what kind of business you want to start up, AND figured out how it’ll be branded, it’s time for step three! This is where you put your business plan together.
A good business plan will help to outline all the important details about your company. It will include what services you’ll offer, how you’ll market yourselves, what your expenses and revenue will be, as well as who your target audience is. This document can also serve as a roadmap for your business; helping you figure out what your next steps should be as you go forward.
It’s also important to note that banks and other financial institutions often require a business plan from anyone looking to take out a loan for their business. So, think of it as the blueprints for your company!
If you’re having trouble putting together your own, there are lots of great resources online (like this one ) that can help you out.
Step Four: Build Your Event Planning Business Website and Social Media Presence!
Once your business plan is complete, it’s time to start building your website and social media presence! This is where you’ll be able to showcase all of your amazing work, as well as give potential clients a little taste of what they can expect from you.
If you’ve never built a professional website before, or run social media channels for a business, we’ve got some great tips in our blog article, “ How to Get Clients as an Event Planner “, to help you get started!
Just remember that the key here is to make sure your website and social media accounts are up-to-date and reflect the brand that you’ve been working so hard on in step three.
Step Five: Establish How You’ll Get Clients and Market Your Event Planning Business!
From here, it’s time to think about how you’ll actually get customers. How will people know that you’re an event planner – and even more importantly, that they should hire YOU for their next big shindig? Furthermore, what kind of marketing materials will you need to create (e.g., a website, business cards, online ad marketing, social media profiles, etc.)? How often will you need to update these items?
One great way to kick off this step is by creating a list of potential referral partners or affiliates. Do some research and compile a list of wedding venues, catering companies, florists, photographers, and other event service providers in your area that might be interested in working together. You can also meet with these businesses in-person to discuss how you can help each other out!
Online marketing will also be your best friend when it comes to getting your business seen. After all, that’s the point of a website and social media presence!
Establishing a budget for your marketing efforts is always a smart idea. Start this by asking yourself how often you’ll be able to put money towards advertising. Then figure out the answers to these additional questions:
- How much do you have available each month or quarter?
- How can this amount help get people interested in what you’re offering?
- What do you know about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Are you willing to learn about it and put in regular efforts to maintain high-ranking SEO for your company?
- What sort of online marketing are you interested in utilizing? (E.g. paid ads on Google and/or social media, email campaigns, monthly newsletters, etc.)
You might even want to consider a marketing budget at the start of each new year so you have time to plan ahead!
Step Six: Start Networking and Getting Real-World Experience as an Event Planner!
Last but certainly not least, it’s time to start networking and getting hands-on experience. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as:
- Attending industry events and meetups.
- Participating in online forums or communities related to event planning.
- Volunteering your time with local charities or non-profit organizations that host events.
- Offering free consultations to friends or family who are having a party or event soon.
- Collaborating with other industry experts in your area on a stylized photoshoot , etc.
The more you put yourself out there, the more people will know about your business – and the better your chances of landing some great clients! And don’t forget to network with other event/wedding planners in your area as well. Although they’re technically you’re “competition”, the fact is, there’s always room for more than one planner in the events industry.
If anything, you’ll quickly come to realize that your fellow planners will actually make for some of the greatest friends and allies as you navigate life as an event planning business owner!
We hope this article has been helpful in outlining the steps you need to take when starting an event planning business from scratch. Just remember to be patient, do your research, and have fun. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day… and neither will your business be!
But so long as you follow these 6 steps, you’ll be seeing success in no time. Thanks for reading!
Ready to start an event planning company from the comfort of home? Enroll with QC Event School today , and learn everything you need to know to achieve this goal in as little as 3-6 months!
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How to start a party and event planning business
Written and reviewed by:.
As the nation emerged from the COVID pandemic, desperate to reconnect in person, party and events planning became a multi-billion-pound industry with plenty of demand across the UK.
Now, amid a cost of living crisis, there are a few emerging issues that new business owners need to stay aware of. Rising inflation means corporate clients are working to stricter budgets, while consumers won't be as easily convinced to part with their hard-earned money. That means the most successful event planning firms will be the ones that can offer a truly incredible and unique experience that stands out from rivals.
Luckily, with a clear concept, effective marketing and a few key transferable skills, you’ll maximise your chances of beating out the competition and finding success. That's where our experts come in.
We have been helping businesses to set up across tons of sectors, and we understand the challenges and opportunities that are ahead in the events industry. So put the champagne on ice for now, and read on to learn more about the costs, considerations and benefits involved in becoming an event or party planner.
At Startups.co.uk, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have helpful resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – you can use the tool below to get started today.
What Does Your Business Need Help With?
This article will cover:
Case study: above & beyond solutions, define your event planning business idea, conduct market research, come up with an event company name, develop your business plan, come up with a pricing strategy, understand the requirements, start promoting your event planning start-up, find suppliers and build contacts.
What does the future of the industry look like?
In order to combat the banning of in-person meetings, the events industry had partly pivoted towards online. The new fashion for virtual events has forever changed the way organisations will host and engage with their audience.
That's not to say virtual events are here to stay. Given the option, most attendees will want to go to a physical event – as most of us have been ‘Zoomed' out by pandemic working.
But digital events are a growing new branch in the sector which you should keep an eye on to ensure you stay ahead of the market and your competition.
Flexible working is also accelerating the trend. Corporate events will need to consider their employees that are still isolating and working from home. This means your business will need to provide online, offline, and hybrid events solutions.
What COVID-19 rules do event planning firms need to follow?
From August 2021, all COVID-19 safety rules and regulations were fully lifted, which means that you don't legally need to require any specific safety measures from customers or staff members if you're planning to host events.
However, cultural changes have still taken place, including a new understanding about the spread of germs that public places can influence.
There are still some basic safety requirements that help to make your event attendees feel safe, such as:
- Spaced out seating for social distancing
- Hand sanitiser stations
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting rota
- Optional mask wearing
You could consider keeping these rules in place to help returning customers feel more at ease.
Sam Stockmans, founder of the newly found events services company Above & Beyond Solutions, has always had a passion for the industry.
“Everyones first nightclub experience is daunting, and I could feel that amongst my friends when we started going out. I wanted to put on parties and make it a more comfortable experience for everyone, so I started by organising 16+ nightclub events.
“I love the events planning industry, that ability to create moments for others through an event you are organising, there is no feeling like it.”
After dabbling in the nightclub events scene, Stockmans went on to organising exhibitions across Europe, before he decided to go it alone with his own venture, Above & Beyond Solutions.
In terms of the biggest challenges he's faced in his near 15 year career in the industry, Stockmans said:
“The biggest challenge is definitely standing out. There are so many competitors in the events industry space. You need to have a USP and you need to be able to sell it confidently.
“For us at Above, our USP is the level of service people receive. My team is made up of highly experienced professionals and creatives.”
And when asked about anything he wish he'd known before he started in the industry, Stockmans said:
“I wish I'd been less arrogant. I made mistakes in my younger years in the industry because I got ahead of myself.
Attitude is everything in this industry, and it will do any entrepreneur wonders to remember that, as the last thing you want is to burn bridges with other companies in the space that you will be frequently collaborating with.”
When it comes to starting an events company, you’ll first need to decide on the type of events services you want to offer.
Would you like to offer the full event planning service, organising every aspect of an event from inception to execution? Or would you rather focus on one or two particular skill sets? For example:
- Event decorating
- Corporate entertainment management
- Event promotion
- Catering (find out more in our guide about starting your own catering business )
It’s also key that you decide on the type of events you want to work on. In your early days, you’ll find it easier to market yourself clearly, attract customers and build the right skills and experience if you have a niche.
Events can be classified into four broad categories based on their purposes and objectives:
- Personal events , such as weddings, birthday parties and family celebrations
- Organisational events , such as commercial, political and charitable events, conferences and product launches
- Leisure events , such as sports events and concerts
- Cultural events , such as ceremonial, religious, art or heritage events
It’s advisable to pick a niche that you’re familiar with and already have a little experience in. If you come from a corporate background, for example, you may have a clearer understanding of what a successful conference looks like than a successful art festival. Remember, you can always take on more specialties as your business grows in size.
Tristan Johnson, founder of TYPE , which provides networking events “that enhance wellbeing and that millenials can afford”, believes drawing on your own experience of the events market as a consumer is a good idea, she says:
“As a young millennial entering the competitive job market fresh out of university, making valuable connections to progress my career was really difficult. Either I’d attend networking events that weren’t relevant for me or find myself spending far too much money. After chatting with a few friends who felt the same, our business model was created.”
NB: If you’d like to become a wedding planner, be sure to also check out our guide to starting a wedding planning business .
Bear in mind that, once you’ve come up with a concept, you should always test it to make sure it has a good chance of succeeding in the market. To do this, you’ll need to…
It’s really important that you understand both your target audience and your competition before you decide how to reach out to potential customers, settle on a pricing structure or – in short – do anything else.
Market research will help you to understand:
- Who your competitors are
- How you can differentiate yourself from them
- How much demand there is for your particular event planning service
- The type of people who are most likely to want/need your service
- How much your target customers will be prepared to pay for your events, and whether you can make a healthy profit from this
To answer these questions, try:
Researching the competition online
Often a simple Google search will show you who the events businesses in your local area are, but the ONS, the FSB and the British Chambers of Commerce also hold more specific, publicly accessible information about different businesses.
Try to find out how your competitors operate, how big they are, who their customers are, how much they charge, and what their USPs are. Think about how you can bring something different to the table in order to compete.
Running an online survey
Online surveys are fairly cheap to set up, and you can also take to Facebook and LinkedIn to run questionnaires.
Ask people what they would expect from your events planning service, the budget they would have to spend on an event such as yours, how often they’d use you, what would make them want to use you, and anything else you want to know.
Holding focus groups
Essentially a face-to-face version of an online survey, a focus group gives you the opportunity to discuss your business with potential customers.
As well as asking the above questions, you can also talk more specifically about your own business, asking what they think of your concept and branding, and share ideas.
As fun a task as choosing a name for your party planning business may seem, it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Your name is the first thing most customers will hear about you, and so it’s important that it accurately represents what they can expect from your services. Plus, it needs to be something you’re proud to shout from the rooftops.
To come up with a name, try these tips:
- Think of the type of events you want to plan and the style of service you’ll aim to deliver. Write down every word that springs to mind – no matter how obvious or abstract. The more, the better. Then single out your favourite words and explore them. Do they have synonyms that are better? How does it sound when you combine them in different ways?
- Consider your own name. Can you name the business after yourself?
- If you’d like your business to be one that doesn’t take itself too seriously, try thinking up event-related puns or phrases you might be able to use as a name. Just try not to be too cheesy!
- Think about existing events planning businesses whose names you really like. Take inspiration from what makes them so great – but make sure you don’t simply copy them.
When it comes to coming up with a name, simplicity is key.
On the concept of coming up with a name, Stockmans says:
“Keep it simple, catchy, and memorable. Keep the name strong and simple, the strapline mission statement simple and the branding clear.”
If the name you choose doesn’t make it obvious that you’re an events planner – if you’ve picked a rather abstract word, for example, or are using your name – we’d advise adding a tagline. For example: Joe Bloggs – Party Planning.
Remember, your event planning business’ name should be:
- Easy to spell and pronounce.
- Original, and as unique as possible.
- A good representation of the services you’re offering (don’t go for something jokey and fun if you’ll be planning serious corporate events, for instance).
- Appealing to your audience. Ask target customers (whether through friends and family, an online survey or a focus group) for their honest opinion of your name.
Once you’ve settled on a name, you’ll need to check that it’s available – you can do this using the Companies House Register – and also check that it’s free to be used as a domain name for your website: for example, www.joebloggs.co.uk. It’s best to register your domain name as soon as possible.
If your chosen name is available, you’ll need to officially register it as your company’s name .
Your business' name will tie inextricably into your business’ branding as a whole. Its tone will be the starting point for how you design your logo, website, marketing materials and messages, social media posts and more – all together, this should convey the tone and purpose of your business.
Bourlet suggests that you create clear guidelines for targeting your specific target audience with your branding.
Getting professional help
Consulting a graphic designer may help when it comes to creating a logo and other visual assets. Finding yourself a graphic designer is a good creative opinion allows you to brainstorm with an expert third-party.
TYPE founder Johnston says:
“Once you have completed an in-depth persona analysis, ensure all of your work is aiming towards these individuals to gain the greatest results. Building out strong brand guidelines is critical, involving how you deliver your content, the tone of voice, the colour code used on the site and in all branding, and the persona you will be targeting with your marketing.
“Studies have shown our attention span is shortening so branding must be easily consumable, easy on the eye and fitting to your personal brand, be it premium, fun, colourful or sleek.”
A business plan is an important document that takes its reader through every aspect of a business – including how it will run, plans for how it will progress, and forecasts of what it will achieve in the future.
As well as something potential investors and banks will want to see, writing a business plan will give you the opportunity to break down and plan every aspect of your business step-by step – including details of your business model and pricing structure, a marketing strategy, plans for hiring staff in the future and those oft-daunting financial predictions.
Another great way to organise your business plan is to use a project management software. These sophisticated tools are aimed at delegation and multi-project management, and can help you stay on top of deadlines as you design your dream events business.
Check out our free online comparison tool to learn more about the providers available and their top deals and discounts.
A crucial part of your business model, to plan your pricing you’ll first need to decide whether you want to charge:
- A flat fee for the whole service
- An hourly rate for the time you spend working on the event
- Commission-based prices
You should use what you’ve learnt from members of your target audience and your competitors to decide on which of these you’ll choose, along with the actual prices you’ll charge.
Remember, while your prices should be attractive to your target customer, they must also cover the operating expenses you spend on planning the event, while still leaving room for a healthy profit for you.
Work out how much it’ll cost you to put on an event based on your plans and ideal suppliers, and see whether you’d still get a decent margin based on what customers want to pay.
That being said, making sure you're giving your clients value for money is crucial.
Don't be afraid to adjust your offering if your pricing seems unreasonable. It may be that you need to re-evaluate how much you’re able to spend on pulling together the event or how many services you can offer as part of your package.
You certainly don’t need a formal education in events and party organising before becoming a party planner.
However, if you would like to study events management, you can:
- Research your local colleges and universities, or online facilities like the Open University, to see whether they offer something that suits you.
- Look into specialist event institutions. Event Academy , for example, offers four accredited event management courses which you can choose to undertake online or on a physical premises in London.
Or, as an alternative to studying, you can always build up your events experience (if you don't have any) by volunteering to help out at local events. This will give you a practical insight into the many cogs that form a single event, and you might be surprised at the level of graft involved!
Follow this checklist to make sure you’re operating your business legitimately and without fear of costly legal problems:
✓ Obtain licenses
The licenses you need to operate your business legally will be down to your local authority or council (get in touch with them to find out which licenses you need) and also the venues at which you'll be holding events.
✓ Register as a sole trader
Unless you want to set up a limited company (though most start-ups don’t begin life this way), you’ll need to register as a sole trader with HMRC, and understand the tax implications of this.
✓ Set up a business banking account
This, plus you’ll need to get an accounting and cashflow system in order so you can easily manage invoices and outgoings. It’s a good idea to hire an accountant to help you out in the early stages.
✓ Prepare to take payments
Alongside your business bank account you’ll also need a merchant account. After a client pays you, their money will be held in your merchant account until it is approved by the client’s bank, at which point it moves into your business account – so it’s crucial you have one.
✓ Get yourself insured
You’ll need public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance , plus employers’ liability insurance if you’re going to hire employees.
You might also need buildings and contents insurance if you keep expensive equipment at home or in an office, and vehicle insurance for any vans you use to transport materials to and from venues.
✓ Brush up on your health and safety
While the venues you hold events in will likely have their own set of generic health and safety regulations, it’s vital that you carry out your own risk assessments in advance of your events, detailing the hazards and controls for each.
So, learn how to write risk assessments and consider everything from trips, heavy loads and electric shocks to structural security and food hygiene.
Of course, it’s easy to blame the venue if something goes wrong – but it’ll still reflect very poorly on you if you’ve failed to recognise and manage a risk.
Now you’re ready to get going, it’s time to show your business to the public (and encourage them to use your stellar event-planning services). Alongside traditional techniques such as leaflet drops and putting advertisements in your local paper, you’ll want to try the following…
Set up a website
Having a website is vital for any small business. It’s a place to explain everything you offer, show off your previous projects, list your pricing packages and display your contact details.
It’s also an opportunity to prove that, even though your business is new, you’re a professional who knows exactly what they’re doing. So you’ll need to make sure your site is sleek and professionally-designed, with no spelling mistakes (an erroneous, dated website is a surefire way to turn off potential clients).
Unless you’re a web designer yourself, you’ll want to go with one of the two options:
- Hire a freelance web designer to build your site for you. The benefit of this is that you’ll have an expert to discuss ideas with, but you may find that your designer charges for any changes you’d like them to make in the future.
- Use a website building platform . These are often low-cost, and will likely give you more control over your site and a clearer understanding of how it works. Wix , GoDaddy and Weebly are popular options.
Your website should be in-keeping with your branding and appealing to your target customer, and you should adopt SEO best practice to make sure it ranks well when people search Google for a local events business.
If you need a hand setting up a website, be sure to check out our review of the top 5 web design companies in London .
Tom Bourlet of brands Fizzbox.com , which offers group activities and experiences for any event, and stag and hen party organisers The Stag Company and Hen Heaven, says:
“It is important to understand what terms you are targeting, the competition you are up against and what you can afford to spend on PPC (pay-per-click).
“When starting a new business, you can’t rely on organic or direct traffic, therefore PPC will be pivotal, and there will be a turning point where it goes from experimentation to profitable. For this reason, you need to ensure you have the funding to put into the ads, while working on the SEO and UX of the website.”
Websites are a great way to attract and retain customers, as they allow you to build a larger audience base from across the UK.
Read our guide to the top 7 website builders for small businesses , to learn more about the benefits and methods to making your own online page.
Use social media
Social media is massive and if you’re not on board with the digital world then you will fall flat on your face. Get a good digital marketing plan in place with social media leading the charge.
With social media, you can get the word out about your business for free, sharing details of your services, special offers and – with your clients’ permission – images of your events to give potential customers an idea of what you can deliver.
In particular, Pinterest can be a goldmine for party and events planners. The image-based platform centering on inspiration and idea-sharing, Pinterest is the place to find people looking for ‘inspo' for their next big bash – and show them what you can do.
You might also find Facebook's groups valuable. Brides-to-be, for example, are increasingly joining locally-focused Facebook groups in which they can discuss and recommend local caterers, boutiques, planning services and more. Try joining up to relevant groups and sharing a tailored special offer with members.
Of course, there's no point in spending energy and resources maximising your Pinterest and Facebook profiles if your target market don't spend a lot of time on them.
Instagram is integral to many businesses success, be sure to check out our extensive how to use Instagram for business guide for everything you need to know.
Sending engaging marketing emails to both customers and those who have expressed an interest in your services is an excellent way to communicate with the public, sharing updates and special offers, encouraging engagement with your business and keeping interest high.
A CRM (customer relationship management) system will help to streamline this process by personalising emails to make customers more inclined to read them, automating email sends, collating customer data and more.
Attend fairs and exhibitions
Some events, such as weddings, often have regular fairs and trade shows where small businesses like suppliers and party planners can host a stall and show off their products and services to visitors.
This is a great way to get your service in front of the people who need it. Furthermore, chatting face-to-face with potential customers will give you a unique opportunity to explain what you can offer to them specifically. Plus, they’re more likely to remember you if they’ve had a friendly and promising conversation with you.
Make sure, though, that you have professional business cards and leaflets printed so you can give them something to remember you by.
Try cross promotions
Seek out other small businesses in the events industry and see whether you can partner with them to create a promotional offer that you’ll both benefit from.
For example, a local independent caterers and offer a discount from both yours and the caterer’s prices to those who use your services and select that caterer.
As the old adage goes, it’s not what you know but who you know that counts. When it comes to events planning, what you know is obviously crucial – but you’ll also find having a portfolio of industry contacts very useful.
Of course, finding the right suppliers for each event will mean carefully considering your client’s wishes and budget. But building relationships with reliable suppliers will give you options right off the bat, saving you time – provided they fit the requirements.
If you’d like to plan weddings, for example, having contacts at catering companies, local venues, entertainment providers, et cetera will prove handy. If you’re specialising in corporate events, you may need to find contacts at banner printing companies, potential sponsors and more.
Here are a few ways to start building up that contacts book:
- Visit online event supplier databases . Alive Network , for example, lists thousands of UK event entertainers and suppliers along with reviews and prices.
- If your competitors run public events, see if you can attend them. Make a note of who they’ve used as a caterer, venue, equipment supplier etc. If any suppliers or sponsors are present, get talking to them and ask for their details.
- Attend trade shows, seminars and exhibitions where suppliers will be showcasing their offerings.
- Join local events groups on social media , where professionals share details of the companies they’ve worked with. Be proactive, joining in with discussions and asking for opinions.
- Use your personal network . Use LinkedIn to the full as well, make new connections daily and interact with them if only to simply introduce yourself.
As you build your network and liaise with suppliers and customers, you may want to consider getting a business mobile to separate your business dealings from personal calls (more information on our page on business mobile phone contracts .
The party and events planning market is hugely competitive, but with the tips, tricks and tools in this guide, you’ll set yourself up with the best chance of success.
Want to get started on building your business now? The first step to opening any business is sourcing finance. O ur free online comparison tool can help you to compare the best business loan providers across the UK, and get refreshingly honest quotes for early-stage finance.
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As pc/nametag's in-house Word Wizard, Meaghan creates educational content that brings people together and drives meaningful conversations in the events industry.
The world of event planning can be exciting, rewarding, and enjoyable, especially for people who love to tackle complex tasks in a fast-paced environment.
Are you someone who finds joy in creating events, bringing people together, and creating meaningful moments? Do you have event planning experience or a desire to learn? If so, then starting your own event planning business could be a great fit for you.
Starting an event planning, wedding planning, or party planning business is hard work. However, we’ve made the process a bit easier. If you are wondering what to know before starting an event planning business, follow these 15 actionable steps to help you get your business off the ground, spread awareness, attract clients, and earn repeat business.
How to Start Your Own Event Planning Business
1. choose your event planning career path..
To say there are so many different types of event planners is an understatement. Most event professionals focus their efforts on one or a few different event types ranging from multi-day conferences all the way to non-profit fundraisers, corporate meetings, private weddings, and more. Examples of specialist event planners include the following:
- Event Coordinator: Has a wide range of clients and is equipped to host all types of events.
- Conference Planner: Oversees the coordination of seminars, expos, trade shows, and exhibitions.
- Wedding Planner: Assists couples by coordinating a venue, caterer , florist, DJ, photographer, etc.
- Venue Planner: Coordinates in-house events for arenas, convention centers, hotels, etc.
- Non-profit Planner: Helps not-for-profit organizations raise awareness, plan fundraisers, etc.
- Party Planner: Plans birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, and similar personal events.
- Event Technologist: Leverages the event technology trends and tools for digitally driven events.
In your business plan, you’ll need to define the extent of your services. Are you providing a broad range of full-service offerings? Or are you focusing on producing specific types of events? What is your target market?
Remember, don't try to offer everything to everyone. While offering tons of services sounds like it would earn you more business, you will likely quickly overextend yourself. Instead, focus on a few things you do well, then expand upon them as you gain experience.
2. Conduct event planning market research.
Every great event planning business starts with data collection. After all, it’s nearly impossible to understand your customers, their challenges, and what they want out of your services if you don’t have the findings to support your ideas.
Market research involves gathering information to better understand your target market. Event professionals use this data to provide stronger services, improve client satisfaction, and craft an event marketing plan that attracts qualified leads and improves conversion rates.
Start by hosting surveys, conducting interviews, gathering focus groups, or simply observing your target customer base. Collect data, make observations, and create personas that answer the following:
- Who are they?
- What are their goals?
- What are their challenges?
- What resources do they need to be successful?
Your clients want solutions—so provide them! The key to happy clients that return year-over-year is providing tools, resources, and knowledge that they know will make their events run smoother.
3. Conduct a competitive analysis for your event planning business.
Once you understand your target customer, it’s time to understand your competitors. Competitive analysis helps you understand your competitors’ services, marketing strategies , general strengths, and weaknesses relative to your own. Your goal is to highlight your own unique advantages, as well as potential business strategy barriers you may face.
Look at the event planning businesses in your area. Note the following in your competitive analysis:
- What are your competitor’s target markets?
- What services do they offer?
- What services don’t they offer?
- What do they charge for each service?
- What is their geographic reach or service area?
- How do they market and promote their services?
- What unique selling propositions do they have?
- What are people saying about your competitors?
With all this information at your fingertips, you can start forming a unique business strategy. Utilize these findings to help yourself stand out. How will you succeed where other businesses fall short?
Remember, you don’t need to offer completely different services than your competitors. You just need to make your offerings enticing enough to catch their eyes (and hopefully earn their business)!
4. Create an event business plan.
Your event business plan is the foundation of your company’s success. It is a document that includes important information about the goals and expectations you’ve set for yourself.
An event business plan should include the following:
- Your mission statement
- Your scope of work
- Market analysis findings
- Financial objectives
- Marketing strategies
- A timeline for getting started
This is also the stage in which you should research the legal and financial requirements for running a business. You may need to register your business, obtain insurance, and set up a business bank account. Certain banks and investors may need to see your business plan, so ensure it is thorough.
If you want to strengthen your business plan even further, include a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis . This planning process will help you overcome challenges, discover new ideas, and create data-driven strategies.
5. Determine event planning business costs.
There are several start-up costs to consider when opening your own event planning business. These things can add up, so make sure to set aside funds to ensure the following expenses are covered:
Remember to start small, then scale your business as you grow. Focus first on providing quality services for smaller events, then invest in yourself as you save money.
6. Set your price structure and fee basis.
Knowing how to price your event planning services is an essential part of being competitive in your field. Your pricing structure should be based on three things: Your location, experience level, and the types of events you plan:
- Location: Ensure your pricing will adequately cover your cost of living and expenses.
- Experience Level: Clients often pay more if you have event planning certifications and experience.
- Event Type: Some event types have higher fee structures than others.
Start by researching what your competitors charge to determine your rates. This will give you a basic understanding of how similar business price their services. Then, consider whether you will quote on a fee basis (I.e., a fixed charge for work) or a time-charge basis (I.e., an hourly rate for any work).
Some event planners offer set packages or have an introductory offer to entice clients. When working with a new client, make sure to get all the details regarding their project. This will empower you to calculate and provide a fair proposal. Don’t forget to seek out in-kind sponsorship , partners, and funding opportunities to offset event management costs.
7. Create an event planning portfolio.
If you want to earn more clients and book higher-budget events, make sure to build an event planning portfolio. Your portfolio can take the form of a website, a presentation, a physical display, or whatever makes sense for you. No matter what, show off who you are, what you do, and how you stand apart from competitors.
Start by compiling photos, videos, references, and testimonials from past events you’ve planned. This will help you market your services, attract potential clients, and highlight your strengths as an event planner.
As you book clients, continue to build your portfolio in the following ways:
- Create inspiration boards. Show off “collections” of your best work to inspire clients. Your gallery can be hosted on your website, on a social media site like Pinterest, or on a physical board to display in your office.
- Take ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. Show how you transformed the space into a memorable experience.
- Collect client testimonials. Gather written recommendations or film short videos of client feedback. Be sure to have clients consent to having their words used in your marketing materials.
- Gather media coverage. If the press covers your event, include links or snippets of the results.
- Write a case study. How did you go above and beyond to help a client solve a problem? Work with a past client to put together a shareable case study that highlights the impact your business has.
Don’t forget to highlight your personal biography, professional headshot, and event planning certifications and designations . This will help you build credibility and rapport with stakeholders.
8. Design a company logo, brand identity, and website.
Every event planning business needs a unique brand identity. The “look” and “feel” of your brand are essential parts of building great relationships with clients and attracting new business. People that trust your brand and share your values will be more likely to choose you over the competition. Here’s how to get started.
- Design a logo. Create a company logo that reflects your mission and vision. Consider hiring a graphic designer to do so, or create your own with Canva , Logo , or Wix . Make sure it can be reproduced in a variety of places (I.e. on your website, business card, marketing materials, etc.)
- Develop brand guidelines. A brand guideline document details your company’s fonts, color palettes, and details on how and where your logo can be used. These elements combined create your overall identity and support your brand’s voice across all channels.
- Create a website. There are countless affordable website-building tools to help you get started without having web experience. Look into using sites like GoDaddy , SquareSpace , Wix , Weebly , or WordPress .
Your online presence can have a massive impact on your event planning business’s success. Many of your customers will visit your website and browse your social media pages before working with you. A high-quality logo, brand identity, and website will position you to generate more revenue in the long run.
9. Create social media accounts for your business.
Event planners know there are tons of social media platforms out there. Most people think of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram as the primary channels to promote their brand, but today, there's also Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, and others.
Do you need to be on every social media platform to stay relevant and grow your audience? The answer is no (whew!) Realistically, this wouldn’t be realistic or manageable. Instead, identify which platforms your target audiences use the most and nail those first to create a successful social media strategy.
TikTok, for instance, is a newer platform and one of the better ones for growing organically. This makes it a great tool for many organizations, especially those with a younger target audience in the "Gen Z" and "Millennial" age brackets. However, if the target audience consists primarily of people in their 50s and 60s, it may be worth your time to build up other platforms first before you start creating trendy TikTok videos.
10. Identify marketing and advertising opportunities.
Now that you know who your market is and what you plan on charging, do research on how you can advertise your business to that market. Look into different associations, publications, and influencers who you could partner with to get the word out about your business. You can also explore the content produced by these groups to learn more about the needs of your market.
Certain publications will have media packages available on their websites. Don’t forget to check so you can get an idea of what types of advertising they have available and how much each package costs.
11. Print event planner business cards.
Before LinkedIn and smartphones were popular, exchanging business cards was one of the best ways to exchange information with others. Your business card also showed off your unique “style” by using different fonts, color schemes, and paper textures.
While having business cards may seem old-fashioned, they’re still a great tool to keep in your event planning toolkit, especially since event planning by nature involved a lot of in-person networking. There are countless websites with great business card templates. A few of our favorites include Canva , Adobe Express , VistaPrint , and Avery .
Want to highlight your brand digitally? Try creating a custom email signature using HubSpot’s Email Signature Template Tool . Remember to include your social media details as well as traditional methods of contact.
12. Meet and network with fellow event professionals.
Never underestimate the power of business networking. Attending event planning conferences , building relationships, and talking with peers isn’t just fun; it’s also a great way to identify opportunities, learn best practices, and boost business. Build your event planning professional network in the following ways:
- Join an association. Find a full list of event industry associations here!
- Join a live group. Investigate your Chamber of Commerce or local association chapter.
- Join a virtual group. Find one about a professional topic you are interested in.
- Seek professional development opportunities. Start with these event planning resources.
- Perfect your “elevator pitch.” Practice talking about your business, its values, and its offerings.
- Post resources on social media. Show off your thought leadership, especially on LinkedIn.
Facebook and LinkedIn are filled with great support groups for event planners, including the National Meeting Planners Group . Remember, keep your posts educational in nature. Share your insights, connect and network, and share resources with others. Part of good business involves building trust with clients and industry peers alike.
13. Connect with event vendors and suppliers.
Whether you’re brand-new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, you need to develop a network of suppliers that you know and trust. From event badges to event diagramming, you’ll want to have all the go-to tools you need ready.
Make a list of venues, photographers, videographers, caterers, florists, décor rental businesses, entertainers, and hotels in your area with great reviews. Establishing connections with these companies will help you turn quotes around quickly in the future. Check out our list of Black-owned Event Businesses to help you get started on your list of trusted vendors!
Next, make a list of freelancers you can work with. Freelancers come in handy with larger projects that require more time and effort. They can also help bridge the gap when you’re busy, lack knowledge on a subject, or want to provide clients with additional value. For instance, you might outsource web design, copywriting, video production, administrative tasks, or legal contracts.
How do you find the best vendors, suppliers, and freelancers? Start by asking for personal referrals from peers. Then, investigate freelance marketplaces like Upwork , People Per Hour , Freelancer , and Guru . These sites will help you find temporary staff on a project-to-project basis.
14. Gain event planning experience.
It won’t come as a surprise that the more event planning experience you have, the more likely you’ll be to grow your base of loyal clients. Try to take on as many event planning opportunities as you can. These might be paid, unpaid, or an opportunity to shadow a more senior-level planner out in the field. Take note of things that worked, things that didn’t, and how you can make future adjustments to improve processes.
Next, identify any areas of expertise that require a stronger skillset. This list of online continuing education resources is a great place to start, especially if you’re brand new or know very little about a subject. You can also strengthen your knowledge by reading event planning blogs , listening to event planning podcasts , or following event industry influencers on social media.
Lastly, ensure you learn the basic workings of event planning software. Most seasoned event professionals understand how to use event management software, event registration software, email marketing platforms, social media platforms, survey tools, project management tools , and accounting programs.
15. Explore ways to get clients for your event planning business.
Despite what you may think, you don’t need to wait for clients to come to you to host events. If you have a great, financially viable idea, why not produce it yourself in your community? A great event experience is bound to attract the attention of potential clients and future event attendees.
Remember, finding new clients is a never-ending part of being an event planner. Get creative with attracting potential business in the following ways:
- Go live at your events. Leverage the live-streaming capabilities on your Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube to showcase your event and garner excitement for your future events.
- Create share-worthy experiences. Encourage attendees to take photos at your event, post them on social media, and use a dedicated hashtag. Read our list of event entertainment ideas for inspiration.
- Secure press coverage. Invite your local newspaper to cover the event in exchange for free admittance.
- Partner with non-profits. Volunteer your services with a non-profit organization to help raise money, improve awareness, and gain valuable experience.
- Market your event. Read these event promotion ideas to attract more attendees to every gathering.
Once you start booking projects with clients, find ways to go above and beyond their expectations. Encourage your brand advocates to refer you to people they know. Remind clients to create a review of your services that you can display on your company website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other public profiles.
Helpful Event Planning Resources from pc/nametag
Hello, planner! 👋 Have we met? If not, we’re pc/nametag, and we’re excited to meet you. If you’re like us, there’s nothing you love more than seeing an event come to life, and we’re here to help you transform your vision into reality. We are passionate about helping our customers create memorable experiences that bring people together.
Here are just a few of the many ways our team can help you reclaim time in your day, increase efficiency, boost return on investment, and improve attendee satisfaction:
Free Tools, Resources, and Insight:
tag/talk , our weekly blog that you’re currently reading, fuels curiosity by covering the latest industry trends, tips, tricks, stories, and advice you won’t want to miss. Plus, you’ll gain access to free ebooks, guides, checklists, cheat sheets, and more like the following sent straight to your inbox:
- The Event Planning Glossary
- The Ultimate Productivity Hack Toolkit
- 5 Strategies Every Project Manager Should Know
Same-day Shipping on In-stock Products:
Explore hundreds of in-stock event supplies , many of which ship the same day you order them. This way, you’ll always have a great selection of supplies on hand for your events.
Custom Badge Printing Services:
Save time and money with Name Badges to Go® , a pc/nametag-exclusive service that eliminates the need to prepare your own name badges for meetings, events, festivals and more. We’ll do the coordination, printing, assembly, organization, and packaging for you. Then, ship your order directly to you anywhere in the world.
Online Product Customization Tools:
We want you to have confidence in your purchase. From lanyards to badge ribbons, experiment with our online customization tools to see exactly how your product will look before you buy.
Need help with creating unforgettable event badges, lanyards, badge ribbons, branded gifts, and more? We’d love to help. From eco-friendly event supplies to premium quality badges , we have what you need to grow the success of your events.
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