A Guest Post by Lilly Miller
A couple of months ago, it looked like industries like event planning will close their doors for an indefinite time. But, as the global pandemic loses its momentum, we can see that the coronavirus was ultimately not able to terminate this booming business field. On the contrary, recent research indicates that the industry will experience a 5-10% increase in demand in the post-corona period. Another interesting development is that, much like other industries, event planning has successfully adapted to work-at-home conditions which drastically cut the startup costs of these companies.
So, if you wanted to try your luck in this area, we can say that the circumstances are much better than they were recently. Let’s then go through a couple of steps that will help you start your home-based event planning company.
Get your credentials in order
Putting favorable conditions for starting a business aside, the event planning industry is run by professionals who know what they are doing. Joining their ranks will require you to enroll in various industry-related educational programs that will get you the necessary certification and let your clients know that they are working with genuine professionals.
Although the opportunities in this regard are virtually endless, we would recommend that you, at least, cover these three certifications:
- Meeting Professional Certifications
- Special Events Professional Certification
- Certificate in Meeting Management
Create an effective business plan
Like all other businesses, event planning companies need a clear and precise business plan that will outline their overall goals, lay down the milestones they can use to measure progress and provide them with an effective tool for negotiations with potential investors.
Generally speaking, one effective business plan should cover the following topics:
- Description – A short description of your business and what makes it different from other similar businesses.
- Goals – As the name suggests, these are general short-term and long-term objectives of your company.
- Structure – Are you the only operator, or does your company have partners and support staff? In the latter case, you should outline the responsibilities of every employee.
- Products and services – A comprehensive list of all of your company’s products and services
- Target marketing – Who are the people you are appealing to?
- Marketing – How are you going to reach these people? You should also provide the estimated marketing costs.
- Finances – The upfront costs of your business as well as the billing methods.
Of course, writing the plan of this scope will require that you do thorough market research, and do your best to learn as much as you can about your future competitors.
Look for high-end equipment
Now that you have covered these two basics, it’s time to secure your business funding and equipment. This situation is made a lot easier by the fact that there are professional AV consultants willing to partner up with you and offer you access to high-end equipment for your services as an independent event planner. With this issue off the table, the costs of starting your company will be kept comparatively low. Hence, besides two standard financing options (investors and bank loans), you will be able to resort to methods like self-financing and personal loans.
Form a legal entity and register for taxes
The legal practices of different states and countries differ in this regard, but one thing remains the same across the board – in order to run any business, you will need to form a legal entity and register your company for taxes. While you are doing all this, we recommend that you separate personal from business assets and open up a company business bank account. This way, you will make bookkeeping and tax filing far easier. Also, having a separate credit card will allow you to build up your company’s credit history and raise money for future investments.
Start negotiations with third parties
When we talked about looking for investors, we mentioned that partnerships with established AV vendors can allow you free access to the latest audio-video equipment. This, however, solves only a part of your overall problem – heavy reliance on third-party services. So, before you start doing marketing, let alone opening up the doors to clients, you need to make sure you have access to everything ranging from flowers to affordable transportation. Reaching out to and preferably making a formal agreement with local vendors should help this cause.
Outsource non-essential business tasks
Running an event planning business involves too many things that are not closely tied to this industry – bookkeeping, accounting, legal services, etc. Developing all these things in-house (no pun intended) would put too much financial pressure on your developing startup. So, before you are sure you can successfully support full-time ancillary staff, you should consider outsourcing these tasks to freelance professionals like you. This way, your operating costs will be kept minimal.
We hope these few steps gave you some general idea of what it takes to start a home-based event planning business. Of course, the story doesn’t end here. But, if you set your startup on solid foundations, marketing, and other day-to-day operations will be made much easier. So, do your best to make the most of the period ahead of us – the event planning industry is back in high gear.