Have you spent years helping to organize successful events at work or for family members and friends? Or perhaps you’ve noticed a gap in the event planning market you want to fill? If 2019 is the year for you to launch a business in the area of designing, planning, and running events for private or corporate clients, you’ll be joining a thriving industry that’s worth billions of dollars annually.
However, while there is always demand for efficient, organized event planners for weddings, graduations, corporate banquets, conferences, and other big dos, there is also significant competition. To ensure your new business runs smoothly, there are steps to take before you put up the “Open for Business” sign.
Research the Competition
To start, research other event planning organizations operating in your local area, or the areas in which you want to trade. Learn what other firms are currently offering so you don’t end up doing something very similar to them and thereby have to compete on price.
Find out precisely which types of customers your competitors are targeting, the specific services offered to these people, the prices charged, how other businesses brand and otherwise market themselves, what their sales process is like, and the level of their customer service.
Work Out Your Niche
To give yourself the best possible chance of business success, you must find a way for your venture to stand out and grab attention. Determine a point of difference, based on your competitor research. Develop a unique selling proposition (USP) based around what you do that those other event planners in your area do not.
Your niche may be found based on the customers you target. For instance, perhaps you’ve learned that there’s a gap in the market for conference organizers, or people are on the lookout for event planners who can work wonders on a particular style of wedding. Businesses also generate a USP through the prices they charge (you might, for instance, find a way to cut costs significantly, or you might choose to go after the luxury market), how they market their services, where they actually operate, and so on.
While it might be tempting to say your organization will plan any events customers want help with, the fact is that you’ll do better at landing bookings if you target a niche and get to know your particular customers inside and out.
Create a Business Plan
To ensure you have thought about every important aspect of running your new venture, create a detailed business plan. This plan should be based around the first 12 months of operation and outline your ideas for the coming five years. Business plans include notes about the services you’ll provide, the prices you’ll charge, who your customers will be, and any partners in the business and the responsibilities they have within the organization.
Effective plans cover financial information, such as your projected sales, profit and loss, and details of funding requirements. Perform a SWOT analysis as part of your planning, too (this refers to all the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats for your business), and make a note of your planned marketing activities. Plus, don’t forget to investigate all the different legal and insurance requirements you’ll need to satisfy when running an event planning firm.
Event planners need a variety of people and organizations they can turn to for help to bring events to life. For example, seek out reliable caterers, florists, photographers, videographers, stationery designers, and venue facilities. You’ll also likely need equipment suppliers, as you may need to hire or buy quality bulk items such as stackable chairs, tables, textiles, linen, signage, lighting, and other props and accessories.
It also helps to forge connections with local journalists who can profile your events in their publications to help you grow your brand. Get to know conference organizers too, such as those who run wedding or business trade shows. In addition, a good way to reduce your marketing expenses is to partner with businesses who service the same customers as you, but differently. You can then refer clients to each other.
Consider staffing for your events, too. You may want a handful of employees working full-time or part-time with you to help you run your business, but most of your staffing needs will be for casual workers for events. Many events businesses utilize reliable university or later-year school students for these occasions.
Starting a new business is exciting yet challenging. By following the steps listed above and thinking strategically at every point along the way, you’re more likely to create a venture that’s around for the long term.