Event planning is a booming and highly lucrative industry. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, and company hosted events are all good reasons to celebrate. (Is there ever a bad occasion to celebrate?) The best part about planning an event is that there is no ideal way to do it—creative types rejoice, because this is your chance to really shine. Starting a new business is never easy, but if you are looking to start planning parties, there’s a large market beckoning you to succeed.
Here is a little introduction for anyone looking to make event planning their full time gig.
Get Your Feet Wet
Are you sure that this is exactly what you want to do? Take some time to try it on for size before you jump into a life changing commitment. Get your creative juices flowing and host a themed cocktail party at your home. Offer to arrange everything for your cousin’s graduation party. Ask an engaged friend if you can plan her wedding free of charge. Getting some hands on experience is the first step. When you do it all free of charge, it’ll be much more likely that people will allow you to plan their events. When you have decided that event planning is truly your calling, you’ll be off to a great start because you’ll have several shining recommendations to include in your portfolio.
If you are serious about making a career out of event planning, the next step would be to get a degree or even a certification. That little piece of paper is extra reassurance for individuals uneasy about taking the plunge that you are the real deal.
Develop A Specialty
Seeing a glowing bride walk down the aisle as every little piece of the puzzle falls beautifully into alignment may be what moves you. It’s possible that company gatherings, which would be a logistical nightmare for others, really get you motivated. Each event planner is different, and that’s perfectly perfect. While there are many event planners out there who “do it all”, it’s unlikely that their work really resonates with a distinguished group.
Events are supposed to be special, one-of-a-kind, unique. When you focus on one type or a small amount of event types, you can really make your work stand apart from the competition. Setting up a niche for yourself may end up being one of the biggest keys to your success.
Start contacting venues. Tent suppliers. Caterers. Entertainers. Bakers. Stationery printers. Learn when their busy times are, how much notice each one will need for cancellation, and any extra fees they may tag on to their pricing. It’s your job as an event planner to become the ultimate resource for your clients; the research should already be complete so when it comes time to make a decision, the information is spelled out in black and white.
Getting in-the-know definitely means giving your client options, but not all options are created equal. Spend some time interviewing vendors and collecting reviews of their previous work. If you are going to recommend another business to your valued clients, they must be a business that you know you can trust.
Network Like It’s Your Job
The next step is to network your butt off. Find local companies that cater to your particular event niche, exchange cards with them and encourage them to recommend your services. Do the same for them. Hit LinkedIn hard and find businesses that you think you could work well with and set up partnerships. People who need event planning services probably already have a favorite venue, or photographer, or bakery—they just don’t know who to trust with their special event. Making yourself visible and valuable to other businesses will definitely help you grow yours.
On the flip side, you have to take time to schmooze with your clients as well and ask them for honest feedback about how you can improve your services. When they have a great experience, they’ll certainly come back and refer their friends to you as well. Put reminders in the calendar to send out birthday cards or a regular ol’ “what’s new in your life” email to stay in touch.
Produce Something Unique
When it comes time to plan and host your events, make sure they are spectacular. Even those clients who are working with you on a tight budget expect an event that will really turn heads. Get inspired by attending other events, going to conferences, and by hitting up Pinterest to find some great ideas. This is your chance to use every ounce of your creativity and produce an event that will want everyone at the event begging for your business card. You can do it!
Make It A Business
Once you’ve taken all of the necessary steps to become the best event planner you can be, you have to make your business legitimate. (No this doesn’t mean to get fancier business cards!) Consult with a lawyer about setting yourself up with an LLC; it’s unfortunate, but you never know when legal issues might arise and your business could be at stake. The next step is to set yourself up on the right foot with the IRS. Determine the best way to report and pay taxes for your new venture.
Now that your business is officially a business in the eyes of the law and the state, go nuts! Invest in a pretty website, hit social media hard, and keep on making your events the envy of every bride-to-be in town.