How to Start an Event Planning Business: Plan and License Requirements

Do you love planning and organizing parties and events?  Are you the one in the family that everyone comes to for help putting together family get-togethers and events?  If so, starting an event planning business may be just the thing for you.  You can actually have a home-based business using just a computer and telephone to get you started.  However, just the love of planning and organizing events isn’t enough.  There are several steps involved in starting your own business.

Education/Certification

  • Although an education is not required, it is a good idea to study and get certified. This will help your business by telling your prospective clients that you have taken the time and effort to learn about planning events.
  • Check with local and online colleges to see what kind of programs they have available.
  • Work towards becoming a CSEP (Certified Special Events Professionals) or a CMP (Certified Meeting Planner).

Choosing Your Market(s)

  • Before becoming an event planner, it is a good idea to study your area.  Research the types of markets available and in what area you would like to offer services. 
  • When you are just starting out, it probably isn’t a good idea to try and tackle every market at once.  You will need some time to learn the tricks of the trade and become comfortable with your business.  Taking on too many versatile markets may cause you to become overwhelmed and not provide the best services to your clients.

Types of Markets

  • Corporate.  In the corporate market, you may be covering a varied set of events.  Corporations host fundraisers, corporate meetings, and other social gatherings.
  • Weddings.  Planning a wedding is very involved and can be in the works for months, even a year or more.  The wedding planner will be working on everything from the wedding venue, menus, bride and groom apparel, decorations and entertainment.
  • Social Events.  Planning social events can include birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, engagement parties, and all manner of social get-togethers.

The Business Plan

  • A business plan is vital for anyone wishing to start up their own business.
  • The business plan is a guide that details budgets, projected earnings, expenditures, and potential clients. 
  • The business plan is also necessary if you will need to find funding for your start up costs and equipment.
  • Your personal and financial information will be included in the plan to determine your value and risk levels for potential investors.  You will need items such as bank statements, brokerage information, tax records and other financial materials.

Business Insurance

  • This is mandatory.  You will need to research the type of insurance your company will need based on the type of events you will be planning
  • Speak to an insurance agent to discuss which type(s) of insurance are appropriate for your needs.

Choosing the Vendors

  • Start researching vendors in and around your area.  Set up meetings with them to discuss what they offer and how they may help you with future events.
  • Work on developing a pleasant working relationship with vendors.  You never know when you will need more than one specialized vendor for the events you are planning, especially if you are really busy.
  • Research a variety of specialty vendors such as florists, caterers, entertainers and photographers. 

Setting the Prices

  • Before you decide on a price list, know your competitors and what they charge for similar services.  You want to be competitive but you also do not want to lose any profits by underbidding.
  • Usually, different events are billed out differently.  For example, a flat rate can be assigned for a corporate event while a social event might receive a fee as well as a percentage of the vendor costs.

Marketing

  • If you truly want your business to succeed, you must market, market, market!
  • Create pamphlets, business cards and stationary.
  • Build a user-friendly website which allows potential clients to get quotes online for your services.
  • Don’t discount the social media networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.  These are excellent resources for marketing your business.

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