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If you’re thinking of starting an event business, set up meetings with some of these people first as they could be your lifeline to success.
When starting an event business you will quickly learn that you can’t do it alone, contacts are everything in the entrepreneurial world. Help and support can come from the most unusual places and you may be be surprised by the relevant knowledge and experience on offer, even within your friendship group. Using contacts to further your business success is essential and you need to make sure that you keep an open mind because you never know the opportunities or the resources that may open up to you.
Ways To Get Ahead
Collaborations – While getting to know others in the industry, you may stumble across people with similar goals or values making them an ideal business partner or someone you would like to work with. For example, you may find yourself a new supplier, sponsor or even potential employee who believe in what you are trying to accomplish and want to work with you, all from one meeting.
Networking – Everybody knows a guy who knows a guy and you need to be a part of many circles if you want to network effectively. While the person you meet might not bring anything to the table themselves, they could have access to some valuable connections, including potential clients, to get your business off the ground.
Opportunities – Getting out there and establishing yourself helps to make others aware you are looking for opportunities and it can help put you in the right place at the right time. People have resources and most likely you want to tap into this, having meetings and discussions with the right contacts allows you to find and create your own opportunities which can lead to business success.
Experience – A key area of learning is from others’ mistakes and this is the kind of experience you want to hear about. You may have some initial ideas or thoughts and you could share these to get some honest feedback and a sense of whether they may work or not. People with extensive experience in the event industry should not be ignored and their sector-specific advice can be worth its weight in gold.
Who You Should Contact
Here is where you should start because your event business may be small now, but you should hope that it starts to grow soon and esteemed leaders in the community can teach you a lot on gaining respect and leadership. They can not only provide you with knowledge and information but if you impress them and get their backing you can get their public support. With their reputation and influence you may gain access to local community networks and quickly increase your brand reach initially.
The other benefit of community leaders is that they can provide access to local resources you can use and may even boost your social media numbers.
An Informal Focus Group
When you need feedback on business ideas and themes you should arrange several informal chats or meetings with a range of people in the demographic you are trying to reach. It can be contacts that you know or those from the local community, or you can advertise but it’s really valuable to ensure that you are on the right track with your target audience before you get too far down a certain path.
Trends within the event industry rapidly change and you may find that the demographic you initially thought of might not buy into your ideas which means you may need to change your business model or who you are appealing too. The larger the focus group you can deal with the more accurate a representation you will get. This can be a true indication of whether your idea is likely to succeed or fail, which can offer valuable insight ahead of time into the viability of your plans.
Past colleagues or peers can also be useful to meet with and discuss current difficulties and triumphs that you’ve faced. If they understand the industry they can often give a new perspective, as well as sharing useful contacts or helping you problem-solve in real time together.
One thing to be wary of is picking the right peers to meet with. If you are in direct competition with someone it is not wise to share contacts or divulge business plans or ideas without a non disclosure agreement in place.
Pick a mentor who has done what you are trying to achieve, ideally in the event sector but at the least, a successful entrepreneur and business start-up. You will need to pick a willing mentor wisely because they will become the sounding board of your ideas and can provide invaluable advice, insight and access to resources you hadn’t considered.
You may find they have a contact network that is beneficial to you as well but this is just a bonus because if they have been successful you can use their guidance and experience to avoid making naïve mistakes. Learn everything you can from them about how to (or how not to) run a successful events business for the future.
Unless you have managed to raise all of the capital you need on your own, you need investors to back your business plan. This area can be tricky as investors will have a number of requirements but it can also skyrocket your new venture.
Generally investors will hold an equity in your business so you should make sure that it is the right pick for both parties and don’t just judge based on finance. Ideally you should be able to pick an investor that also has the necessary network contacts, experience and other resources which makes them even more valuable to you.
It is very common that local suppliers were initially created and run by a young entrepreneur who has gained knowledge and experience. Local businesses can give you insight into areas you haven’t even considered yet such as ordering, lead times, ways to save money, health and safety and the ins and outs of local venues.
You may also find that good business contacts means that they will offer you discounted prices on supplies for your business or future events. Local businesses might include catering, decorations or even stationary but all are important for a new event businesses, where every penny counts.
History has a tendency to repeat itself and while some academics may not have as much real world experience, many were successful business owners and entrepreneurs and know a lot about the successes and failures of those who have come before you. Ideally a leadership and management or business academic that has knowledge of the event industry would be the golden goose but any professor with business knowledge will be able to give you valuable advice to spot a bad business plan a mile away and professional suggestions for running your event business.
You will also find that as part of their lectures, research and courses academics have ‘premium contacts’ that they could put you in touch with. For example, the CEO’s and business moguls that have donated their time and resources to the course or institution, as well as any prior business contacts they have had during their time prior to becoming a professor.
Family and Friends
Whether your family and friends have any business sense or knowledge of the event industry, it is always important to sit down and talk with those you trust about your ideas and plans. They can offer advice and encouragement but more importantly, they will be acting as your support network throughout the process and everyone needs a little motivation boost and their own cheerleaders from time to time.
You will also be surprised how much you will lean on them, especially in the early stages because they may be the ones helping you move into your new office, pack delegate folders or who you ask to come to your first events to muck in or to fill out some of the spaces. Many business start-ups also use their personal social media accounts to spread the word and ask friends and family to share events and information, so don’t discount your loved ones just because they don’t have the experience you want, they may be the most valuable asset you have to begin with.
If you are looking for well-rounded opinions on your ideas then you should consider meeting with a complete outsider who ideally has a business background but not an event-based one. They can help give you advice from a “savvy” member of the public point of view while also offering business or financial viability advice without being afraid to hurt your feelings.
Try to pick someone that you have had minimal business contact with, for example it could be a friend of a friend so they are willing to do you a favor and meet up but don’t have any preconceived ideas about you. This can help offer a completely unique view on your ideas and business plans and allow you to be objective from a business perspective. Ultimately you need constructive feedback to perfect your plans and help to build a viable business in order to succeed.
Ultimately, it is important to note that many people can provide a lifeline and help you when starting out in business by providing valuable resources, experience and even emotional support. Here are some ideas for people to get in touch with but you should never discount anyone, after all, you never know who they could introduce you to or what brilliant insight they could share.