Many Event Planners start out working from home. This can be a great model for setting up an event planning business as it keeps overheads down in those critical early stages of trading and can maximise productivity. If you are considering whether it could work for you and how to make a success of it, here are some things to think about.
When I set up my Event Management company over 14 years ago I started working from home. It seemed like a natural choice and it meant that instead of worrying about paying expensive office rent in the early stages I could focus on building my business. It worked for me and I worked from home for over a year before outgrowing my home office and renting an office.
Many other Event Planners, Wedding Planning and Freelance Event Managers report the same and find it a workable solution for them – either for the short or the long term. Others just don’t seem able to imagine the realities of working from a home base and I have been quizzed and insulted in equal measures by people trying to understand the intricacies of working from home!
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- Start NOW: Get Your Free Event Planning Business Plan Template
- 9 Secrets to Nail Your Business Name without Delay
- The No $%^& Guide to Startup Costs for an Event Planning Business
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- 6 Steps to Boost Your Event Business' Sales on a Tight Budget
- 100 Effective Ways to Attract More Clients and Grow Your Event Planning Business (when time and money are in short supply)
- Important Final Advice for All New Event Business Owners
Perhaps you are currently employed but want to test the water by starting to develop your own client base and run your own events for people? You may be part of the rise of 5 to 9 entrepreneurs – those that work evenings and weekend to get their own business off the ground.
Or you may have decided that you want to be your own boss and are simply itching to go it alone?
Are you worried that you will struggle or that it will be too big a leap?
Here are eight things to consider if you are looking to start your own Event Planning Business from home.
1. Low Costs
An Event Planner can work from almost anywhere if you have a laptop, internet and mobile phone. Most important are your personality and event management skills. Starting out by working from home keeps costs lower as renting office space can be a huge outgoing for a fledgling business and you may not wish to be tied into a long-term rental contract from the outset.
Starting from home gives a new business the best possible start during those important early months.
2. Au Revoir Work Commute!
Commuting to work every day can be time-consuming and stressful in terms of both time and travel expenses, and is a part of the day that fills many with dread. By working from home you are not only potentially saving on your monthly travel outlay but you are probably removing the big city temptations which are so easy to fritter away money on (coffee, cake, and other high street temptations). Most important though you become more time rich.
If your daily rush hour commute was an hour each way this gives you the chance to extend the productivity of your working day by a whole two hours (if you want to) in the blink of an eye!
Set up a specific workspace which can be your dedicated work area. Ideally have a room that you can close the door on at the end of the day, rather than being reminded about the mounds of paperwork on your desk and hearing the phone ring after hours!
You can design the space based on your work preferences. Perhaps you want to use a room with a view or perhaps staring at a brick wall would be better for your concentration. Think about what furniture you will need to work – desk, chair, phone, answer machine, shelves/filing cabinet, etc.
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should be any less disciplined. As well as working set office hours some people still choose to dress as if they were still going to an office job every day. In a creative industry such as the event industry, I don’t necessarily agree with this – it makes sense for me to dress more casually on non-client facing days at the office – but do whatever works for you.
When working from home the most frequent questions I used to get asked is “how do you concentrate on working from home with the lure of daytime television?” and “do you work in your pajamas?”
I think people that asked these questions completely missed the whole point that you are WORKING from home. If you are working for yourself it means that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid! It is up to you but no one else is going to pay your salary for you. Furthermore, in my experience running your own business keeps you busy, busy, busy. Organizing events is a time-consuming operation and organizing events and running your own business doesn’t give any time for slacking!
I actually found the opposite in terms of discipline – it is actually hard to switch off and working from home can fudge your work-life balance as the lines are blurred between the two. Whether you struggle to focus or struggle to switch off though discipline has to be key!
One of the things we struggled with as our business grew was storage space. We invested in bigger and better printers, event equipment, marketing materials, banners and so forth, but this investment also takes up space. Furthermore, our regular clients increasingly wanted us to hold some of their materials and branded items between events which put a further strain on storage space.
When event boxes of literature started taking over the lounge every time we had delegate folders to collate ahead of an event we realized it was time to move to a more purpose-built office solution. Perhaps this is less of a problem today when less information is printed and more is presented digitally for events, but nevertheless, it can add up.
6. Client Meetings
I find that many of our clients prefer us to travel to their offices to meet but if you ever need a space to meet and your home office isn’t large enough/suitable enough there are plenty of coffee shops, hotels and meeting places which offer a convenient place to meet face to face - so this need never be a concern.
One of the biggest perks of working from home is the productivity element. As event deadlines get close hours are often long for an event planner and it is great to feel safe in your own home and able to carry on working for as long as you need to. Likewise, if you have international conference calls across time zones it is convenient to be able to do this from the luxury of your home office.
8. Home Working Perks
Don’t forget to update and take out the relevant insurance policies as you should with any business working from a home or office base.
There are however many other perks to working at home too – for example paying no or reduced business rates, tax relief and off-setting a percentage of your household running expenditure through the business. These elements will, of course, vary from country to country so do look into the realities of this before you take the plunge.
There are a million and one things to think about if you are considering starting your own event planning business. Whether it is a distant dream or almost a reality, here are 22 steps you need to take to set up a successful event management company.
Starting up an event planning business is not a decision to take lightly. It is a major decision which impacts not only on your life but also on your family and others around you. At the same time, if you are passionate and determined that this is the right direction to take you shouldn’t take no for an answer - go for it!
Although 80% of businesses survive the first year, almost half no longer exist after five years and only one-third make it past their tenth anniversary (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics). Interestingly, major economic downturns don’t seem to impact the survival rates for new businesses and these stats have remained remarkably consistent over the last two decades.
As one of the one-third of businesses that have survived past the ten-year mark (my event management company was established in 2004), we wanted to create the ultimate useful reference guide to help others take those important first steps to being their own boss.
Starting a new business is definitely not the easy option or a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. It is a high risk, but potentially high reward strategy over the long term.
Here are the details and the process you will need to follow before officially launching your event planning company. There are lots of things to think seriously about and we have flagged essential action to take for each step. Read, digest and bookmark this article for a blueprint of how to prepare to launch your business and ensure the best chance of survival.
1. Gain Varied Event Planning Experience
The more event planning experience you have the better the service you are going to be able to offer your clients. This isn’t just limited to event planning skills either, any business skills and experience will make you a more rounded business owner. Jump at any opportunity to get paid or unpaid work experience. Use this to learn the things that work and the things you would do differently.
If necessary teach yourself how to use tools that will benefit you as a small business. Today, many of these programs are available online and there is a wealth of video tutorials and written content to help you learn how to use them.
Be confident in what you have to offer:
- Before taking the plunge, make sure you have gained lots of event and administration experience and are confident with planning events independently.
- Identify any gaps in your skillset and work hard to strengthen these areas through paid work or volunteering.
- If you need to keep costs down, teach yourself core skills that you will need, such as email marketing platforms, survey tools, accounting programs, design systems and website building.
2. Undertake Market and Competitor Research
The first thing you need to establish is if there is a definite requirement for the services that you want to offer. Instead of just believing it is a good idea you need to do some actual research to confirm this.
This information can be difficult to find and you will need to refer to lots of different sources to try to get a reliable picture. Look into public data, reports and analysis on the web, talk to people and try to undertake a focus group and individual phone calls with those that you are looking to develop relationships with, to determine evidence of a need.
Scope out the market through researching:
- Log the number of competitors there are in your area.
- Note the similarities and differences in the services they offer, compared to your business idea.
- Analyze and monitor the number of tenders and opportunities issued for event planning services over a certain time period.
- Speak to companies who issue these types of opportunities to determine what their frustrations are with the current offering and what is lacking?
- Calculate how many businesses operate within your target geographical area and business sector.
- If you can track it down, find national and local figures in terms of expenditure on events. Your local university is often the best opportunity to find out such data if it is not available online.
3. Identify Your Strengths (and Weaknesses)
Consider whether you are looking to offer a broad, full-service event management company or focus specifically on producing a specific type of event or a specific target market. Although it is tempting to try to offer everything to everyone in order to secure the maximum amount of business it may be that this is actually reducing the amount of business you secure by appearing like a “jack of all trades, master of none”.
If you can, focus on your strengths so you can tailor your marketing and all efforts to attract the right type of business from the start. For example, you may decide to specialize in conferences or exhibitions or party planning. Each of these areas is likely to require a different brand and language to attract the right clientele. The key is not to position yourself in too small a niche it is limiting but not trying to do so much that it detracts you from your real passion and focus and puts you outside of your comfort zone.
Work out your passion and superpowers:
- List the core areas where you know you have an edge. This should include the types of events you are most confident and passionate about planning or expert knowledge of an industry or subject.
- Analyze whether your specialty is broad enough to make a living from or whether you need to go wider.
- Also, be honest and consider what your weaknesses are. If you have gaps in your skill set and are not confident managing large-scale events in specific areas, be honest with yourself. It is important to consider what you won’t do. Running a music festival requires very different knowledge, contacts and skills than organizing a trade show. If there is a specific genre or size of event that would push you outside of your comfort zone or take you too far away from your true passion you are best to set your limits now.
4. Understand the Realities of Starting a Business
Think about how you are going to survive as it may take some time before money starts coming into the business and you still need to be able to pay your bills during this period. Many people start their business “on the side” during their free time, evening and weekends, whilst working for somebody else. This will obviously depend on the role you have currently to ensure that you are not in breach of contract – make sure you act ethically and fairly to your current employer.
Discuss your aims with your partner and family to try to prepare everyone for the change of lifestyle and circumstances. Working for yourself isn’t the same as working for an employer. The buck stops with you. You are likely to work the longest hours of your life, working 80 plus hours a week is not unheard of for business owners. Also, no work = no pay. Your salary is directly linked to the amount of profit you can generate.
Take decisive steps to work out a plan:
- Calculate how much you really need to survive each month and pay your bills.
- Save as much as possible to sustain you for the short term after you launch your business.
- Look into alternative income options, such as a part-time job, support from your partner/family or a loan.
5. What Type of Business is Right for You?
There are many different types of organizations and you need to learn about the different entities to determine which is the right one for you. You might want to be a freelance event planner or to set up a company. The legalities will vary depending on the country you will be operating in too. We recommend that you take advice from experts if you are unsure.
Work out which business entity is right for you:
- Know your personal liability in terms of different business options in case the business fails
- Find out the setup costs, process, ongoing administrative commitments and growth potential of different business entities
- Compare and contrast the tax implications of being a freelancer, compared to running a company
6. Decide on the Business Name
Think carefully and research your business name as this isn’t something you would want to change after launching. Look for any conflicts, which prevents you from using names already in use. Also, think about abbreviations to avoid any unfortunate shortenings.
Decide on a killer business name:
- Brainstorm ideas
- Share the best ideas with people you respect, including family and potential clients to see their reaction
- Check whether the website and social media profiles are available for your shortlisted names
Within this post, there is a section dedicated to choosing event planning business names and offering further guidance on this.
7. Create a Business Plan
Creating a business plan is highly recommended to crystallize your aims and intentions for your company. It is a document describing your business objectives, financial forecasts and strategies for sales and marketing.
Opinions on business plans differ in terms of how detailed this should be. Whether you create a lengthy document of 60 pages, a couple of A4 sheets or write it on the back of a beer mat, it will be a good use of your time and enable you to speak more confidently about your plans and identify problems. Certain banks and investors would also need to see this document. It includes financial and marketing planning information, as well as the vision and mission statements for the company.
Information you should include in your business plan:
- Your Vision for the Company
- Mission Statement
- SWOT Analysis
- Financial Plan
- Marketing Plan
Keep reading this post as we have a free business plan template for you to download and complete.
8. Think Seriously About Investment and Funding
Is any funding available to you? Certain geographical locations may offer incentives or grants for new businesses, to help them start out, or your college or university may be able to offer support. The traditional route for business investment was always through banks or through an angel or investor, although there are many more opportunities and non-conventional routes available today, such as crowdfunding. You may even be eligible for competitions looking for the best startup idea to secure investment and TV programs such as Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den which give you the chance to pitch your business idea, or at least get some great marketing coverage to tell the world about your product.
Steps to take:
- If you can you start your business without financial help this is always recommended as loan repayments are one less thing to worry about. Create a cash flow forecast to identify when the shortfalls may occur and if there are alternative ways of handling it, rather than a loan (overdraft, different payment terms with clients, negotiating credit terms, etc).
- If you do need investment, make a list of all of the options open to you, interest rates, repayment terms, set up time and the pros and cons of each. Include less conventional options, such as crowd funding and pitching your idea on TV
- Calculate exactly how much you need, what you need it for and when.
9. Incorporate/Register Your Business
Find out the process for formally registering your company and what information and format are required. This varies from country to country. In the UK, for instance, the government is keen to encourage people to go into business and so they make the process easy to reduce the barriers to starting up. You can complete a simple online form to create a company in less than 20 minutes.
Be prepared to formally start your business:
- Complete, sign and return the necessary forms
- Partners, Directors and the Company Secretary will also need to sign and complete the forms, if relevant to the type of business entity you are creating
10. Design Your Logo and Develop Your Company Brand Identity
When your company name is decided and registered you can start creating your company logo and branding. You might have to live with this for a long time, so make sure you are happy with your corporate identity. Tools and design packages are available if you have the skills to create this yourself, otherwise, a graphic designer should be able to create your company identity for you for a reasonable price. They can also design your stationery and business cards, which can be printed for a small outlay.
Develop your corporate identity:
- Brand guidelines should be created, detailing the correct use of your logo, font, colors, placement and so forth
- Consider how your logo will reproduce in different situations, such as reversed and on social media, badges, business cards, websites.
- You will need your logo in different formats such as .eps, .jpeg and .png.
11. Set Up Your Website and Social Media Accounts
Check your website domain is available and purchase it when your company name is agreed. It is also worth reserving the handles on social media channels too, even if you don’t yet want to start completing your profile details actively posting from the accounts. Aim for the same handles across all networks for consistency.
Sort out your online presence:
- Populate your web page and social media channels as soon as you can. Even if it is just a holding page and ’coming soon’ message it lets people know plans are afoot
- Get friends and family to follow you initially to boost your follower numbers on social
- Start sharing useful content to start building more organic followers
12. Protect Your Business Intellectual Property
Protect your brand via trademarks, patents, copyrights, whichever route is relevant to your product or service. Take specialist advice on these matters to ensure that you are protected against theft and plagiarism. Don’t think that it wouldn’t happen to you.
Don’t get caught out:
- Take legal advice to protect your IP
- Don’t be afraid of asking people to sign a non-disclosure to protect your IP whenever sharing information and ideas
- Trust no one
13. Set Up a Company Bank Account
When your company is registered you will be able to apply for your company bank account. This will need to be done face to face at your bank to verify your identity documents and to sign the relevant paperwork. Choose a bank account that matches your needs, for instance, do you need to deposit cash or take payments by card. If so they will be able to advise the best solutions available to you.
Choose a bank to support your vision:
- Shortlist banks by thinking about your needs now and in the future. For instance, if you have ambitious growth plans you may want to choose a bank that approves a lot of business loans
- If you need to visit your bank in person to pay in cash and checks, look at location and opening times
- Check out the online banking process and if an app is available
- Ask if you are allocated to a local bank manager or if all contact needs be via a call center
14. Confirm Your Pricing Strategy and Fee Structure
Thought needs to be given to your pricing and fees so you know how to answer questions about your costs. Although you need to know the specific details of an event project to quote accurately you still need to know your hourly and daily rates and to share them confidently. Consider whether you will quote on a fee basis or a time-charge basis. Other pricing methods you might consider are taking a fee as a percentage of the total event budget and taking a commission on any items booked related to the event. You may also want to offer set packages or have an introductory offer to entice people.
Get your price right:
- Research your competitors to find out how they charge and an idea of pricing. It can be very difficult to gain this information but if you can get an understanding of how your closest rivals price their services it will be very revealing indeed
- When you get an inquiry, make sure you ask lots of questions and get all the details you need to understand the project before quoting. Every event is different
- Create a list of questions to prompt you to ask anyone interested in your services. Take down all the details to enable you to calculate and create a proposal to share with them
15. Market Your Business Like Crazy to Secure Clients
Try to work on securing some clients and projects before officially launching the business. Having one client already signed up was a great confidence boost when I launched my company and definitely a deciding factor to take the plunge.
Tell as many people as you can about your intentions, including friends and family. Although they may not directly need your services they may know someone else who does.
Perfect Your Elevator Speech
If you answer the question of what you do with “I’m an event planner,” you’re hitting a line drive to first when you could be going for home. Instead answer with something like, “I help medium-sized businesses make indelible impressions on clients and increase revenue through user’s conferences.” Now, I’m listening.
People Buy People
It is easy, in business, to overlook the fact that we deal with real human beings. Real people can get lost between numbers, projections, ROI and profit margins, when really they are the most important thing keeping all of us afloat.
The importance of retaining a human connection externally with customers and clients and internally with staff and stakeholders, cannot be overstated. Successful connection is all about conversation, mutual understanding, and appreciation. If you don’t connect with the potential customer you are less likely to win the bid. We need to get personal, get real, and start an authentic dialogue to gain genuine trust.
That’s precisely what makes events so important. Events create the emotional energy behind the sale, the human experience element. And no-one at all, including those in procurement, really choose a logical sales choice. They make emotional ones – buying ideas. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and the only way to truly engage people with that why, is to offer them a direct, human experience of your brand in real life.
Arguably, the value of connection has decreased. Online, no real thought or effort has to go into communicating anymore, and it’s the same with the way brands operate online. With an increase in the ease of communication, there’s a decrease in what it actually means – making the individual feel important. Keep this in mind whenever you are creating a proposal, networking or pitching for new business and work hard to develop genuine relationships with your client.
Win favour and get clients before you launch:
- Start networking, online and offline, and talking to people about your plans ahead of time to see their reaction
- Create business cards even before it is “official” and connect with useful contacts via LinkedIn
- Keep a list of potential prospects and be sure to let them know when you have officially launched
- Perfect and practice your elevator pitch
- Keep in touch and follow up with warm leads often; share an interesting article, send them a Christmas card. Don’t let them forget that you are ready and waiting
16. Take Out Relevant Insurances
Make sure that you are covered by the relevant insurances as soon as you start out in business. In the UK, for example, this may include public liability, employers’ liability, and business insurances such as professional indemnity, business and contents insurance. You may also need specific event insurance for different event projects. An insurance broker will be able to advise the specifics you need to consider within the country you operate in.
- Take professional advice on the type of cover that you need
- Get several quotes
- Know the estimated costs and process for additional event-specific insurances you/your client may need
17. Decide on Your Office Location
Think about where you will work from. Do you really need the overheads of an office? Can you start out working from home? As we have already mentioned, there are a lot of benefits from starting out using a home office. Often meetings can take place at the client’s office or in a local coffee shop or hotel anyway so having a plush office is not essential. If you feel that it is really important to have an office consider hot-desking, a shared workspace or incubator unit where you will get to meet other business owners too.
Give it some thought:
- If you can keep costs down and work from home then this is a wise decision, at least at first
- If you think you will feel isolated or struggle to focus when working from a home office, look at flexible options for hot-desking and shared spaces which keep costs and contracts to a minimum
- Compile a list of potential places to meet so you can always suggest a suitable location to a client
18. Purchase Business Equipment and Tools You Need
Starting an event management company has low barriers to entry as generally, it is a service based role, which relies primarily on your skills as an individual. As long as you have access to a phone, computer and WiFi you should be ready to begin! Notice will be required to install a phone line and WiFi to your chosen location though, so plan ahead for this before your launch date if you need any changes to your home set up.
Make a list:
- List the essentials you need to start out. Cross off things you would like to have and focus on what you actually need
- Identify milestones and rewards, such as, when we are paid by our tenth client we will open a bottle of champagne. Little incentives help you to be more aware of your achievements
Later in the post, we talk in more detail about what to do if you are looking to start a business with no money. For an industry like event planning, having little money is not necessarily a roadblock to starting your own business.
19. Identify People That Can Help You
For the foreseeable future you will probably be working alone, or perhaps working with freelancers on a project by project basis. You won’t have a large team around you, which you may have had in previous employment. Keep lean while you can – paying other people’s salaries is a big responsibility, especially when you are first starting out.
Sites like Upwork are great as they allow you to find temporary staff that have the skills you need and agree a set fee on a project by project basis. You can outsource legal contracts, copywriting, web design, video editing and any task you can think of. You can even hire a virtual assistant to help with administration or handle phone calls.
Locally, try to develop a network of suppliers that you know and trust so you know where to turn to for quotes whenever opportunities arise. Let them know that you are going solo and they may also be able to recommend you for projects they hear about.
Think about ways you could work with others for mutual satisfaction and benefit. For instance, a nutritionist might partner with a gym to give her clients a discount, and the gym might have a reciprocal agreement for referrals with the nutritionist. Together they’re getting more clients by offering their clients more value.
Grow your support network:
- Get to know local vendors so you know who to call on when you need quotes turning around quickly
- Make a list of freelancers that you can contact and that you may need to work with on larger projects and when you get too busy
- Get a feel for the type of skills and services you can access online through freelancer sites and the rates charged
- Identify ways you can work with others to offer your clients more value
20. Officially Launch Your Business
When all these elements are in place the time has come to officially launch your business. People need to know that you are now open for business. Plan well ahead for this day and try to have clients on board even before your official launch.
The hardest step is getting your first client. With every client that you work with you are building a portfolio of achievements which can help you to gain further business.
Launch with a bang:
- Re-contact everyone and anyone that you have spoken to during this process and let people know you are now officially open for business.
- Get on Facebook, target your geographic area, start an ad campaign with $20.
- Plan the best launch party you will ever plan and invite along potential clients. Show them what they are going to get if they work with you.
21. Stay on Top of Paperwork and Accounting
Any business creates a number of administrative duties, such as tax, accounting and legal reporting and requirements. There are a lot of things that need your attention when running a small business, which takes you away from doing what you actually love and are good at - event planning. Take care to stay on top of all paperwork and declarations relevant to your business and the country you operate in. Submit paperwork and accounts in a timely manner before deadlines otherwise you could be subject to fines.
Always cover yourself by having written contracts with all suppliers and vendors and freelancers so that there can be no misunderstandings or liabilities.
Get systems in place:
- Note key deadlines
- Create sample contracts
- Find a simple accounting package to record all financial transactions - and a good accountant
- Create invoice templates
22. Develop Your Business Opportunities
Be sure to dedicate plenty of time to developing and growing your business, otherwise, you will find that you complete your first projects and then have no more work on the horizon. Managing cash flow and the peaks and troughs can be difficult as you get to grips with being your own boss.
Think about the next steps for your event planning business:
- Set up alerts or systematically check websites for relevant opportunities and tenders and get out there to network and meet people
- Develop template marketing content and wording for proposals so you are ready to respond quickly as you find out about opportunities
- Refine your pricing structure, fees and charges as you go along
- It can be very lonely starting out in business so make sure that you have the opportunity to talk to other business owners, compare notes, solve problems and share inspiration
- Get a business mentor to help guide you through this tricky beginning period
When I was considering starting my own event management company I enrolled in a night class which helped me to create my own business plan. The tutors shared a business plan sample layout, as well as general advice and support about taking that important first step into being your own boss. I know how much this helped to focus my efforts on starting up the company and my aims for the future and so I wanted to share with you my own event planning business plan sample.
What Makes a Good Business Plan?
There is no right or wrong answers for your business plan, it is unique. You can adapt the layout specific to your requirements. There may be additional information that you want to add in or questions that are not relevant to your business model. Regardless of the specifics you include and how many pages the completed document is, your business plan is what turns your idea into reality.
The most important questions that your business plan needs to address is:
What will make my event management company stand out?
How will my event planning business succeed when so many others fail?
The strongest business plans:
Sell a Solution, Not Just a Service
If you don’t have a problem you are solving, you are a minnow in a very large sea. As an event planner you could be rallying against “ho-hum events” or ensure “more revenue, less hassle” for annual conferences. People hire planners because they don’t want to deal with the details. They want the headache to be someone else’s. Demonstrate through your business plan how you will demonstrate this and take those things on so they can get back to business.
Explain What Makes You Different
What is your value? What do you do differently from other event planners? Know your unique value to a specific type of client and explain it at every chance you get.
Get to the Point
Communicate what you want to achieve so that any potential investors can see at a glance what your business idea is, without using any complicated jargon. Your plan doesn’t have to be long but it should establish the vision for your idea, your objectives, how you will deliver the plan and how it will make money.
Know Their Market and Do Market Research
If you understand your market and the competition, you have a better chance of understanding the business need out there and how your business can position itself. Be clear about your target market Who will you be selling to? Why are you different to your competitors?
Are Realistic with Figures
It is difficult to be accurate and the numbers in the finance section can be scary but it is important to try to be realistic. If your business isn’t going to make money it is best to know now so you can refine your ideas into a viable business proposition. Likewise you need to identify how you will make a profit and the anticipated timescales for this. A strong financial business plan will be essential if you need to secure loans and investment, as well as a tool to keep you focused.
Revisit the Business Plan and Goals Regularly
Your business plan should be a working document, particularly in the important first stages of starting out in business. The process of thinking about and creating your plan is what will give you a competitive edge. Check back and revisit your plan regularly. Let the plan grow with you and your business to keep you on the right path.
Download the event management business plan PDF below and create your own bespoke action plan for your startup.
Do you want to add this PDF business plan template to your own website? If so email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BONUS: How to Set Up an Event Management Company from Home [Video]
Picking a name for your new business venture is highly important, as you want to get it right and select an epic company name that encapsulates your vision for the business. Deciding on event planning business names may be one of the final decisions you make, as working through your business plan will help you to define the vision of your new entity and therefore impact on the name.
Choose the right company name and ensure that your message and ethos are successfully catchy and well marketed and memorable for the right reasons.
1. Demand Attention
It’s ok to be different. Look at what your competitors are called and make sure that you don’t come up with a variation that could be confusing. Being outlandish or weird can actually benefit you when choosing a company name because they are more memorable, attendees will start talking about it and they will want to know the story behind it!
On the other hand, don’t push the boundaries too far if you want people to get your name right. I have lost count of the number of times we get referred to as Northern Events, as Events Northern is not the natural way of saying it.
2. Make It Snappy
Not only is a short and snappy name easier to remember and recall but it can make branding, marketing and signage a lot easier to accommodate as well. Shorter names that stick in people’s head are some of the best options that you can choose. Shorter names pack more of a punch.
3. Be Laser Focused
Are there gaps in your current event niche that aren’t being catered for that you can get across with your company name? Do some market research just for naming, as this can help you with marketing and focusing your demographic further down the line.
4. Embody Your Ethos
Know and understand what you want to get across to potential clients before you start and try to embody that in the name. Also, remember that it is your message and style that makes your business unique, and that will help to put a creative spin on your business name.
5. Think Big
Although it is hard, try to think long-term in terms of your name as you never know where your company will take you. This is something I have learned from experience as, at the start, Events Northern was always focused on events in the North of the UK, so the business name was ideal for our core focus. Over the years though, our business opportunities have become more varied and we do more national and international work, which isn’t just focused on the geographical North. Although this hasn’t held us back, it is also difficult to quantify the number of clients that have not picked up the phone and contacted us because of our name.
6. Seek the Truth
It can be very easy to be blinkered when you are deciding on something you are so passionate and invested in so asking for other’s opinions can be an asset, especially if you can’t narrow down your options to confirm the definitive name. Crowdsourcing allows you to get a view from real people; whether it is your family and friends or a focus group you can pick up on things you wouldn’t have even thought of and get a different viewpoint. Gathering impartial data and suggestions can also give you inspiration to evolve your ideas further. It is also a way to check for abbreviations or potential initial errors in the name that you can fix now rather than not noticing until further down the line.
6. Free Write
The name is important, but telling yourself that over and over again will usually only lead to one thing, writer’s block and then you aren’t getting anywhere. For many people, it is not easy to come up with something creative and original within 5 minutes so these things take time, and most often you will have an “ah ha” moment when you least expect it. If you are struggling to get any ideas out, get a piece of paper and a pen (old school style) and free write for 5 minutes, write whatever comes into your head, literally everything; chicken, ghost, house, rain, whatever pops into your head and it can help to free up your creativity to get through writer’s block.
7. Expand Your Vocab
Creating a play on words is effective but you need the knowledge to do this, so pick up a dictionary or thesaurus and help to expand your vocabulary. You can use it to find synonyms of other words or expand your adjectives.
8. Triple Check Availability
This is the techy bit, check that the URLs and legal rights are available, nothing worse than coming up with the best name ever to find it is actually an obscure blog or failing company that you can’t use the domain name for. In some countries, there will also be restrictions on using certain names together which could lead to infringing copyright or naming patents.
If you are dead set on a name but have found someone else has the domain that you want, you can always contact them and ask them to sell it to you because while big brands and names won’t, there could be older websites or retired bloggers that would be happy to sell up and make a little money on the website they had 10 years ago, plus it can’t hurt to ask.
When you are set on a name also check the social media platforms to aim for consistency across the board.
9. Think Performance
Google can be a useful marketing tool to spread the word about your business but it is much harder to use if you have a lot of competition. Choose names that aren’t as popular, that don’t have common words in them or that make them specific to certain locations such as; Bonnaroo or The Kentucky Derby as these are more unique and you’ll find yourself higher on the search engine pages from the get-go.
A common question that we get asked is “how much money do you need to start an event management company?” The good news is that the answer in most cases is not much!
Starting an event management company generally has low set up costs compared to many other types of business. The essential equipment/elements you will need are:
- A computer or laptop
- WiFi access
- Desk (or table) and chair
Things that will help but are not essential include:
- Website (recommended)
- Access to a printer
- Answerphone/answer service
- A vehicle (it is difficult to use public transport when you have event equipment to transport and need to be on site at 5.30 am)
- Business cards
You may already even own/have access to these items. If not, all of these things should be easily within reach.
How to Start an Event Management Company with Little or No Money (Yes it is possible!)
When you are starting out in business (and even when you are established!) you should do everything you can to minimize expenditure. When you work for yourself it is true that every penny counts.
Absolute Essentials (Things you Can’t Skimp on) When Starting an Event Planning Business
If you have no money you can still start an event planning business, so long as you can start making money fast. Let’s talk through how you can start your business if you really have zero money, in terms of the essentials and the nice-to-haves we just identified.
- A computer or laptop - more than ever before people own laptops and computers. Although it would be nice to have the latest PC or Mac, as long as you can access the internet, emails and basic programs, that is all you need. If you don’t have your own machine you will need to beg, borrow or steal one somehow. Consider a second-hand device or refurbished model if need be.
- Phone - whether it is a cell phone, landline or VOIP phone system you need some way of calling out and ensuring that people can get hold of you. You probably already have some method of communication but consider increasing your inclusive call, text and data allowance if you find you are using it a lot more than before.
- WiFi access - if you don’t have WiFi at home there are plenty of coffee shops and public spaces that offer it for free. And they can provide you with a table) and chair too if you need one.
- Insurance - this is important and not something you can skimp on, but make sure that you get multiple quotes so you can choose the most cost-effective options. Be honest with your broker. Don’t exaggerate your business activities and turnover as it only means that you will pay more for your policy. Provide the facts and know that if and when your circumstances change you can alter your insurance cover. Request monthly payment plans, rather than annual policies.
How To Access Things You Need for Starting an Event Planning Business (Even When You Have No Money)
- Website - most domain names can be purchased for a few dollars unless they are in high demand, but through your research, you can avoid those. There are lots of free and low-cost website builders out there too, allowing you to create a simple website or holding page, without any web building skills. Alternatively set up a company page on LinkedIn or Facebook and refer people to there instead.
- Printer - if you have fully embraced the digital age this one will not worry you but being able to print things you need can be useful to prepare for important meetings and live events alike. Of course, local libraries and print shops can print things for you, for next to nothing, without having to buy a printer.
- A vehicle - being able to drive and having access to a reliable vehicle are things every self-sufficient event planner will need. If you don’t own your own vehicle consider hiring a car or a van specifically for event periods/
- Business cards - business cards cost next to nothing nowadays and you can even design and proof them yourself online and have them delivered to you. Alternatively, create a digital business card or connect with people via LinkedIn instead.
5 Genius Ways To Quickly Inject Money Into Your New Business
If you are starting out and desperately need to bring some money in, there can be four ways to access funds quickly:
- Have clients ready and waiting - this is the preferable and most organic and least scary way of starting out as a solopreneur. If you can have clients and projects ready and waiting for you as soon as you launch your event planning business it makes the transition from paid employment to business owner much less traumatic. This is the best way to avoid sleepless nights.
- Register on virtual work sites - register your event planning, business admin and other skills onto freelance sites, such as Upwork. This allows you to bid and accept work around your other commitments.
- Register with an agency and let contacts know you are available - registering for event work through an agency and letting event agency colleagues know you are on the market for event work can be a useful way to be in an event environment, following instructions from someone else and getting paid for it. Just because you are the boss, don’t think that working the registration desks at someone else's event is below you.
- Take paid work in a different field - consider taking on a part-time job where the hours and convenience can work around your new business. It might be in an unrelated field but at least having some income coming in can be one less thing to worry about.
- Loan - it might be that you need to investigate a short-term loan, either from the bank or borrowed from friends and family.
Owning your own event freelancing or small business can feel like feast or famine when it comes to work, which means that managing cash flow can be a big challenge. Some days you’re turning it away because you don’t have the bandwidth and other times you’re worrying about having no projects lined up and how you are going to pay the bills.
Operating your own event planning business is wonderfully fulfilling but it also means you’re on the hook to market yourself while busy performing event services. You need to keep the flow of clients coming in. For so many freelancers and sole proprietors, it can feel like boom or bust. If that’s the case, one of the most important things you can do for your business is evening out that cash flow.
Balancing out your cash flow is one of the best things you can do for your long-term success as an event freelancer or small business professional. It’s a challenge but can be done if you look for the right kind of client and nurture that person and relationship. Here are a few ideas on how you can even out your cash flow problems and work peaks and troughs.
Startup Problems: Too Much Work and Too Many Clients
We get it. The last thing you want to do as an event professional who has feast or famine times is to turn away work. It feels almost painful when you know a few weeks or months from now, you’ll really need the income. But you also likely know that you can’t run yourself ragged forever. It affects your health and means you could be pulled in so many different directions that all of your clients feel the lack of attention. This will make it next to impossible to get good referrals from them so you certainly don’t want to do this. Instead...
Create an Event Co-op
Until you build a roster of recurring clients who keep you busy year-round, you will have hills and valleys, dearth and surfeit. In order to level that out, one of the things you can do is work with other event planners in a referral group. Just as a physician will provide a patient with a referral to another physician, you can do this with a group of event managers. Select a group of professionals you believe in and can trust. Remember, you’re telling clients and potential clients that these event profs are as good as you are. Make sure you’re not giving a bad referral.
You also want to ensure that this sort of relationship works for you too. If you’re referring clients to them, you’re hoping they will do the same for you when the opportunity presents itself. Make this clear.
You can also use the group to help increase your staff. If you’re afraid of losing the client altogether, take the client on and then work with your group to cover some of the other functions you don’t have time for. Pay them accordingly.
Let Them Go (for a fee)
This is a similar idea to the one above. If you don’t have time to take on the client, refer them to someone else but request a finder’s fee. While this is not customary in event planning, it’s not uncommon in other industries and a hungry event planner may be willing to give you a small fee for the referral.
If you find yourself doing this often and there’s a market for this type of service in your network, you may discover that you have a new business.
Set Up a Referral Plan
If you have several happy clients, now is the time to create a formal referral program. Ask happy clients to refer you to others in their network or tell your clients that you are accepting new clients for events in a stipulated time frame (like Spring of 2018). This helps you book up your calendar in advance, rewards your clients for the referrals, and creates scarcity when they see how far in advance you are booked. This drives people to book you early or ask for other suggestions, which can help you work your referral group as mentioned above.
Startup Problems: Balancing Out Cash Flow When You Have Too Little Coming In
Even the best event profs can have problems with a steady flow of clients. Whether it’s due to a cyclical economy or being new in town, you’ll likely face a lack of clients at some point. When you do, here are a few things that can help make up for it.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
With feast or famine, you can’t exactly hire someone. What would happen during the famine? But you also can’t grow your business without hiring someone. What should you do?
In this case of plenty, consider hiring a virtual assistant to allow you to bring in more work. You can hire them on a contingency system where they work on projects when you have the work. When you don’t they go back to serving other clients. There’s no long-term contract and you needn’t worry about paying them when you don’t have projects.
A virtual assistant is a safe way to take on additional work that will help you grow without taking the risk of another full-time, permanent employee. You can task them with researching potential new clients too, to hopefully help even out your flow of work..
If you want to get your name out there in an area where you don’t have much of a reputation, consider volunteering on an event or in an activity that would give you exposure to your ideal client. Work hard and make an impression and your new network of people met through volunteering may just hire you. Don’t push your business on them. Simply look for ways in which to be helpful.
Get Clients with Recurring Events to Book Early
While it may not help you get paid any earlier, this tip can help you get your calendar booked early so you can worry less. And if you require a downpayment to hold the spot, you can get a little revenue coming in before the event. If you have clients with recurring events, give them an incentive to book you early. You’ll have peace of mind and you can pass along a small discount or financial incentive for them to get on your books for next year’s event this year.
Ask Your Network
If your event business is new or struggling, the easiest and least expensive way to grow it is through referral marketing. You never know who you know. Don’t assume your friends and family have no use for your services. Ask them if they need any help. Sometimes, someone has taken on more than they can handle and they need someone to finish the project. Other times, they have someone in their network who needs help with an event.
Most people would be willing to hire an event planner that a good friend referred them to, so get happy clients and attendees to talk about you. Our friends know us and know what we like. They wouldn’t steer us in the wrong direction. But it may surprise you to know that people will even make hiring and buying decisions based on reviews by people they don’t know. According to a study from Ogilvy, Google and TNS, 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influence in their purchasing decision.
According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, one offline word-of-mouth impression drives sales at least 5x more than a paid mention does. Paid advertising may not be in your budget anyway if you’re just starting out but it’s reassuring to know it’s not the most effective way to reach your audience anyway.
Give those referring you all the information they need to make sharing it with their network easy. Make sure to thank them when they do and offer them a referral fee or thank you card or gift for their assistance if work materializes as a result. You can even offer a friends and family discount or free consultation.
Join a Group
Join a group and get to know other people. In-person networking groups like your local chamber of commerce and others as well as virtual groups on LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to make connections with your ideal clients and other professionals who can help expand your network.
When you join a group, don’t hit them immediately with how desperate you are for a new client. Instead, look for opportunities to be of assistance and connect them to the people they want to meet or need help with. If you become a resource for others, they are likely to become a resource for you as well because they will begin to know, like, and trust you.
Become a Subject Matter Expert
As mentioned above, becoming a resource for people is a good way to get hired. That’s why becoming a subject matter expert is paramount to getting clients year-round. If you can become the noted expert in an area, book speaking engagements, publish about topics of interest to your ideal audience, write a book (or an ebook), post on sites offering your assistance or answering questions, following others on social media and joining in on chats and other discussions, you can quickly become known for your insights. When you do, people will approach you to work for them. This means less time spent needing to market your services.
Know one more benefit to becoming a subject matter expert? You can increase your pricing, which is another good way to improve cash flow.
Going off of the subject matter expert advice, look for ways you can expand your offerings and sell something. As an event professional, you are exchanging your time for money. You can make a very good career doing so but you can also exhaust yourself chasing the money and working the hours because you want more of it (to make up for times when clients are few and far between).
An ideal way to balance out cash flow is to produce something that can earn you money without you being involved. For instance, a book, product, or even a course can bring in revenue without an additional investment of your time. You invest initially in its creation because you do so on spec. Most likely you will not be paid to create it. But once it’s created, the revenue possibilities aren’t limited by the hours in the day. People can buy it (and pay you) even while you’re sleeping.
Offer a Smaller Service
You likely serve a particular audience and you’ve decided what they will pay. By setting your prices you have chosen to work with a client of a specified means or revenue. That leaves others out and that’s okay when it comes to booking events.
But a way to get more clients is by going into another market. This could mean taking on another niche or dropping your price. If you’re not interested in doing either of these things, try offering smaller consulting services. This would entail shorter stints, less work on your part, and a wider audience base. For instance, you can offer “day-of” event manager work on events. Some corporate people plan the events and then realize they don’t have time to manage them or need additional support. Or some people just want a plan they can follow. Their limited budgets may prevent them from hiring a full-time planner. You can fill that need.
Improve Your Existing Cash Flow
To improve cash flow, either get more clients, raise prices on your services, or change how you collect the money. For instance, adding a payment plan for large events that would bring in a smaller amount each month preceding the event would help, as would requiring a down payment to hold the date and another partial payment when they see your first plan or some other accepted milestone. Your final payment may be diminished but spreading out the payments would bring some stability to the cash flow.
Put on Your Own Events
Instead of waiting for clients to come to you, think about opportunities you can make a start on right away. You probably have event ideas which could be financially viable, so why not do them yourself? Of course, there is risk involved and investment needs to be secured but it can also potentially give you the biggest returns. You can start small and build the event year-on-year. Consider options such as crowdfunding to test the viability of the idea and reduce your financial risk. Look for in-kind sponsorship, partners, funding opportunities and ticketing to balance the budget.
Winning Out-of-Town Business
If business is really slow, think about if you need to widen your catchment area to look for clients a little further afield. Of course, the convenience factor drops and the travel time and expense increases when you are working out-of-town but if the demand for services is high elsewhere new contracts can be negotiated to cover these factors. Setting travel budgets and fees can feel a little overwhelming in the beginning, but they can still profitable course of action.
Know your worth. It’s non-negotiable. The only exception to that is if you have a potential client who will open up doors for you. In that sense being flexible in your pricing may just be the cost of doing business.
Getting Contracts Approved Faster
Winning a new contract should be a cause for celebration but it can soon turn to frustration when your client’s board or legal team are causing unnecessary hold-ups to the progress of the project (and the first invoice being issued).
Of course, people get busy. Email inboxes become overwhelmingly full. Forgetting to sign your contract isn’t a personal slight but it simply may have fallen off of their to-do list. Politely remind them every few days. Make sure the reminder that you set for the day before the deadline has a much more urgent tone.
Pro Tip: If you’re worried about sounding pushy with these reminders, word each differently. But start with something along the lines of, “Just checking in to see if you had any questions about the contract. I’m eager to get started.” or “Wanted to see if you needed anything further from me in order to get the finalized signatures. Please let me know.” Then as the deadline approaches, add more urgency and personalize the subject line.
Businesses need to know who they serve and what problem they solve. Building your event business is critical to paying the bills but if you’re selecting the wrong clients, numbers won’t matter. Attract the right clients and you’ll create a business you love. Attract the wrong ones and you might not be in business much longer.
A successful event business is about more than just numbers. Yes, numbers make the difference between a red balance sheet and one that’s in the black but there’s more to building an event business than just getting people who will pay you money. If getting bookings for events was all that mattered, everyone would be in business for themselves.
However, having the right type of client is as important as having projects that pay the bills because without good clients, you’re more likely to return to working for someone else. The wrong kind of client can be one heck of a headache so you want to make sure you attract the kind that you enjoy working with.
Don’t Try to be Everything to Everyone
You cannot please everyone, and trying to offer event planning services to everyone, no matter what their brief is, means that you are missing out on specializing on your strengths and developing your specific area of expertise.
Newbie event professionals who want to eat often take anything that comes their way, whether it’s the kind of work they want or not. They also try to be all things to all people because they worry that if they segment their marketing or target a particular niche, they’ll miss out on work. The opposite is true. You can’t market to everyone without weakening your message. Most people think choosing a niche is limiting. It’s not. It’s called specializing and specialists are worth a lot more than generalists. Ask a neurosurgeon. Selecting a niche to focus on can be the wisest move you make.
As personalization increases, niching will become an expectation much in the same way physicians select a specialty. Yes, some people will still be in general practice but those in high demand will specialize.
In a niche, you will be expected to:
- Know your niche and keep up with its needs
- Understand the specific needs and requirements of your clients
- Participate in the social media platforms of the niche
- Expand your niche as interests expand
- Market to your niche
- Cultivate a referral culture in your event planning business
Refine Your Marketing Messaging
Determine who you want to work with and speak only to them. Once you know what you want and who you work well with, cast narrow not wide. Focus in on your ideal and turn away those who don’t fit it. Everyone will be happier in the long run.
When you personalize your marketing to a specified group of people, they will feel you are speaking just to them and will appreciate the personalized attention. You’ll then get to work with the type of client you want in the area you want. By doing so you begin to make a name for yourself among your ideal client type and they’ll share your information with their like-minded friends and peers, attracting even more of your ideal client.
Saying Yes to the Wrong Client, Means Saying No to the Right One
You only have so many hours in your day. Every project and client you choose, takes your time. If you say yes to one that isn’t your ideal, you’re taking the spot away from someone who is, and that someone could be the next email you receive. Pass on clients who aren’t your ideal. When you get your marketing refined to target your ideal client, you won’t need to worry about the others. You’ll receive a better referral and review if they're in your ideal category because your services will shine.
But still, many businesses hesitate to narrow down prospects because they worry that means less potential clients. It does from a numbers perspective but it doesn’t matter. Let’s take a look at keywords to understand this concept. You can take a keyword and by using analytics tools see just how often someone searched for that term. In pay per click, some terms are more expensive than others to place for because they are popular searches. But that doesn’t speak to their value. In order to decide whether that’s something you want to pay for or not, you want to look at conversion rate. If there are only 1,200 searches of that term per year, but a large percentage convert, then you would be wise to buy for that term.
The same is true for niches. There may not be as many people looking for them but if those who are looking, are serious clients, that’s all you care about. You don’t want thousands of inquiries who want RFPs only to vanish in the night. You want people to self-select before they ask you to give of your most precious commodity - time.
Fire the Mr. and Ms. Wrong Client
If you’ve already taken on clients who were not your ideal, finish up those events and walk away. It’s easy to agree to do another job for your less-than-ideal clients instead of worrying about where your next client will come. If you feel that pressure, resist and understand that taking on the wrong clients means that you’re going to end up with more of the wrong clients as they refer you to their peers. Think of the referral business like high school cliques. Jocks are generally friends with jocks and nerds with nerds. If you want to do business with nerds, don’t ask the jocks for referrals.
Be Brave and Get Known for Your Event Planning Niche:
- Say no and walk away to clients you know are not a good fit. It may sound like suicide but you need to focus on getting to the right people
- Trust your gut instinct more often
- At the end of each project determine whether you should work for the client again. If it isn’t right, be brave and walk away
In order to be successful in your event planning business, you need to learn to prioritize leads to understand who to spend your time with and who to let go. Since you can’t get a refund on precious time, you’re hurting your business if you waste time on the wrong people.
One of the most critical things you can do for the success of your event planning business, outside of pricing, is understanding the leads process. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll either waste your time on someone who will never become a client or you’ll ignore someone who could be very good for your business.
If you’re unfamiliar with lead screening and prioritizing, it’s time you learn all about it. Here are the basics you need to know.
The Basics of Lead Prioritization
Prioritizing leads will not only help you spend time with the most worthwhile prospects, it will also increase your revenue because more of your time will be spent with those who are able to make a difference to your checking account.
Step 1: Know Your Ideal Client
There is no way to prioritize a lead effectively if you don’t know who you want to work with. As we have already covered, you should identify your ideal client, otherwise, it makes it next to impossible to be effective in your lead generation. Select a niche to serve, or at least identify your ideal demographic. Do you want to work only high-end events or do you love family-oriented get-togethers? Or maybe there’s an industry you know well. Whatever it is, sketch out who your ideal client is and what they struggle with.
Step 2: Know Where You Excel
Another way of narrowing down who it is you want to work with is knowing what you’re good at. If you are a whiz at last-minute soirees or you host amazing destination events, decide whether that’s something you want to specialize in.
Now that you know who you want to serve, you can go into prioritizing how to work the leads.
Step 3: Attend to Inbound Leads First
While this is common sense, some event planners still forget this basic advice. Always work inbound leads first. These are people who have reached out to you. Most event planners understand the priority behind a contact form but fail to see that there are other inbound lead types. These could be people who stopped by at your booth at a show, asked you a question via social media or downloaded material from your website.
No matter how they approached you, the follow-up is critical. Check in with them periodically to see if you can be of service. Use drip marketing or a newsletter to stay in touch and remain top of mind so that when they need an event planner, they think of you.
Step 4: Prioritize the Clicks
If you send out any sort of cold messaging via email or a newsletter, follow up with those who have clicked on any of these materials. If the person is someone who started as an inbound lead where they contacted you and were then added to a list, they take priority. Otherwise, anyone who clicks on your email or newsletter content deserves a polite, how can I help you? or would you like additional information/content? contact.
No one clicks out of kindness. If they click, they have some interest in you, your services, or your content. Ideally, you would have technology in place that could keep track of their activity history and you could analyze it for patterns. For instance, do they seem to click on a particular topic like corporate events? Then consider touching base and offering them your corporate events guide.
This will position you as an industry expert, understanding of their needs, helpful, and a resource to turn to for assistance. All of these things will bring them back when it is time for them to make a decision about their event.
Step 5: Stalk Website Visitors
Assuming they have downloaded content from you in the past or are on your email list, you can track every time they visit your site (if you’ve invested in the technology to do so). Pay particular interest in what they’re downloading and the pages they’re visiting.
When you contact them to see if you can be of service, offer them a piece of content that is in line with their interests. Just make sure it’s not something they’ve already downloaded.
Step 6. Pick Up the Phone
If you have absolutely no potential clients reaching out to you, it’s time to do some research and find events that may be a good fit for your services. You can contact businesses directly (for corporate events), inquire with other vendors on potential partnerships, or market yourself on social media, to name a few.
However you decide to do your own cold calling (or approaching), make sure you have your ideal client information at your fingertips. You do not want to approach someone just for the sake of getting more contacts in. Make sure they are good contacts and would make good clients and a good fit. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and theirs.
But what if you don’t have any of the technology set up? What if you just want to know how to prioritize leads that are all coming in the same way such as through a contact form? Keep reading.
Prioritizing Same Type Leads
Let’s assume all of your contacts are coming in the same way and you’re wondering how to prioritize and screen them so you’re not wasting your time with leads that won’t convert. The first way to help you prioritize is to create a contact form that tells you what you need to know before contacting them. These things include:
- The nature of the contact such as question, availability, pricing, etc.
- If it’s a question, allow them to type it in a notes section. If it’s availability, prompt them to add a desired date and size of the event. If it’s a pricing inquiry, ask them for all the details that go into your pricing analysis. That way you don’t have to contact them to get the basic information to answer their question. You already have it and can skip right to providing a response.
- Their name and contact information such as company name, phone number, email address, etc.
- Their budget. If you only work on events with a budget in a specified range, make this a must-answer question. It’s better to know ahead of time, even if it means some people drop off, than it is to spend your time with a person who isn’t your ideal client.
- Type of event.
Remember that ideal client list you made and the demographics you laid out? Use that to prioritize incoming leads or contact forms. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this person in my ideal demographic?
- Is the type of event they’re interested in something I like to do?
- Does their budget match my ideal event?
- Will I gain exposure or networking benefits from being involved with this event? In some instances, you may decide to override your ideal client, budget, or event specifications because of the people you’ll meet or the exposure you’ll receive. This may be true of a philanthropic benefit, for instance.
- Is there the potential for repeat business? Maybe they’re not your ideal budget but the repeat business involved in a recurring event may bring them closer to your ideal in the long run.
Content, Conversion, and the Sales Funnel
It’s important to talk about conversion, the sales funnel, and lead nurturing. Selecting an event planner is not the same thing as going into a store and buying a loaf of bread. When you want bread, you walk into the store and buy it. There’s very little comparison shopping done. A quick scan of the shelves and that’s it.
On the other hand, there could be a very long sales cycle in selecting the perfect person to plan an event. The client could also be mid-cycle, meaning they don’t need a planner now but anticipate the need for one in the future.
This process of selection is often depicted as a funnel. A funnel starts with a wide mouth. If you’re marketing your services, you’re likely casting a wide net. (Although, hopefully not an immense one. You should be personalizing your campaigns based on your ideal client.)
Entice with Content
At this stage, people don’t know you or your business very well so you provide them with introductory materials based on their needs.
After digesting these materials, some people will decide you are not a good fit for their event. This decision is usually based on preliminary qualifications like budget and industry specialization. This elimination is okay because you don’t want to work with just anyone.
Is This The Start of Something Special?
Next, people now know a little bit about you and have decided you can handle their event but do they want you to? This part of the process is all about personalization and making connections. They have options when it comes to event planners. At this stage, they’re ensuring you are someone they want to work with.
Again, some people will decide you are not a good fit for them now that they’ve gotten to know you better. Maybe your personality and theirs don’t jive. Maybe they’ve found someone who knows a little more about their industry. Whatever the reason, don’t worry about it. This works both ways as you may decide you have no interest in working with them either.
It’s a Match!
The last part of the sales funnel is the narrowest. The potential client knows you can do their event, they like you well enough to give you the opportunity, and now they’re just narrowing it down to a decision. Remember, that decision could mean your competition or it could just as easily mean forgoing an event planner altogether and doing it on their own.
At this stage addressing their needs is more important than ever. If you can provide a much deeper connection and understanding of their goals, they are more likely to select you.
So what moves people down the funnel? It’s not gravity. It’s a thing called nurturing.
You Can Do It
This is why prioritizing potential clients and leads is so important. The sales process requires a natural sloughing off of potential clients. Because of this, you don’t want to spend any extra time with prospects that won’t become clients. You want to recognize the potential of becoming a client as early as possible and spend your time with those people. If you spend your time with tire kickers who never convert to sales, you’re losing money.
Identify your ideal client so you can recognize them when they fill out a contact form or call you. Know the right questions to ask to identify them as such and don’t be afraid to say goodbye to those who aren’t an ideal fit. For those who are a good fit but aren’t ready to make a decision, nurture them until they are. Be a resource and you become a valuable ally.
Be a Client Magnet:
- Use the tools detailed earlier to recognize your ideal client early in the sales cycle.
- Provide them with helpful information to assist them in making a decision.
- Stay in contact with them, acting as a resource.
- Pay attention to how they are interacting with you.
- Reach out to them on social media and share content that you believe they will find helpful. Share their content as well.
- Have many resources on your website that are suited to all stages of the sales funnel so they can self-identify and continue their desire to find an event planner with your help.
- Use a drip campaign or a newsletter to stay in contact with them as they make a decision.
- Solve a problem for them.
100 Effective Ways to Attract More Clients and Grow Your Event Planning Business (when time and money are in short supply)
One of the most common questions we get asked at EventMB is how to get more clients. Whether you are a self-employed event planner or an ambitious CEO, clients are the lifeblood of the business. It seems to be a lot harder nowadays too since people are tuning out advertising. But it’s not hopeless. The good news is that many of the ways you can reach new clients are free (or inexpensive) to you, outside of the time it costs to perform them. Whether you are introvert or extrovert, there are plenty of ways to land new clients. Knowing your ideal client will help you recognize them when you see them. It will also help you understand which tips on this list will help you the most. Here is the biggest list of tips to attract more event planning clients and grow your event planning business.
The event industry is a service industry and event planning is a service which means:
no clients = no business.
You need clients to survive and we all want to gain profitable event clients. Here is a bumper list of ways you can improve your client magnet potential while business is slow.
Idea Category Send a Thoughtful Gift Start Event Planning Business Highlight Innovation Start Event Planning Business Competitor Analysis Start Event Planning Business Educational Content Start Event Planning Business Client Feedback Surveys Start Event Planning Business Always Follow Up Start Event Planning Business Participate on Social Media Start Event Planning Business Do Guest Posts or Podcast Interviews Start Event Planning Business Build Your List Start Event Planning Business Provide Resources Start Event Planning Business Increase Your Digital Marketing Start Event Planning Business Network Online and Off Start Event Planning Business Work on Your Ideal Client Personas Start Event Planning Business Creative Business Cards Start Event Planning Business Opinion Piece Start Event Planning Business Round-up Posts Start Event Planning Business Comment Start Event Planning Business Gain Respect from Peers Start Event Planning Business Case Studies Start Event Planning Business SlideShare Start Event Planning Business Industry Article Start Event Planning Business Handwritten Note Start Event Planning Business Drip Marketing Start Event Planning Business Different Service Levels Start Event Planning Business Use Your Personal Network Start Event Planning Business Facebook Reviews Start Event Planning Business Reviews Start Event Planning Business Start Event Planning Business Google Alerts Start Event Planning Business Social Search Start Event Planning Business Email Marketing Start Event Planning Business Local Search Results Start Event Planning Business Guest Blog Start Event Planning Business Online Community Start Event Planning Business Checklist Start Event Planning Business Tracking Start Event Planning Business FAQs Start Event Planning Business Ebook Start Event Planning Business LinkedIn Pulse Start Event Planning Business Blogging Start Event Planning Business Website Redesign Start Event Planning Business Retargeting Start Event Planning Business Paid Social Media Ads Start Event Planning Business Get Social Start Event Planning Business LinkedIn Groups Start Event Planning Business Email Signature Start Event Planning Business The Business Story Start Event Planning Business Thought Leadership Start Event Planning Business Build your LinkedIn Profile Start Event Planning Business Identify Ideal Clients Start Event Planning Business Create a Follow Up List Start Event Planning Business Speak at Business Events Start Event Planning Business Go Live Start Event Planning Business Get Known Start Event Planning Business One-stop-shop Start Event Planning Business Become an Official Event Partner Start Event Planning Business Affiliate Marketing and Incentives Start Event Planning Business Create a Course Start Event Planning Business Meet Small Business Owners Start Event Planning Business Free Consultations Start Event Planning Business Co-working Opportunities Start Event Planning Business Industry events Start Event Planning Business Make Proactive Approaches Start Event Planning Business Partner with large event planning firms Start Event Planning Business Be a Mentor Start Event Planning Business Plan an Event to Show off your Skills Start Event Planning Business Work with Venues Start Event Planning Business Follow-up with past clients Start Event Planning Business Partner with other event vendors Start Event Planning Business Volunteer for a non-profit Start Event Planning Business Create relationships with business organizations Start Event Planning Business Join a chamber of commerce or networking organization Start Event Planning Business Associations Start Event Planning Business Brand Ambassadors Start Event Planning Business Help a Reporter Out Start Event Planning Business Press Opportunities Start Event Planning Business Press Releases Start Event Planning Business Get Personal Start Event Planning Business Online Help Start Event Planning Business Long-term Pricing Start Event Planning Business Business Deals Start Event Planning Business Talk About Your Business Start Event Planning Business Creative Partnerships Start Event Planning Business Business Cards Start Event Planning Business Hashtags Start Event Planning Business Create Your Own Leads Start Event Planning Business Make Use of Trade Shows Start Event Planning Business Host a Giveaway Start Event Planning Business Become a Guest Speaker Start Event Planning Business Video Adverts Start Event Planning Business Creative Sponsorship Start Event Planning Business Make a Package Start Event Planning Business Online Q&A Start Event Planning Business Know Your Demographic Start Event Planning Business Referral Incentives Start Event Planning Business Be Yourself Start Event Planning Business Ask for Introductions and Pass it Forward Start Event Planning Business Get Reviews and Testimonials from the Right People Start Event Planning Business Gain More Reviews of Your Services Start Event Planning Business Create Happy Clients and then Ask for Referrals Start Event Planning Business
One of the best things about being a business owner is that you don’t have to answer to anyone. Unfortunately, one of the worst things about owning your own event company is, also, that you don’t have to answer to anyone. Why? Because there is no one to stop you from getting in your own way.
When you work for a boss, and she sees you spending too much time on floor plans, which she can have her assistant do, and not enough time on meeting new clients, which is your top priority, she can haul you into her office and set you straight. “I don’t care how much you like doing floor plans,” she says, “the company needs you out in front of clients.”
But when you’re the boss, there’s no one to call you out and deliver the tough love message. And so, without any oversight, you spend even more time on floor plans than you would with a boss looking over your shoulder. When you wonder at the end of the year why your business didn’t make more money, despite all the successful events and happy clients, there’s a decent chance this is the reason.
Companies that have been successful at breaking into higher and higher levels of growth tend to be very good at policing how they allocate their time, particularly the time of the senior people. Too often, however, business owners gravitate to their comfort zone, which is usually not where your company needs you to be.
That’s the Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: the freedom from having a boss which is so enticing can also be the roadblock to your company’s growth.
How Do You Get Around This?
The first step is understanding where your company needs you the most. A good rule of thumb is listing the various tasks that need to be done, and assigning an hourly rate for what you’d have to pay someone on the outside to do that work. You as the owner should be spending the bulk of your time at the highest level tasks, whether it’s sales or design or managing your team. The lower items should be delegated to someone who can do them at a much lower rate.
The next step is acknowledging that many people find it quite hard to police themselves, so you need an outside force. A mentor or consultant can help with this, but an often overlooked resource is your own staff. Whether it’s your partner (if you have one) or your assistant (or virtual assistant), enlist them in your efforts. Tell them, “I need to be focusing on the following areas to best grow the company. If you see me spending time on another area, and you’ve got it under control, let me know, as a polite reminder.”
Maybe, but I’ve done it and it works.
In the beginning, people were hesitant to say anything, but I would catch them fidgeting and ask them what was going on. They’d respond, “Um, you remember when you told us to tell you when you were involved in one of those things that are not on your top priority list, and we should tell you when we have it under control? Well, um, we’ve kind of got this under control.”
There are only so many hours in the day, and before you think about borrowing or raising money to expand, make sure that your time is allocated to the highest possible uses that benefit the company. As strategies for growth go, this is the low-hanging fruit.
Starting an event planning business can be daunting and overwhelming as there are a lot of things to think about and decisions to make. If after reading this post you are just as passionate and determined as before then we encourage you to follow your dream and don’t look back.
We hope that you are feeling inspired now you have 100 new ways to get more clients but the trick is, of course, keeping them and making sure they stay loyal. Ultimately, focus on doing a good job, offering a great service and experience to your clients and they will come back again and again and recommend you to others too.
Now onto you:
- Do you have a tip to make this page better? Or an idea to add to the idea engine for how to attract more business? Send an email to email@example.com.
- Do you have more tips and advice to add about starting an event planning business? Comment below.
- Do you have a colleague who may benefit from reading this page? Share it with them.