How to Start Your Own Event Planning Business

Written by lynda moultry belcher
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The best part about event planning is that if you are an organised, social person, you can utilise your natural personality points to achieve success. The events business is all about organisation, who you know and how well you can promote, which if you are social, is a skill you have already got down pat. Here are some tips for starting your own business in this field.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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    Start by planning small events for friends and family. This will not only give you some real world experience, but will also help you to tout events that you have planned to potential customers. The events don't have to be large in scale--they can be as simple as birthday or anniversary parties for family members. The point is that you can use these events to learn how to put your personal touch on your events as well as learn the logistics all event planners must know, such as how to deal with caterers, accommodating a variety of guests, scouting and booking locations, coming up with an event budget and sticking to it, how to coordinator decor, either through a professional decorating service or yourself, if you have to and more. When you are running an event, the responsibility is yours to make it exactly the way your client wants it. Moreover, the event should appear to run as seamlessly as possible, even if that means you are running around behind the scenes to make things happen. By starting with family and friends, you won't ruin your new reputation if you make some common mistakes.

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    Establish yourself as a business enterprise and set up an office, either at home or in a professional space. While this is a business that doesn't require a huge start up amount, you need to establish yourself and become a legitimate enterprise, either through acquiring a fictitious name with your state or becoming an LLC or corporation. Either way, this is helpful because when people pay you for events, they are paying you for a service and you must pay taxes on that money. Moreover, they like to deal with a professional planner and not someone just doing it on the side. So, visit your local Department of Business and Regulation, or check out the website of whatever entity handles this type of business in your state and legitimise yourself. Then, set up an office. It doesn't need to be huge, but it should be roomy enough for you to file paperwork, meet with clients when necessary and conduct business related to your event planning venture.

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    Advertise your services. After all, how can people hire you if they know nothing about you? Take out ads in magazines or newspapers in your city. Get a website and have it optimised with key words related to event planning so that your site comes up quickly when people search event planner and your city online. Participate in community events under your business name. Hand out business cards to anyone you think might be able to utilise your services and do anything you can think of you to get your name out there.

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    Get involved in big name events, in any way you can. Sometimes, starting out as a new event planning business with little to no experience means that to work on big events, you may have to work under another company and for next to nothing, or even free. And while this may seem like a waste of time at first, you may find it to be more valuable than you realised. Not only does working a big event mean exposure, even if you aren't getting paid, you are getting access to new contacts that can later be used during your events. Moreover, you are building partnerships with other event planners in your area, which can come in handy during times when they need extra assistance on large scale events. You are meeting potential vendors, whom if you interact with properly, may one day become vendors at your event. The gist of event planning is to make as many contacts as possible because just about any type of business will have something to offer when it comes to your next event.

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    Put together your Rolodex. A contact list is probably an event planner's most important resource. Start building this even before your first event. The Rolodex (this list can actually be housed anywhere) should include names, addresses, phone numbers (including cell and home numbers), e-mail addresses and websites for every person and/or business you have and could use to work an event. Include the obvious contacts, such as caterers, entertainment, event suppliers and contacts at venues. But also include the not so obvious contacts, such as a regular plumber who can solve a major leak at the church where are wedding is being held in two hours or a backup caterer who can throw together a gourmet dinner for 20 in a matter of hours. These are the people you will have to call on a few times in your career and will save your entire reputation from going under.

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    Build an online and actual portfolio of your events. When courting new clients, you will need to be able to show them proof that you have done events and that they have had a modicum of success. You can do this through a great look book, filled with testimonials from former clients and people you have worked with and photos of your event that showed every aspect of what you coordinated, from the food to the decor to the entertainment. You should house this portfolio both in a professionally bound book as well as on your website, to give client multiple ways to access examples of your past work.

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