The Novices’ Guide to Event Management: Part Four

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

So, you’ve gotten some experience in event management, and you’ve decided that working exclusively for one company really isn’t for you. You want to run your own event management firm, be your own boss, and run events on your own terms.

Today’s installment of The Novice’s Guide To Event Management looks at what’s involved when establishing your own event planning company.  For our purposes, we’re going to assume you’ve already got the necessary experience as an event manager and it’s not totally crazy to take the plunge on your own. Of course experience isn’t all you need, there’s a bit more to it than that…

Make Sure You Have The Necessary Skills

Running a business requires many of the same skills you use when responsible for an event – you’ll need excellent verbal and written communication skills, a head for numbers, talent for negotiation, an obsession with details, and a knack for marketing and public relations.

Although your skill-sets as an event planner will continue to serve you swimmingly as an event planner, they won’t be enough on their own to ensure success as a business owner. You need to develop a few new skills to see your firm thrive.

Training yourself to recognize business opportunities as they present themselves is paramount. Mentors can help hone this skill by providing new perspectives; have a few go-to people with a good-deal more experience than you as sounding boards.

Consider Certification

You’d be amazed how far a little piece of paper can get you – particularly in the eyes of prospective clients. If you don’t already have one, you may consider getting an event management degree or certificate from an accredited institution. You already have hands-on experience and are confident in your skills, yet through continued course work you can focus on new areas related to the business-side of event planning and certainly gain new skills (and contacts).

You can find a full list of institutions that offer certifications on the Meeting Professionals International Website.

Figure Out Your Niche

Once you’re certain you’ve got what it takes – and that you’re equipped with the necessary knowledge – your next step is to figure out what market you’re going to serve. This is the industry you’re involved in, your regular clientele, and what sort of services you’ll commonly provide. You might, for example, cater your services to the social venture community and specialize in planning charity events, or you could be a corporate planner focusing on larger conferences or organizing overseas events. Don’t make the mistake of saying you’re going to coordinate any and all events: specialize.

Create A Business Plan

Next up, you’ll need to figure out what you can offer to the world. You’re going to need a business plan. The United States Office Of Small Business Administration is a great place to start if you’re not sure how to put one together. Also, research the ins and outs, and costs of establishing a business entity, including the legality surrounding entrepreneurship.

Figure Out How To Cover Startup Costs

Starting a business isn’t cheap. As such, a crucial step in running your event management firm is figuring out how you’re going to cover startup costs – how much money you’re going to need to get you to each new milestone. This depends both on your cost of living as well as the scope of your event planning service – larger firms serving wealthier clients are naturally going to require a bit more cash to get started. Do you have to start large? There is no right answer.

Yet depending on your answers…how are you going to secure money? Will you take out a loan from the bank, or rely on some generous friends and family to help get you off the ground? Are you going to try to get some investors on your side? Ask around, research the processes involved in raising capital. These questions depend largely on personal resources and your firm’s growth potential.

Obtain Insurance

Once you know how you’re going to pay for your new business, your next step – and I cannot stress this enough, you need to do this before you actually start taking in clients – is to obtain business insurance. This could include general liability, product liability, home-based insurance, worker’s compensation, health/benefits, and criminal insurance. Talk to a business advisor at a bank or insurance agency for more information, and figure out what sort of insurance plan works best for you.

Network, Network, Network

You want to ensure you have a solid network of vendors, suppliers, and staffing resources to help you execute your events. You’re going to need help with administrative duties, accounting, sales, marketing, technology, catering, and a whole host of other functions. Thankfully, if you established yourself in the industry before starting your own business, you’ve probably have a network built up – now’s the time to expand it. If you didn’t bother getting any experience before diving into your own business…well, things get a whole lot tougher.

Market Your New Firm

Last, but certainly not least – and this is something you likely already know how to do as an event manager – market yourself. Choose a great name for your business, create a website, approach potential clients, draw up service proposals…basically, do everything you’d do to promote an event, and then some. After all, clients can’t find you if you’re not putting yourself out there, right?

OK, that’s all for now. Next week, we’ll be taking a look at how to launch your new firm. We’ll examine the process of marketing your business in greater depth. Talk to you fine folks then.