From Employee to Event Planner: Are You Ready to Make the Shift?
Becoming an independent event planner is a calculated risk. No, you won’t have the safety net of an employer to fall back upon, but you will have your own company to spearhead. That being said, the leap is both thrilling and terrifying. New challenges await you as you branch out on your own, but so do new opportunities for you to grow your services into a successful event planning business.
Have you been wondering if you are prepared to make the shift from employee to the owner of a event planning business? Then it’s time to start thinking about your trademark style and what to include in start-up costs. Here’s what you should consider before taking that next big step.
Do you have a business plan?
Create a viable business model. This means you have to start thinking of your event planning services in terms of a small business:
- Establish what kind of events you would like to plan.
- Do your market research. Who is your target demographic?
- Come up with a business name.
Once you are ready to take the steps to legitimize your event planning business, it’s time to crunch numbers. Start-up costs are exactly what they sound like. How much is it going to cost you to get your business off the ground? Crucial logistics include location and inventory: where will you be working from and what will you work with?
The good thing is that you know the industry—but prepare to think of the event planning services you will offer and what your free structure should be. Hiring a legal professional to prepare your contract is a good idea.
Are you prepared to grow your business?
Developing a successful business is a process. It may take some time before you book your first client. Are you financially prepared to part with guaranteed income and employee benefits?
Having an appropriate start-up fund is crucial. While this initial investment does range from company to company, having a workable business model will help you come up with a plan in terms of how you will operate your event planning business.
Do you have a portfolio?
Photos of previous events you’ve planned will allow clients to see what kind of events you can create. Make sure you consider who has the legal rights to images of events you have worked on in the past.
The great thing is that if you don’t have a portfolio, you have a fresh opportunity to create one.
- Work on developing a trademark style of what you want events to look like.
- Stage an event true to your style and take pictures of all your work.
- Post your pictures to Facebook or Instagram and see what kind of response you get.
Have you thought about your marketing strategy?
That leads us to another vital component of creating a demand: marketing your event planning services. Much like your business model, come up with a game plan for how you will draw attention to your business. It’s also a great idea to develop a marketing strategy early on:
- Are you comfortable working with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter? Start navigating social media platforms.
- If you have the financial capacity, hire a professional to design a logo for your brand.
- Create a website for your event planning business where clients can see your portfolio.
- Order business cards with your contact information to network with.
Do you feel ready?
This is probably the most important question you will have to ask yourself. Are you prepared to be 100% responsible for an event planning company? The answer will probably depend on your experience and event planning background. If you’ve been working in the industry for years, you already know the ins and outs. Working for yourself is a logical next step.
On the other hand, some event planners are born entrepreneurs and want to build an event planning business immediately. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from making your dream a reality. Every event planner has to start somewhere. However, make sure that you have necessary tools and knowledge base to build your brand from the ground up.
Receive the proper training. Certification will open valuable doors for you in terms of helping you to develop contacts and making you a competitive event planner. Clients want to work with event planners who know industry best practice.
Tips for transitioning
- Cut back your hours at your old job (if possible) instead of leaving it altogether.
- Begin setting aside resources for your startup fund.
- Assemble your support network: family and friends. If you will be working on your own or with a minimal team, make sure you have the extra hands you need. Not to mention the emotional support!
- Focus on developing your style and think about how your talents set you apart from other event planners.
- Consider how you are going to develop your client base. As always, be gracious to everyone you work with; you never know who might refer you in the future.
- Volunteer to take on larger responsibilities in your current position in order to gain valuable hands-on experience.