How to Start an Event Planning Business
Ask any entrepreneur, and they’ll tell you that being your own boss is the best feeling in the world. Combine that feeling with the passion you already have for planning, and you have yourself a wonderful and rewarding career! But a lot of new businesses fail quickly because the owner didn’t understand what they were getting into when they decided to launch.
If you want to start an event planning business, you’ll need a few core building blocks. First, you’ll need an education in event planning, or industry experience. Second, you’ll need a bit of collateral to get your company off the ground (luckily an event planning business can launch for a very low cost). Third, you’ll need the drive and dedication to find clients and get yourself hired!
You can’t just wake up one day and start an event planning business without any training or prior knowledge. For starters, you probably won’t know enough to even get a business off the ground. Also, I doubt you’d be able to find a single event planning client who would put any confidence in your abilities if you have no evidence of any competency in the industry!
If you have zero experience in the event planning industry, then you’ll have to start with getting event planner training. Planning isn’t a regulated industry so you technically don’t need an event planner certification to work in the industry. But there’s no question that being a certified event planner will make your life a lot easier as you start your own business.
The great news is good event planning courses will also provide you with business training, where you’ll learn how to launch and manage your own event planning business. Since that’s your ultimate goal, training as an event planner can effectively become a two-birds-one-stone situation!
If you already have experience in the event planning industry and a strong portfolio under your belt, then odds are you don’t need additional industry education or certifications to start your own event planning business. If you’re a business newbie, however, you might benefit from taking a course that’s going to specifically focus on starting your own business, including project management, marketing, employee management, accounting, legal requirements, etc.
Business Launch Requirements
Being a certified or experienced event planner is one important piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the only requirement to starting your own planning business. If you’re going to be working for yourself, you won’t have the luxuries of having an established company around you that completes the administrative work for you.
In order to get your event business off the ground, you’ll need:
- A name for your event planning business
- A portfolio of your best work (this can be school work if you’re new to the industry)
- A good website for your business (you can’t get away from this these days!)
- Office space (this can often be a home office) and supplies
- A business license (if required in your area)
- Business insurance (there is specific insurance for event planning businesses!)
- A pricing structure for your services (often the toughest part of starting your business!)
- Contract templates for vendors and clients that have been reviewed by a lawyer
All these elements (and many more) should be covered in a detailed business startup plan. If you’re lucky enough to be taking a good event planning course, that course should include training where you’ll develop this type of a business plan.
Reality Check: A fair amount of people start their own business because they’re passionate about the industry, only to learn that running a business means you’ll be responsible for the business, not just for doing the job you love to do. Realistically, it’ll probably be a 50/50 split of your time between running your business and planning events.
Not every person is made to run their own business. It takes a specific personality type to be a successful business owner… and to enjoy running their own business! You’re probably a good fit for running your own business if you:
- Are a self-starter. As a business owner, you won’t have anyone above you who will push you to do work or do a good job. So you have to be able to push yourself!
- Are good at managing stress. Being your own boss can be stressful, especially when things don’t go exactly according to plan. If you have a tendency to break down or shut down when stressed, business ownership is probably not a good fit for you.
- Have realistic expectations. Unless you’re starting your event planning business with years of experience under your belt AND a strong client base out of the gate, you can’t expect to get dozens of clients and make hundreds of thousands of dollars in your first year. Having realistic expectations and understanding your limitations will make you a happier business owner.
- You don’t give up easily. When things don’t go as planned, you take a step back and try something else. You’re not easily deterred or distracted from important goals.
- Are good with money. You don’t have to be rich to start your own business. But you do have to be financially responsible. If you’re unable to stick to a budget in your personal life, consider long and hard whether you’ll be able to do so with your business.
- Don’t mind taking risks. In order to launch, maintain and grow a successful business, you’ll need to be comfortable with taking calculated risks with your business. There’s always a chance that a decision will prove to be the wrong one, and you need to be OK with that possibility.
- Know when to ask for help. You know you’re not an expert in every area and you don’t have to be! You’re perfectly happy to ask for help when you need to. It doesn’t make you any less of a business owner.
- Want to run a business! Ok, so this might be a no-brainer. But a lot of people start an event planning business because they think it’s the only way to work in the industry. Good news to those people: it’s not. So if you want to be an event planner but don’t want to be a business owner, there are plenty of event planning jobs out there for you!
The Key Takeaway
There are tons of perks to starting an event planning business. You’ll be working in a booming industry that you love, you’ll be your own boss, and you’ll spend your days planning special occasions to make clients happy. Who could ask for more! As long as you’re prepared to do hard work and know what to expect, get expert advice, and set achievable goals, you’re well on your way to starting a successful business in the event planning industry!