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How to Start an Event Planning Business: A Comprehensive Guide

Looking to run a profitable business with low startup costs? Consider offering your own event planning business.

Private individuals and organizations are increasingly choosing to hire professional planners to manage their own social and corporate events, rather than take on the task themselves.

As a result, the event planning industry has been growing rapidly to match the increasing demand.

Event planning is a versatile business, which caters to everything from small functions like meetings and workshops to large galas and award shows.

With such a broad spectrum of events out there, deciding which one to specialize in, and how to navigate the business environment, might seem daunting. 

Luckily, there are ways to prepare yourself before taking the plunge.

Here you’ll discover the perks of operating your own event planning business, how to approach starting one, and everything you should consider upfront.

Benefits of starting an event planning business

The startup cost is a big plus; building an event planning business from the ground up is relatively affordable. To get your start, you only need a laptop and a smartphone.

The rest of the initial costs may include legal licenses, certification programs, a website, and event management software, but these will be specific to your location and specialization. 

If you need, you can operate from home and conduct meetings at cafés, restaurants or rented office space.

For those who prefer non-routine work with unexpected challenges, an event planning business could prove to be your perfect gig. No two events are exactly alike, so there will be unique (and exciting) demands with every project.

In terms of salary, planners in the US can expect to make an average of $48,249 per year. However, how much profit you make will, of course, depend on the type of events you handle. 

Like any other business, it will also take some time and investment to build up a client base and generate a steady income.

Steps to start an event planning business

Ready to start an event planning business? Follow these steps to begin.

1. Gain the necessary expertise

First up, you should try to gain some experience in event planning to equip yourself with the right skills and knowledge.

You need to work on your communication skills, hone your time management, learn to negotiate with vendors and perfect your customer service.

Books and online sources are a good start, but you can also join classes and seminars to sharpen your confidence.

Consider asking a local event planning business for an internship or part-time position. This will give you ideas about the daily operational tasks, potential challenges, and the local demand for event planning services.

If possible, study for a certificate or a degree in event management, such as the Certified Special Events Professional exam.

This will be invaluable if you want to manage corporate events, as most companies look for credentials when selecting candidates for an event planner position.

There are also tons of online courses to learn from. Some examples include QC Event School, Event Planning Foundation, and event planning courses at Udemy.

Another key to building a successful event planning business is building a network and meet the right people.

An easy way to connect with people in the industry is to join a local association. You’ll get to meet both potential partners and clients.

Once you feel confident about your skills and knowledge, it’s time to move on to the next step.

2. Plan your business

No great business happens by chance.

If you want to be the next giant in the event planner industry, you need to create a business plan that’s rock solid.

A comprehensive plan will help decide what your goals are and guide you to achieve them. Investors also use it to determine whether your company is worth risking their money on.

In general, a good business plan consists of a management summary, a company overview, market research analysis, execution plan, and financial projections.

However, as an event planner, you should pay special attention to your niche, business name, target market, and pricing scheme.

Find your niche

Picking a niche (or area of specialty) that suits your skills and knowledge is essential to start an event planning business.

It’ll be easier to market your services to the right audience, and you can focus on delivering outstanding service at specific events.

To find a niche that suits you, consider your interests and experience. What kind of events do you personally enjoy attending? Where do you feel you can deliver the most value? What type of client do you prefer to work with?

After that, check whether there is a local demand for your services. Carry out a search of what other local companies are offering, and where you might fill a gap in the market.

Taking all this into account, it won’t be hard to pick a prospective niche.

If you’re still not sure where to begin, start by deciding between the two basic types of special events: social and corporate.

Social events consist of occasions like birthdays and reunions, unrelated to work or business. Meanwhile, corporate events include any functions like conferences, trade shows, or executive retreats.

It’s best to choose one of the two categories and stick to it. After that, narrow your niche further according to the event’s function, such as celebration or commemoration.

Be careful here; you need to make sure the niche is broad enough that there is adequate demand for your services. Remember to also specify the scale of the event you’re willing to do (don’t undersell yourself or take too much on).

Additionally, it’s essential to decide on the type of services you’ll offer.

Some businesses provide full-service planning, where they conceptualize and manage the entire event. Others are not involved in the planning and only coordinate the day of the event.

You can choose one to specialize in only one or offer both forms of service.

When you feel more secure in your skills and have several projects under your belt, you can gradually expand your niche and service style.

Choose a business name

The perfect business name is a crucial element for your company. The right name will make your business memorable, and set it apart from the other event planning services that make up your competition.

Your name should represent your brand, appeal to the target audience, and be easy to remember and pronounce.

There are many ways to create a brand name. You can look up words in the dictionary, intentionally misspell existing words (also known as sensational spelling), or combine two terms into one.

However, the easiest way to come up with a business name is to use a tool like Zyro’s Instant Business Name Generator.

Once you’ve found the right name, ensure that it is available to register as a domain and business name in your region.

Zyro's Name Generator for Your Event Planning Business

Research your target market

Understanding the needs of your target market is the first and most important step towards attracting potential clients.

Market research offers you insights into how to brand your company and make your services appealing to their preferences.

If you already have a decent idea of your desired niche, defining the target market should be no problem.

For instance, if your niche is children’s parties, your target market will be parents with kids under twelve. Next, take note of the current kids’ trends, how many parents with children there are in your area, and how much the parents are willing to pay.

Researching the market is also necessary to analyze your competitors. Observing how they promote their services will give you an impression of what people like about them, and help you identify the customer needs that they are failing to satisfy.

Gather all of this data and tailor the branding identity and strategy to your target market. Determine what kind of design, personality, and message most likely to resonate with your audience and give you a competitive advantage in the industry.

Set your price

In general, event planners are paid based on an hourly rate, a percentage of the total event revenue, or a simple flat-rate.

A source reported that in the US, the hourly fee of an event planner ranges on average from $11 to $34. However, experienced and reputable event planners might pocket upwards of $100.

If you expect to charge a percentage-based fee, you can usually pitch this at about 15% to 20% of the total costs.

Most event planners prefer to charge a flat rate. You’ll ask for a service fee along with a percentage based on the total vendor commissions; your way to charge for sourcing and coordinating vendors.

Now, regardless of the pricing scheme, the final price will depend on your expenses, target market, competition, and reputation.

For starters, consider the operational costs like advertising, insurance, and website maintenance. Your price should at least cover these expenses and leave room for profit. 

Take into account how much your audience can spend on your services as well.

Your price shouldn’t be too far above your competitors’, as it will drive potential clients away. However, if you’re working on corporate events, the pricing is expected to be 30% higher than for private social event planners.

As a new event planner, you can expect to spend some time charging less than competitors, while you build up your name and reputation. 

Nonetheless, don’t price your services too low as it risks making you seem less trustworthy. Be transparent about your calculations so that clients feel confident they’re not being taken advantage of when choosing you.

Overall, perform thorough research when creating your business plan. If possible, ask other event planners for help. There are plenty of online resources and templates online to assist you with this.

As your business grows, so should your plan. Readjust the content to suit the needs of your business. Flexibility and dynamism are the keys to success.

3. Know your legal obligations

It’s essential that you take care of the legal documentation required to operate your business.

Here we’ll cover several common documents, but it’s better to consult a lawyer before starting out, so they can confirm what you need to prepare.

First, choose a business structure. It establishes which taxes to file and how your personal assets are protected.

For small companies, it’s recommended to establish a Limited Liability Company or LLC. This structure enables the protection of your personal assets in case your business gets sued or goes bankrupt.

Next, register your business with your state and federal governments. Ask the local government for more details on the required documents and fees.

Don’t forget to apply for an Employee Identification Number if you’re a US citizen. This will allow you to file business taxes, set up a company bank account, acquire business licenses for your operations, and hire extra help.

You should also take out business insurance for work-related accidents, natural disasters, and legal expenses. You’ll also need home-based business insurance if you operate from home.

When you’re hired by a client, don’t forget to prepare a formal contract that’s signed by both parties before you undertake any work. It should include the terms of service, payment, cancellation, and termination.

4. Hire employees

Managing an event will require more assistance than you might expect. You’ll need time, labor and diverse skill, and it’s impossible to do everything alone.

To avoid getting overwhelmed, consider hiring extra people. Look for part-timers or freelancers online at job marketplaces like Upwork and Indeed.

Employing freelancers and part-timers are more cost-effective since you only pay them when you need them.

5. Find trusted partners

Planning events, you’ll work with various businesses — from catering and entertainment to security. It’s best to maintain a network of trusted partner vendors to ensure exceptional services.

Having a good relationship with your partners is also useful for winning clients. For instance, if you always hire the same catering service for your events, the vendor might refer you to their customers. It’s a win-win situation.

Begin the search for trusted vendors by attending nearby events. If you like their services, introduce yourself and exchange business cards.

Go to trade shows to meet more service providers. Or, look for them online and set up a meeting to get to know them better.

If you live in the US, Punch Bowl has an impressive list of event vendors.

6. Promote your business

The best way to reach out and secure new clients is by promoting your business via the channels most likely to reach your target audience.

As a small business owner, some recommended promotion channels are direct marketing, a website, and social media.

Direct marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the most powerful promotion strategies for any business. It makes sense — people tend to trust friends, family, and colleagues more than strangers.

Your family is easier to reach and more likely to help. For that reason, send your loved ones an email or direct message with a brief message about your business.

Alternatively, promote your services during a family event or a friendly gathering.

Don’t forget to take advantage of face-to-face marketing as you’re working on an event. Talk to the attendees and ask for feedback.

Prepare your business cards, make sure you have plenty to hand and perfect your elevator pitch, which should cover what you do and why you’re the best choice.

Build a website

It’s pretty much universally accepted that any business today needs a website to promote itself. With more people looking for local services through search engines, having a website is more crucial than ever.

A website can also work as a 24/7 assistant by providing customers with all they need to know about your business. You can show off your past projects to build credibility and earn potential clients’ trust.

Thankfully, making your own website is no longer a hassle. 

Any business owner can take advantage of the Zyro Website Builder and create a website without any technical, design or coding skills.

Our ready-to-use templates and AI tools make the process quick and easy, so you can spend more time growing your business.

Zyro landing page for Event Planning Business

All you need is a domain (which you can get from Zyro) and a Zyro price plan to get started. Choose your favorite template, customize it how you like, and your site will be ready to launch before you know it!

Once your website is live, you can list it on platforms like Google My Business and Google Ads to gain more exposure. My Business also provides a section for customer reviews, so you might consider displaying positive feedback from Google on your website.

Connect through social media

Social media is a powerful marketing tool.

You can post regular updates about your brand, engage with followers and potential clients, and connect with fellow event planners and vendors.

When creating a social media account, don’t forget to write brief and concise information on the profile, and then provide a link to your website.

Every time you work on a new event, document the progress and post it to your accounts, and don’t forget to take advantage of story features from platforms like Instagram to provide real-time updates.

You can build a portfolio and marketing your business at the same time.

Some platforms like Facebook also provide a rating or review system. This will be useful for building a good reputation and winning new clients. You can repost review posts from past clients should they tag you.

Last but not least, make use of the platform’s business tools if they are available. Facebook and Instagram have advertising features that can help you hone your marketing strategy. 

What to consider before creating an event planning business

Before starting an event planning business, there are some risks to consider.

Operating a home-based business can potentially obscure your work-life balance. For instance, you might be tempted to slack around from time to time or overwork yourself with long hours. 

Therefore, it’s important to develop the self-discipline to sustain productivity, maintain a definition between work and personal time, and keep your physical and mental health in check.

Additionally, starting an event planning business will mean working weekends and holidays. Make sure to schedule your own free time whenever possible.

Some events also tend to be held during specific seasons; weddings and graduations tend to be in the spring and summer, while holiday parties are during wintertime.

If you choose to work on seasonal events, consider broadening your service options so you’ll still have clients during the slow season.

Recap

Starting an event planning business presents exciting and lucrative opportunities, but success requires the right skills and knowledge, a solid plan, and dedication.

To start an event planning company, you need to:

  • Gain the necessary expertise — look for opportunities and certification programs that provide relevant event planning experience.
  • Plan your business — set up a business plan and choose your niche, business name, target market, and pricing plan carefully.
  • Know your legal obligations — get your business registered and insured.
  • Hire more people — hire part-timers and freelancers for assistance as they are more affordable to employ.
  • Find trusted partners — establish partnerships with reputable vendors to ensure your service quality.
  • Promote your business — try marketing directly, making a website, and using social media to reach out to new customers.

Before making the commitment, think of the potential risks of starting this business. Be sure to maintain a healthy work-life balance, schedule some free time, and work around seasonal events.

We hope this article has been a comprehensive and helpful guide for building an event planning business. The rest is down to you.

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