More and more people are choosing to go into business for themselves. And as the event industry grows, there’s more room for fellow entrepreneurs to get skin in the game. Did you know there are over 500 different types of businesses that service the events industry? From echo-friendly décor disposal to wedding dress preservation, the possible categories have expanded far behind the event planner and wedding photographer. If you’re thinking about starting any type of business, there are many site that will outline those beginner steps to ensure you are setup for success. However, I know from experience that there is a special subset of conditions that specifically apply to businesses in the events industry. I taught a recent workshop on this very subject at NYU a few weeks ago and wanted to share
1. Decide to go into business - Are you ready to spend the time and money it will take to be successful? What’s the financial and emotional commitment you’re willing to make? If you’re not in it 100%, then you may want to reconsider. You can start preparing for an event business but the minute you pass go and collect your first $200, you should be fully invested. Can you have a full-time job and be a wedding planner? The answer is yes. But that means your pricing should reflect your inaccessibility to your clients and your business model should be founded in part-time wedding help. Accordingly, you won’t be competing with wedding planners who do this full-time and therefore, shouldn’t compare your business to theirs.
2. Decide if you’re a Direct Service or Third Party company – Will you be directly servicing your clients or will you be a third party connecting your clients to the service they need? Here are a few examples:
a. Direct Service – Photographer, Cake Designer/Baker, Furniture Rental Company, DJ or Musician, Event Space, Caterer, etc.
b. Third Party – Travel Consultant, Event Planner, Event Designer, Venue Booking Website, Event Entertainment Company, DJ Booking Agent, etc.
3. Decide the right Legal Entity for your business – The most popular choice is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) but it’s not always the right choice. [google a summary of an LLC] and compare to [a corporation]. To fully understand your options and weigh the bad vs the good, go to the small business page of FindLaw.com.
4. Decide Your Brand Identity – who are you? Yes, you! The business you run has everything to do with who you are. If you’re honest, hard-working, funny and playful then your business should reflect those qualities. Build your business on principles you hold dear and make sure it translates into a company culture. When your clients choose to work with you, they want to know the same level of service they get from you, they will get from anyone working for you.
5. Decide Who Your Customers Are – When describing your ideal customer, be sure to be specific. I mean… right down to the detail. Where do they live? Where do they work? How much money do they make? What do they do for fun? How old are they? Once you decide who your customers are, you’ll be able to answer 2 important questions: Who else do they buy from and how much are they paying for it? A clear view of your target client will enable you to uncover your competitors and consequently help you determine how much to charge.
Once you make these 5 crucial decisions, you’ll be able to determine what tools you need and how much staff to hire. A start-up budget will then naturally come into focus. Lastly, you’ll create a “brand voice” for yourself which should be reflective of your Brand Identity and carry through to all your marketing efforts such as sales collateral or social media marketing.
If you want more in depth information on starting your own event business such as contracts, strategic partnerships and marketing, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for next semester’s workshop at NYU.