• The Step-By-Step Guide to Starting Your Event Planning Business

    Looking to go out on your own as an event planner? Many event planners start by working at planning companies or as venue coordinators, but you don’t need to have formal experience. Plenty of successful planners gained experience by planning parties for family and friends.
    If you’re just getting started, it helps to take a certification course to learn about your responsibilities. You can register for a course through your local college or an online program.

    Once you learn the basics and get your hands dirty with low-stakes events, you’ll be ready to legitimize your business. Follow the steps in this event planning business startup checklist to start building your business and taking on clients:

    Make sure starting your business makes sense financially. You don’t need significant capital to start an event planning business, but you do need some money. Even your daughter’s lemonade stand takes an investment, at least for the lemons and cups!

    Create a budget for your business, including licensing and certification fees, monthly expenses, and decor if you’re providing it. Before you put your budget together, consider these questions:

    • How much of your own money are you able to invest in initial setup costs? 
    • Are you starting your event planning business as a side hustle or going in head first?
    • Do you have other sources of income to support you/your family during the startup stage? 
    • What’s your exit strategy?

    Shutting down a business is complicated. Think through specific scenarios — like whether or not you’d sell your business, how you’d handle existing clients, and how you’ll notify any employees. It’s better to have those questions answered before you need to. 

    Before you build your business, get to know your market and spy on your competitors. Answer these questions:

    These exercises help you decide who you’ll serve and what you’ll offer them. Think about the types of clients or events you prefer (and what your area needs more of) when deciding if you’re going to niche into a specific market, like weddings or corporate events.

    After you choose your target market, join local networking groups. Reach out to successful event planners and ask them if they’d be willing to answer a few questions. Try not to get discouraged if you don’t receive responses right away — event planners are busy. Especially during their peak times, like wedding season or the holidays.

    Pro tip: If you really want to interview someone, offering to buy them a coffee goes a long way!

    Your business plan outlines how you’ll run and manage your business. And it sets goals to keep your company on track. Visit the US Small Business Administration website to learn more about writing your business plan.
    But before you write it, identify your “Why.”

    • Why do you want to start this business?
    • Is it something you’re deeply passionate about or just a means to an end?
    • You’re guaranteed to have hard days as an entrepreneur — who or what are you doing this all for?

    Your “Why” guides your company’s mission, vision, and values. It keeps you committed, even when you aren’t feeling motivated. Write yours down and return to it often.

    This part isn’t sexy, but it’s crucial — business ownership is unpredictable. Registering your business as a DBA or an LLC is an essential first step to separating your personal finances from those of the business. Consult with an attorney or a CPA to determine which structure is best for your business. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you’re set up for success. 
    After you register, open a business bank account. Separating your business finances from your personal accounts helps you keep track of expenses and profits. It’s also standard practice. You’ll be your accountant’s favorite small business owner come tax time.

    To create your service contract, consider hiring a lawyer — even if just for a few hours. Your contract should outline the services you’ll provide, payment terms, how to terminate a relationship, and more. Your lawyer will help you create a legally binding contract.

    Now that your business is legit, invest in technology for your event planning business. Event management software keeps you organized and helps you manage the details of multiple events at the same time.
    Pro tip: To cut down on tech stack expenses, look for an event management software platform that’s made specifically for event planners and has everything you need in one place. With planning hub’s software for event planning, you can…

    • Receive proposals and invoices from vendors and venues
    • Pay vendors and venues, and keep track of the event budget
    • Manage event timelines and the loading/unloading schedule
    • Share information with the event team with the click of a button
    • Access contact information without digging through your phone
    • View venue information like dimensions, outlet maps, and directions
    • Make sure insurance requirements are being met for every event
    • Manage employee scheduling by assigning your team to tasks 
    • Plan unlimited events and add team members to your membership
    • Take advantage of low payment processing fees 
    • Start your event planning business with full confidence

    Sign up for planning hub and plan your first event for free:

    Sign up

    In order to close clients, your event planning business needs standard documents in place. You’ll likely need…

    • A brochure or pricing guide that describes your services
    • A proposal document you can customize for each project
    • A standard invoice you send to clients to receive payment

    Once you create those documents, add them to your event management system and send them directly to clients.

    This step is one of the most important on the event planning business startup checklist, but it can be tricky. You need a portfolio to close clients — and you need client work to build your portfolio. Or not necessarily?
    If you’re having trouble building your portfolio while starting your event business, here’s what you can do:

    Pro tip: Join a group dedicated to styled shoots on Facebook to jump into pre-planned shoots. Search “styled shoots” and your location, then request to join.

    • Reduce your rates with the understanding that you’ll be showing the event in your portfolio. Be honest about the reason behind your offer. Don’t worry about turning clients off — this could work for a client who’s almost able to afford an event planner. *A word of caution… clients looking for the best deals can ironically be more demanding and headache-inducing than clients who pay full price. Take this opportunity to learn how to set boundaries.
    • Plan events for friends and family. Offer to plan an upcoming baby shower, birthday party, or even a wedding for photos in your portfolio. Just be clear about what will or won’t be included — especially if you’re planning for free.
    • Set up a styled shoot with local vendors in your networking groups. Especially those who are also starting their businesses and looking to build their portfolios. Hire models and make sure you’ll have consent to use the images.

    Pro tip: Join a group dedicated to styled shoots on Facebook to jump into pre-planned shoots. Search “styled shoots” and your location, then request to join.

    When you put your portfolio together, show diverse examples. Try not to display two parties with the same theme or two weddings at similar venues. Highlight your best work and lay out the services you completed for clients.

    As you build your referral network and reputation, you’ll need to market your business to find clients. The first channel to set up is your Google Business Profile. That way, you’ll appear in Google search results for event planning businesses in your area. 

    Next, create your website. If you’re building your site yourself, Squarespace and Wix are two of the most popular options. With drag-and-drop features and customizable templates, you can get your website up in a few days. But if building your own website sounds intimidating, even with the latest DIY tools, consider reaching out to a professional designer or developer.

    Finally, create accounts for your business on social media. Instagram and TikTok are trendy platforms for event planners. Make sure to set realistic goals and post consistently on both platforms — whether it’s daily or twice a week.

    We know what it’s like to start your events business from the ground up. Our founder built and ran a successful event rental company for over 10 years — while operating a venue and even planning events — before he created planning hub.

    With planning hub, you can plan your first event for free, from start to finish. Get access to a wealth of tools for your first event. No credit card required. No time limit for your trial.

    How do I start my own event planning business?

    Start your event planning business in 8 steps:

    • Set your budget. 
    • Research the market. 
    • Create your business plan.
    • Register your business. 
    • Choose an event software.
    • Create your templates.
    • Build your portfolio.
    • Set up your online presence.

    Event planning can be profitable if you select your market wisely and keep expanding your skills. Position your business to attract clients with large budgets and challenge yourself with larger-scale events. And don’t forget that happy clients give the best referrals!

    Take an online certification course for event planning to learn about the industry. Meet with local event planners and see if they’d be willing to answer questions in exchange for a coffee. And build your portfolio without experience by planning low-stakes events for family and friends.

    Event planning has undergone significant changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While some of these changes were initially driven by necessity, many have evolved to become more permanent features of the event industry. Key transformations include:

    • Increased emphasis on health and safety: Event planners now prioritize the health and safety of attendees by implementing measures such as temperature checks, mandatory masks, sanitization stations, and social distancing guidelines.
    • Hybrid events: A combination of in-person and virtual components, hybrid events have gained popularity since the pandemic. They allow attendees to choose between physical and remote participation, catering to different preferences and accessibility needs.
    • Virtual events: As a direct result of the pandemic, many events have shifted entirely online. Virtual events have expanded the audience reach, reduced costs, and increased flexibility for both organizers and attendees.
    • Contactless technology: To minimize the risk of virus transmission, event planners have adopted contactless technologies such as mobile check-ins, digital payments, and virtual networking tools.
    • Smaller, localized events: In response to travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, many event organizers have opted for smaller, localized events. These events can be more intimate and targeted, often leading to increased attendee engagement.
    • Flexible event planning: With the ever-changing landscape of public health guidelines, event planners have had to become more adaptable. This includes having backup plans, contingency budgets, and flexible contracts with vendors and venues.
    • Emphasis on outdoor events: Open-air events have become more popular as they generally pose a lower risk of virus transmission. Event planners have had to get creative with outdoor venues, including parks, rooftops, and other open spaces.
    • Updated communication strategies: Event planners have had to keep attendees informed about new health and safety measures, potential changes in event schedules, and any other relevant information. This has led to increased use of social media, email marketing, and other digital communication tools.
    • Sustainability: The pandemic has increased awareness of the need for sustainability in the events industry. Planners focus on reducing waste, using eco-friendly materials, and adopting more sustainable practices.
    • Continued professional development: The pandemic has highlighted the importance of staying current with industry trends and best practices. Event planners have turned to online resources, webinars, and virtual conferences to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape.
    • Increased costs: The pandemic hammered the event industry, and many businesses never returned. The reduced supply and unprecedented demand have caused costs to skyrocket and shortages for some services.
    The Step-By-Step Guide to Starting Your Event Planning Business
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