The party and events planning industry is an exciting enterprise to get involved in, making it an attractive start-up option. Everyone loves a good party, right? Having the chance to plan lavish bashes using someone else’s money, and attend them, is appealing to many. Obviously, it isn’t as easy as this, and a broad range of skills is needed to ensure your party planning venture is a success. This week, we take a look at some of the dos, don’ts, best practices and considerations you should bear in mind when starting an event planning business.
What skills do I need?
While planning an amazing party may seem like a doddle, in reality, it can be a very stressful experience. Strong project management skills are obviously a must. Regardless of the type of event, sourcing and organising entertainment, catering, booking rooms and managing guest lists will always be a key part of the job.
Obviously, this calls for that much sought-after mix of an organisational and a creative mind, as you need to be able to come up with fantastic party ideas and themes that will differentiate your service from competitors, but still have the nous to pull it all off too.
The events industry is also inherently suited to “outgoing and bubbly” characters, as prospective clients need to believe that you yourself are a fun character in order to really believe you can pull off their dream event for them.
Should I specialise or cover every kind of event?
One of the biggest considerations when starting out is whether you specialise in one particular niche or area of the events industry, or instead take an all-encompassing approach. If you have an overriding passion for music. For example, creating a music promotion company may be the way to go. This is something you can try out pretty easily too. Book a room at a local venue, put together an eclectic bill of local bands, then promote the event and see how you fare with each element. This is a good, low-risk way of testing out whether or not event management is for you.
What about the competition?
There are thousands of events management and party planning organisations already out there, so focusing on a specific niche and doing it really well could be the way to make a name for yourself and get your start-up off the ground.
You may, however, feel that targeting such a niche market is not a good idea, and you are better off facilitating everything from weddings to corporate events. This kind of business would suit someone with a broad range of interests who can easily swap and change between many disparate areas with ease. It would allow you to develop a variety of revenue streams and make a name for yourself in a large variety of markets, and if one area seems to be more profitable than others, then you can always specialise in that later down the line.
Choose a niche
Although it is obviously completely up to you which route you take, David Jamilly of Theme Traders was firmly in the niche camp when speaking to startups.co.uk: “My advice to anyone setting up a business in events would be to find a niche. Specialise in a niche and stick to it. Because there’s tremendous competition in every single area you can dream of, and unless you are the best in that field, there’s not much chance of you doing well or surviving.”
Do I need qualifications?
Events planning and management degree courses are highly popular across the world right now. Vast swathes of people receive this qualification every year. So if you’re looking for a job in an existing business, you’ll be up against fierce competition. However, it’s not as much of a problem if you are starting your own business.
Do I need contacts?
As you can see, although a degree can help you to learn best practice and give you the methodology needed to plan successful events, it is not a necessity if you are going it alone. One thing you can’t do without however are contacts. Having a reliable bank of caterers, performers and venue managers, for example, will help you to quickly and easily negotiate fees, while maintaining good working relationships can be handy if you need any of the above at short notice should someone else let you down.
What else do I need to know?
Health and safety
Despite its importance, health and safety is oft-overlooked by new events planners as it isn’t one of the cooler or sexier aspects of the job. Tasks such as fire safety risk assessments and disability access can be interpreted as simple box-ticking exercises, but it is important that you take such concerns very seriously. The Health and Safety Executive website has compliant guidance on running events safely. The likelihood is that most venues you book for an event will have conducted their own checks, but you can’t be sure of the quality and depth of any report by another party, so it is always best to conduct a risk assessment survey yourself too. This should include all hazards and controls that could affect any individual at your event.
Even if you carry out a detailed, comprehensive risk assessment, don’t forget that you will need insurance too. Unfortunately, very few if any firms offer events-specific insurance, so you will have to rely on standard business insurance to provide your cover in the main. Try and locate a policy that does protect against weather events however if the smooth-running of your proceeding hinges on the weather.
With many people becoming more and more eco-conscious, you should also consider the impact your event or party will have on the environment. Acting in a green fashion could be the vital USP that separates your service from the rest of the market.
If you’re looking to start-up a new business don’t forget to check out our handy guides on forming and running a company.
Published Wednesday January 1, 2014