Start an event planning business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your event planning business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an event planning business?
An event planning business can have a fairly low overhead for start-up. If you are based from home, you will avoid rent and utilities costs. Other costs will include:
- Business website and site hosting
- High speed internet and phone service
- Advertising and marketing
- Business licenses and taxes
What are the ongoing expenses for an event planning business?
Re-stocking supplies, employee payroll and replacing damaged or broken equipment constitute much of the ongoing expenses. Other expenses can include:
- Event publicity and invitations
- Equipment rental
- Signage and flyers
Who is the target market?
Your target market will consist of clients wanting either social or corporate event planning. Social event age groups range between 25-60+ whereas corporate events are focused more on employees and other business entities, regardless of age.
How does an event planning business make money?
Event planners make their money from the service fees, paid by the client, for the planning and operations of the event.
How much can you charge customers?
Because events are priced on a sliding scale of size and supplies/workers needed, pricing can range quite a bit. Many event planners charge a percentage, say 15-20%, relative to the overall cost of the event. Therefore, if an event is $100,000, the event planner would be collecting between $15,000-$20,000.
How much profit can an event planning business make?
Profit margins depend on the size and number of events you pick up per year. A social event planning business can make between $10 - $75 per hour, whereas a corporate level event planning business could charge between $15-$150 per hour. An average salary for an event planner employee is around $35,000 annually, with an owner averaging $75,000-80,000.
How can you make your business more profitable?
As the event planning business becomes well-established, you may consider adding additional services, such as catering, bartending, or even photography to your customer options. By supplying in-house hospitality services, you are able to offer clients a full-service experience and, in turn, create more business revenue.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Event Planning Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your event planning business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an event planning business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Event planning businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your event planning business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market an event planning business
Marketing and promotion of your business will rely on highlighting your business strengths or areas of focus. You will also rely heavily on the success of past events and the positive words or recommendations of prior clients. Consistently use social media outlets to supply pictures and video of your events as well as connect and network with prospective clients and related professionals.
You will also need a website for your business. By linking to your site, you can give clients more information about your specialties. And, once they are on your website, they can contact you for additional questions and to book you for events.
How to keep customers coming back
Providing a professional level of service and an impeccable relationship for giving the customer what they want is key. People are buying a service from you, for a particularly important event. Your ability to satisfy their desires will determine how many return customers you’ll have.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start An Event Planning Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Those with an eye for detail, applied creativity, and the ability to easily converse with the general public, will find a great match in event planning. You must also have patience, humility, and the ability to help materialize the customer’s vision for their event.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an event planning business?
An event planning business makes its money from hosted events. This means interacting with current and potential customers is critical. Either one on one or through larger social media outlets, a successful event planner must constantly work to get their name and reputation known to the public. Additionally, the business will be:
- Reading and responding to customer e-mails
- Re-stocking event inventory
- Communicating with vendors or business partners, regarding upcoming jobs
- Marketing and PR work
- Employee training and continued education
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful event planning business?
To begin, it is not necessary to obtain a degree or professional certificate of training for event planning. It may help you, but many successful event planners learned many of the skills needed from on the job training. A background in customer service or the hospitality industry can provide great experience.
You should also be familiar with or be able to:
- Communicate effectively, both in writing and verbally
- Possess strong organizational skills
- Be flexible and prepared to make adjustments to plans
What is the growth potential for an event planning business?
Event planning is steadily growing as an industry. With increased globalization in business, more and more companies are looking to host professional, well-organized events to grow their own businesses. And, as business grows internationally, event planning will continue to mirror this trend.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an event planning business?
Understand your client base and seek to create a niche for your business. A niche may be weddings and receptions only. Or events near the coast. If you carve out your own special place amongst the competition, the specialization should pay off in return customers and customer referrals.
- Market towards the demographics you’re most likely to see in your area.
- Join a professional event planner association. Networking with other professionals can garner excellent insider tips.
- Make your business as well known as possible through social media. Free advertising, especially for start-ups, is an excellent resource.
How and when to build a team
From the onset of starting an event planning business, you’ll need to consider who should be part of your team. It will be necessary to carefully select individuals who understand the multiple roles they will play in creating successful events. As your client list and event size and frequency grows, you’ll want to bring in more staff. You may even consider having an overflow pool of workers, who are pulled in for larger events or as needed, but aren’t full-time employees.