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 step guide to starting your event planning business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 initial costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you. Skip on ahead to the Business Overview for more detailed answers to all your questions.
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your event planning business is sued. Consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account
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.
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.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
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.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Event planners help their clients organize and orchestrate events of all types and sizes. Everything from weddings and social gatherings to an industry-specific, professional soiree, an event planner’s job is to make sure everything runs smoothly, ensuring that any problems will be handled appropriately.
Who is this business right for?
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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
Where can I 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.
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.
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Growing Your Business
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.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
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.
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.
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.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.