Self Employed

How to Start an Event Planning Business

Manasa Reddigari

Established event planners enjoy steady business and a chance to make memorable moments for their clients. But they don't find success overnight. Starting an event planning business requires as much consideration as does planning a complex event.

Read to learn how to start an event planning business of your own.

What is event planning?

Event planners design and coordinate business and social events such as business openings, weddings and birthdays. People use the services of event planners because special events can be too logistically complex to plan on their own. Event planners are also in demand because their refined aesthetic can elevate an event from ordinary to unforgettable.

The joy — and the challenge — of running an event planning business is that each day looks different from the one before. One day, an event planner might explore a city to scout out the perfect site. Another day, she might do taste testing to sort out the food for an event.

Who should start an event planning business?

Entrepreneurs interested in launching an event planning business should at a minimum have an eye for detail, excellent organizational and interpersonal skills and an unflappable nature. You need to remain cool under pressure even when the groom is late, the flowers arrive wilted or the food runs out.

The person best positioned to succeed in this business will have experience as an in-house event planner. But being a party planner for your office or homeowner's association can also go a long way in building your skills. Working for an established business will also help you determine whether you will enjoy working in the field in the long-run.

How much do event planning business owners earn?

The median annual salary for event planners was £26,107 in 2018, according to an informal study.

Pulling information from Glassdoor, the salary estimate for a UK event coordinator in the London area, based on 109 anonymous submitted salaries, is £22,665. A larger pool of data from Indeed looked at 512 salaries compiled over the last 36 months to estimate an average of £27,459. The average calculated between these two sources is £25,062, which is in line with the study.

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What certifications do event planners need?

You don't need formal certification as a rule. But it's certainly a recommended step of how to start an event planning business. Being certified shows that you're a professional who can be trusted to handle important business events and cherished life moments with care. In fact, high-profile clients may only seek out the services of certified event planners.

The two main certifications you can get are the Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) and the Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP). The International Special Events Society and Meeting Professionals International confer these certifications. There are also universities such as Emory University that offer event planning certification.

What other skills do event planners need?

Certification alone won't necessarily equip with you with the soft skills needed to succeed as an event planning business owner.

You may also need to do some self-study or take courses in:

  • Negotiation tactics
  • Time management
  • Communication (oral and written)
  • General business finance (e.g., maintaining budgets and other financial statements)

This research will ingrain in you how to start an event planning business and run it day-to-day.

How do you launch an event planning business?

Have the skills and certifications needed to start an event planning business? Great! Follow these steps on how to start an event planning business:

  • Choose a target market. Markets for event planners run the gamut from celebrational events like parades to commemorative events like memorials. Specializing in one area will boost your focus and increase your demand in the eyes of clients.
  • Put together a business plan. Every business needs to develop a business plan that lays out business goals and plans to achieve them.
  • Get your legal ducks in a row. Choose the legal entity for your business. You'll also need a general business license if your state demands it. Event planners should also consider getting liability insurance.
  • Secure funding. There are many ways to get financing for your business. But your credit will affect the options available to you.
  • Build a resource network. You'll need to develop a reliable network of vendors such as caterers and florists. Review sites like Yelp.com can be of help here. You may also need to hire out administrative tasks if you don't have the staff to do them.
  • Promote your business. Produce marketing materials such as your website and stationery and then develop a strategy to get them seen by as many as possible.