Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Have you worked in the meetings and events industry? Then chances are you’ve thought about starting your own event planning business. But where do you begin? Ask any self employed person and quite often they will tell you the number one reason that people do not succeed is because of lack of planning. However, if you do feel you have what it takes, from long hours to little to no pay at first, the end result can be very rewarding. A good event planning business plan will covers all areas that you need to ensure are in place to develop your successful business. And the results can be very rewarding.
To properly go through all of the steps necessary for starting your event planning business we’d need to write a book. So for this article I’m going to touch base on addressing the challenges that you will have as a new start up.
Of course everyone knows that to start an event planning business, or any business for that matter, requires a solid business plan. Your event planning business plan will be a snapshot of where you are and what you need to do to get to where you want to be. Most people view a business plan as an exercise only necessary if you’re looking for investors or funding. While it’s true that any lender will want to see a detailed business plan, it should not be the only reason you complete one. A common error I find is that once successful funding is achieved, the business plan tends to be put on the back shelf. You should view an event planning business plan as a blueprint of what you will need to do to get your business to a profit situation. There are many great business plan templates out there. Make sure you understand each component and what information is required. Do information interviews as a way of getting professional feedback. Most professionals will take a few moments of their time to talk to you about their success. Be respectful of their time, dress appropriately and even take a small thank you gift as a token of your appreciation.
Event Planning Business Plan Sections
Here are some headings, as examples of subjects that should be included in your event planning business plan:
- Executive Summary (usually write this last)
- Business Description
- Owners / Team
- Business Model
The marketing plan is one component of the event planning business plan that you should keep referring to. The purpose of a marketing plan is to show the reader that you have a plan of where you want to be and just how you are you going to get there. Don’t write the marketing plan based on what you think people want to see. Rather put together a plan that shows you understand the challenges of an event planning business and outline strategies that will take you down a path to get those results.
The financial section is also another key area. This should demonstrate that you have a realistic understanding of how hard it will be to turn a profit. A common mistake in most business plans is that they prepare the financials on what they think is going to be the deciding factor for lending. Seasoned lenders, however, can spot these over-stated result instantly. It’s far better to present a realistic approach to revenue even if it means you may not see profits for a few years. It will tell a lender that you expect the challenges of building your event planning business, and you have put safeguards into effect because of this planning. I always suggest that you show a “worst case”, a “best case” and then a “probable case” for forecasting revenues. And the financials should not only cover the profit and loss components. Good financials will also include a cash flow projection. This show the reader that you are aware of any potential problem periods where cash flow may be low. But be sure to address what you will do during those periods. How have you planned on paying your personal bills, for example. Will negative cash flow put your focus on living expenses at a time when your event planning business requires your full attention?
Plan for the Worst in Your Event Planning Business Plan
If someone asks me what I think is the biggest failure with many new businesses, my first point is always that they didn’t plan for the worst. And trust me, read the previous sentence again – it’s that important. Of course we all want our businesses to be successful. The number one reason for a business failure is that people did not plan for the worst case scenario. By nature we generally don’t see ourselves as failures. That’s a good thing. But because of these blinders, we also don’t plan enough for failure or more importantly how we are going to react to the worst case scenario. An old colleague gave me what I consider to be one of the best pieces of business advice – think of the worst thing that can happen to your business, and then make a plan of how you will overcome that. If you can clearly demonstrate that you’re prepared for any “worst case” situation, you’re more likely to keep the attention of a potential investor. Not only that, but your event planning business plan will actually be a tool to help you get your business on a path to success.
If you’re completing the event planning business plan just for the sake of having one, the quality of it will most likely reflect that attitude. The person that’s reviewing your event planning business plan will want to be satisfied that you know where your business is going to come from and how you plan to get there. A potential lender will want to see that you have addressed the “what if”.