How to start a party and event planning business

A step-by-step guide to setting up a business in the events management industry

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Creating your business plan and researching the events market

You are strongly advised to do as much research and be as passionate about the events industry as you can. You’re up against well-seasoned professionals who haven’t got enough work to go around.

You need to be very clear on the area in which you want to run events. Will you set out to be the go-to company for children’s parties; charity events; sports pop ups; engagement bashes; baby showers? Or perhaps specialise in arranging product launches, fashion shows or concerts? First, determine which events you will run, then break down whose parties you will plan, and finally, decide on the style you’re going to have as a business. Because in event management, having a stellar concept for an event is not enough, you need to tailor everything to your target audience. Party planning and events spans a really broad area. It’s all too easy to stretch yourself, and your company, too far and to offer too much.

“My advice to anyone setting up a business in events would be to find a niche,” says David Jamilly of Theme Traders. “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.”   See what else is out there. Research what is already available in your chosen area. What quotes do your would-be competitors give? If the market is too crowded, or over saturated, and the pricing too steep, you might need a different speciality, or perhaps need to launch in a different location. When you are devising your business plan, bear in mind that the events industry is quite cyclical, and is very affected by macro-economic and social trends. According to David Jamilly, it’s not the kind of industry where you can plot returns over six months, or over a year. “You have to think long term,” he advises. There are certain times of the year when there will be no action at all across the industry.

Beyond that, it’s cyclical in terms of public expenditure too. For example, it is expected that the Olympics will offer a welcome boost to the industry, but in recent years it’s been tough for events. This is an industry affected by how society feels, and how much money there is floating about at a given time. “It cuts all the way through,” David says, whether you’re focusing on the corporate side of things, or on private events such as weddings.

Whichever area you set up in, if you have the budget, it is worth joining an industry body such as The Association of Event Organisers which offers training, mentoring services, advice on approved suppliers and a range of networking events. What’s more, the organisation will add you to its Members’ Directory, and will keep you up to date on developments in the industry.

Action point:
See if you can get a Start Up Loan to help you start a business idea
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As with any business, in party and events planning avoid over expansion and under capitalisation. The strength of one good client isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a good reason to buy a new Mercedes car – even if you’ve just won a contract for the Olympics.