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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Rules and regulations

Party planning and events is very highly regulated in terms of health and safety. There is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to carry out risk assessments that identify any and all significant risks. Think fire safety risk assessments, food poisoning and disability access. This is heavy duty stuff, and should not be dismissed as box ticking.   Venues usually produce generic risk assessments to indicate common hazards for most events, but you would be well advised to produce your own risk assessment in addition to this. You should detail the hazards and controls for each individual event, considering everything from trips and falls, heavy loads and electric shocks, to work equipment, Legionnaires disease (pesky water features) and structural security.

The industry is highly regulated in terms of ‘can and can’t do’, depending where you are. If you’re working in the EXCEL Centre, for instance, then the internal rules and regulations will be immense. If you’re working on public property, then obviously you’ll have to get police or council compliances and licences. It depends on your venue and what kind of event you’re aiming to set up.

You will, of course, require insurance too. There are no insurance companies that specialise particularly in events, so you’ll be looking at standard business insurances such as public liability and product liability insurance. “There are some specialised insurance companies that will insure against bad weather for events,” says David Jamilly of Theme Traders, “but otherwise it falls back on general business insurance.”

There are an array of sectors from exhibitions, conferences, festivals and cultural activities, to private events such as 21st birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs and a host of religious events that you can get involved in. Each one of these sectors tends to have an official organisation, or a body. One of the most famous associations is called ISES, The International Special Events Society, which is a global society. The Association of Events Organisers is worth a look too. These organisations can help you understand the rules and regulations connected with your speciality.

The sustainable side of things is also worth looking into, according to Michael Newsome of Connect Events. Eco thinking is a new industry standard. “Make sure your suppliers are using ecological products; source food and drink locally rather than bringing it in from abroad; and anything you produce, like flyers and posters, should be produced on recycled paper and so on,” he advises. “It’s about being aware of it rather than watching out for legislation, but it’s becoming quite important.” When it comes to party planning, keep a green theme where possible.

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