The party planning or event planning industry can be a world of enjoyment for those who like to organize events and make them the best they can be. If that sounds like you, you may want to consider starting your own event planning business. Event planners can make great money with a successful business. Of course, there’s a lot you’ll need to know, but if you can accomplish all the steps to starting your business, you’re already on the right path!
So, do you want to know how to start a party planning business? If yes, we’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to become an event planner. Let’s dive in!
Phase I: Plan Your Party Planning Business
What is the purpose of starting your event planning company?
What is the purpose of this business? Do you want to make it a side hustle to make some extra money now and then? Will this be your full-time job in the future? Do you have a dream to own a successful event planning business empire? Are you planning specific events like weddings or corporate gatherings, or small parties and get-togethers?
Examine your goals and align them with the purpose of this effort. It’s not hard, but it’s not easy either. Party planning can be stressful but can be very lucrative and flexible if structured correctly. Once you hone in on your goal, it’s time to start diving into the details to ensure this becomes a success.
Do Your Market Research on the Party Planning Industry
Before you start an event planning company, there are questions you need to ask yourself.
Have you ever planned a party before? Do you know how to organize catering services? What about invitations? Do you know how to decorate a theme party? If not, go online and learn what you need. There are YouTube videos, articles, or even friends out there with an event management company that you can learn a thing or two from.
As a business owner, it’s always best, to begin with, the little things. For example, you can start a party planning business with just the basics like online invitations, catering from a restaurant like Chipotle, and getting decorations from a party store. Learn the basics and grow from there.
Party Planning Expenses and Pricing Models
This is the part of the planning phase that everyone hates but is, BY FAR, the most important to nail. To keep your party planning business on track, you’ll need to figure out things like upfront costs, ongoing business expenses, and more.
Up Front Costs
What amount of money do you need to get started? For party planning, it is mostly nothing! Isn’t that awesome!? It’s all marketing, which is an ongoing expense. The only upfront cost would be creating an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) with legal documentation. Other than that, you have a party planning business!
Ongoing Business Expenses
A large majority of party planning expenses will be ongoing marketing costs. Normally if you’re planning a party, you never front money. That means the money you use to pay for supplies comes from the customer’s pocket. With this knowledge, you don’t and can’t do anything until you get a customer.
With marketing being the ongoing expense here, you need to make a marketing budget and a plan! If you need help organizing your finances, you can always use a personal finance tool. We’ll talk about marketing a bit later, but you can easily get away with a marketing budget of a couple of hundred dollars to start.
Cost of Each Job
The cost of each job is primarily time and transportation for yourself. The customer pays for all other party expenses, so you never take a loss. However, it would help if you value your time financially. For instance, if your current job pays you $15 an hour, this will most likely mean you’ll want to make around that much for an hour of your time planning parties.
For example, if you spend 10 hours planning a party and make $50, you’d be making only $5 an hour! That’s not worth your time compared to your other job. Figuring this number out for yourself will help you realize what it costs you in lost wages to put time into planning a party.
Pricing and Margins
Once you know what it will cost you to plan a party (nothing but time), you need to figure out what to charge! This largely depends on the size of the party, including the number of guests, decorations, catering, etc. The bigger the size and cost, the more time it takes to plan the party, right?
I would base your initial pricing model around your experience with planning parties, the type of parties you’ll be planning, and your opportunity cost (the amount of money you could have made at your other job). It’s common to start at around $15-$20 an hour for event planning services. Start there and adjust as needed.
When creating a pricing structure, you want to make sure it’s fair to the customer, and two, it creates margins that you’re happy with. Seasoned event planners know undercharging won’t make you any money. Similarly, overcharging won’t bring many customers. The combination of these will help drive your pricing model.
A margin is simply the difference between what you charge and what it costs you to plan a party. So if we take the previous example of ongoing expenses being $15 per hour alternatively at your other job and you charge the customer $300, your margin is $300 – $120 = $180 profit if you worked 8 hours!
Tip – Remember, pricing is never forever. You can always change pricing as you see fit.
Tip – Take the profit margin and divide it by the number of hours you worked. If you spend the 8 hours planning a party as described above, you’re making the equivalent to $22.50 an hour. Not too shabby for a side business with a close to zero up-front cost!
Phase II: Execution and Starting Your Party Planning Business
Legal and Incorporating as an LLC
Go to www.Legalzoom.com and start an LLC. It costs around $100. Just bite the bullet and do it. Trust me.
Marketing and Finding New/Repeat Customers
Finding customers to plan a party for isn’t as easy as walking door-to-door. Not everyone is throwing a party, and not everyone trusts someone to plan a party either. You need clout, experience, and legitimacy. Below are some ways to begin marketing to find some clients.
One of the best ways to find clients is by networking. This entails going to other events or speaking with friends and family face to face. How many times do you meet people, and they ask what you do? A lot, I bet! As a party planner, I bet you’re an extroverted social butterfly!
Communicate that you’re an event/party planner and plan all sorts of events from small to large! Say you’d love to plan one of their events one day! Hand out a business card. Get their phone numbers. If you make an impression, they’ll remember to call you one day!
Tip – Get some cheap business cards with your company name and information on it. They’re easy to pass out and make you look legitimate even if you’re just starting out.
Website and Internet Searches
Before anyone hires you to plan their party (unless it’s a close friend or relative), you’ll need a website. No one will hire a company to plan their party without a website with information. It, once again, makes you look legitimate in the eyes of the customer.
So go on Squarespace, create a simple website using their templates, and make it live. One of the best ways for customers to find you is via internet searches, and they can’t find you if you’re not online, right?
Tip – Try and specialize your company or website to be around your local neighborhoods. If you’re in Chicago, for instance, your company’s name could be “Lincoln Park Parties” or “Wicker Park Party Planners.” This way, when someone searches for planners in their neighborhood, they’ll be guided directly to your site. It’s a niche but it’s also a great way to find local customers.
You can look online for mailing lists via companies like Mailchimp. You can create brochures or marketing materials and send them to random people by location, age, or other demographics for your target market. They will get the information through their virtual or real mailboxes. It’s a great way to get the name out and doesn’t necessarily have to be very expensive.
Tip – A mailing list can also be in the form of social media! You can create a Facebook page or maybe write messages to your friends telling them about your business. Others can share your status using their social media accounts or follow your page. This is just as good as a mailing list except people actually know who you are and want to help spread the word!
At this point, you have a business plan, have figured out pricing models & margins, marketing, and registered your company as an LLC. Now, find some customers, plan parties or events, and make some money!
Phase III: Reflect, Improve, and Expand Your Party Planning Business
Below are some things to note.
Reflection and Improvement
After the first party has passed and your work is all done, make sure to take 15 minutes and think about:
- What went right?
- What went wrong?
- Did everything go according to plan?
- Was the customer happy with the result?
- Did you have fun?
- Did you make the money you thought?
It’s important to reflect on the day and ensure it’s everything you thought it would be and how you feel about the future. Do you want to do it again? Was it worth it? You worked hard! Make sure it was worth the time and effort to do it again.
Expand Your Party Planning Business
You did it! You created your side hustle and are profitable. You enjoy running your own business and want to make it bigger! What are the options? How do you do it?
To expand, you must first find more customers or expand your services. Can you increase your marketing efforts? Can you find a way to start planning larger events with a larger profit margin? Maybe you find a catering company you love to work with and create a partnership lowering your costs and decreasing your effort.
Expanding a business is tough work. First, you must reflect on what you’re currently doing and ways to make it more efficient or bigger. Start by increasing marketing. Once you’ve hit capacity for yourself, you can then start to hire some help.
Tip – Make sure you don’t grow too fast! Growing organically ensures the quality of the events doesn’t drop. Keep planning great parties and word of mouth will bring you new customers automatically.
Final Thoughts: How To Start a Party Planning Business
Starting an event planning business can be a lot of work but is relatively easy to get going with minimal costs. If anything, it’ll help you realize what it takes to start a business, and you can parlay that knowledge into something else down the line.
Want to know more about starting a business? If so, you may also enjoy our article on the six best books on starting a business. Until then, party away!