Welcome to what I consider the greatest industry around--the events industry! You are joining the ranks of a diverse and dynamic group of professionals who provide more than just a product or service to customers. We create guest experiences and memories that last a lifetime. It’s a noble pursuit, a complicated role and sometimes a perilous journey. However, you’re never alone in the events industry, even at the beginning.
If you are just starting out, you’re likely to have a million and one questions. As veterans of the events industry, we’ve been there, and we’ve made (or creatively avoided!) just about every possible mistake along the way. We couldn’t have gotten where we are today without the mentorship of experts before us, and in the spirit of paying it forward, we are sharing our best tips for building an events business from the ground up.
1. Begin with research.
Before you make any moves, purchase any equipment or advertise your services, investigate and make sure that there is a need in your market for what you are offering. Make a critical analysis of your competitors and develop a plan.
2. Network actively.
Look for networking opportunities in your area. Consider visiting a meeting before you ever officially start your business. You are likely to meet professionals who have been in the industry for years and who can shed light on things you don’t yet know about your market. The insight you gain could be invaluable to your own success.
3. Anticipate reasonable growth.
Very few businesses are overnight successes. It can take you three or more years before you see any return on your investment. Make a sensible plan for launching, funding, nurturing, promoting and sustaining a brand-new business. Make sure that your personal financial situation will stay healthy and that you set aside a reasonable amount of time to allow you to attend to your new endeavor.
4. Avoid common mistakes.
Do not spend more money than you are making. The results can be catastrophic. Also, don’t force growth before you are ready. It is hard to undo a bad first impression or negative feedback. Everyone will have a bad event in the beginning, but do your best to avoid them by knowing exactly what you are capable of handling and minimizing errors where you can.
5. Increase labor strategically.
Employees are expensive and even interns require an enormous investment of your time, and sometimes a financial one as well. Don’t overstaff from the start as you’ll create an unsustainable situation that could cripple you from the get-go. Instead, look for signs that adding labor is necessary--when you’re unable to personally handle the management of your business as well as the execution of events, and when efficiency-building apps and technology are no longer sufficient to compensate. Your reputation is attached to the performance of each person you have in the field, so hire carefully and monitor results proactively.
6. Best advice ever: Dress the part.
When I was first starting out, I received a piece of advice I will never forget: Dress like you own a business. It may seem obvious, but I once dressed like a sloppy DJ at networking events, and I was unable to make valuable connections. Once I started dressing the part, I exuded professionalism and success and people began to actually want to work with me.
Your new business is only as strong as the foundation you build for it. Use these tips to help give it the best chance possible at long-lasting success.
Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, Calif. He is also the editor of WeddingIQ, the past president for Silicon Valley NACE and national vice president for WIPA.