You’ve gathered your resources, assessed the market, found your ideal business partners, and you’re well on your way to starting your own event planning business.
But to make this business a reality, you need funding. And in order to secure funding, you need to make the case that your event management business has all the right parts in place so that once you receive funding, your business can take off.
A business plan makes that case for you by giving potential funders all of the information they need to make a decision on whether or not you are worth their time and money.
However, your business plan is not only a fundraising tool, it’s also a road map you will revisit time and again for business accountability. Your business plan will help keep you on track with clearly defined goals and guidelines for your event planning firm.
I’ve narrowed down five key aspects of your business plan that you will have to hammer home in order to make the most effective case.
1. Mission statement
The first step to any business plan is to develop a definitive statement that lays out what your event planning business stands for and hopes to accomplish.
A good mission statement is a short (about one to two sentences) declaration of your beliefs, goals, and values as a company or organization.
Here are a few good examples of mission statements:
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
- Make-A-Wish: We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
- Sweetgreen: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
Other questions you could answer in your mission statement include, what kind of events do you hope to host? Do you want your event planning business to remain local or would you like to see it grow and expand to other areas and states?
2. Business structure
Your business plan can only take shape once you have the structure of your company laid out and have identified the key job roles that will serve your business. This assures potential funders that your event planning business is ready to take off and all they need to do is provide the funds that will make it a reality.
Your structure description should include:
- Your role within the company
- The event planning team that you’ve assembled along with job titles and job descriptions
- What legal form your event planning business operates under (limited liability company, and S corporation, or a sole proprietorship)
- Your prospective vendors and suppliers
- Your prospective clients
3. Products and services
Not every event planning business is the same. Some cater to large corporate events, while others plan small local events such as weddings and reunions. There are many event types, big and small, such as conferences, seminars, meetings, team building events, trade shows, business dinners, networking events, product launches, and award ceremonies.
These differences in market determine the services and products offered by the event planning business in question. The big question you need to determine for your business plan is how many services you will provide in-house and how many you will have to contract out for from other vendors.
Your products and services overview should address these questions:
- What types of events will you plan?
- Will you provide in-house catering services or contract out for catering?
- Will you provide audio/visual equipment such as lighting and speaker systems for music, or work with outside vendors?
- What kind of event marketing services will you provide? Will you provide social media management?
- What type of guest invitations and guest correspondence will you offer?
- Do you provide venue research or will you have your own venue?
4. Target market and marketing plan
What is your target market and how do you plan on reaching the people in that market?
It’s important to know your demographics when marketing your event planning services. If you are targeting weddings, women in their 20s and 30s will be your most likely demographic (however men are more involved in the process than ever). If you want to focus on conferences and other business-related events, your marketing effort should be geared more towards corporations and nonprofit organizations.
After conducting some demographic research, it’s time to put that information to use by drawing up a marketing plan for your event planning business. What will your message be? How will your message be delivered (blog posts, videos, email lists, etc.)?
- Social media marketing: As of November 2016, 69% of all Americans use some sort of social media. This number increased from 11% in 2006. Your business plan should include the steps you will take to build followers and market to customers using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Instagram.
- Content marketing: This material is what you can use to fill your social media feeds, whether it is blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, or newsletters. There are plenty of examples of major event planners using content marketing to draw in customers.
- Local word of mouth: Although this shouldn’t be your main marketing strategy, it’s good to show how you will spread the word about your business in your local area. Plan on working with your future vendors and suppliers to spread the word about your event planning services once you’ve established a relationship.
- Traditional marketing: Your business plan can include strategies such as radio advertising, print advertising, and other traditional techniques as long as you think they will benefit your organization and reach your target market.
Finally, your business plan should cover how you plan on financing your event planning business and what kind of revenue you expect once business starts rolling in. This is where a prospective client list will come in handy because it shows that others are willing to pay for your services.
In the finance section of your business proposal, you will list what kind of funding you’ve already secured (whether from a bank, a friend or family member, or your own savings) and what funding you hope to secure through your business proposal.
Also include all planned expenditures so that potential funders will know what costs to expect for putting on events, and what you will need to hire staff, buy event equipment, lease venues or maintain your own, and market your business and your events. The best way to do this is by including a budget proposal which lists all expenses and forecasted incomes.
Here is a five step guide on building your business budget and a few business budget templates to help you get started:
Examples of event planning business plans
Now that you have the building blocks, here are some sample business plans that you can use as a framework:
- Profitable Venture Event Planning Business Template: This template uses the fictional “Tony & Tammy House of Events LLC” event planning business to show the language you should use and information you should include in your own plan.
- B Plans Personal Event Planning Business Plan Template: Similar to Profitable Venture, this template is also a fleshed out example of an event planning business plan. The only difference is they also offer an online plug-and-go template as well as writing guidance for as low as $9.95 a month.
Other event planning business information
What has been the most difficult step in starting your own event planning business? Are there any lessons you’ve learned? Let me know in the comment section below!
If you’ve drafted your business plan but are not sure what the next steps are to take, be sure to check out my guide on starting event planning businesses: The Ultimate Guide on How to Start Your Event Planning Business.
Lastly, if you are looking for new ways to step up your events, the Capterra event management blog has the resources to help you make decisions on new software, technologies, and best practices:
- 4 Event Mobile Apps to Increase Attendee Engagement
- The Top 10 Books Every Event Manager Should Read
- 5 Online Event Planning Classes to Jumpstart Your Career
- Top 5 Free Tools to Live Stream Your Event Online
Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.