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Setting up an Event Planning Business

All you need to know about starting and running your business

Business guides » Setting up an Event Planning Business

What is an Event Planning Business?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the events industry in the UK was worth an impressive £42.3 billion. Although the industry took a huge hit during the pandemic, the revival of the industry and the huge increase in the number of events has resulted in a quick recovery, making now a great time to set up an event planning business.

An event planning business entails planning, coordinating and managing events such as:

      • Parties.
      • Weddings.
      • Conventions and exhibitions.
      • Corporate events, such as seminars, workshops and tradeshows.
      • Meetings.
      • Religious ceremonies, such as christenings and bar mitzvahs.
      • Virtual events.
      • Fundraising and charity events.
      • Galas.
      • Festivals, fairs and music events.
      • Sporting events.
      • Pop-up events.
      • Outdoor events.
      • Organised events, such as parades.
      • Social events.

 

You could choose to specialise in one type of event, such as weddings, focus on events set in a particular location (by partnering with a venue or venues) or organise a variety of event types, depending on your clients’ specifications.

Some event planning businesses are made up of multiple event planners. Alternatively, you could choose to be the sole event planner in your business.

As a professional event planner, you will be involved in planning events, usually from start to finish.

Your responsibilities can be extensive, and may include:

      • Meeting with clients.
      • Creating a budget.
      • Establishing a timeline.
      • Finding and reserving an appropriate venue.
      • Planning a menu.
      • Selecting or contacting attendees.
      • Arranging activities, entertainment or speakers.
      • Arranging transport and/or accommodation.
      • Making arrangements with contractors, such as for food, drinks and entertainment.
      • Communicating with on-site staff.
      • Acquiring the relevant permits and licences.
      • Arranging the programme and coordinating timings.
      • Arranging equipment, facilities and decorations.
      • Managing risks.
      • Handling payments and invoices.
      • Setting up on the day.

 

In order to plan the events as smoothly as possible, many event planning businesses partner with other businesses and contractors. This ensures you always use companies that you know provide a good service and are reliable.

To be a successful event planner, there are certain characteristics you will need to have. In particular, good organisational skills and good communication skills are key to the success of your business.

As events do not always go to plan, you will also need to be able to think on your feet, have creative problem-solving skills and not panic under pressure. A flair for business and a true passion for what you do is also necessary for the success of your business.

Types of Customers

Determining your typical customer base is an important step when starting up an event planning business.

Your typical customer base will depend on several factors:

The types of events you plan:

If you choose to specialise in a particular type of events, such as wedding planning or corporate events, this will significantly impact your typical customer base. Determining the type of event you plan to organise can help you to determine your typical customers, your branding, and your marketing and advertising strategies.

The services you offer:

Are you going to organise the entire event, meaning you will need to offer a variety of services, or will you specialise in specific services? Some of the most popular services offered by event planners include venue sourcing and hiring, organising catering, venue decoration and event promotion. The service you offer will appeal to specific customers.

Your pricing strategy:

Your pricing should reflect your services, the level of planning you do, and the types of events you will plan. Some customers will be looking for a budget-friendly event planner, whereas others will prefer a high-end more luxurious event planner. The types of events you plan and how long they will take will have a significant impact on your pricing strategy. For example, planning an annual music festival is likely to be much more time-consuming and have a significantly higher price point compared to planning an anniversary party.

Your location:

Many event planners focus on a particular area. For example, if you are based in London, you will likely primarily plan events within the city. This can impact the types of customers you are likely to attract.

Event Cartoon
Event Business Cartoon
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Equipment You Will Need

Your equipment requirements can vary, depending on several factors:

      • The type of events you plan.
      • Whether you work with external contractors and companies.
      • Whether you choose to rent or buy the equipment.
      • Whether providing equipment is included in the services you offer.

 

Below is an extensive list of the equipment that may be required by an event planning business. Consult the list to help you determine what equipment your business requires.

Laptop

A laptop is an essential piece of equipment for your event planning business. The portability allows you to transport your laptop to every event you attend. If you hire additional event planners or other staff, they will need their own laptops. Mid-range laptops usually begin at £500, up to £3,000 for a high specification laptop.

A desktop monitor

This can be plugged into your laptop for times when you need a bigger screen, such as when creating and viewing large spreadsheets, project plans and floor plans. It also gives you the option to work multi-screen, which can be beneficial if you are planning more than one event at the same time. Desktop monitors start at approximately £100.

Mobile phones

You will need a business mobile phone that can be used for contacting clients, replying to emails and accessing event information. Each member of staff will need their own mobile phone. Mobile phones usually range from £200 to £1,500.

A website

A website is essential for an event planning business. Your website will be a key advertising tool. You can showcase your previous work and provide your contact information, business information and pricing. Your website can also act as your sales platform. You can set up your website yourself or pay to have it set up by a professional.

Backups and storage

Backing up all your data and previous work is recommended in case your computer is lost or broken. You can choose external hard drives or cloud storage. You may need to pay a one-off cost or a monthly or annual fee.

A printer

You may need to print off invoices, seating plans, permits, stage passes, schedules and other essential information. A printer can cost as little as £40, although you may opt for a more expensive, higher specification printer to ensure your items look professional.

A shredder

Any personal information about your clients and other businesses needs to be disposed of correctly. This helps to protect sensitive data and ensures your business operates in line with data protection laws. A shredder can be purchased for as little as £20.

Furniture

Some office furniture you may require includes desks, chairs and secure filing cabinets. The amount of furniture you will need will depend on whether you operate your business from an office or other workspace or whether your business is run from home.

Business cards

These can be used for advertising purposes. You can give them to potential clients and other businesses you partner with or leave them at locations and venues you host events at. Business cards are a fairly affordable marketing tool and can cost between £15 and £200 for 500. The price can vary depending on the material used, the quality of the finish, and the design.

A vehicle

Many event venues may be inaccessible by public transport. Even if a venue is accessible, having a vehicle will help to save you time on travel. If you need to transport any equipment to the events, your vehicle will need to be large enough to store it. The cost of a vehicle varies depending on the make and model and whether it is a new or used vehicle.

Extension cords and outlet cords

It’s recommended to always keep spare cords with you in case you ever arrive at a venue and find there aren’t enough cords, or the plugs aren’t where they need to be.

A first aid kit

Even though venues should have their own first aid kit, carrying a first aid kit with you is recommended in case any accidents or injuries occur. A fully stocked first aid kit can be purchased for as little as £10.

Event Planning

Typical Pricing

Being aware of the typical costs associated with setting up and running an event planning business can help you to better plan your business.

Your expected costs will vary depending on the size of your business and the types of events you plan.

Consult the list below for the approximate costs associated with an event planning business:

Equipment

The cost of equipment can vary based on how much equipment you require. The bigger your event planning business is, the more equipment you will require. You may choose to purchase less equipment initially and expand your equipment as your business grows. Purchasing equipment could cost between £1,000 and £30,000.

Premises

Some event planners operate their businesses from an office or other premises. An office could be beneficial to your business if you hire other employees or need to conduct in-person meetings. If you choose to rent your premises, rental costs are usually calculated per square metre and can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually, depending on your location.

Branding

Branding can help you to establish your business’s identity and set you apart from your competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity, a logo, your business name, and creating your business’s website. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.

Marketing and advertising

Marketing and advertising are essential ways to attract clients and grow your business. To ensure your event planning business attracts clients and earns an income, you must invest in marketing and advertising. It is recommended that you spend between 1% and 3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover is £50,000, it is recommended you spend between £500 and £1,500 per year on marketing. You may need to invest more money in advertising and marketing when you first set up your business, in order to ensure your business is well-known and potential clients are aware of you.

Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment

Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly can extend its life, but repairs and replacements are still inevitable.

Running costs

The running costs associated with your event planning business could include electricity, gas, water and council tax. If you utilise a vehicle, you will also need to incorporate costs such as petrol, MOTs, services and insurance.

Staff

You may initially operate your business independently and then hire staff as your business grows. You could hire staff as permanent employees or as independent freelancers. If you hire staff permanently, you will need to pay them at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour and account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity pay.

Business insurance

Some of the insurance you may need for your event planning business includes:

      • Public Liability Insurance.
      • Property Insurance.
      • Event Cancellation Coverage.
      • Professional Indemnity Insurance.
      • Employers’ Liability Insurance.
      • Equipment Cover.

 

Once you have calculated the typical costs associated with setting up and running your event planning business, you can then determine your pricing policy.

On average, event planners charge between 10% and 20% of an event’s total cost. This means your earnings will depend on the scale and budget of the events you plan. For example, if an event you plan has a budget of £50,000, your fees will be between £5,000 and £10,000.

When calculating your pricing policy, you must decide whether to:

      • Charge a percentage of the event’s budget.
      • Charge a flat fee for your services.
      • Charge an hourly rate.
      • Charge based on commission.

Safely Running an Event Planning Business

It can be more difficult to ensure that your events are run safely and safety procedures are implemented when your venue, contractors and staff change for every event.

Many safety considerations will be the responsibility of the venue. However, to protect your business and your clients, you should ensure that every venue and independent contractor is properly implementing safety measures.

Some safety procedures your event planning business should follow include:

Ensure events are properly staffed

Ensuring events you plan have the correct staffing levels is an important way of ensuring your clients’ and guests’ safety. Consider how many guests will be attending and the types of responsibilities your staff will have when calculating your necessary staffing levels.

Ensure cleaning procedures and policies are implemented

Every venue will have different cleaning policies and ensuring they are effective and followed properly before and during the event will be one of your responsibilities. Ask the venues to provide you with their cleaning policies and review them in advance.

Ensure staff have health and safety training

This can help to ensure safe practices at all times, even if you are not present. Every venue will have different training requirements for its staff, and if your hire outside contractors, their training may also differ. Using staff that have undergone training on Fire Safety, COSHH Awareness, Electrical Safety Awareness, and Covid-19 Awareness can help to ensure your events are run safely.

Planning Events
Events

Pay attention to noise hazards

Noise levels can sometimes be high in an event planning business, especially if loud music is played. Manage noise hazards and make sure you are aware if noise levels are too high. If you or your staff regularly attend loud events, purchasing noise-cancelling headphones can help to protect you from harm.

Keep records

You should keep up-to-date records of any risk assessments, health and safety policies, staff training, and equipment maintenance. You should also record any accidents or injuries that take place.

Implement emergency procedures

Each venue should already have implemented emergency procedures. Familiarise yourself with the procedures, provide a copy of them to your clients and ensure they are correctly displayed for guests to see. Emergency procedures could apply to fires, floods, explosions, chemical spills and terrorist incidents.

Request a copy of any licences

Requesting licences from venues, contractors and companies can help to protect your business. Ensure you only partner with companies and individuals who are properly licensed and request a copy of these licences so you can determine their validity.

Legal Requirements

Ensuring you comply with all legal requirements can help to protect you, your business and your clients.

Some legal requirements will be the responsibility of the venue where you are holding the event. However, as the event planner, you should ensure you check that they are complying with legal requirements.

When setting up and running your event planning business, some of the legal requirements you should be aware of are:

Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)

You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. You can apply for this licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). If you use a CCTV system or process personal information such as payroll information or client accounts and records, you will need to apply for a licence with the ICO and renew your registration every year.

Ensure venues have a Premises Licence

Any venue that you use for an event must have a Premises Licence. This licence is a requirement for any venue that holds licensable activities. This licence covers selling and supplying alcohol, regulated entertainment and late-night food or drink. The venues must also have a Designated Premises Supervisor who has a Personal Licence.

Ensure all events challenge underage drinking

It is against the law to serve alcohol to those under 18 years old in the UK. Events you manage must request to see ID for any individuals you believe are underage. Adopting the Challenge 25 policy by requesting ID for any individual who looks younger than 25 can help to prevent your business from mistakenly serving alcohol to an underage person.

Carry out risk assessments

You should identify any potential hazards and risks and how these can be reduced or eliminated. You should consider hazards related to manual handling activities, electrical and gas safety, food, entertainment, fireworks and any temporary structures. You will need to do new risk assessments for every event you plan.

As part of your risk assessment, you should:

      • Identify hazards.
      • Determine who could be at risk.
      • Evaluate any potential risks.
      • Implement relevant safety measures.
      • Record the results of the risk assessment.
      • Review the risk assessment regularly.

 

Comply with the Equality Act 2010 and ensure you have disability provisions

The Equality Act promotes equality for people who are disabled and ensures they are protected from discrimination. You must comply with the Act and meet all legal requirements regarding disability provisions. Consider physical accessibility, such as wheelchair access and disabled toilets, and event accessibility, such as large print event programmes, hearing loops, captioning and the welcoming of guide dogs.

Comply with safety checks regarding temporary electrical equipment

If any of the events you manage require you to temporarily install any electrical equipment, such as lighting, speakers, stage constructions or generators, you may need to apply for a certificate of permission and ensure the person who is installing the equipment has the correct qualifications.

Ensure fire safety

Some of your fire safety requirements as an event planner include:

      • Conducting fire safety risk assessments.
      • Having a recorded evacuation plan.
      • Reviewing your risk assessment and evacuation plan regularly.
      • Conducting fire drills.
      • Ensuring escape routes are unobstructed.

 

Comply with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

Manual handling regulations can help to protect you, your employees, and any external workers or contractors from sustaining an injury or illness as a result of manual handling tasks. The regulations apply to the lifting or moving of any objects, bending down and reaching high and repetitive movements.

Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013

RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur when your business is operating. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

If you employ any staff as part of your business, you will need to comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. This Act lays out the duties of all employers in the UK in regard to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of everyone in your workplace. As you are the business owner, you will be responsible for protecting the health and safety of your employees and any clients or guests.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) 2002

COSHH is the law that states that you (the business owner) must control any substances that could be potentially hazardous to health. You must assess, control and reduce any risks or potential hazards and protect individuals from harm.

Implement health and safety policies

Health and safety policies are legally required for all businesses in the UK. You should have policies in place that protect your clients, event guests and any employees or contractors. Your policies should also include fire safety procedures and emergency procedures.

Have the correct insurance

Although some types of insurance are only recommended for your business, other types are legally required. All event planners in the UK must have Public Liability Insurance and Employers’ Liability Insurance.

Register your business

You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.

Register for self-assessment tax

This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.

Meeting Event

Positives of Owning an Event Planning Business

Starting up an event planning business can be extremely rewarding in many ways.

Some positives associated with owning this type of business include:

Varied work

An event planning business will never be boring. You can plan a variety of events and every event is likely to be different. You will be working with different clients at different venues and will be doing different tasks every day. Even if you are working on an event for a long period of time, you will still be working at a varied pace and involved in different organisational aspects, depending on what phase of planning you are at.

Meet interesting people

You will meet a huge variety of people, from clients to event guests, entertainers, speakers and other business owners. If you enjoy meeting new people, this can be a great positive.

Grow your network

You will have contact with many different venues, businesses, contractors and companies in your line of work. This allows you to grow your network and gain valuable industry insight. You could even choose to form connections and partnerships with businesses and contractors to help you grow your event planning business and coordinate events more smoothly.

It can be fun

As part of your role, you may be required to attend events, tour different venues, audition entertainers and plan catering. This can be enjoyable and fun.

Choose the events you plan

You will have the power to choose your own clients. You can specialise in specific events that you enjoy the most or are more profitable and only take on clients who you believe you will have a positive working relationship with.

Choose your working hours

As a self-employed business owner, you will be able to choose how little or often you work. You can operate as a full-time event planner or only work part time. If you plan a holiday or need some time off, you can decline any events that would overlap. Planning your own working hours is one of the biggest pros of being self-employed.

It’s a growing industry

Events are on the rise and event planners are becoming more and more popular. Now is a great time to set up an event planning business with lots of opportunities for your business to grow and become successful.

Low start-up costs

Compared to many other businesses, an event planning business has few start-up costs. This makes it easier to set up your business and will allow you to launch it more quickly. Low start-up costs also enable you to begin making a profit faster.

Rewarding work

Planning someone’s dream event and seeing events succeed can be extremely rewarding. Your clients are likely to be very grateful and may even recommend you to their friends and family or offer you repeat business. Not only can this be financially rewarding but knowing that you are doing your job well can be personally rewarding.

Unlimited income potential

Event planning businesses can be extremely lucrative. Depending on the size and complexity of the events you plan, you can charge your clients high prices and earn high profits. You could also expand your business by hiring additional event planners, allowing you to further maximise your profits.

Gain exposure and experience

Event planning is a great industry to gain exposure in. Planning a high profile or successful event can help your business to become well-known and open doors to other events. Other businesses who work within the industry may also recommend you, allowing you to expand your client base and your business.

Work within your local community

Many event planners operate within their local area, for convenience. Not only will this allow you to source local products and utilise local businesses, but it also allows you to make connections within your local community. This can benefit both your personal and professional life.

Baby Shower Event

Negatives of Owning an Event Planning Business

Setting up a business can be difficult and demanding. Not being aware of the potential cons or the difficulties you may face can make it more difficult for your business to succeed.

Some of the potential cons you may experience when setting up and running an event planning business are:

Unsociable hours

As an event planner, you will be expected to work long hours. Many of the events you plan will take place in the evening and at weekends. Many events are also more popular over Christmas and during the summer, meaning you may not be able to take time off or go on holiday during these times. Even if you don’t attend the events, you will need to be available in case there are any problems or issues.

It can be stressful

Event planners have a lot of responsibility and will have to coordinate with a lot of people at the same time. If a problem occurs, as the event coordinator, both the client and other professionals are likely to hold you responsible. This can have a negative impact on your business and create additional stress for you.

It can be tiring

Event planning can be both physically and mentally demanding. On the day of an event, you may be involved in physical activities such as lifting and carrying and may be on your feet for a lot of the day. You may also work long days if you are setting up and overseeing the event. Even in the lead up to the event, the number of responsibilities you have can be mentally demanding.

Some clients may be difficult

Some clients may have a lot of demands and expect too much from you. They may be demanding and difficult to deal with, and as the event planner you will be the one they expect to deal with their issues. Keeping your clients, the guests and staff and contractors happy can be difficult to manage.

The industry is heavily affected by the economy

In periods of recession, economic downturn or situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic, event planning is one of the hardest-hit industries. You may experience periods where you are unable to work or make enough profit to finance your business.

Work can be inconsistent

Certain times of the year, such as Christmas and the summer, are likely to be busier. This could mean you experience other times of the year when you have little or no work. This can make it very difficult to predict your income and plan your outgoings. If you hire staff, inconsistent work can be detrimental to your business, as you will still be expected to pay your staff, regardless of how little work you have.

Experience is usually required

Starting up an event planning business from scratch can be very difficult, especially if you have no previous experience. In order for your business to succeed, you may need to first work within the industry, volunteer at other businesses and make industry connections.

A lot of travel

Even if you work locally, your job will still require a lot of travel, especially if you are touring different venues and visiting different clients and contractors. This can be both time-consuming and expensive.

Planning Your Event Planning Business

A business plan is a great tool for ensuring your business’s success. A business plan can help you to plan each stage of your business, create an effective strategy for growth, calculate your finances and predict your profits.

Your business plan should include information such as:

      • Your company information.
      • Your company description.
      • The event planning services you will provide.
      • Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
      • The structure of your business.
      • The operational plan for your business.
      • The financial plan for your business.

 

When planning your business, there are some important considerations you should make:

What type of events will you plan?

Will you specialise in one type of event or offer event planning for a variety of events. Making this distinction is the first step to setting up your business and can help you determine your target customer base and your pricing policy.

What services will you provide?

Event planners can be involved in a huge number of services, from finding the venue and entertainment, to handling the finances. Determine which services you are realistically able to provide and consider whether you can partner with other companies or contractors for the remaining services.

Who will your typical clientele be?

Once you have determined the types of events you will plan and the services you will offer, you can then determine your typical customer base. Knowing your typical clientele can help you to plan your advertising and marketing strategy and how to make your business most attractive to prospective customers.

Will you hire other staff?

You could hire other event planners, enabling you to plan multiple events at one time, or hire other staff, such as hospitality staff and photographers. You may choose to run your business without other staff initially and then hire employees as your business grows.

What are your equipment requirements?

Consult the list above to help you determine your equipment requirements. You will need to decide what equipment you require and research which equipment will be provided or hired by other sources. Consider the services you will provide, the types of events you will plan, your budget, and your clients’ needs when determining your equipment requirements.

Consider your local competition

Are there other event planning businesses in your local area or ones specialising in the same niche as you? If so, consider their pricing, the services they offer, their branding, marketing and advertising strategies and what they do well.

What are your start-up costs and running costs?

Consult the list above to help you calculate your start-up costs and running costs. Being aware of your approximate costs allows you to determine how you will finance your business and when you are likely to start making a profit. It can also help you to determine your pricing strategy.

What is your pricing strategy?

Once you have calculated your start-up costs and running costs, you can then calculate your pricing strategy. Consider your location, equipment, experience and the event you will plan when determining your pricing.

What are your business objectives?

Planning your event planning business and creating a one-year, three-year and five-year plan can be pivotal to the success and growth of your business. Having clear business objectives and a business plan can make your business more likely to succeed.

Your business objectives should be SMART:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Achievable
  • R = Realistic
  • T = Time-bound

 

Have you complied with all legal requirements?

Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.

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