How to Start an In-Person Event Planning Business in 2024

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Posted on February 20, 2024

How to Start an In-Person Event Planning Business in 2024

From lavish weddings to cushy corporate Christmas parties, everyone loves a big, splashy event. Of course, the best events require significant front-end planning, ensuring that everything from the venue to the menu is up to snuff.

If you love big events, are gifted in organization, and long for a truly creative and personalized line of work, starting an in-person event planning business may be right up your alley. But what steps do you need to take to get your company off the ground? And what are the key legal and financial considerations to make on the front end?

Event Planning 101

We’ll get into all of that, but first, it might be helpful to summarize exactly what an in-person event planning company is. 

When you run an event planning company, you work with individuals, families, and business organizations as they seek to plan and execute large-scale events. Again, think weddings, big birthday parties, corporate soirees, and more.

There are a number of responsibilities that fall to the event planning company. A typical list of duties includes:

  • Scouting and securing the ideal venue.
  • Offering multiple venue, catering, decorating, and entertainment options to the client, allowing them to weigh in on preference and price point.
  • Creating and sticking to a budget, with the client’s approval.
  • Ensuring that all local laws are upheld, particularly with regard to alcohol service, venue occupancy, etc.
  • Coordinating with all vendors to ensure the most seamless possible experience for attendees.
  • Providing troubleshooting and logistical support during the event itself.
  • Giving vendors the necessary information regarding attendance numbers, dietary preferences, and the like.

There’s a lot that goes into in-person event planning, and to thrive in this field requires you to be gifted in communication, problem solving, time management, organization, and beyond.

What are the Steps for Beginning an In-Person Event Planning Company?

If you’re interested in launching your own bespoke event planning company, there are a few steps you’ll want to complete.

1) Cultivate experience.

To succeed in this business, you’ll need to have a full portfolio of skills. And, you’ll need to be able to convince potential clients that you have the expertise to pull off their event. One way to get both of these birds with one stone is to develop plenty of industry experience on the front end.

Getting entry-level work or even securing an internship with an event planning company can go a long way. It may also be worthwhile seeking a degree in event management, hospitality, business, or another relevant field.

2) Establish a vision.

Not all event planning companies are created equal. Before you get yours off the ground, it may be helpful to articulate exactly what you’ll do and how you’ll define success. Your business vision or mission statement might include:

  • A set of values you’ll try to uphold.
  • A general list of the services you’ll provide.
  • A summary of your target market or key demographics.
  • A summary of the type of experience you want your clients to have.
  • Some reflections on what will set you apart from your competitors.

A good vision document can provide guidance as you build out your event planning business.

3) Conduct market research.

You can do this step in conjunction with the previous one, as your vision statement may be influenced by your market research. Certainly, you’ll want to have a good sense of local demographics before you define your target audience. Also make sure you consider things like dietary or religious preferences that might be common to your core audience; these factors may include the way you run your business.In tandem with your market research, incorporating insights from Grata AI can enrich your vision statement. Understanding local demographics and factors like dietary or religious preferences, with the aid of Grata, can refine your approach to defining your target audience and shaping your business strategy.

Be sure to also research competitors. Keep a list of the biggest event planning companies serving your areas, and be strategic in how you articulate your distinct value proposition.

4) Make a business plan.

Your business plan is a bit more concrete and a bit more specific than your vision statement. It may include such data points as:

  • Clearly defined goals for both the long-term and the short-term.
  • A timeline for when/how often you’ll review your business plan, making revisions as needed.
  • A summary of your staff infrastructure, along with basic allocations of duties and responsibilities.
  • A basic financial summary, including your source of starting capital, accounting system, a budget of monthly expenses, and revenue goals.

5) Invest in marketing.

Your event planning company will likely grow largely on the basis of word-of-mouth buzz. With that said, there are some important marketing investments you’ll want to make, over and above individual referrals. In particular:

  • Make sure you have a website that’s mobile-friendly, fast to load, and easy to navigate.
  • Set up shop on image-heavy social platforms (think Instagram), uploading high-quality photos of well-executed events.
  • Solicit reviews and testimonials from your satisfied customers.
  • Consider additional investments in blogging, PPC, and digital video.
  • Use a press release service to announce major milestones at your company, a great way to gain SEO value and backlinks.

What About the Legal Aspect of Business Ownership?

Beyond these basic considerations, you’ll also want to make sure you have the right legal positioning for the long-term success of your event planning company.

There are multiple legal structures you can choose for your business, but generally speaking, the most advantageous is the Limited Liability Company (LLC).

What is an LLC?

The LLC actually creates a distinct legal entity, meaning you can enjoy a clean line of distinction between yourself and your company. Among other benefits, this allows you to protect your personal wealth from litigation or potential creditors.

Additional merits of the LLC format include:

  • Different options for how you report your taxes.
  • Ample flexibility with regard to management structures
  • Relatively light annual reporting requirements
  • Ease of setup and administration
  • Plenty of leeway to scale and grow

How to Register Your LLC

As you can probably guess, establishing a new legal entity requires you to jump through a few hoops. Here’s a basic summary of everything you need to do to register your event planning company as an LLC.

  1. Choose a name for your business. This is about more than just branding. You also need to ensure legal compliance, by selecting a name that isn’t already in use by another LLC in your state. There should be an online directory you can check.
  2. Name a Registered Agent. Every LLC needs an agent to receive legal/tax correspondence on the business’s behalf. Being your own Registered Agent is allowed in some states, but it is more common to hire a third-party service.
  3. File Articles of Organization. This document will detail the name and mission of your company, the names of your partners, and the contact information for your Registered Agent. File with the state, pay the filing fee, and allow three to four weeks for the approval process (on average).
  4. Draft an Operating Agreement. This important document serves as a constitution for your LLC, denoting how responsibilities are allocated between partners, how assets are split, and how new partners may be brought into the fold.

Other Considerations for Launching Your LLC

Some additional steps for getting your event planning LLC up and running include:

  • Get an Employer Identification Number. Your EIN can be obtained from the IRS, and for U.S. citizens, it’s free. You’ll need this number to pay your taxes and to process payroll.
  • Set up a bank account. We recommend having a business bank account that is not linked to any personal checking or savings accounts.
  • Pay your LLC taxes. As of right now, there is only one state that requires LLCs to pay a special tax. That’s the State of California, where LLC taxes are $800 annually (flat rate). But you may need to pay a small fee each year to keep your registration active, no matter which state you’re in.

Seek Success Through Excellent Event Planning

Event planning can be a highly rewarding field for people who are sociable, creative, and good at organization. Make sure you follow all the right steps to establish a foundation for success.

The author Amanda E. Clark  is a contributing writer to LLC University. She has appeared as a subject matter expert on panels about content and social media marketing, as well as general topics related to small business ownership.

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