How to Start a Party or Event Planning Business

We’re social creatures - and whether we’re getting together to celebrate an occasion, accomplish a shared goal or indulge our interests, there’s a strong need for gathering with like-minded people. If you’re a great organizer, administrator and project manager, you can turn this desire into a party or event planning business.

Whether you’re helping others enjoy a special moment, working with a business on their event needs or putting together other social gatherings, your skills are essential. Here’s why: Most people don’t have the time, expertise, networks, discipline or desire to coordinate dozens of different moving parts to make an event happen. If you’re great at those tasks, then individuals and businesses will seek you out for your organizational abilities.

We want to help you get your party or event planning business off the ground.

Since 2004, we’ve helped over 500,000 people to become entrepreneurs, starting exciting businesses and bringing their ideas to life. We’ll give you the support, guidance and advice you need to create a business and make it into a success.

Here is our simple guide to starting up a successful event or party planning business. From exploring the types of business you can start, to researching the legalities of setting up your business and the realities of your day to day operations, this guide is here to help.

Read on for some insight into creating your own planning business and becoming an entrepreneur. In this guide we will cover:

Facts and figures on the success of party or event planning businesses

Groups, forums and support for party or event planning business owners

Ideas for types of party or event planning business you could form

Helpful software for party or event planning business owners

Deciding whether a party or event planning business could be right for you

How to choose whether your party or event planning business should be an LLC or corporation

Writing a business plan for your party or event planning business

How to validate your party or event planning business idea

How to start your party or event planning business (with information on equipment, employees, location, permits, finance, taxes and more)

Why You Should Become an Event Planner

There are plenty of opportunities in the party and event planning space, and it’s a growing industry.

$5B

Revenue that the industry brings in every year

125k

Number of party and event planning businesses in the U.S.

2M

Number of events organized every year in the U.S.

The amount of revenue generated by event planning businesses has risen by almost 4% each year

The number of event and party planning businesses has grown by 2.1%, and the number of employees is up by 2.4%

The main types of parties that drive this revenue are weddings, birthday parties and corporate social events

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to start your own party or event planning business. We’ll help you be part of that success.

Is a Party or Event Planning Business Right for You?

Although it can be exciting to form a planning business, there will be significant demands on you as a small business owner. Here are some of the things you can expect.

A Day in the Life of an Event Planner

Here are some of the typical tasks you’ll be performing for your party or event planning business on a daily basis.

Negotiating and dealing with individuals and businesses who want to use your services

Understanding and gathering overall needs and detailed requirements for events

Finding spaces where you can hold events on the client’s behalf

Planning out events in detail, including all the third parties you’ll need to involve

Carrying out day-to-day project management to make sure the right people are completing the right activity in the right way at the right time

Managing the budget, scope, vendors, staff, people, timescales and other aspects of the event

Dealing with permits, licenses, insurance, transport, lodging, menus, music, security, food and other activities

Hiring and managing staff to ensure events go smoothly

Skills Needed by a Party or Event Planning Business Entrepreneur

The following skills will be very useful in your role as a party or event planning small business owner.

Expert project management skills since you’ll be managing multiple tasks, deadlines, people and third parties for an extended time

Strong interpersonal and communication skills for managing clients and third parties

Focus and calmness under pressure as you’ll need to troubleshoot if things don’t go quite to plan

Good financial and resource management skills so you stay within budget and deliver the scope agreed with the client

Excellent administration skills so you can complete tasks quickly

Networking skills to build up trusted connections with vendors, locations, staffing companies and third parties

What Your Party or Event Planning Customers Are Looking For

Ultimately, event and party planning clients want two things: for their event to be a success, and for it to run smoothly without any problems. They’re hiring you for peace-of-mind, and to make sure you can manage the event to a good conclusion.

Of course, they’ll also want you to deliver the event or party to the budget you’ve agreed, and they’ll expect you to troubleshoot any issues so they don’t need to get involved. Hiring an event planner is a way for clients to avoid doing the work themselves — so if you regularly communicate, provide reassurance and deal with everything on their behalf, they’ll be delighted.

Becoming an Event Planner and the Type of Planning Business You Should Start

You have plenty of choices for starting a party or event planning business, and the best choice depends on your skills, network and existing competition in your local area. We definitely recommend focusing on a specific niche rather than trying to become a general event planner. When you specialize in one area, it’s easier to focus your marketing, networking, administration and other skills on delivering to the needs of that niche.

1

Wedding Planning

This is the biggest sector for private events, and there’s plenty of competition. Look into other wedding planning businesses in your area along with the potential market size to decide if wedding planning could be right for you. One advantage of wedding planning is the large amounts of money involved, with average spending on weddings topping $35,000.

2

Birthday Party Planning

The second most in-demand service for private individuals is planning big birthday parties. As with weddings, you’ll want to do a thorough analysis of competitors to understand if there’s a big enough market.

3

Other Private Parties

You don’t just need to focus on weddings or birthdays. You could also get involved in other types of individual celebrations like baby showers, christenings, engagement parties, anniversaries, etc.

4

Specialized Parties

You can also choose to target a particular private market segment. For example, you might provide party planning for specific cultures or for people with certain dietary or other preferences. You might even offer event planning for people who want to travel overseas to celebrate.

5

Convention Planning

You can also explore starting a business that helps to plan conventions. These are typically ticketed, public events themed around specific interests and hobbies.

6

Corporate Event Planning

You might choose to focus on corporate and business clients rather than individual ones. Their needs will be quite different as they will be putting together conferences, seminars, staff workshops, client contact days, promotional events, etc. You should dig into each of these niches to learn about the competition and see if you can provide a good alternative. You will also want to understand the number and needs of bigger businesses in your area that have the budgets to pay for large events and event planners.

Validating Your Party Planning Business Idea

These are all great starting points, but you will need to build on them to make the business your own. You have unique skills and insight that you can use to start an event planning business that will really stand out. Before committing too much time, energy and money into your new party or event planning business, it’s important to test the marketplace.

Not every idea you have will make it through to becoming a successful planning business. There are all sorts of reasons to say “yes” or “no” to specific businesses; think about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can choose one you’d be great at.

Identify your planning business’ unique selling points (USPs)

Decide on the main benefits of your business and how you’re going to communicate them. Whether that’s because of your niche, experience, skills or services, you will need to set yourself apart from competitors to attract the right event planning clients.

Look at who your competitors are in the space

Having competitors is a good thing as it shows there’s a market, but it’s still vital to find your own space. Look into who the other event and party planners are and the type of clients they have. Try to identify some gaps in the marketplace.

Understand your market

Party and event planning relies on having enough potential clients in your local marketplace. Investigate how many of a specific type of event happen in your city on a regular basis to learn if there’s enough business for a new event planning company. Clearly identify exactly who your customers are likely to be, where they hang out and how you’re going to reach them. This will be essential to your marketing, communications, sales and customer support.

Talk to clients

Speak with your potential clients to understand local nuances and what they’re looking for from an event or party planning business. Validate your business idea by asking if they would commit to spending real money on you as an event planner.

Your Party or Event Planning Business Needs a Plan

Although party and event companies are all about managing plans on behalf of your clients, you also need your own business plan. This will help you define how you’re going to run your party or event planning business, market yourself, get sales, make a profit and grow. This can only come about through creating a watertight business plan. It will help you get your thinking in order and show your commitment to your party or event planning business.

You will also need to look at financial projections for your party or event planning business.

What are your expected sales and revenues? What is your profitability? How much money will you keep in the business to grow it? How much will you pay yourself and others?

If you can, try to plan your revenue for the next month, three months, year and two years. It’s vital to take into account the cost of setting up a party or event planning business in the first place, as well as factoring in utility, staff and other costs.

Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:

1

An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan

2

Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your planning business

3

A description of your event planning company, background information and context

4

A market analysis and likely demand

5

An overview of how your party or event planning business is structured

6

Your business model

7

How you will market and sell your offerings

8

Financial projections, revenue and profitability

9

Appendices

We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.

Choose the Right Business Structure for Your Party Planning Business

Now that you have all the background information for your party or event planning business, it’s time to make it into a reality. That starts by choosing the right structure or “legal entity” for your business. In the U.S., there are five main business structures. They are:

Sole Proprietorship

This is the "default" business structure and is what your planning business will be if you decide not to create a more formal structure. We don't recommend this type of business as it doesn't give you the legal protections you need.

Partnership Company or LLC

This is a type of business that is formed when two or more people work together without creating a more formal business entity. Like a sole proprietorship, it may not give you all the protections your event planning business may need.

Limited Liability Company or LLC

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is ideal for most party or event planning businesses. An LLC is easy and inexpensive to set up, and it has the fewest administrative requirements of any formal business entity.

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of business and isn't generally recommended for smaller organizations.

C Corporation

These are the largest and most complex types of businesses and are typically far more than the average event planner will ever need.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide. If you’ve still got questions, we’ve answered them to help you choose the right business structure for your event planning business.

In most cases, our recommendation for your party planning business would be to create an LLC. We’ve got a complete guide to everything you need to do. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we’ve got you covered, wherever you are.

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Setting up Your Event Planning Business Operations

Once you've legally created your planning business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

Marketing Your Party Planning Business

Marketing will be a huge part of your party or event planning business, and most of your advertising will target local clients. Naturally, you will need an awesome website, but you'll also need to get branding, newsletters, digital ads, social media accounts and other channels in place. Be sure to target your identified niche and promote the unique selling points of your planning business.

Equipment Needed by an Event Planner

You will almost certainly use onsite equipment, fixtures, features and furnishings for your parties and events, or you will rent them as needed. To begin with, you probably won’t need to hold much stock yourself — but it will be helpful to have an excellent idea of what your vendors can provide. You will need equipment for your home office, including a computer, laptop or tablet.

Finances and Taxes

You will need a separate business bank account for your party planning business. You might also want to consider a business credit card. Additionally, you will need to keep careful bookkeeping records and file business and personal taxes. Here at Incfile we can even help you file your taxes.

Software and Process

The right software and processes will make running your party or event planning business much easier. See our list of the best apps and software at the end of this guide. Excellent project management software is absolutely vital to party and event planners, so try a few different types of task management software before settling on the one that works for you.

Employees

To begin with, you probably won’t need to hire anyone else for your event planning business, especially if you’re a good administrator. You will be relying on vendors to provide staff and expertise, including contracting with local temporary staffing businesses to provide workers for events. You will also work with locations like hotels to source employees for parties held on their premises.

Location of Your Planning Business

Although you will be arranging parties and events in big locations, it’s likely you can administer and manage your party planning business from home or a shared working space. This is great as it reduces your office costs considerably. Don't forget that if you work from home, you can write off part of your utility and housing costs against your taxes.

If you need to meet with clients, you can go to their home or place of work, hire a meeting room at a local hotel or arrange to meet elsewhere.

The Complete "Start Your Business" Checklist

A Clear and Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Business the Right Way

Rules, Regulations and Taxes for Your Party or Event Planning Business

You can’t escape real-world licenses, permits and regulations. You will need to explore local, state and federal licenses and permits, and we can also help out with researching your business licensing needs. Make sure you understand the permits, licenses and regulations you’ll need to follow as an event planner vs. the responsibilities of the vendors, third parties and locations that you’re working with.

Taxes

Taxes are a fact of life if you’re in business, and there are various ways you will need to file and pay them. This can include self-employment tax, state income tax and federal income tax. Depending on where and how you’re selling products and services, you may also be liable for sales and use tax.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding back around a third of your earnings to pay your taxes. We can also prepare and file your tax returns for you.

Insurance for Your Party or Event Planning Business

Most planning businesses should have comprehensive business insurance. There are various types.

Workers Compensation Insurance

Workers compensation insurance provides coverage for job-related illnesses, disabilities or injuries that affect employees. Regulations for this insurance vary from state to state. It typically covers areas like medical costs, loss of earnings, compensation and retraining.

General Liability Insurance as a Party Planner

This insurance protects your planning business from claims due to being sued. This may include injury to members of the public, property damage, personal liabilities, legal defense and more. It can help protect your business from financial penalties and bankruptcy. This type of insurance could be essential to your party or event planning business as members of the public, business employees and others will be attending events. Make sure you understand the insurance coverage of the locations and vendors that you use as well.

Home and Auto Insurance for Your Planning Business

If you are working from home or driving a vehicle for work, check whether your existing home and auto policies cover you for work use of your home or car. If not, you should either expand your policy so you’re covered or get dedicated business insurance.

Maintaining Your Party Planning Business

There are certain forms and legalities you need to follow to keep your event planning business in good standing.

1

File an Annual Report

Depending on the state you’re located in, you will probably have to file a report every year. This report tells the state about any major changes to your business, and we can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

Annual Report
2

Pay estimated taxes

You will be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Typically, you will need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September and January (of the following year).

3

Renew Business Permits and Licenses

Your business will probably have several licenses, permits and other regulations. These typically need to be renewed every year.

4

Prepare Your Taxes

You will need to work with your accountant to prepare all the taxes you need to pay.

5

File your taxes

You will need to file your taxes once a year.

6

Pay payroll and sales taxes

If applicable, you will need to make payroll and sales tax payments on a regular basis.

Groups and Forums for Party or Event Planners

Here are some useful places where you can connect with other party or event planning entrepreneurs.

Useful Online Tools for Your Event Planning Business

The right software and apps will make it much easier to run your party or event planning business. Here are our recommendations for some of the best tools out there to make business operations a breeze.

Conclusion

If you have the right discipline, project management ability and administration skills, becoming a party and event planner could be a great idea. The time to start is now — follow this guide, define your business, decide on your areas of focus and enjoy your work as you help others celebrate their most important life events.

Start your Party or Event Planning Business with us, today