Starting an Event Planning Business – 7 Real Steps to Becoming an Event Planner

You’ve decided you want a career full of excitement and fun. You know that you are organized, social, and creative. So you decide you want to start a career as a meeting and/or event planner.Now what?You start doing research, and you find article after article telling you “how to start your own event planning business, today!” They outline how to get organized, how to set up your office, and to print your own business cards.You wait for the phone to ring. Maybe, if you’re really on the ball, you join some network associations and get your name out there. You make a website. And maybe, just maybe, you get your first client.Uh oh. Now what?Exactly.I am going to tell you something you might not want to hear. But, unlike all those other articles selling you false dreams, I’m going to tell you the truth.You absolutely, positively, can not start your own event planning business without at least three to five (or more) years of experience.The good news?Yes, you can become an event planner. Yes, it is a fun and exciting job. And no, it does not require any further schooling or certifications. But being an event planner is so very much more than just picking out fun décor and great entertainment.The bad news?It won’t — it can’t — happen overnight. Organizing legitimate, large-scale events and meetings requires extensive knowledge and years of experience. There can be thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars at stake. Why would you ask a client to trust you if you haven’t had the appropriate experience? And, more importantly, why in the world would you do that to yourself?Even if you think you want to start out by organizing smaller events, you must know how to select venue space, negotiate vendor contracts, organize registration, create itineraries, organize vendors, select menus, and so on. Not to mention you need to know how to charge for your services, write legal-binding contracts protecting yourself and your vendors, select insurance, and how to manage the final billing.We are an impatient society. We want everything, now. We believe we can lose weight by taking pills, and bust cellulite by applying lotion. And, we believe we can actually go out and start an event planning business without ever having worked an event.Would you trust a pilot who wanted to start a business offering “flying tours of the Grand Canyon” without ever having flown a plane? Would you trust a surgeon to operate on you without ever having assisted on a surgery?Of course not. And, therefore, neither should you hope to run your own events without ever having worked one.Forget those websites that tell you, “Yes, you CAN start your own event planning business TODAY! Take our two-day course and be set up by Monday!” They are merely trying to sell you their course or their ebook.Most smart, educated people realize that anything worthwhile takes a little effort. You are intelligent enough to look into the future and realize that, in hindsight, dedicating the next two or three years to learning about this industry you love is well worth your time, in order to guarantee that the rest of your working years are spent doing what you enjoy.And that’s the irony. So many people want to get into event planning, but aren’t willing to do what it takes to get there. If you truly love events, then you should be excited at doing anything it takes. You should also realize that, as with any job, it is necessary to learn from the bottom up.Here are the true, real-life steps you need to take in order to work toward becoming an event planner.
Understand, truly understand, that it will take at anywhere from one, to three, to five years or more to get the experience you need to become an actual Event Planner (depending on your current experience and how hard you work at learning). Make your mistakes on another planner’s dime. You will thank yourself in the future!

Understand that you can still be a part of events, and work any number of jobs in the event planning industry, while you learn. Yes, you CAN start a job in event planning by the end of the month; you just won’t be the event planner. Let go of the need to be the Head Cheese or the need to open your own company right out of the gate, and enjoy the ride! (Actually, many people find that they don’t want the responsibility of being the head planner, and are perfectly happy in support positions; allowing them to still be a part of great events, without all the pressure and stress).

Start reading everything you can about the industry. The world of meetings and events has its own language, and the sooner you understand it, the more quickly you will learn.

Go on some “Informational Interviews” and/or find a mentor. Informational Interviews entail finding a person in the field and asking them if you could have 20 minutes to one hour of their time. Offer to take them to lunch, and have a list of questions prepared. This interview is for information on the industry, not for a job.

Join a networking association. There are many in your town or city; contact your Convention & Visitors Bureau or research the Internet.

Start volunteering for local special events. Find an event that will happen in the next 4-6 months, find the planner, and call them up, and ask you might volunteer your time to help them. Let them know you are in this for the purpose of learning about events, and hope to build a career on it. Not only will you gain experience, but you will open endless doors with the many contacts you will meet.

If you don’t need to make a ton of money, get a job either catering or working for a Destination Management Company. If you can’t quit your day job quite yet, work on the weekends. Again, you will gain priceless experience, and meet contacts that will open many doors of opportunity. If you follow these steps, I guarantee you that you will start your dream job in event planning in no time at all. After a few years of experience, you can open your own event planning business. Remember, anything worthwhile takes time…and before you know it, you will be living the career of your dreams!© Copyright 2007-2008 Sirena Evans, Careers In Event Planning. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.