Starting an event planning or wedding planning business can feel like a gigantic endeavor when you’re unsure of what steps to take. This business startup checklist will provide you with a quick guide on the best steps and tools to get you off on the right track.
1. Research your Market
Deciding you’re ready to start a business is great, but you’ll have to look at if this business is actually viable. Is there a demand for event planners and wedding planners in your city? Is your area currently flooded with event and wedding planners? For Example, if you’re a Kansas City Wedding Planner, think about how saturated is the market in Kansas City.
And if you are in a saturated market, how will you stand out from the other planners? What makes your business unique. What’s your Niche?
This should be the main item on your business startup checklist before launching.
2. Create a Business Plan
Once you’ve decided that your business is viable and you’ve figured out your niche, it’s time to write a business plan. A business plan will help you to map out where you would like your business to be and how you plan to get there.
You can use an online program such as Enloop to help write your business plan. If you prefer written templates, you can find a ton of business plan templates on platforms such as Canva or Creative Market.
3. Choose a Business Name
You’ll notice that I did not make this #1 on the list and that was intentional. While choosing a business name is important, some people get completely stuck in this section. Your business name is not the most important thing when starting up, and if you’re ever unsure of what to use, just use your own name.
If you need help on how to choose a business name, check out this business name selection guide.
4. Determine Your Legal Structure
It’s important to explore the different business structures available to you before making a decision. Whether you choose to operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation. These will all have different legal and financial implications. For example, a sole proprietor is legally responsible for any damages in a company, while liability is limited to just the company if you’re incorporated.
I highly recommend speaking with a Lawyer and an Accountant before making a final decision.
Here are some tips on how to find them:
- How to Choose the Best Lawyer for your Event Planning Business.
- Hiring an Accountant for your Event Planning Business.
5. Register your Business
Once you’ve decided on your business structure, the next step is to register your business and apply for any applicable business licenses in your city. Check your local city website for the complete process of how to search to ensure your name is not already taken and to register your business.
Also Check out: 3 Tips for Registering your Event Planning Business.
6. Register a Domain Name
Once you’ve selected a business name it’s time to start securing your online business assets and the first one is a domain for your website. Try to get a domain name that matches your exact business name. If you’re not able to find a domain name with your business name, then choose one that closely matches.
For example: If your business name is “Destiny Events” try to secure “destinyevents.com”. If that is already taken, then go for something such as “destinyeventsatlanta” (provided you’re located in Atlanta!).
My recommended site for purchasing a domain is BlueHost. You can find domain names for as little as $0.99.
7. Set up a Website
Your website will be your online home for sharing your services, process, and portfolio with clients. Spend the time to create a website that will wow your potential clients and increases your chances of getting hired.
Contact us to learn more about our Website in a Weekend package if you’re looking to have a streamlined website.
8. Secure your Social Media Accounts
Even if you don’t plan on using a particular social media platform, I highly recommend securing your name on that platform before someone else does. As your business progresses you might change your mind about which platform to use and then you will always have different options available.
I recommend starting your business on more visual social media platforms. As an event planner, you sell clients using visuals. Platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube will help you to do just that.
9. Build your Portfolio
Speaking of visuals, if you’ve not already done so, it’s time to gather up all your past event images. These will become a part of your marketing materials.
If you already have great event images, kudos! If not, then I want you to start by taking a look at your past family events. Did you plan your niece’s birthday party 2 years ago? Find the photos and use them in your website gallery.
Don’t have any photos? Not to worry, you can plan a styled shoot to get some professional images, and you can also find free stock images on websites such as Unsplash.
10. Open a Business Bank Account
Can you operate your business using your existing personal account? Yes. Should you? Definitely not. Having a business bank account will allow you to track your business revenue and expenses separately. This will be a lifesaver come tax time, trust me.
You can also check with a financial services platform specifically for small businesses, such as Wave.
11. Setup an Accounting System
Whether you choose to use an Accountant or manage your business finances on your own, it’s important to have a system. Whether that’s tracking your expenses through a spreadsheet template or through a more comprehensive financial services team that can handle your books and taxes for you such as FinancePal. The key here is to track your income and expenses. At any given time you should know your business’s financial situation.
12. Speak to an Insurance Company
As a new event planner, you will need business insurance. The extent of coverage needed for your business and per event can vary depending on the laws in your region. For this reason, I highly recommend speaking with a couple of insurance companies about business and event insurance. These are particularly important should anything go wrong during an event.
13. Get to Know Your Vendors
Even before you plan your first paid event, it’s good practice to get a feel for the different vendors in your area. Research venues, caterers, florists, etc. and put together a list of the ones whose work and/or products you really like. This will save you some time once you start working with clients since you would already be familiar with some vendors in your area and can make recommendations as needed.
14. Select your Brand Colors
Branding is important for your business, as it helps to create consistency and make your business recognizable. The first place to start is with your brand colors. What colors do you like? What colors would best represent your company?
To help check out Canva’s 100 Color combinations for ideas.
15. Select your Branding Font
In addition to your branding colors, the next thing is your fonts. Branding fonts help to keep your branding and company information consistent and streamlined. Imagine a company where every time you saw one of their ads the colors and text were all different. Would this stick in your memory? Maybe not.
You can also use Canva to create your unique font combination.
16. Create a Business Logo
Now we are really diving into the fun stuff! Your logo will be a symbol for your business and should be in line with your brand. If you are not a graphic designer I recommend hiring one to get this created, do not attempt this on your own.
Check out Fiverr where you can get amazing logo designs for as low as $5.
17. Order your Business Cards
I’ll be completely honest, this is not a necessary step. Depending on how clients are finding you and how much you’re networking, you might be able to hold off on the business cards, especially if you’re strapped for cash in the beginning.
18. Your Business Templates
Having the backend of your business set up is just as important as the front end. From your brochures to your social media images, get your templates created and branded to your business guidelines.
- Email templates
- Services & Pricing guides
- Social media templates etc.
You can find pre-made business templates for event and wedding planners on EventPlanningTemplates.com.
19. Market your business
Once your business is up and running it’s time to market it to get more clients. This would not be a thorough business startup checklist if we failed to include this one. You can do this through a number of different methods from signing up for Google Business Listing, theKnot to Facebook Ads.
You can even promote your business by hosting a launch party! Promote your business and share it over and over again with your network. The more people know about your business the better.
The key here is to start with a marketing strategy in mind and hire a marketing professional if you need help.
20. Hire Support
Once you’ve launched your business it’s time to think about if you need to hire help. This could be an event assistant, a virtual assistant, or a freelancer for one-off projects. The key here is not to try and do every single task in your business on your own. When I first started my business freelancers helped tremendously. From helping to create a logo or my intro video on YouTube. You pay them one time and they get the job done.
Just remember to delegate, delegate and delegate some more. Especially if you’re a one-man/woman operation and if you also have another job.
Find a Mentor: Business Startup Checklist Recommendation
One of my biggest business regrets is not seeking help sooner than I did. I’m someone who can learn by doing and I did exactly that when I started my business. I jumped in and tried to do everything myself. Unfortunately, this meant that I worked a lot longer and harder at certain tasks than I should have. I could have shortcut the process by seeking someone who had been there before me and was willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Honestly, I could have saved so much time and money, had I just learned to seek out training or a mentor as I needed it.