Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 5,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their event planning businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through an event planning business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan provides a snapshot of your own event planning business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes research to support your plans.
Why You Need a Business Plan
If you’re looking to start an event planner business or grow your existing one you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your event planning business to improve your chances of success. Your event planning business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.
Source of Funding for Event Planning Businesses
With regards to funding, the main sources of secure funding for an event planning business are bank loans, personal funding, credit cards, and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.
Another common form of secure funding for an event planning business is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding or, like a bank, they will give you a loan. Venture capitalists will not fund an event planning business.
How To Write a Business Plan For Event Planning
When you write a business plan, you should include the following 10 key aspects:
Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each important component of your plan.
The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of event planning business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have an event planning business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of businesses.
Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the event planning business industry. Discuss the type of business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target audience. Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy and plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.
In your company analysis, you will detail the type of business you are operating.
For example, you might operate one of the following types:
- Corporate Events: this type of event planning business caters to businesses, charities, nonprofit organizations, and the like to plan fundraisers, receptions, conventions, trade shows, competitions, award ceremonies, product launches, and other types of meetings.
- Social Events: this type of event planning business targets middle- to upper-income individuals and families to plan events such as weddings, birthdays, reunions, and other types of celebrations.
- Niche Events: some event planners specialize in just one of the above event types.
In addition to explaining the type of event planning business you operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.
Include answers to questions such as:
- When and why did you start the business?
- What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include sales goals you’ve reached, new contracts, etc.
- Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your business structure here.
In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the event planning business.
While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.
First, researching the industry educates you. It helps you understand the target market in which you are operating.
Secondly, market research can improve your strategy particularly if your research identifies market trends. For example, if there was a trend towards events that adhere to social distancing guidelines, it would be helpful to ensure your plan details what approach you would take (suggested venues, creative solutions for inclusion, etc.).
The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.
The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section:
- How big is the event planning industry (in dollars)?
- Is the market declining or increasing?
- Who are the key competitors in the market?
- Who are the key suppliers in the market?
- What trends are affecting the industry?
- What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
- What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your business. You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.
The customer analysis section must detail the clientele you serve and/or expect to serve.
The following are examples of customer segments: private and corporate clients, high-income households, medium-income households, engaged couples, etc.
As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of event planning company you operate and the event services you offer. Clearly, businesses would want a different atmosphere, pricing, and product options, and would respond to different marketing promotions than engaged couples.
Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the age groups, genders, locations, and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most event planning companies primarily serve customers living in the same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.
Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target market. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do to attract customers and retain your existing customers.
Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.
Direct competitors are other planners and businesses that offer event planning services.
Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from you that aren’t direct competitors. This includes caterers, venues, and customers planning events on their own. You need to mention such competition to show you understand that not everyone who throws a party hires an event planner each time.
With regards to direct competition, you want to detail the other businesses with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be other businesses that offer event planning services very close to your site.
For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:
- What types of customers do they serve?
- What planning services do they offer (wedding planning, baby showers, birthday parties, social events, etc.)?
- What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
- What are they good at?
- What are their weaknesses?
With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective.
The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:
- Will you provide superior event management options (e.g., more cuisine types, better venue options, etc.)?
- Will you provide event options that your competitors don’t offer?
- Will you make it easier or faster for customers to book your services (e.g., utilizing event planning software, etc.)?
- Will you provide better customer service?
- Will you offer better pricing?
Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.
Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For an event management business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:
In the product section, you should reiterate the type of business that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products/services you will be offering. For example, in addition to designing the event, locating the venue, arranging vendors, coordinating personnel, and supervising the event, will you offer services such as catering, decor, and entertainment?
In this section, document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.
Place refers to the location of your event management business, conference centers, and/or venues in which you own and/or have a relationship. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success.
The final part of your event planning business marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your site. The following are some promotional methods you might consider:
- Social media marketing
- Advertising in local papers and magazines
- Reaching out to local bloggers and websites
- Partnerships with local organizations (e.g., getting on the list of recommended vendors with local venues)
- Local radio advertising
- Banner ads at local venues
While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.
Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your event planning business such as interviewing clients, making arrangements, keeping the store/studio clean, etc.
Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to serve your 100th customer, or when you hope to reach $X in total sales. It could also be when you expect to hire your Xth employee or launch in a new market.
To demonstrate your own event planning business’ ability to succeed as a business, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.
Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience as event planners or in the industry. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.
If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in event planning and/or successfully running small businesses.
Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
Income Statement: an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.
In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you plan one event per week or several events? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.
Balance Sheets: While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. For instance, if you spend $100,000 on building out your business, that will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $100.000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.
Cash Flow Statement: Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. For example, let’s say a company approached you with a massive $100,000 event contract, that would cost you $50,000 to fulfill. Well, in most cases, you would have to pay that $50,000 now for supplies, equipment rentals, employee salaries, etc. But let’s say the company didn’t pay you for 180 days. During those 180 days, you could run out of money.
In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key startup costs needed in starting or growing your business:
- Location build-out including design fees, construction, etc.
- The total cost of equipment and furnishings like decor, sound systems, etc.
- Cost of maintaining an adequate amount of supplies
- Payroll or salaries paid to staff
- Business insurance
- Taxes and permits
- Legal expenses
Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your store design blueprint or location lease.
Event Planning Summary
Putting together your own business plan is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the business, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful event planning business.
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Event Planning Business Plan FAQs
Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Event Planning Business Plan.
The goal is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of event planning business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have an event planning business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of event planning businesses.