April 17, 2024
By John Hunter

It's no surprise that starting an event planning business involves many moving parts. It can feel overwhelming, from identifying your unique selling proposition and having all the key skills to executing flawless events to getting all the required compliances. But not anymore. 

In this guide, we'll discuss everything about event planning and provide a step-by-step guide on how to start your own event-planning business. This post covers everything from determining profitability to understanding the skills you need to run a successful business.   

But before you dive headfirst into how to start an event planning business, let's take a step back and understand the basics. 

Event Planning Business

What is Event Planning in Business?

If you plan to start your event planning business, you probably know the answer to this question. Event planning involves managing the details of large or small events, including meetings, conferences, or parties. This business is typically utilized for: 

  • Large educational meetings, such as graduations or conferences.
  • Major promotions, including marketing events, product launches, and fashion shows.
  • Corporate events, like after-work cocktail hours, trade shows, galas, and more.
  • Celebrations and social events like parades, weddings, birthdays, reunions, and more. 

What Do Event Planning Businesses Provide?

As an event planner, you are expected to work with clients to understand their requirements and goals and then provide end-to-end event planning and execution services to ensure the seamless and successful execution of in-person or virtual events

Some of the services you must include are:

  • Event management and coordination
  • Theming, décor, and styling
  • Conferencing and exhibitions
  • Signage and branding
  • Entertainment and talent management
  • Venue sourcing and management
  • Catering and food & beverage management
  • Audio-visual production and management
  • Logistics and transportation management
  • Budgeting and financial management
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Security and risk management
  • Registration and guest management
  • Post-event evaluation and reporting 

Why Do People Hire Event Planning Businesses?

There are two primary reasons why people hire event planning services: 

  • To allow event attendees and guests of honor to thoroughly enjoy themselves without worrying about event logistics. 
  • To ensure that the event runs without any glitches. 

Consider a typical corporate conference, for example. 

A business may hire your services to create a stellar multi-day conference while their employees and attendees can focus on networking or learning. This way, they don’t have to worry about details like catering, keynote speakers, registration, and managing the event schedule. 

Event Planning Business advantages

Advantages and Disadvantages of Starting an Event Planning Business

As with everything, the event planning business also has advantages and disadvantages. Some of them are: 


  • Enjoy the freedom to choose who you work with, where you work, and how you manage your schedule.
  • Pull off a showstopping event, and chances are your clients will return repeatedly, thus building loyalty.
  • Event planning business lets you unleash your creativity as you get to design events that are unique and unforgettable for your clients. 


  • Establishing relationships with reliable vendors takes time, especially in a crowded market.
  • Growing your business needs adding resources or raising prices, which can be tricky.
  • Most of the time, although the planning takes place in advance, you must ensure your presence in the field during the event—meaning long working hours, even on evenings and weekends. 

How to Start an Event Planning Business

Here are some steps to help you start an event planning business: 

Evaluate your event planning skills.

Event planning involves many tasks beyond the glamor of parties and events. To be successful, you must be able to handle various responsibilities. After all, successful event planners are masters of multitasking, with a talent for keeping calm under pressure. 

For example, you’ll need to create an event theme or design, find a venue, arrange entertainment, book vendors, send RSVPs and marketing information to attendees, and balance the budget. The list goes on. 

If you're unsure whether you possess all the necessary skills, consider gaining some hands-on experience. Perhaps shadow an experienced planner, assist with events at a local organization, or even volunteer for a nonprofit event. 

Create your event planning business plan.

A well-structured business plan is the foundation of any successful venture, and event planning is no different. Consider it your roadmap to success. Here are the key sections to include: 

  • Executive Summary: Summarize your business concept, goals, and what sets you apart.
  • Overview: Outline your company background, structure (e.g., sole proprietorship), and essential details.
  • Industry Analysis: Demonstrate your understanding of the local event planning market, including potential clients and event trends.
  • Competitive Analysis: Examine your competition, identifying their areas of strength and areas you can exploit.
  • Marketing: Craft a strategy for attracting clients—how will you make them aware of your exceptional services?
  • Management: Detail your unique experience and skills.
  • Operations Plan: Describe your day-to-day process for planning and executing events.
  • Financials: Project your income, expenses, and profit expectations over your initial years of operation. 
Event planning niche

Find your event planning niche.

Finding your niche is how you stand out from the rest—it helps you specialize in a specific subset of the broader event planning industry. Also, it becomes easier for your target market to find you. Common niches and event types include: 

  • Business event planning: Award ceremonies, charity and nonprofit events, corporate bonding retreats, meetings and seminars, conferences, grand openings, fashion shows, experiential events, holiday parties, networking events, trade shows, and VIP events. 
  • Private/social event planning: Weddings, anniversaries, holiday parties, baby showers, theme parties, wedding/bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, milestone birthday parties, and murder-mystery parties. 

Identify your unique selling proposition.

Identify your event planning business’ unique selling proposition (USP) to set yourself apart from your competitors. It is the reason why clients should choose your company over others. 

Here’s how you can define your USP: 

  • Identify your target market: The first step in uncovering your event planning USP is to identify your target market. Who are your ideal clients? What type of events do they typically host? What are their pain points and needs? Understanding your target market lets you tailor your services to your client's needs and preferences. 
  • Analyze your competition: The next step is to analyze your competition. Who are your competitors? What services do they offer? What is their pricing strategy? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Understand your competition to identify gaps in the market and ways to differentiate your business. 
  • Determine your unique strengths: What sets your business apart from your competitors? What unique strengths do you bring to the table? It could be your expertise in a particular type of event, your creative approach to event design, your extensive network of vendors, or your exceptional customer service. Identify your unique strengths and use them to craft a compelling USP.

Consider funding and costs.

The events business can be lucrative, but getting started requires smart financial planning. Calculate your initial startup costs carefully. Price your services strategically so you cover expenses while remaining competitive. If number crunching isn't your strong suit, invest in a bookkeeper or accountant early on.

While exact costs vary by location and services offered, here's a ballpark range to get you thinking:

  • Rent: $0 to $2,300
  • Equipment: $5,000 to $17,000
  • Inventory: $0 to $500
  • Licenses and Taxes: $250 to $350
  • Communications: $100 to $250
  • Payroll: $0 to $4,000
  • Advertising/Promotion: $500 to $2,000
  • Legal Fees & Accounting: $650 to $1,500
  • Insurance (1st Quarter): $800 to $1,700
  • Miscellaneous: $750 to $1,500
  • Total: $8,050 to $31,100 

Remember, startup expenses don't have to be astronomical. Begin with the essentials, and scale up as your business grows.

Structure your pricing strategy.

Pricing your services is an art and a science. Factor in your location (cost of living varies), your experience level, and what your competitors charge. Most importantly, ensure your pricing allows you to cover costs and earn a worthwhile profit while remaining attractive to clients. 

Remember, transparency is key—explain your fee structure clearly so there are no surprises later on.

Here are some common pricing models for your consideration: 

  • Hourly rate: Ideal for projects where the scope is difficult to predict upfront. Rates typically range from $25 - $100+ per hour, depending on your skills and the complexity of the event. 
  • Flat fee: A single charge covers your planning services. This works well for events with well-defined parameters. Sometimes, planners add a percentage of vendor fees to ensure sufficient compensation. 
  • Percentage of the event: Typically, this will be 15-20% of the total event cost. Such pricing structure is common for complex events, as your fee scales alongside the project.  
  • Day-of coordination: A specialized service, handling the on-site logistics on the day of the event itself. 
  • Vendor commission: In this model, your income comes from commissions from selected vendors, rather than directly from the client. This requires careful negotiation and transparency with all parties involved. 

Obtain necessary legal documents and permits.

Don't neglect the legal side of your business. Taking these steps protects both you and your clients from potential issues:

Register Your Business:  Choose a legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietorship, etc.) that's right for you, and register officially with your state. Obtain a tax ID—essential for everything from opening a bank account to filing taxes. 

Obtain Necessary Permits: The red tape of event planning might not be glamorous, but it's crucial. Permits vary by location, so contact local authorities to learn exactly what you need. Common examples include: 

  • Building permits (tents) for outdoor events that require tents.
  • Business license to operate legally.
  • Event permits vary by city, so contact the local government for relevant ordinances.
  • Noise permit if your event is outside.
  • Fire/fireworks permit, which you must check with your county.
  • You can get a health permit from your county’s health department.
  • You need a liquor license if you plan to serve alcoholic beverages. 
  • Seller’s permit, which you may need as an event planner.
  • Temporary use/structure permit for vacant land or temporary space for loading areas, vendors, and parking. 

Get your event planning business insured.

Obtain insurance coverage for your event planning business to protect yourself and your clients from unexpected incidents. Here are some important coverages to consider:

  • Workers' compensation: This is mandatory in all states. It protects your employees (and yourself, if you count as an employee) in case of work-related illness or injury.
  • General liability insurance: A must-have for any event planning business. This protects you from claims of property damage or bodily injury at an event you organized. 
  • Property insurance: Safeguard your equipment (tables, chairs, laptops, etc.) from theft, fire, and other unexpected events.
  • Business interruption: If unforeseen circumstances force you to temporarily shut down, this can provide financial support. Think of it as backup income if things go awry.
  • Business Owner's Policy: This bundles several important coverages into one convenient package, often at a good value. 

Market your event planning business.

Once your business is set up, it's time to attract those exciting new clients. Here are some strategies to get you started:

  • Build a Website: Your website is your online storefront. Services like Weebly and Squarespace make it easy, even if you're not tech-savvy. Invest time in making it visually appealing and easy to navigate.
  • Boost Your Online Presence: List your business on directories like Yelp, Eventective, and Google My Business. This helps potential clients discover you when they're searching for event planners in your area.
  • Get Social: Create engaging profiles on relevant platforms (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.). Share social media-worthy photos, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and client testimonials.
  • Traditional Marketing Still Works: Don't underestimate the power of beautifully designed brochures, flyers, and business cards. Distribute them strategically at local businesses or events.
  • Get Referrals: Happy clients are your best advertisement. Encourage them to leave glowing reviews, and feature video testimonials on your website and social media.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Caterers, photographers, venue owners—these businesses have the same clientele as you. Build relationships and create a referral network to mutually benefit. 

Related: Read some practical event planning tips for before, during, and after the event. 

Event planning questions


What skills do you need to run an event planning business?

The basic skills needed to run an event planning business effectively are primarily soft skills, such as organizational skills, business management skills, and presentation skills. Here are some necessary skills to run an event planning business successfully: 

  • Attention to detail
  • Customer service
  • Education (staying updated on event trends) or experience
  • Interpersonal relationship skills
  • Negotiation
  • Organization
  • Under-pressure performance 

Is an event planning business profitable?

Event planning has the potential to be a very profitable business venture. The fact that 89% of event and meeting leaders consider in-person events crucial for revenue growth demonstrates the ongoing demand for well-planned events. 

However, the profitability of your event planning business will depend on several factors. The key to success lies in your ability to command premium rates for your services while keeping your expenses in check.            

What does an event planning business do?

An event planning business organizes and coordinates various aspects of events for individuals or organizations. This includes selecting venues, arranging catering and other vendors, creating event schedules and itineraries, managing budgets, and ensuring all necessary equipment and supplies are available. 

Do event planners travel a lot?

Event planners may travel depending on the nature of the events they plan. Some events may occur locally, while others may require travel to different cities or countries. Ultimately, the amount of travel required will depend on each event's specific needs and requirements. 

The Future of Event Planning is Yours to Create

The event planning industry offers vast opportunities for those with an eye for detail, a flair for organization, and a knack for staying on budget. Whether your heart lies in orchestrating sleek corporate events or bringing dream weddings to life, the skills you hone as an event planner are valuable in countless contexts. 

A carefully crafted business plan, paired with smart marketing and a dedication to providing exceptional experiences, can turn your passion into a truly successful venture. Find your niche, or cast a wide net—the choice is yours.

If you're ready to take the leap into the world of event planning, don't hesitate. Use this guide as your springboard. With hard work, a little business savvy, and a genuine love for creating memorable moments, there's no limit to what you can achieve.  

Up next, learn some best practices in event management to create scalable and successful event strategies for your business.



John Hunter

John Hunter

John is the Senior Manager of Event Cloud Content Marketing at Cvent. He has 11 years of experience writing about the meetings and events industry. John also has extensive copywriting experience across diverse industries, including broadcast television, retail advertising, associations, higher education, and corporate PR.

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