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There’s an art to making memorable events. Behind the talk, music, food and colours, there are people who’ve worked to ensure that it all comes together perfectly, to the pleasure of guests and the delight of hosts. Event planning isn’t entirely a thankless business, but it does require an appreciation of the beauty of proper organization and aesthetic brilliance for their own sake. This explains why not a few people are keen on jumping into event planning and management, despite the load of work it usually involves. And yes, it is a lot of work. For instance, if you’re mapping out a grand plan for a successful business gala or wedding ceremony, you’d have to do a good deal of brain racking, network with a lot of people (decorators, cooks, ushers, security), and constantly keep your client updated. Tweaking those plans upon request isn’t always straightforward either. So if you’re going to make a business out of shuffling occasion puzzles (on paper and in practice), you’ll have to be prepared for all of it. But it can be fun too, if you do love creating orderly, memorable events for other people.

A few things you should know how to do

The ideal business planner should be able to do these things:
  • Organize: Being able to see the big picture and fix it by attending to details.
  • Manage time: Events are time bound, as is the period between your being hired to make them happen and when they do happen. Event planners should be able to recognize the worth if scarce time and work with it effectively.
  • Communicate: Verbal and written communication skills are important too. You’ll need this to pass on information in ways that make your messages clearly understood by everyone involved in the event planning process.
  • Manage people: Your relational skills will have to extend beyond knowing how to speak or write, to understanding people as individuals. Humans aren’t just logical beings; they’re also about sentiments and preconceived ideas. Take this into account, and make it clear in your communication with them that you appreciate their aims and preferences.
  • Take the pressure, and do stuff anyway: A tough skin and a big reserve of energy are things you can scarcely do without in the event planning business. They’ll help you stay calm and focused as deadlines loom, and keep your cool when you’re being harried by restless customers.

How to set up

Choose your space

Some event planners want to handle any kind of event. That’s a mistake. Events aren’t all the same; organizing a wedding isn’t the same as putting on a corporate gala. You’ll handle large events with thousands of expected guests somewhat differently from one with only a hundred. Look at the available options before choosing your niche. Decide what you’re able to handle, and resolve to stick to it. Focusing on one or a few event types will help you spend more time on them, and give you the chance to hone your skills faster.

Learn the ropes

Read as much material as you can about event planning. Attend events, and see how they are organized. Volunteer to help out an event planner, and observe him or her as they go through the process. Your time as an understudy should last long enough for you to get a firm grip of what goes on in the business. If you have prior experience in event planning, this might not be as important. Make sure to pay special sort of events you intend to handle.

Have a business plan

Chart a realistic course for your business, and detail it in writing. This ‘course’, which is your business plan, should contain your business’s mission and vision, required resources and the cost of acquiring and maintaining them, projections for the business’s performance, and information about the market it operates in. Apart from being a statement of intention and a road map for your business, the business plan also comes in handy when you’re requesting financial assistance from formal lending institutions.

Establish partnerships

Event planners can’t get the job done on the ground without decorators, photographers, caterers, MCs and other possible ‘foot soldiers’ who help execute event plans. The smart way to get event planning off to a quick start is to build a network of these ‘foot soldiers’ from the start. Have a solid base of reliable contacts who can play their roles in any event you’re hired to plan.

Register

Businesses in Nigeria are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). You can head over to their website to learn about the registration process.

Market your business

Now, you’re ready to kick things off. But you’ll want to draw clients to your business. At this point, you’ll have to do a good deal of marketing. Social media gives you a great platform to spread the word about your venture. Set up business pages on Facebook and Instagram, and advertise your services on them. You can also have promotional content written for your business and published on blogs with a large reader base. Set up a website, where you’ll display all the relevant things about the business (and its past work) that potential customers would want to know about. But don’t ignore traditional word-of-mouth; it’s still very effective. Begin with your family and friends. They could in turn recommend you to people they know who are in need of your services.  

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This article was first published on 26th June 2018

ikenna-nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.


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