How to Start an Event Planning Business in 14 Steps (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: February 14, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The event planning industry is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8%. As celebrations, conferences, and corporate events continue to grow in popularity and scope, the demand for professional event coordination keeps rising.


With new technological tools and social platforms emerging, event planners have ample opportunities to attract clients across industries. Orchestrating memorable and logistically seamless events requires keen attention to detail, extensive vendor networks, and creative vision.

This guide will help you learn how to start a event planning business. Topics include market research, competitive analysis, registering an EIN, obtaining business insurance, and other important elements of a successful event planning business.

1. Conduct Event Planning Market Research

Market research is essential to starting a party planning business. It offers insight into creating a business plan for your own event planning business, finding the top wedding planning and party planning equipment, and more.


Some details you’ll learn through event planning market research include:

  • The second largest clients are non-profit organizations and associations, investing around $2.3 billion annually.
  • Beyond direct spending on event planning services, the related transportation, hospitality, and catering sectors also benefit significantly from the events industry.
  • According to Meetings Mean Business, conferences and events in the US directly support over 5.9 million jobs.
  • Virtual and hybrid events are also projected to see dramatic growth in the coming years as digital tools expand, opening up new opportunities.
  • With globalization and rising corporate budgets driving event demand ever higher across most industries, new organizers can tap into this momentum.

Success rests on building up specialized expertise, creativity, organizational skills, and an extensive professional network. The barriers to entry remain relatively low but scaling up remains challenging in this competitive sphere.

2. Analyze the Competition

Analyzing the competition is a critical step when starting an event planning business. This analysis should evaluate both local brick-and-mortar competitors and broader online players. This will help you form a solid business plan, choose the best event management software, price according to your target market, and spot trends in the event planning service industry.

First, identify event planning agencies operating in your geographic area across various tiers and specializations. Research their specific services, pricing, types of events produced, and total capacities.

Developing a comprehensive competitor grid allows new planners to map the local landscape while spotting unmet needs or gaps to fill. It also aids in benchmarking potential pricing levels.

In addition to place-based competitors, analyze industry leaders and fast-growing startups in the online space. Study their website formats, content strategy, search visibility, social media engagement levels, professional partnerships, and other digital components.

While not directly competing for local clients initially, these firms set benchmarks for best practices across SEO optimization, accessibility options, customer service infrastructure, and innovation. New ventures should emulate and learn from category leaders in the virtual world even when focused on a specific metro region offline.

By scouting the most successful online and offline players, new planners can craft differentiated value propositions and streamlined operational processes to stand apart. Competitor analysis illuminates prevailing industry norms while revealing creative directions and offerings prime for disruption.

3. Costs to Start an Event Planning Business

Launching an event planning business requires careful financial planning and cost analysis even before taking the first client. Between startup expenses and ongoing overhead, new entrepreneurs must budget adequately to turn a profit and fuel growth. Here is an overview of common costs to expect:

Start-up Costs

  • Legal formation & licensing – $500-$2,000 to incorporate plus any local business permits
  • Office basics – $3,000-$5,000 for basic furniture, computer equipment, software, supplies. Alternatively, you could rent some of the equipment, reducing your start-up costs but increasing your ongoing costs.
  • Website development – $3,000-$5,000 for custom design and content population
  • Branding – $500-$2,000 for logo design, business cards, templates
  • Marketing assets – $2,000-$5,000 for advertising, printed collateral
  • Initial staffing – Many planners start as solopreneurs before hiring but budget $40K+ for the first full-time employee
  • Optional storefront space – $2,000-$5,000 per month for rental lease, minimal build-out budget

Ongoing Costs

  • Office rental – $1,000+ per month for coworking desk or basic retail footprint
  • Software subscriptions – $100-$500 per month for CRM system, design tools, productivity suites
  • Contract workers – $2,000+ per month for graphic designers, writers, virtual assistants
  • Professional development – $500+ for continued event planner education
  • Marketing – $500-$2,000+ per month for digital ads, content creation
  • Insurance – $800+ annually for general liability & event cancellation policies
  • Legal & accounting fees – $3,000 for attorney, accountant/bookkeeper
  • Staffing budgets – Employee salaries from $40,000+, health benefits, payroll taxes
  • General overhead – Utilities, repairs, contingencies

With lean operations, new event planners can launch with around $20,000 in startup funding. However, most entrepreneurs spend over $100,000 on initial costs including full-time staff and brick-and-mortar spaces. Careful financial planning allows room for unexpected expenses while setting realistic budgets to turn a first-year profit.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When starting an event planning company, the legal structure you choose determines everything from day-to-day operations to personal liability exposure. While sole proprietorships offer simplicity and partnerships enable resource pooling, limited liability companies (LLCs) deliver the best blend of protection and flexibility for growth.

Sole Proprietor

As a sole proprietor, you retain full control and avoid corporate taxes. However, your personal and business assets stay the same – leaving all your funds at risk if sued over vendor disputes or event accidents. This unlimited liability generates immense stress for solopreneurs in such a high-risk sector.


Partnerships allow you to share the workload with a co-owner through joint contributions of capital and skills. But you still bear responsibility for your partner’s managerial mistakes or financial debts. Negotiating an equitable partnership requires complex legal guidance.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Establishing an LLC shields your assets from any business-related claims or judgments. As an LLC owner, you cannot lose more than your invested capital. This liability buffer promotes bolder decisions to advance competitive positioning and profits over time.


A corporation is the entity of choice for large businesses. It is the most protective, but also the most complex entity. For a small event planning business, forming a corporation would be a long and unnecessary process compared to the other options.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

An employer identification number (EIN) serves as a business entity’s tax ID number for federal tax purposes. Just like an individual uses their social security number to file personal taxes, a business needs its own unique EIN to handle company taxes and other regulatory documents.

Event planning businesses should apply for an EIN as soon as they officially form their business structure. The IRS offers free online registration for both new and existing entities through this simple application process:

  • Step 1) Provide basic information about your company including legal name, address, and ownership details.
  • Step 2) Specify the reason for requesting the EIN, choosing “Started a new business” for a newly launched event planning venture
  • Step 3) Submit your contact information and EIN application digitally in just a few minutes

Once obtained, an EIN enables event planners to open business bank accounts, apply for required licenses/permits, hire employees process payroll, and file annual tax returns.

Most states also require event planning companies to register for sales tax collection certificates through their revenue department websites if selling taxable goods and services. These state-level licenses link directly to your federal EIN.

6. Setup Your Accounting

Proper financial practices form the bedrock of a thriving event-planning business. From bookkeeping and taxes to banking and expenditures, optimizing these monetary flows requires specialized accounting expertise meshed with efficient software tools.


Open a Business Bank Account

After structuring your business entity, immediately establish dedicated financial accounts and tracking. Business banking simplifies separating commercial and personal transactions while enabling essential capabilities like merchant processing. Choose a checking account with unlimited transactions to maintain liquidity for frequent vendor payments.

Accounting Software

Automating entry categorization through accounting software drastically reduces paperwork and manual reconciliation needs. Packages like QuickBooks seamlessly sync with bank/credit card accounts to log all financial activity. The visual dashboards and custom reporting also provide real-time performance analytics to guide smarter decisions.

Hire an Accountant

While technology paves the path for self-service bookkeeping, partnering with an accountant alleviates tax headaches plus auditing risks. These financial specialists handle payroll, produce clean quarterly/annual statements, optimize write-offs/deductions, and ensure full compliance across local, state, and federal requirements.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Before hosting their first event, new planners must secure the necessary licenses and permits to legally operate while minimizing liability risks. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

  • General business license – Nearly all municipalities require annual registration of any company based within their jurisdiction, regardless of sector. These straightforward licenses collect minor fees in exchange for formal monitoring that ensures compliance with zoning, building codes, and other administrative rules.
  • Special event permits – Local governments or private venues mandate dedicated permits when staging occasions expecting substantial attendance like conferences, concerts, races, or large parties.
  • Liquor licenses – In addition to the basic business permit, event companies hoping to sell alcohol at hosted functions in certain public places or private venues with broader beverage programs must hold active liquor licenses.
  • Food safety certification – Catering elements of an event require meeting health department standards. Some regions necessitate training courses and compliance audits when handling and serving food. Mobile cart/truck permits similarly require approval based on equipment and handling procedures.

Consult local municipal portals to identify all needed licenses, then state entities for sector-specific permits around high-risk activities. Lawfully securing the proper credentials protects both planners and their clients.

8. Get Business Insurance

Even with extensive risk management protocols, unforeseen accidents or incidents at planned events can spur lawsuits that financially devastate unprotected companies. Purchasing tailored business insurance policies greatly mitigates this liability exposure.

Without adequate coverage, a single massive claim could force an event planning venture to fold by wiping out precious working capital. Common legal actions from guests, vendors, or venue owners related to injuries, damaged property, contract disputes, or negligence might seek six or even seven-figure payouts.

Paying such exorbitant settlements out-of-pocket would irreparably sink most small operators. Business interruption stemming from a canceled event could also cut off vital income flows right when legal fees swell. Top carriers like The Event Helper and Progressive offer customized protection including:

  • General liability – Covers 3rd party bodily injury and property damage claims
  • Event cancellation – Reimburses for canceled event loss of income
  • Professional liability – Handles errors and omissions around client work
  • Cyber liability – Mitigates data breaches and hacker attacks

Purchasing the right insurance begins with a needs assessment and consultation with qualified brokers familiar with the unique risks event planners face. They help tailor tiered solutions balancing premium costs and coverage limits based on potential vulnerabilities.

9. Create an Office Space

An office provides event planners with physical infrastructure enabling smooth operations, productive work routines, and polished client meetings. The optimal setup balances functionality, aesthetics, and cost based on business stage and location-based needs.

Home Office

Home offices offer ultra-low overhead with maximum schedule flexibility for solo entrepreneurs. Spare bedrooms readily transform into functional command centers for administrative work, phone calls, and virtual collaborations. Particularly benefiting rural planners not needing to meet local clients daily, dedicated spaces within a residence rent around $100 monthly.

Coworking Office

Coworking spaces like WeWork provide stylish, professional environments conducive to focus while enabling networking with other site members. Open desk rentals typically run $300+ monthly across most metro markets. For teams needing meeting rooms and private office spaces, costs scale to $800+ monthly. While positioning brands as modern companies, the variable month-to-month terms simplify growth projections.

10. Source Your Equipment

Launching an event planning venture requires acquiring key equipment to execute successful gatherings, while carefully balancing initial outlays. Savvy entrepreneurs source these vital materials both new and used from diverse suppliers:

Buy New

Brand-new laptops, printers, cameras, and software pack reliability and performance but strain startup budgets. Entry-level packages sufficiently support early operations with basic Word/Excel systems spanning $300+, high-quality DSLR camera outfits from $750+, and versatile printer/scanner combos averaging around $300.

Buy Used

Lightly-used electronics provide immense savings over new ones while retaining plenty of utility. Scout local classifieds like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for laptop deals under $100 and camera gear deals up to 70% off retail prices.


Equipment rental shops provide affordable short-term access to pricey items like speakers, stages, and furniture that planning agencies cannot justify buying outright. Most inventory rents for 5-10% of the purchase price per day with delivery/pickup. Useful for outfitting large one-off events.


Long-term equipment leasing enables the use of essential assets like vehicles and expensive tech across 12-48 months for small recurring fees, avoiding major outlays. Lease approvals depend on business financials and credit history.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Cultivating a strong brand identity proves essential for event planning agencies striving to attract clients in crowded marketplaces. Strategic moves like securing a personalized phone system, crafting sleek visual assets, digitizing operations through polished websites, etc. boost recognition and trust in equal measure.


Get a Business Phone Number

Acquiring designated business phone numbers and extensions through advanced VoIP platforms like RingCentral conveys professionalism from first contact. Callers reach responsive representatives instead of shaky personal devices prone to poor service.

Design a Logo

A logo symbolizes the visual ethos of an events company. Bold, lively marks composed on DIY sites like Looka feel fitting for stirring experiences while minimalist icons may suit corporate planners. Clean icons also ease embroidery on shirts and other merch.

Print Business Cards

Business cards enable establishing immediate connections at venues and industry gatherings by passing memorable branded collateral. Matching the fonts, colors, and symbols from logos funded through vendors like Vistaprint ties assets together.

Buy a Domain Name

Securing matching domain names raises online visibility and credibility during digital searches for regional event support. NameCheap guides new owners through domain valuations, availability checks, and purchase processes to acquire their .com identities.

Build a Website

Building out full websites demands weighing the cost/control tradeoffs of hiring web developers versus utilizing simplified DIY sites like Wix. The former route engages experts to code custom designs while the latter enables affordable self-service creation like Fiverr.

12. Join Associations and Groups

Beyond online brand-building, event planners gain immense value by actively participating in local professional associations, gatherings, and digital communities. Tapping this hive knowledge aids continuous skills development while forging collaborations and client referrals.

Local Associations

Industry associations like Meeting Professionals International contain established groups across most metros. Monthly meetings cover trending challenges plus open idea exchange and job boards link talent with roles. Membership fees that enable access to these networks range from $100 to 500 annually depending on region and applicant experience level.

Local Meetups

Attend area business events and tradeshows like those discovered through Meetup which compile upcoming webinars, conferences, and networking happy hours. Develop authentic connections with venue managers, caterers, rental vendors, and fellow planners who later trade subcontracts on larger events. Entry fees average $20 per session.

Facebook Groups

Vast troves of experiential knowledge hide amid planning communities inside Facebook Groups like Creative Event Planners and Party Planners & Event Organisers. Digging through the innumerable archived conversations reveals referrals for all vendor types from photographers to security guards plus new angles on costs and client preferences based on geography. Signing up is free.

13. How to Market an Event Planning Business

Promoting events expertise through consistent marketing enables planners to fill calendars with coveted bookings. Balancing digital outreach scalable to wide audiences and personal relationship-building grows community authority plus positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Referral Marketing

Satisfied party and conference clients eagerly recommend services after seamlessly executed celebrations leave lasting impressions on their guests, employees, or business partners. Offer branded giveaways or discounts on future bookings to motivate sharing on social media and referring associates.

Digital Marketing

Digital tactics wield incredible reach to engage prospects plus influence search visibility:

  • Launch Google Ads campaigns to display services when users search for related keywords like “corporate event planners”
  • Run Facebook and Instagram ads targeted locally by interests like “conferences”
  • Post TikTok videos displaying behind-the-scenes event footage
  • Start a planning advice blog updated weekly with SEO-optimized articles
  • Send monthly email newsletters with venue spotlights and seasonal promotions

Traditional Marketing

Traditional options establish visibility and trust through long-lasting community presence:

  • Distribute printed flyers and mail promotional postcards to regional HR contacts
  • Schedule radio spots on local stations before major holidays or during conference seasons
  • Rent eye-catching billboard space along heavily trafficked commuter routes
  • Sponsor booths at annual business or tourism conventions to meet event organizers
  • Host public mixers at recently opened venues to connect with new clientele

Synchronizing digital efficiency with physical relationship-building helps event businesses continually expand influence and bookings.

14. Focus on the Customer

Delivering exceptional customer service forms the cornerstone of a thriving event-planning business. Referral rates directly tie to exceeding partner and client expectations through responsive communication, transparent pricing, and seamless execution.

Venue owners and vendors constantly evaluate new planners before trusting precious bookings to unproven partners. Glowing word-of-mouth shifts leverage during these crucial vendor negotiations as applicants showcase rave reviews from regional players.

Similarly, the corporate clients and non-profits hosting family reunions, galas, and conferences assess planner competency through each interaction. It’s vital to present polished responsive proposals, address all questions promptly, and carefully guide stakeholders from conception through the final farewell toast.

Impressing guests through personal touches like customized menus or surprises for the guest of honor sparks appreciation. When audiences leave galvanized by a perfectly orchestrated event aligned with organizational values/goals, they eagerly recommend partners for future functions.

In an industry dependent on intimacy and trust, delivering exceptional customer journeys wins repeat business and referrals that allow for sustainable company growth in competitive event markets.

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