1. Research the competition
Greetings and welcome to GigCentric’s blog. We make tools for your events business. Get Gigs, Build Your Business and We’ll Take Care Of The Rest. Give us a Spin… The following post is the first of 10 blog entries in our mini series on The Top 10 Things to Think About Before Starting an Events Business. With any great idea, one should spend time thinking about the idea and completing the necessary research before investing hard earned cash. There is no doubt that when an individual finds their calling into either being a weekend warrior or a full-time events professional it can be one of the most exciting days of that person’s life.
I know from my own experience that once I entered into the DJ business over 24 years ago that booking a new gig was one of the best feelings I have had ever. The nervousness of talking to that first client, explaining why my service is the best, to the time period between that first conversation of being advised the client is reserving me to the impatientness of me waiting on the mailman to deliver the deposit and signed contract to seal the deal on a new job. (For those of you who were born with a computer in house this time period occurred before the Internet and Email was used for business) Booking a new event made me feel great! Although some things in the our industry have remained the same, there is a plethora of new things that have changed. Although there are few barriers to entry into this type of business, the cost of good quality equipment has continued to be on the rise.
Before one decides to enter the events industry it is important to determine if this truly is a market that needs another events business. A few years ago I thought that the photo booths were a fad and now today it’s seldom that a party is thrown without one. However, keep in mind that if there are a slew of companies operating in the market, it might be better to try to find a company looking to train good talent. If you believe that you do better at taking direction from others becoming a part of another company is a much cheaper alternative and it will save tens of thousands of dollars.
On the other hand if you know the competition, have an niche for leadership with a Type A personality, the timing might be right for a new company to enter the market. Make sure you know what the region charges for events along with what differentiates each company. (Makes notes for yourself to reference and continue every year to reference and update these notes.) For example, does one company offer Video Disc Jockeying at their events versus a free “Add On” for a hot light? Determine where your strategy will fall. Do you want to charge your future customers a premium and work only a few events per year? Or maybe a more realistic approach might be to find the low-end of the regions rates and start charging a bit above those rates. That way the more events that you do the more experience you can bring to your new clients.
Make sure that your prices are not too low. In many instances new business owners come into the market not truly understanding how the pricing of a service is created and what the market rates are during the year. You will find that if your price is too low that your competition will be less likely to invite you into their professional groups. Networking is important as it can open new doors to business and also possible partnerships.
Not sure how to find your competition? Let’s start with a hint, where do you think DJ’s advertise in your area? Is it in a wedding book, telephone book, online web site portal for your preferred target market? In different areas, different advertising mediums work differently so get to know your area. First think like a bride or your target customer and ask around to some of the venues in the area. Is there an upcoming wedding show that you might attend? Maybe you can find someone there to give you some more ideas or just stayed tuned in to our blog and we’ll keep you on the right track.
Have additional details to share? Email us at Support@GigCentric.com
How do you research your competition?
2. Find a name - include web site and email address
Finding a name for your business can be fun. This is a decision that should not be taken lightly as a name can make or break a business even before it earns its first dollar. In the events industry there are many companies who share their names. This sometimes is by a known chance or by an unknown chance.
If you are clever enough to create a name that says everything about what your business is and has to offer it can speak volumes and continue to be a dividend in creating a strong brand. For example, Google is a brand that has not only captivated the USA but also the world. Now most people say “I Googled it” and everyone knows that term versus what truly happened which was “I searched for the topic on the Internet”.
Everyone has a different goal with their business name. Just remember to make sure you inventory of services that you will need to operate with will be available. Here with GigCentric, you have the ability to sign-up for your own URL and have our strong powered brand behind or use our white label package too. For example, is your URL for your web site available? One can check GoDaddy.com. Will you use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube? What about other services? Check out namechk to find out if your name will be available.
4. Find a mentor
Mentors are useful to provide insight as to what is important and not important when starting up a in a new industry. Ideally, find a local events company who has many years of experience. This person could possibly be towards the end of his or her career if they’ve done it long enough and have been successful. In most cases these individuals understand your intentions and also that helping you start your business is something that someone else most likely did back in the day when they started their business.
Mentors are also useful for helping direct you to what industry news to be following, where to purchase equipment. If you are able to find a good mentor it will be important to be thankful to that person for their time and knowledge. Never forget that a simple thank you note can go along way for invaluable information that is most likely not published in a book or on the internet waiting to be harvested.
3. Draft a business plan
Okay this one seems to be odd listed as number three but it is truly important and will help you address many of those business items that just plain need to be thought about. Specifically, do you want to protect yourself and the family nest egg? How will you finance this new business? What if someone tries to file a lawsuit against you? How will you defend yourself? What equipment do you need versus what equipment you want down the road? How do you see sales for your business in the future?
Another great question is will you have a partner? If so an agreed business plan is imperative. It will set your and the business partner’s expectations for operations on paper while also protecting each other against odd behavior and how each person will handle operations in case the business fails. The business plan is also nice to help each person understand what assets will be divided in various scenarios. Let’s face it in todays world it is important to plan for the unexpected and have a plan in place.
For information on business plans check out the following:
US Small Business Administration
Entrepreneur dot com resource
4. Find a good accountant
Money coming in and money going out. The goal is to save and pay oneself as much as possible while having a great time running your events company. The unfortunate reality though for any business is that as long as we are using the United States or another country’s money, it’s an individual’s responsibility who runs a business to make sure taxes are paid correctly and on time.
Take a proactive approach to starting this new business by staying ethical and reporting your income. The value an accountant can bring to one’s business sometimes is immeasurable. He or she knows current laws that might help with offsetting your revenue with qualified expenses.
Need to find a Certified Public Accountant? Here’s a link to the American Institute of CPA’s. - http://www.aicpa.org/ForThePublic/FindACPA/Pages/FindACPA.aspx
4. Find a good attorney
Why? Set up your business right the first time. An attorney will help you determine what type of business entity you need. For example, is an LLC the right formation for you or are you shooting for the stars and want to incorporate.
Attorneys also have the know how to help protect your new business’s name. Most new business owners do not want to share their new name with another person starting a new events business. If you have the means and resources trademark your company’s name. This can be done by hiring an attorney or using a third party resource such as Legal Zoom.
5. Find industry events and conferences to attend
Want to join other people like yourself in learning about new cutting edge ideas in the events industry? Conferences are one of the best places to invest in yourself and gain an opportunity to meet some veterans and other new professionals who might be wrestling with some of the same questions that you are thinking about too.
6. Define your target market or specific demographic
That’s a lot of marketing jargon but essentially it will be important to know what type of events you want to work. Are you interested in school events, face painting events, corporate events or weddings? Maybe all of those! Then it will be important to define your marketing to target the decision makers who help organize each different target area.
Understanding who your ideal customer is will help you build your business service capabilities according to those customer’s needs and wants.
7. Research advertising channels
How will you advertise your new business. Will you spend your marketing dollar online with web sites, search engine marketing, the telephone book, event web site portals or by lettering the sides of your vehicle? Obtaining the best return on investment is important especially in our competitive economy.
8. Find a good designer or create yourself design standards
One of the biggest mistakes many members of the events industry make are creating great web sites that don’t match the rest of one’s company. For example, the logo used in the web site is different than the logo used on the marketing print advertisements handed out at the wedding or business expos and the business card information is not current.
Another common mistake is that many people do not update their marketing or their web sites enough. Once you achieve success make sure to keep up with the times and continually be updating your site and marketing to be current and a true reflection of who you are and what your business stands for in its daily operations.
Many of us work other jobs and do not have the luxury of being a full-time business operator. Wouldn’t that be nice though if we could figure out a way to leave that 9-5 job? Of course and to make sure you get yourself on that road visit a designer or a marketing agency to help you create a marketing plan which is consistent and reflects upon everything great about you and your business.
If you are unable to afford another professional to help you in your quest to take over the your local market. Create yourself a design standards book. This book will help remind you of what is expected out of the branding that you use for your web site, print materials, business cards, any uniforms you might wear, etc. The design standards book can be integrated as an extension to the business plan.
9. Set-up business bank accounts for checking and savings
Why? So you don’t mix your personal money with your business money. Always remember to take a salary for yourself. Working for free is and should never be the goal for the weekend warrior! Having these accounts separate will allow you to stay financially organized while not overspending your personal money or your business money.
10. Find a good equipment supplier
Let’s face it, relationships in business are important and a good equipment sales person can make your life easier. He or she will not only help you find the equipment that you need but also be a source you can tap into when you face new problems expanding your successful business or answering questions about how to install new equipment or new ideas for equipment that will help you differentiate yourself.
There are some really big stores out there for purchasing event equipment and there are some smaller stores out there that specialize in excellent and personable customer service. The two options are really different and if you think you might be in business for a long long time then I would suggest finding that local company who provides you with good quality, prices and a good service oriented relationship.