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3 Tips for Planning Your First Event (from a former professional event planner)

Let’s talk about…events. They are one of the secrets to how we have grown our company since the very beginning. When done right, events can be a beautiful extension of services in your business; when done wrong, they can be detrimental to your growth and your motivation. As a former Event Planner – in a full-service hotel setting, an independent wedding planner, and a volunteer leading events in ministry – I’ve got over a decade and a half of experience in planning events of all sizes. I’ve learned some tips along the way, and I want to share them with you today. Here are 3 Tips for Planning Your First Event…

1. Quality Over Quantity!

The biggest mistake you can make when planning your first event is this: expecting a sold-out crowd. For real, it’s the biggest mistake I see newbie businesses and event planners making. And it’s one I have made often, myself.

Nothing kills your enthusiasm and invites stress into your life more than trying to fill 200 people into a brand new event. Something beautiful happens when you shift your focus from quantity to quality – you release the pressure and you also begin to focus on creating the best experience for your attendees, instead of trying to just pack them all in to reach your bottom line.

My advice is this: if you are planning your first event, aim for 50 people but plan for the possibility of double just in case. Most rooms can be set up in two different ways so have a few options in your mind of how you can fit more should you sell out unexpectedly. A smaller crowd also gives you the chance to workout the kinks in your content if this is your first time facilitating an all-day event, mastermind, or workshop experience. Never underestimate the power of small beginnings!

2. Keep Expenses Low!

Events are a great way for small businesses to bring in new clients. They are also a great way to bring in extra cash flow during slower seasons. Here’s where things can go wrong though: food, decorations, and swag bags.

Don’t get me wrong, women’s events are known for awesome table decorations, yummy food, and fun swag bags. However, not every event needs these things for it to be successful. If you’ve never planned an event before, food costs can sideswipe you really quick! And swag bags? Well, if you’re a new small business or a first time event it most likely won’t be in the budget to get swag bags so you’ll have to spend your precious time asking for sponsors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing to do, however so many times we see people going in that direction and then completely neglecting the other parts of their business that need tending to because they’ve stressed themselves out with high expenses for a first time event!

Take a deep breath and let’s consider a few things here. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my budget for a meeting room?
  • How large do I need the room to be?
  • How can I add value without adding expenses?
  • Is it necessary for us to offer food at this event, or will it be better for the attendees to have a break and leave the facility for meals on their own?
  • Do I have the time to get sponsors, or is there a better option?
  • Am I trying to make this event like everything else I go to, or is it suppose to be something entirely my own, but I can’t see it because my focus is too small?

3. Maximize Volunteers!

Volunteers are a great way to create community both when planning your first event and when planning future events. In the beginning, our main volunteers were our friends and family members. As we grew, we discovered that we had some raving fans and Champion clients that were excited to help out. We absolutely LOVE our volunteers and it’s always fun to have them with us at each Beautiful Wholeness event! Their stories and their enthusiasm has done more to help us reach more people than our own efforts ever could.

So how many volunteers do you need? That’s a great question! Years ago when we were dreaming about our very first event, we had a well meaning elder leader in ministry tell us that we needed 30 volunteers for an event that was maybe going to reach 100 people. Insert eye roll here, please. That is WAY more volunteers than you would ever need for an event for 100 people!!! That’s 30% of your crowd and completely unnecessary! The typical rule for volunteers is this: 1-2 volunteers per 50 people. For real! The more people you have volunteering with small crowds, the less effective and more stressed out everyone will be. So keep it smaller and you’ll be much much happier.

Planning your first event will always be a growth experience for you. However, following these tips can help take some of the stress out of the process and make your first event a WIN no matter what happens!

Much love,

~Coach Mandy

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