Saturday, April 18, 2009

I have an idea

I'm kind of scared to say it, though.

Ok, so you know I'm unemployed now since my job was eliminated last month after 14 years with my company, right? Right.

Well, I have an idea for a business that both the Captain and I think I'd be pretty good at doing.

Event Planner.

Wait! Before you roll your eyes, just hear me out.

There are no event planners around here. None. It's an almost totally untapped market. And I mean all kinds of events. Not just weddings, but business events, banquets, proms, parties, funerals, celebrations of all kinds....there is "nada" when it comes to assistance and coordination here. There's not even a local awareness of what types of vendors and resources are available when it comes to putting on an event. We don't even have caterers locally. Well, there's one, and she's doing our wedding reception, but I have to say, as sweet as she is, she leaves a lot to be desired. I could do SUCH a better job myself if I didn't have to concentrate on being the bride.

So, the Captain and I were having one of our fantastic dinners one night when he was here, and he said that he really liked that I enjoy living well and seem to do it so effortlessly. He said that he liked the way I did things. And you know? He's right. I don't mind if I say so myself. I am very good at making things good.

Really, I don't do anything spectacular at home, but I think that just a little extra effort really makes the evening, and I do that anywhere, all the time. A former boss of mine, way back in the early 90s when I was the personal assistant to a mega-real estate developer, said that he always liked the way I made a simple pastries and coffee meeting look as if it had been catered by The Peabody Hotel. I just like making things nice. And as for organizing, I'm kind of a fiend about it. My friends have teased me for years about organizing my pen and pencil drawer one day at the office, and I really do organize my sock and accessory drawers for fun. I'm an organizer geek. I love making lists and checking things off on them. I have lists of my lists when it comes to an event like my wedding. And I make lists for the Captain all the time. (He SO needs them ;-)

I've been coordinating things since I was in high school. I was always on the committees or the chairperson for them, and I even coordinated the talent competition for the county fair for several years. Also, back when I was an indirect sales account executive I used to plan events for nationwide retail accounts and my company when they were partners. One of my accounts used to be a nationwide electronics store. I don't want to put their name here, because it would just bring useless hits to my blog, but think of a red and black logo and neighborhood electronics stores with over 4000 locations....

In addition to those duties at my former job, I also helped to re-negotiate contracts between local authorized dealers and my company back when we merged with another corporation, and part of my role was to coordinate the meetings, make sure protocol was attended to so that no one got their toes stepped on, and to schmooze. I can be great at schmoozing when I want to be.

So, anyway, during dinner that night with the Captain, we went off on a tangent about what kind of business it would be, what services I would offer, and how it would be set up, marketed, and who the target customer would be. I don't do anything half-assed, so I would insist on a store front, something that is sort of a life style store....home decor, nice things, arrangements, set-ups, etc, so that people could see how I do things. I would have the place of business actually BE a store, so that people could purchase things and do them on their own if they want. But the main money train would be the event planning, and I might offer catering myself. The Captain and I are pretty darn good together in the kitchen.

I even have a business name in mind, but I'm not saying what it is, because it's just too perfect, and I don't want to give it away. It's has one of my favorite words in it, and would be very intriguing on a business card and building signage.

So anyway, that's my wishful idea. It's mostly just a fantasy, but sometimes I find myself thinking that it just might work, and deep down I'd love to find a way to make it so.

I'd be quite interested in your thoughts.


John Inderdohnen said...

My wife lost her job early this year too. She has also decided to strike it out on her own. Carpe diem. I told her that I've seen how hard she works for other people, it's a sure thing she'll be successful on her own. I'm sure the same is true for you.

Now's a great time to start a business. You should be able to find a great location and get a lease for a song. However, I'd be very curious to learn why there isn't already an event planner in your area. Has anyone tried and failed? I'd go talk to local merchants who would have had contact. Bakery, invitation printers, banquet managers -- who have they worked with? Would they be willing to recommend you?

OK, can't seem to shake the Martin Short character from Father of the Bride from my mind:
Franck Eggelhoffer: Uh-oh, I bring the wrong color thread. I assumed you'd be wearing a black "tuxado."
George: It is a black "tuxado."
Franck Eggelhoffer: I don't think so, babe. This tux is "nuffy" blue. No doubt about it.
George: What're you talking about? Armani doesn't make a blue tuxedo.
Franck Eggelhoffer: Armani don't also make "polyaster."

Well, good luck and have fun with it. Write a business plan. Do your homework. Don't be afraid to fail.

Chatelaine said...

Thanks, John :)

I love "Father of the Bride"! Martin Short was my favorite in that movie :)

Good question about why aren't there other planners here. I'm sure there are planners in the city, however I'm an hour away from there, and there are more rural areas and small towns here than there are cities, so I could see that being part of the issue. Although, I know this area like the back of my hand, so I could use that to my advantage in making my business more regional in nature, than just local.

Common sense tells me to just forget this, but I find myself already forming a business plan in my mind.

TWC said...

That's the longest blog post you ever made.

The Wine Commonsewer said...

OK, Ms Chatalanina, here goes.

I have clients who are event planners as well as clients who are self-employed event planners.

Funniest one I ran across was an uber liberal event planner client of mine was planning a school choice event at which Lisa was a speaker. It was very surreal and it ended up that nobody acknowledged anyone else.

It is a lucrative market niche and I am quite certain that you're idea of living well is something that I'd enjoy. Cuz living well is, of course, the best revenge.

The key to all of this, particularly in a down market, is to keep your overhead down. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people blow tens of thousands of dollars on storefronts, advertising, leasehold improvements, etc, etc, etc, only to fold their tent and go file for bk a few months later.

Don't get a license, don't lease a building, don't form an LLC or a corporation, or file a dba, or any of the rest of that crap that they teach at the community college (classes courtesy of people who have never actually done it) until you've walked the streets, knocked on the doors, and worked the referrals.

I have every bit of faith that you are just the blond chick that can pull this off but the object is to make money. And you can't do that if you're saddled with overhead. Nobody is going to wander into your $6,000.00 a month storefront and beg you to take a check. You will be on the streets like some Fuller Brush salesman selling yourself.

And if you can paint the picture you will get it done.

Best of luck Blondie. There's a few of us in your corner.

Chatelaine said...

Good points, Twc. I was just reading an article at Entrepreneur about low overhead being key in times like these. The Captain brought it up as well when we were brainstorming, but I kind of brushed it off. Thinking twice about that now.

Although, if there was a way I could do it for low or no cost rent, then would it still be a bad idea? I'd have to scheme on that one, but it's not entirely impossible.

Here's the deal, though. My no nonsense work ethic, that my parents gave me and I thank them for every day, tells me it's a bullshit sounding way to make a living. But my more modern and out of the ordinary self tells me times have changed from 1966, and I've rarely done anything totally conforming to the traditional norm.

So I don't know. I just know that my town is unique, and I know a lot of people here, people that spend money, own businesses themselves, and tend to do business with people who do business with them.

Overall, I think I still have a lot of thought and research to do, and in the meantime it would be good to have a regular job to go with until I'm ready to take a plunge.

TWC said...

I laid off my employees, gave notice to the landlord, and packed up my file cabinets, books shelves, desk, and moved my office into the house right after tax season ended in 1987 or 1988. It was, without a doubt, the smartest move I ever made.

I was afraid that my clients wouldn't like that I didn't have an office nearby. I figured I'd get fired by most of them. So I made house calls. I didn't lose a single client, business or personal.

The way I see it, a planner is going to have to make house calls anyway to drum up business. The only alternative is a pile of cash for an office with a lot of appropriate foot traffic and exposure and a lot of expensive advertising. But in the end, there is no substitute for a dedicated person knocking on doors and asking for business.

That's where the dedication and work ethic will come into play to make you successful.

Now, I know where your folks are coming from. There are a lot of organizations that do not use event planners, including a rather well known libertarian think tank. They do all their events internally and they are very good at it and they save a ton of money as a result.

But, there is definitely a market for event planners and they are often paid well.

I cannot caution you strongly enough. Don't bet the farm, don't mortgage your house, don't make the same mistakes that I have seen people make time and time again.

Get the customers first, then the repeat customers and the referrals, then the steady growth, then the steady growth in the bank account, then think about the nice office downtown.

As an event planner you have to go to them anyway. Maybe not if your just doing weddings, but if your doing conferences.....

Chatelaine said...

Ok, I think I've talked myself out of it. It's just too risky right now. I might spend a year researching and maybe dabbling in it, get my name out there, and hit the streets. But I think I'll get another regular pay check for a while until I've made a dent in the idea.

Your advice is duly noted, Twc. It's all good stuff, not to mention realistic. I need that.

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

Hey, girl. Let me jump in here, late though I am.

Read through all the replies. Nobody is saying "no" to the event planner thing. Everybody is saying "NO!" to overhead and a storefront. You just really don't need it! All you're really going to be selling is yourself, anyway!

I think you'd be kick butt at this, you've got the personality, the savvy, and you're a pull yourself up by the bootstraps gal.

Try it! Surely you're on some type of unemployment? A perfect perfect perfect time to try it! Even on a part time basis!

E-mail me for advice...I can put on any event with my eyes closed AND pack the house. Shoots catering to 1400 shooters, golf tourneys, all sorts of things.
I have 20 years of experience of doing it FOR FREE. I'll help you do whatever you need, via long distance. Somebody might as well gain from my years of hard earned knowledge!

Chatelaine said...

Thanks, janie :)

I've still got your phone number, so I might be calling you soon. I do see everyone's point about the store front. I also think I've got a lot of research to do, not so much about the business itself, but the resources and customers around here.