Things you need to know if you are starting out in events
- How do I build my own event?
Start by reading The Lean Start Up. We have built many of our own events and in retrospect we started them by investing too much cash. One of the benefits of social media is that you can create a brand and target an audience before you have built the actual event. Design and conceptualise the event and get it out on to as many platforms as possible to see if people are interested in what you are offering. If yes, press on. If no, don’t give up straight away. Change your offering and see if that attracts the market you want. The key is to spend as little money as possible building an awareness of your event and creating a following. This is the exact opposite of what most people do when starting out – they book a date, hire suppliers, and they start building the event. Only then do they start trying to market the event. You need to do it the other way around.
- How do I find a sponsor?
If we had received R100 every time someone told us that we should get a sponsor – we wouldn’t ever need to work again! It’s a catch 22 situation, you will need the sponsor because you need to fund your event, but sponsors want to see the event happening before they partner with an event. If it’s a new event, the sponsor will want to see the track record of the company who own and run the event – if they have built successful events in the past then the sponsor will be interested.
Sponsorship is about relationships. Companies are unlikely to give sponsorship or backing to people they don’t know or whom they have just met. If you have no track record and no connections, then you need to aim low at first by asking for stock or partnership deals. You are wasting your time asking for a big sponsorship, especially a big cash sponsorship.
You also need to build a following for your event or brand (social media is excellent for this) because then you can show potential sponsors that you have something to offer and that people want the event you want to build. Start building your brand and your following now and work at this non-stop. Not only will this make you more appealing to potential sponsors, it will also give you a good idea about the possible success or failure of your project.
- What can go wrong?
It doesn’t help to focus on all the things that could go wrong when starting a business or an event because no one would ever start anything. However, there are 2 things that should be considered.
Firstly, what is the financial worst-case scenario? You need to know exactly what the financial situation is and plan accordingly. Don’t build an event for R100k when you only have an overdraft of R10k. Never assume that ticket sales or sponsorship will cover costs. Many organisers have been badly burned and have not been able to recover because they had big goals but no money to build their dream. Work out exactly how much money you can get your hands on and then build your event accordingly. Manage your financial worst-case scenario.
Secondly, always take health and safety and insurance extremely seriously. Things go wrong and people can get injured. That’s just the nature of the beast when running an event. Never cut costs or corners when it comes to safety and security for both your staff and guests. Its something that is hard to recover from from a brand perspective and can lead to crippling debt if you get sued.
Manage your cash limits by working out what you are prepared to lose (you will call this your investment later!) and always look after your people.