Tips and Pitfalls Event Startups

Many people dream about having their own event company. But whether you want to start as a DJ, agency or catering company, you have to deal with the start-up of your event business and the dozens of pitfalls that are best avoided. Greet Bunnens shares the most important ones.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Many people dream about having their own event company. But whether you want to start as a DJ, agency or catering company, you have to deal with the start-up of your event business and the dozens of pitfalls that are best avoided. Greet Bunnens shares the most important ones. 


Hi Greet, welcome to our studio.   


Thank you for having me.  


Today we're going to talk about starting your own event business. But there are some pitfalls. What are the things we need to take care of?   


Well actually starting a business is quite stressful, and we need to take care of some elements. I've started two companies, really. And that's why I decided to have a look at: "what are the do's and the don'ts?" And one of the don'ts is: never starting.  


Yeah, always waiting... "It's not the time for me to start yet". Feeling insecure. Those kinds of things?   


Indeed yeah, being afraid of some big monsters. "What if I start and I'm not a success? What if I fail? What if people won't like me?" And of course, as you are mentioning: "I have this secure job and what about all the stability that I'm gonna miss? The security? the safety of the job environment, the colleagues, et cetera". So we are focusing on what we will miss instead of focusing on what we will gain and that's a pity.  


When you talk to business owners, they all agree that starting their own business was the best decision they ever made. So there is something good in it. Why don't we just start with it?   


Yeah just do it, I mean that's the first pitfall. Why not start? I love being an entrepreneur and I bet you do too. So we don't want to go back. So why are we being so afraid to start our businesses? And indeed it's a little bit scary, but there's so much to gain there on the other side of security.  


So if you have a good business idea, just do it, like Nike would say?   


Yeah, I would say: "just do it". Okay, maybe think about it. Talk to two people and see to it that you have a good market for your services. But on the other hand: just do it, yeah. And the second one, what would that be? Well, there's actually a couple of pitfalls that I wanted to talk about, but as I'm talking about the market and a target audience, I think that that is also a very important thing.  


How do you mean that?   


Well, we can't do everything for everybody. If we have a business idea and we want to become an authority in our field, in our domain, then we have to be an expert somewhere, which means that we have to focus on a certain niche. Or a certain target audience and certain service that you will deliver. If you try to do everything for everybody, that's just too difficult, for marketing and communication reasons but also you will never become the authority in your field. And that's why I would like to say: "focus on your target audience, and try to find a niche, really".  


But that will also mean that you need to decline some clients.   


Yeah, possibly. I mean I don't say that you have to decline everybody, but if it's really on the opposite side of what you were thinking of as a target audience, then I would say: "yeah, it's better to say 'no' today, and turn your audience into the audience that you are looking for, really focusing your attention on your specific market, than wasting your time and energy and possibly money on a client that is really not a good fit in your business model.  


And if we're talking about energy, then we come at the third pitfall. And that's not trying to do everything yourself.   


Indeed yeah, that's an important pitfall that lots of starting entrepreneurs face, because we don't want to spend too much money on outsourcing tasks, et cetera. And still it is a good idea to focus on your core business. What are you good at? And that's your business really, the event planning, et cetera. And also the marketing and the sales. That's something that you have to do. But all the operational stuff like putting stamps on an envelope, et cetera: I bet that's not your business and that's not the thing that you are best at, so why not just outsource that and find maybe a virtual assistant, who can do that for you so you can focus on the important things that gain money, instead of doing all the operational stuff... Don't try to do everything by yourself, because you can't do everything by yourself. You are not good at everything, so why not focus on the things that are really important? And the rest... Let's delegate or automate or delete.  


That sounds good. Okay, so what about sales?   


Yeah sales, that's I think number 4 that I wanted to cover. A lot of entrepreneurs that I meet are afraid of selling, they are afraid of sales, they are afraid of being seen as some salesy person. And that's a pity because you cannot do business if you are afraid to sell. Okay you might outsource that...  


It's quite crucial for the business to survive.   


Yeah, it is. So you might outsource that, but really having your own sales skills is important. And don't be afraid of it. There are so many ways of selling your services and your product, in a way that is not salesy, in a way that is very authentic. And it's called for instance connective selling, where you have a different conversation with your potential client. It's not at all selling, it's soft sales. It's not hard sales and the cold-calling. And that can actually be fun, if you know how to do that. It doesn't have to be extremely scary or whatever.  


The last one: it's about the work/life balance?   


Yes indeed, that's a very important one. That was a difficult one. It still is a difficult one for me. As I've said, I've created two companies, so that means a lot of work. And what I saw for myself also is that I was working, working, working... Which is good on the one hand, because I love my job, so that's a good thing, but you have to be very careful, because we don't want a burn-out, we don't have the time to have a burn-out.  


Indeed. How do you do it yourself? How do you make sure there's time in your schedule to be free?   


Well, actually I have started with a special morning routine. So every morning now I get up very early: at 6 o clock. I used to get up at 8 or 9 o clock. So the last year I get up at 6 o clock, and I have my morning routine, I take time for myself. I go walk with my dogs, I read a good book, I have my journal, I look at my agenda what I'm gonna do, but also what the things are what I'm planning to do and what things I've already done, what made me feel successful. But it's me-time. And for 1,5-2 hours I also exercise, work out, et cetera. So these things are really me-time, and it helps me to slow down. Meditation is also part of that morning routine. Slow down, take time for yourself, for your friends and your family. And then after these 1,5-2 hours, I'm really: "whoop, okay let's go!" And I'm ready to rock.  


Thank you very much for sharing these experiences with us.  


Thank you very much and thanks for having me.  


You're welcome. And you at home: Thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!