My Top 5 Lessons from becoming an Event Coordinator and Entrepreneur
Lately, I've had several people ask me what it's like to be an event planner and what I’ve learned since I started working for myself. I thought I’d share some no frills lessons in hopes that it will help some of you just starting out.
1. First of all, my number one lesson is one of the most important things I emphasize with every new and aspiring planner I connect with, and one of the most expensive lessons I learned: There is no certification or degree you MUST have to become an event planner. I know, I know, but there are so many that come up in your google search how to become an event planner! Tons of schools and options for getting certified! But I'm here to tell you: hold off before you hit the purchase button! The industry is filled with bogus courses and certifications - at first they can seem pretty legitimate, but when you really get going, you realize how many are just trying to earn a quick buck off your inexperience. Courses don't pay - Your experience does. Be really careful about how you choose to spend your money on professional development. Not all courses or certifications are created equally. Education is important; specific event planning skills are vital. There are plenty of vetted, great options available to you if you want to learn even more, but you don't HAVE to in order to get started or be a successful planner. Whatever you do, don't repeat my mistake of spending thousands on courses and certificates that have been useless to me (even when I was in a corporate role, and more useless now that I work for myself)!
2. You DO need to know what resources are legitimate and how to enhance your experience and earn credibility the most efficient and helpful way. I’m talking general industry associations that are well established and vetted. Meeting Planners International (MPI) and the International Live Events Association (ILEA) are two good ones to check out. Also, stay connected with helpful peers. Avoid the groups filled with event planners who are trying to pitch services or who are just plain downers (you know the ones- “you can’t do that” or “why would you ask that” ones who make you feel less than or stupid).
3. Build your business model and work processes based on what you love. Mine need some reassessment. Lately, I've felt pigeonholed into "my expertise" versus what I actually love. I'm making adjustments as we speak- writing this was part of that process! Pivot when you feel that way- Make adjustments as needed. Time has flown by even more now that I fully work for myself. It's important to recognize when something is not quite right in your business. When it feels off. But the most important thing when you find that is to assess and redirect yourself. Take a break if you have to- don't give up.
4. Find your tribe. No one will understand you better. Most will think you're insane. Especially if you're leaving a steady well paying job with benefits, hell any job for that matter to work for yourself. You need to find those people who just get it. They get you. They ARE you. They are out there. There are also haters everywhere. People will discount you - they'll say how easy and fun it must be to “plan parties.” They will question your education and credentials (not even knowing what’s relevant). I've even had people tell me it must be nice to not really have to work... Don’t let other peoples’ ignorance bother you. Keep trucking. The rest of us know what it takes to pull off that amazing event!
5. Self care is the holy grail of entrepreneurship. I know, I know, you've heard it a million times. Self care this, self care that. But seriously guys, self care has made the biggest difference in my experience as an entrepreneur. When I focused more on everyone else’s experience before my own, I found myself overwhelmed, exhausted, and just plain burned out. I took almost two years off to recuperate and it was only when I started to put myself first and serve from my overflowing cup that I actually started making noticeable progress. Experiences are everything in events, but you have to remember to support your own experience first!