3 Tips for Planning Your First Small Business Event

Business events are great promotional tools, for established businesses and for start-ups. Companies large and small use them for a multitude of reasons, including team building, product launches, networking, social functions or conferences.

If you’re contemplating holding your first event, you might be wondering where to start or what to include to make it a success. Here are three vital aspects which, once considered, will give you a good foundation to build on.

1/ Go it Alone or Hire a Professional Organiser?

A business event needs a lot of the same organisation as a private function, with a few extra, specialised features on top depending on the type of event. Most people underestimate the amount of planning and organisation that happens behind the scenes.

First things to consider include:

  • Reasons why you’re holding it – these will help you determine the type of people to invite.
  • What type and how big your venue should be.
  • The what, who, where and when of catering.
  • Activities during the event.
  • Daytime or evening? One day or running over several days?
  • Do you need power – should you hire a generator?
  • Health and safety, and insurance.

These points are a starting place, not an exhaustive list. Anyone organising a wedding soon realises the value of wedding planners when it comes to nailing all those small, important details, and it’s the same with events for business. If you’re organising everything yourself rather than hiring a professional organiser, gather a team of helpers and delegate tasks. Arrange regular meetings for updates.

2/ Choosing the Right Venue

The right venue can make or break your business event. Major considerations when deciding on the right venue include:

  • Size – can your chosen venue hold all the people you plan on inviting?
  • Venue layout and general suitability.
  • Parking and transport availability.
  • Location convenience if attendees will need overnight accommodation.
  • Technical support and venue management.
  • Performance areas if these are needed.

When choosing a venue, all the stakeholders’ needs are important, including emergency services, participants, clients, entertainers and performers, or speakers. When you know the facilities you need, visit and inspect several possible venues before making a final choice.

3/ Creating the Right Surroundings

Bearing the previous points in mind, the next step is setting your stage. This is a highly specialised area with many considerations. Not least of those considerations is health and safety, especially when large numbers of people are moving through the venue at the same time.

The type of staging needed will depend on the type of business event:

Seating

  • Banquet seating if you’re hosting a formal dinner.
  • Theatre seating if your event includes spoken or performed presentations. Tiered seating like this ensures everyone can see the stage.
  • Classroom seating if your event is educational or instructional.

A Physical Stage – Considerations include how large a stage you need, what type of lighting and sound, and how will you ensure all cabling is safe. If it’s an outdoor event, would a canopied dome help make the stage the centre of attention and focus?

Catwalks or Poles and Podiums – Are you having a fashion show? If so, you’ll need a catwalk and suitable seating for guests, plus possibly screening or quick-change facilities for models. Modular catwalk systems from professional staging companies provide a variety of sizes and shapes to suit all fashion show needs.

Barriers – Directing people and organising movement flow through a venue is often best achieved through erecting barriers along with appropriate signs. Custom made, purpose built barriers and fences are also useful for cordoning off areas, or indicating queueing directions.

And finally, when organising any event, time is a prime consideration. Think in terms of months rather than weeks for relatively small events. Large corporate events may be a year or more in the planning.

Image: Cozendo

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