Just a few days after I successfully reached the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro I was asked to become involved in a student conference and share some ideas on how students could start an event business. Rather than use a traditional PowerPoint approach I decided to use some of the equipment I had taken on my climb as props to illustrate points for my talk.
Binoculars and Your Vision
What is your vision for your business? Do you want a business that pays for your lifestyle or do you want to go bigger and employ staff and run an office or series of offices?
What is the product/service that you will provide? What will make you different and why will people buy from you? Use those binoculars to see what your competition is doing and keep a keen eye on what else is going on politically, legally and socially that could impact your business. For example, Pharmaceutical event planning could be your dream business but you will need to know all the Regulatory requirements before you are ready to trade.
What’s the size of the opportunity (market) and how will you tackle it?
Boots and Your Business Personality
On the mountain whilst climbing Kilimanjaro our boots were our most prized possession, after all you cannot walk well or at all in the boots of someone else. And you have to walk at your own pace.
It’s the same in business, you have to let people know what you stand for, what is the signature or personality of your business? What pace will you move at?
Walking in your own personality (boots) means that you will always be yourself and people will respond to that. Don’t try and copy and be another business. People will see straight through you if you do.
Trekking Poles and your Support
I would not have been able to make the successful summit of Kilimanjaro without the use of my trekking poles. They were a major piece of kit that was needed to be successful.
Have a think about what support you will need for your business?
In terms of people, who do you need and what will they do for you? In looking at equipment to get the work done, what will you need and how will you make sure it all works well together?
Wearing a Different Hat for Different People
On my trip I had various hats for all sorts of situations, e.g. keeping the sun out or wrapping up warm with a balaclava. And in the same way you will need to adopt different stances when you meet your prospective clients, your suppliers and your ambassadors.
Everyone will need to understand what your business stands for but you will naturally find that you have a slightly different style with each of these important parties to your business. There are many other people you will come into contact with but always take an interest in everyone and you will find people will take an interest in your business.
Coffee flask – Open it up and smell the coffee
There will be times when not everything falls into place as smoothly as you like or need.
You may need to re-visit an idea or concept following feedback from a focus group or you may need to replace original suppliers as new players have come onto the scene and they would be better for your business.
Whatever your challenge is, the coffee flask signifies a need to take a reality check and look at your business from an objective point of view. It really is time to open the flask and smell the coffee.
Journal your Business Records
Business records before you begin trading are crucial. The earlier you get in the habit of keeping receipts and business papers the better it will be for you and your Accountant. The more control you have over your paperwork the more time you will be able to spend on working on your business.
Keep all bank statements, appoint an accountant, decide on your filing systems, prepare the letterhead for your invoices and set up an invoice numbering system. These are some of the items you can deal with before your doors open for trade. Don’t forget to keep the Tax authorities up to date with your business as it develops.
Take your Camera and Start Collecting Photos and start marketing
A Camera is an invaluable piece of equipment in your tool kit. It always surprises me that there are so few photos of conferences and exhibitions. They really are in short supply and over the years I have carried a camera and started building up my own library of images. You can build up your supply of photos and then you will have images for your website.
In the pre-launch mode of starting your business you will need to write the copy for your website, decide on the layout of your site, decide what the objectives of your website are and include those photos that you have taken.
It’s important to market your business and explain what you offer before you officially launch. Make the most of every opportunity you have to enable you to have the best possible route to success as you head to starting your event business.