Hors D'oeuvres, anyone? Small business advice for planning your next event.

Author:Miranov, Aaron
Position:SMALL BIZ BEAT
 
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Kinda like how "there's no wrong way to eat a Reese's," there is no wrong way to creatively plan an event or meeting. However, it's important to keep in mind that the basic guidelines of planning an event are great delusions of simplicity at first glance. The event's purpose, goals, budget, date and location may be the standard bearers of whether an event will be successful. It seems the best event planners give preeminent attention to even the smallest of details to go above and beyond their clients' expectations.

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A tight economy can make things even more of a challenge when trying to deliver the perfect event for a client. That said, thinking outside the box is common practice for the professional event planner. "We've held corporate events in barns, indoor riding stables, on small fishing boats, Tiffany's (and yes, it was a breakfast) and certainly historic venues and museums that people, while they are aware they exist, just never seem to be able to find the time to see on their own," says D. Stafford Nelson of Planit Michigan. "At one event, we used colorful paper for linens, provided crayons on the tables and centerpieces were baskets of fruit - a take-with treat that everyone loved," Nelson continued.

Carol Galle of Special D Events has her own unique way of purchasing decor and meeting a client's budget while still obtaining a high level of quality. Galle has used Web sites such as Craig's List and freecycle.com to garnish venues.

Will it go as planned?

There are various speed-bumps, hurdles, obstacles - sometimes mountains - preventing your event from going as smoothly as possible. The variable that defines event planning limitations is the budget. "As creative professionals, we have an abundance of 'wow' ideas, but they are not always cheap. It's very satisfying, however, when we find ways to tweak a 'wow' idea and make it work within a client's budget," Galle said.

Sometimes the most fatal obstacles are those totally out of your control. Weather and Murphy's Law are the two biggest challenges for Event Planning Solutions, according to Laura Lovelace, director of operations. Quite a double-whammy when both of those are working against you! As a precautionary measure for outdoor events, it may be best to have a tent or patio area for shelter to avoid the pesky rain or the occasional abundance of sunshine. Obviously, this isn't a viable option for all outdoor event cases. The extra precaution never hurts. But...

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