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					Written by Aaron Miranov
Monday, July 07 2008
Small business advice for planning your next event
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.




                                                               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 décor 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 if
shelter isn't possible, don't worry; the weather will change in 20 minutes (we're in Michigan!).
Location, location, location
Ever been torn between hosting an event downtown or in the suburbs? The professionals surely have their feelings
on the pros and cons of each. ‘Location, location, location,' may be as universally prominent with event planners as
it is with real estate. "It is important to look at the nature of the function, geographic locations of invitees and ease
of use with the facility or location of the event," says Lovelace. Every event has its own stipulations of what might
make the better scene.

Usually hosting an event at the typical convention hall, restaurant or hotel is the most convenient choice. But that's
pretty boring. Sorry, it just is. So dub one of your lids your official "thinking cap" and pleasantly surprise your clients
by veering off from the status quo! Professional event planners have their own preferred venues. Galle prefers a
blank slate to really get the creative juices going. "Our clients suggest and promote ideas and situations that are
amazing."

And Lovelace said, "One of the most important roles we have is to listen to those ideas and make them happen."

John Forte, president of Forte and Belanger catering, has his own story to tell when it comes to working events.
The catering industry is up-and-coming with more corporations taping catering companies to work their events.
Forte states there are two big obstacles when catering an event. First: securing a final guest count when there are
many last minute RSVPs. Second: not being able to secure a liquor license for social and corporate special events
because the State of Michigan does not provide "off-premise" licensing, thus creating some confusion.



A Different Technique
Everyone hopes for the best when it comes to their events. But event planners may want to borrow a technique 90
percent of CEOs successfully practice, "right to left thinking." The "right to left thinking" technique is envisioning
your preferred outcome and how you will get there. By envisioning step-by-step how to attain the ideal outcome of
your event, you'll likely grasp many small but necessary details that were previously overlooked. Hey, if it works for
9 out of ten CEOs, then this is guaranteed to work for you!*

				
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