In today's day and age, people are starting to learn that a 9-5 paycheck simply won't cut it, especially if you are supporting a family. If you want to stop worrying yourself to death about whether or not your current paycheck will last until the end of the month, you need to find other ways to earn an income.
Starting a side business is always a good option – not only does it supplement your income, but it helps you forge connections and learn unique skills and abilities. One popular option for wannabe entrepreneurs is a party rental business.
Since you're here reading this article, chances are you've already thought about setting one up and all you need is a little push towards the right direction and a healthy dose of information to go along with it. Well, you've come to the right place! Here you'll find all the information you need on how to start a party planning business, from drafting your business plan to growing your party rental business, and everything in between.
Advantages of Starting A Party Rental Business
Now before we move on to the “how to start a party rental company” part of this guide, first let's get you motivated. Most business ideas start on a whim, and you are probably not an exception. Maybe the idea of setting up a party rental business came to you while you were browsing the Internet, or maybe it was brought up in passing in a conversation with friends.
Right now, you may still have some doubt in your mind as to whether or not this is a good match for your current lifestyle. You may even have doubts regarding its earning capacity. Well here's a list of reasons why starting a party rental business is a great idea to help keep you motivated. If, during any point of your journey, you start feeling doubts, you can always just come back here for a healthy dose of inspiration.
- You're the boss! - That's right, if you've been an employee for a number of years, you know how stressful it is to work for “the man” every single day. Starting your own party rental business, or any business for that matter, puts you in the top position. Yes, it also means that you take responsibility for the mishaps as well, but at least there's nobody to take credit for your achievements or tell you off for having an extra cup of coffee on a particularly busy afternoon.
- It's a “Grow As You Go” business - Unlike other businesses, you don't need to have a huge starting capital to start a party rental business. You can start small, and just expand accordingly as your customer base grows.
- You Can Run It Part-time – If you're nervous about leaving your day job because your venture might turn out to be a flop, don't worry. When you're starting out, bookings will be few, and you don't need to quit your day job to run the business, especially if you have hired help.
Determining Your Customer Base
Now the first step on how to start a party business is determining the demand for this particular industry. The demand for your party rental services also depends on what services you're willing to offer. Do you want to focus more on residential events like parties? Or do you also want to cater to businesses?
- You current connections – When you're starting out, consider everyone you know as potential customers. As you go along, you'll steadily earn your reputation and get more request from total strangers. As a beginner, you need to make sure everyone you know is aware of your party rental business. Neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers will make up your initial customer base.
- Parents – Although adults don't always splurge on birthday celebrations, parents will always throw parties for their little ones.
- Businesses - Market your offerings to local business in your area as soon as possible. Corporate events are always more lucrative compared to private ones.
Aside from determining your target market, you should also consider their purchasing power. A housewife will not have the same budget for events as company officials do. With this in mind, start planning out the different services your business will provide. You can create extravagant packages for large business events, and create a budget one for small, private parties.
Creating A Business Plan
There's no such thing as “winging it” when it comes to starting your own business. This is why when you're talking about how to open a party rental business, there's always a business plan involve. Business plans are not only there to help you organize your business setup, in some states a business plan is required by law in order to secure a permit.
When drafting your business plan
make sure you have the following points:
- Company Name – Your business name and the brand it represents.
- Mission Statement – includes your company's goals, methodology and what you hope to be known for in due time.
- Products and Services – a summary of the different services your business will provide. Include all proposed packages and standalone services. Determine the limitations of your offerings. Do you simply rent out the party equipment or would you offer additional services like catering and party favor? Will your company also shoulder the transportation and setting up of the equipment?
- Financing – should include a detailed plan on how you will finance your business and accumulate assets.
- Market Analysis – before embarking on your journey of setting up your own party rental business, it's best to conduct a feasibility study to ensure its profitability. This is where you give the results of your analysis, plus a market forecast to predict sales.
- Customer Profile – Your intended customer base.
- Competitive Analysis – It's important to scout out the competition when starting your own business. How many competitors do you have in your local area? How long have they been in the business? How will you make your own business stand out?
- The Organizational Chart – The team behind the business.
Pro-tip: When you're starting out, you might not have enough funds to employ workers. You can remedy this by asking for help from your family or friends, or better yet, convince them to invest in the business as your partners!
Insurance Is Everything
Any business that deals with lots of equipments, resources and assets should always have insurance. While it may not seem like such a big deal at the beginning, as you acquire more equipment, the need to insured them becomes larger. After all, it's how you earn your income.
So what should you look for when it comes to insurance. For one, make sure to secure your equipment with general liability insurance. When scouting for potential insurance companies, make sure to take the following into consideration:
- The extent of the coverage – what will the insurance policy cover? Does it only apply to your tables or chairs, or does it include inflatables, beverage machines and umbrellas?
- The limit of the coverage – this entails how much money you can get out of your insurance.
- Protected clauses – as a general rule, make sure your insurance policy covers fire damage, vandalism, and theft. Most companies don't offer waterlog and flood damage to the list, so if your services include inflatable water slides and such, you may need a separate policy for that.
- Affected situations – this is where it all gets fuzzy, because most insurance companies only cover any casualties that occur during the event, meaning your stuff isn't protected in transit or in your care. What if your beloved popcorn machine gets stolen while it is inside storage? Ensure that your policy counts for all locations where disasters can happen, not just the event itself.
- Worker's compensation – Aside from your party equipment, your workers are also considered a valuable resource. Take note that most insurance policies only cover everyone associated with the business, meaning you, your workers and even volunteers. Sub-contractors are not included in the list.
Pro-tip: Some insurance companies partner with retail companies to give better service in coverage. For example, an insurance company might give you a better deal if you were purchasing your party rental equipment from specific providers.
Get Legal With It
One of the most vital steps on how to start a party needs business that you simply cannot miss is acquiring the necessary permits to run your business. While it varies depending on what state you're from, here are the basic permits you need to get before you get the show on the road.
- Business Tax Permit Registration – First of all, you will need a business license, otherwise known as occupational license or business permit. This proves that you have the right to operate a party rental business as mandated by your local government.
- Doing Business As (DBA) Permit – Any business name or trade name must be registered for it to be considered as legit. This is also where you identify your business model – it can either be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or an LLC.
- Federal Tax ID Permit – All business pay taxes, which is why an EIN is a must. Also, you need this permit when hiring and paying your employees.
- Wholesale License/Seller's Permit – you might not see the point in applying for a seller's permit, since you're the buyer of wholesale goods. However, any party that is involved in wholesale purchase or sale must have a permit, regardless of whether you're the buyer or seller. And as we know, as a party rental business, you'll be doing a lot of bulk purchases for tables, chairs, and party favors.
Aside from general liability insurance and worker's compensation, you should also look into payment protection insurance and risk insurance. Payment protection will help cover any monthly expenses like loans, mortgages and credit payments if you find yourself unable to operate your business due to circumstances covered by this policy.
To incorporate a business in the USA, you need to shell out around $750. You may also want to set aside around $5,000-$6,000 for licenses, permits and insurance-related costs. To ensure that processing of your permits and licenses go smoothly, you need to have the following documentation:
- Memorandum of Understanding
- Notarial and Authentication
- Employment Agreement
- Insurance Policy
- Security Clearance Certificate
- Operating Agreement
- Business Bylaws
Pro-tip: Want to boost your professionalism in your industry? Take the Certified Event Rental Professional examination to bolster your reputation. Although it's not mandatory, it can serve as proof that your services are well and above CERP's standards.
How To Get Capital
Before we go further in this guide on how to start a party shop business, we need to discuss something that's equally more important: how to get capital. After all, no matter how grand your dreams and plans for your business, if you don't have the necessary funding to back it up, all your dreams will go to waste.
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest advantages to starting a party rental shop is you can go as you grow. You don't need a lot of money to start a rental business. However, money is still necessary, especially if you plan on setting up shop in a physical location.
- Savings – Truth be told, nobody simply wakes up in the morning and goes, “You know what? Today is a great day to start a business!”. Anybody who's ever dreamt of starting a business has done so for a long time. Surely by now you'd have saved up enough money to get you started.
- Investments - Experts say that all employees should think about investing their money, because nowadays, even permanent positions don't live up to their name. Investments are better than just putting your money in the bank.
- Informal Loans – An informal loan is just the politically correct way of saying “asking money from your family or friends”. You can even ask them to invest, as long as you don't mind sharing the business with a few partners. If you are too shy to ask money, but still don't want to resort to bank loans, you can try peer-to-peer loans, which are given by charitable organizations and private individuals.
- Short-Term Loans – short-term loans are great if you need a quick, monetary injection. I specifically said short-term loans because they are easier to pay-off, and the repayment period is shorter as well. Short-term loans also have faster processing times and are more lenient when it comes to requirements. You can take out a loan against your salary via payday loans, or you can use your vehicle as collateral.
- Government programs – Some local governments encourage the entrepreneurial mindset. See if your local government has funding programs for small to medium businesses.
Equipment, Items and Tools
No “how to start a party supply business” guide would be complete without a run-down of all the basic tools that you will need to start your party rental business. Your rental equipment is your bread and butter – your business literally depends on it. Here are some tools that will help you gather all the necessary items you'll need for your business.
- Start small – It's always better to under-buy your equipment rather than over-buy. There's nothing wrong with being ambitious, but you also have to think about your budget. For starters, your party rental business will need the basics: Party tents, folding chairs and tables will do just fine. You can start expanding as soon as you gain more customers and get various requests.
- Always buy in bulk – While you never want to purchase any equipment before you actually need to, it's a good thing to always buy what you know you'll need in bulk. Party favors, banners, chairs and tables – all of these are ridiculously cheap when bought in bulk.
- Rent equipment – You don't even need to buy all the equipment you need for your next party. Yes, maybe one day you'll have your own tables, tents and chairs complete with your company logo, but for now you can always just rent the individual items, and then rent them out as an entire party package. Rent-ception!
- Build relationships with suppliers – Consider your suppliers as your lifeline. If you build good working relationships with them, you'll get a lot of perks such as discounts on your purchases. You'll also be able to order anything in advance, so even if they don't have what you need in stock right now, they'll go and procure one for you.
- Partner up – It's hard to offer the full package when it comes to party handling. Consider finding partners in relevant industries to help you fulfill all your client's needs. For example, if all you can provide is the venue, seating, and shelter, but your client wants food, you can team up with a local catering service to seal the deal. In the same manner, you may also want to look for providers of inflatable slides, bouncy castles, audio equipment, lights, food stalls, clowns, musical bands, karaoke machines and many more!
Aside from equipment, you need to think about two major areas if you plan on making it big someday: storage and transportation. Renting is fine, but actually owning the equipment you're using gives you more security. What if the items you need are already booked for somebody else on the same day? At least if you're using your own equipment, availability is not a problem. If you plan on purchasing a lot of equipment, you need to find a safe and secure storage facility.
Transportation is another important factor. No client would take on a party rental company that doesn't transport their own equipment. And renting a mover truck each and every time you have an event can get pretty expensive. Purchasing your own light truck or van to take care of your party rental needs is a great investment.
Advertising Your Business
Now, how to start a party store business is just half of the equation. The more difficult part is growing and expanding it. I know right now you're still in the planning stages of your business, and you may not think that marketing is an important aspect just yet.
However, there's no such thing as starting too early. As soon as you start your business, you need to think of ways on how to spread the word. Here are some easy, tried-and-tested ways on how to market your business without spending too much money.
- Social Media – Almost all business, even small ones, have accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Social media is the easiest way to advertise, thanks to modern technology. Instead of standing by the corner, handing out flyers all day, all you need to do is create accounts on social media platforms, add your friends and family and convince them to share and like your account on their account. If you're lucky, their friends will see it, like it and share it on their accounts too!
- Trade fairs and exhibits – Community events are always a good opportunity for furthering your business. If you have the money for it, set up a stall to showcase your services. Even if you don't have money, it's okay. Milling around, mingling with the people from your community is a good enough way to let them know you're open for business.
- Online Forums and Communities – Hang out in online communities and forums that cater to your industry. Ask questions, answer some, share you insight with the rest of the community. It makes you look like an expert on the subject and will bolster your reputation quickly.
- Directories – Have your business listed in both the online and offline Yellow Pages.
- Paid Advertisement – Once you have enough money for it, it never hurts to put an ad on business magazines, radio stations and even on TV.
- Print Out Business Cards – Don't be shy about advocating your business aggressively. Print out a bunch of business cards and go around your community. Leave your business card in retail stores, hotels, schools, government offices, and other businesses.
Starting Your Party Rental Business At Home
Another major advantage to starting your own party rental business is that you can do it from the comforts of your own home. Even regular housewives and regular employees know how to start a party rental business from home because of its simplicity. If you're debating whether or not you should forego your office space and settle for your comfortable home, here are some points you should keep in mind.
- You can save money on rent and utility expenses.
- You don't need to travel to your workplace everyday, so you save on gas and time.
- You can take calls and make business decisions in your pajamas!
- Some clients see it as an unprofessional setting
- It's far away from your other facilities like storage (unless you have a large storage shed in your own home)
- If you have kids and a lot of household responsibilities, it might distract you from your work.
There's not a lot of difference between working in the office and working at home. You still have to go through the same processes explained in this guide. However, there are some things you need to take care of in addition to what's mentioned above if you choose to set your home up as your main office. Here are some ways on how to start a party supply business from home specifically:
- Aside from the licenses and permits mentioned before, you also need to apply for a home occupation license.
- Working from home usually means more online transactions and correspondence. In that case, you need to protect yourself with a Cyber Liability Insurance. This is especially important if clients give you important personal information through online correspondence, and if you have your business set up for online payments.
- Social media is even more important for “work at home” setups. Consider getting professional help on building your website, search engine optimization, online advertising and other things. You may also need to hire a moderator who'll oversee and keep your social media accounts active for you.
So there you have it! Today we showed you not only how to start a tent rental business, but how to grow and maintain it. Also, we showed you how to start a party rental business from home and how different it is from the traditional party rental business.
Although we hope that the information we imparted today will give you a head start on your new venture, we also know that the best way to learn is through experience and trial and error. Remember, even if party rental businesses are easy compared to other ventures, it's still a long, arduous process that requires your patience and determination.
Don't worry if business is slow at first, or if you make a lot of mistakes on your first contract. The important thing is that you work on it and keep trying. Trust us, the benefits you reap will be well worth the effort.