Whether you’re new to the event industry, or you’ve been involved but want your own event rental company, there are some key steps you’ll need to complete before your business is ready to take on clients. These steps will help you to create a solid foundation for your event rental company to grow and get ahead of— or completely avoid— common pitfalls that new business owners encounter, such as over-promising but under-delivering, legal issues, and even the failure of your business. Trust us, it’s easier to get started right than it is to correct any of these kinds of issues later!
#1 - Create a business plan
Before you do anything else, you need to create a business plan when you start a party rental company. A solid business plan will help you pin down the goals/mission for your event rental company, your target market, your location, your budget, and your marketing plan. They’re also great for determining whether or not your business can be successful and illuminating any flaws in your plan. If you can’t make your business work on paper, it won’t work in the real world; so it’s time to rethink your plan.
Additional tasks to begin:
- Start thinking about your brand and marketing plan, including your website, logo, and which platforms you’d like to use. You don’t need to make any decisions about these yet (that comes later), but you should familiarize yourself with what’s available and what will (and won’t) suit your needs.
- Start creating your standard operating procedures, a.k.a. SOPs, for any processes you make for your company that you think you may need or use in the future. If you’re new to SOPs, you can read about them here.
- Start researching the inventory you’d like to purchase for your event rental company. You’ll want strong, durable pieces for your core inventory. Write down prices and create an estimated budget for your starting inventory.
#2 - Name your event business
Your business will need a name before you can register it. For best results, try to choose something that is easy to remember and to spell. If a potential client sees an advertisement in passing, you want your name to be something they can remember and look up later.
#3 - Make your event business official
It’s time to make it official!
To establish your event rental company, you’ll need to:
- Establish your business as a legal entity by registering as an LLC or corporation.
- Create any sales tax account(s) as appropriate for your location.
- Get an EIN.
- Research any licenses and permits you might need, as some may take some time to acquire.
- Find an attorney. You’ll want them to write up your contracts, terms and conditions, waivers, and other legal documents. We don’t recommend DIYing any legally binding documents you have your clients sign. Please do not skip this step.
- Contact your local small business association (SBA). They will have many free and low-cost resources available to help you get your event rental company up and running. If you’re struggling to create a cohesive business plan, they’ll also be able to offer some guidance. I have personally met with two different SBAs in two different states and they were both so helpful.
#4 - Get your finances in order
While there's lots of money to be made in the event industry, you may not be getting into it for that reason-- but you still need money if you want to keep your business running! When you created your business plan, you should have already created your Operating Budget and a Break Even Analysis. This will give you a solid idea of how much money you’ll need to start an event rental company. Don’t forget to include a working budget for purchasing your rental items!
You will need to:
- Get a business bank account and credit card
- Apply for financing (business loan, investors, etc.)
- Find a CPA. Like with contracts, we recommend outsourcing your accounting for your books. There’s simply too much risk involved for DIY.
- Get QuickBooks Online or some other accounting software
#5 - Establish your location
By this point, you may already have a warehouse and office building picked out. If not, now is a good time to make your decision. In addition to either buying or renting a location, you’ll need to:
- Get any applicable permits and licenses required by your state and county.
- Get insurance. Be prepared to create an itemized list of your company’s inventory, equipment, furniture, etc. for your insurance policy once you purchase your items.
#6 - Create an online presence
To maintain a successful event rental company, you need a website. Your clients already spend a lot of time online, and you should meet them where they are. Not only that, but a website will make shopping easier for your clients, build your brand, and help establish you as a reliable event company. Think about it-- would you rent from a company that didn’t have a website?
You’ll also want to sign your business up for accounts on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not only are social media platforms great, free tools for connecting with your target market, but they help establish your brand recognition and credibility. They are also essential for marketing and advertising. Even if you aren’t personally a big fan of social media, your clients definitely use them. Don’t skip out on this chance to reach them!
- Create a website
- DIY - we like Squarespace, Wordpress.com, and Weebly because of their ability to include different integrations of your choosing within your site. If you feel more confident in your website coding skills, you can also check out Wordpress.org, which is an open-source version of Wordpress.com.
- Hire a developer
- Create social media accounts
- Instagram is a great way to show off your inventory to your clients and potential clients. To learn how to up your Instagram game, check out this post.
- Many, many people use Facebook to connect with local businesses. If your event rental company isn’t on Facebook, you’re missing clients. There are also many groups for event pros that will be a great resource for anyone starting out.
- Twitter is a great platform to get bits of information out, fast. Because of this, it is essential for any business that does pop-up events. Are you a DJ who sometimes performs at local events or clubs? Advertise it— and don’t forget the hashtags!
#7 - Purchase event rental inventory
Now it’s time to purchase your inventory! This is also the perfect time to establish your inventory management system and get started with your inventory management software. If you’re unsure as to where to start, check out our in-depth guide to inventory management to make sure you start an event rental company on the right foot. You’ll want to check off all these boxes:
- Purchase inventory items
- Purchase a truck or van for transporting your inventory
- While you’re waiting for your inventory to arrive, do some research and decide how you’d like to manage your inventory, from storage to event and back again.
- Cleaning and repair
- Purchase your inventory management software
#8 - Create your Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs
Hopefully you’ve been documenting how you’d like things to run within your event rental company as you discover things— and if you’re new to SOPs, read more about them here. SOPs are game changers for any business at any size— yes, even for solo event pros. They establish expectations for your and you team and help keep all of your tasks, processes, and client interactions in line with your business’s missions and goals. Learn how to create SOPs here.
Type up your SOPs and have them easily accessible— no one will use them if they aren’t handy. Binders are great, but if you’d like to keep things digital, look into Dropbox or Google Drive (or store them handily within Goodshuffle Pro!). If you think you’ll rapidly outgrow Google Drive or Dropbox (we sure did!), check out our post on creating your SOPs for more ideas.
Documenting your processes now and then updating your SOPs as needed will make your processes easier than if you create them 3 years into your company, after you’ve already established some bad habits. As an added bonus, it will also make training much easier when you hire new employees.
#9 - Hire employees
Speaking of training new employees, it’s time to hire! In your business plan, you will have already outlined the skills you're looking for in your employees; now all you have to do is write up some ads and post them online.
It’s easy to make hiring mistakes when you’re only looking at someone’s resume and interview. Make sure you screen your potential employees on social media in addition to looking at their resume. It’s easy enough to train new skills, but you can’t change someone’s personality, and their social media will give you a better idea of who they are.
#10 - Open your doors and accept clients
You’re ready to accept clients!
You will continue to evolve, develop new strategies, and find new ways to tackle challenges that come your way. Keeping your inventory organized, maintaining your SOPs, and keeping your website and social media up to date will ensure you start an event rental company that will stay on track for success!