Silicon Valley entrepreneur S. Sidney Young wants to make one thing perfectly clear: She's not a party planner. "My goal is to make the work force at a company more of a team," explains the 28-year-old event planner, who specializes in corporate parties. "[My job is] to help employers communicate that [sense of connection]."
After earning a degree in public relations and working in the PR industry for five years, Young realized her experience had positioned her well to go it on her own. She found her target market when she noticed a trend in the high-tech Mecca: runaway employee attrition. "The turnover rate [in Silicon Valley] is phenomenal," says Young. "It's the-grass-is-always-greener syndrome. One of my key messages to employers is, 'We can make the grass green here.' "
Earlier this year, Young launched her business, dedicated to detail, from her Burlingame, California, home. Off and running with six clients on the books, she looks at every client as having repeat potential: "My goal is to become completely integrated into [my clients'] internal communications programs," she says.
Creative enthusiasm like Young's is key to successful event planning, says industry expert Brenda Rezak, president of Affairs To Remember in New York City. "Event planning is extremely competitive, so you have to make yourself stand out," says Rezak, who suggests active involvement in community affairs (such as board directorships) to create a "gets-the-job-done" reputation. The fastest-growing niche on the event planning horizon, says Rezak, is fund-raising events for nonprofit organizations.
Leaving a high PR salary behind to become an entrepreneur means it isn't about the money. Says Young, "It's about freedom."