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This Caterer Wants to Be an Event Planner. Our Experts Suggests Some First Steps.

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My family runs a catering business and we'd like to expand into event management. In addition to telling our current clients about the new services, how should we proceed?

Branching out from your current catering business into the world of event planning will take a multi-pronged approach.

First off, get talking. Reach out to your current network of suppliers and your local chamber of commerce. You'll want to get a sense for where the gaps are in your local market to give you ideas on how you should position yourself. This will help you decide whether you should explore coordinating product launches and corporate meetings or put your stamp on specialized events like weddings or fashion shows. You'll also want to know if there are any rules or regulations you'll need to follow as you expand your business.

Don't forget trade groups, such as the International Special Events Society or Meeting Professionals International. They can get you oriented with networking events to connect you to experts in the industry and potential clients. These organizations also offer certificate programs that can train you on the field's finer points and help you present yourself as a professional. Whether or not you pursue certification, you might review the curriculum to see if there are skill gaps that you should be filling.

Related: Wining and Dining to Grow Your Business and Brand

Don't overinvest in this side of the business until you're sure you understand what's required. Line up a few small, low-profile events to test your mettle, even doing some pro-bono work if you need to. See these events as trial-runs to help you understand what you'll need for your expansion in terms of staffing, transportation and other resources. If you choose to proceed into event planning, you can use photos from these events and testimonials to build your credibility.

Once you're ready to launch this side of your business, don't just add a new bullet point to your website and brochures. Host an event that showcases your talents and new capabilities. Invite past customers and local influencers such as business owners, politicians, and local celebrities who can help you spread the word. Get creative and remember to hustle – this new service will need the same time and attention that your original business received when it was just getting established.

Related: 10 Must-Have Tech Tools for Producing Better Live Events

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