My best friend and I set up an events planning business a while ago. We have only had one small job which for someone else. About 3 weeks ago, I got a text from her saying exactly this “Hey Babe!! We have got a definite job with a £50,000 budget!!! Start working x”. When I saw her she explained that her boyfriend (who is a multi-millionaire) has hired us to do a New Year’s party for him, and that he wants to invite 70+ people and that we can invite 20+ people to help launch us business. So, we got together a brief and presented it to him and he chose a theme.

A week later she starts moaning that they have had a fight and that he says he wants nothing to do with the organising of it. Then he says when they’re drunk “I don’t know if I want to invite anyone”. Now she’s saying let’s just make it our launch party and bugger him. A) If I was organising it for him I would have been charging a standard 10% fee (which I can’t charge if it’s our launch party, I can’t pay myself for our own launch), B) I don’t want to take favors from this man, especially a £50,000 favor C) I don’t have time to organise things I’m not getting paid for, and even if it was our launch party I don’t know the “right people” to invite. Not only that but my business partner is now saying that she never said it was her boyfriend’s party and that it was always our launch party. Not only that but she wants to move the date to after New Years.

I have a family, I am currently renting a house that in a year I’m going to have to move out of and I don’t know where the hell we’re going to live. I desperately need to make money. She (although I love her) does not work and her boyfriend pays for everything. I set this business up, and was actually hoping that if we did a good job for her boyfriend then he might higher us to do his corporate gigs for the year, but if we can’t even stick to a deadline then we’re not going anywhere. I’m really angry and I don’t know what to do. I know this is a big drama, but what would you do?

-Need Help!

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Hello Needs Help,

Well it sounds like you are in the middle of a highly valuable business lesson. First, it is not always wise nor easy to plan an event for family and friends because of the emotional attachments which you are experiencing now.  When it comes to any business transaction regardless of whom it is with you should always collect a deposit and have proper documents drawn up. It covers you and the person(s) of any wrong doing or legal implications. In the future you should create a disclosure that states a 50% deposit is due in order to reserve your time for the date. If the event is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances “X”% will be returned/ or the full amount of the deposit will be returned. The amount should be dependent upon how much work and time has already been spent organizing the event. You own the business but in reality you are working for your business so you must pay yourself a fair amount. Is the business in both of your names? If so, maybe you should sit down and ask her what she really wants out of the business and how much time and effort she is willing to commit. If she is lackadaisical about the answer it’s time to remove her from the business. You have a family to raise and ultimately need to take care of them and yourself first. If she is a good friend she will understand the reason you are making these decisions.

As for the event that is supposedly now your launch party. You should treat this like any business transaction- you have to put money in in order to expect money to come back out. Remove yourself emotionally from this, sit down with the best friend and the boy friend and say, if you would like this event to completed I will need a date and x amount for a deposit. If they are interested then great, have them sign the dotted line, if not you know that you wasting your time for this event. You might even want to consider speaking with the boy friend and explaining that you want this business to be handled in a professional manner. And if possible you would like to plan his next event for completely free to prove that you are capable and willing to prove your business is sound. Be sure to include the contention, “ if you are not completely satisfied with the end result my time and efforts will be at no cost to you, if you are satisfied can you guarantee that you will book “x” amount of events in the next year with my company?” Business is nothing but talking and bartering of services, and remember ALWAYS get it in writing and get a portion of the money up front. When people are financially and legally involved in something they are less likely to bail.

Don’t put all your eggs into one basket and hope that the boy friend will come through. Instead, begin focusing on functions that will make your business money. Corporate functions as well as weddings are generally the highest paid but also the most competitive events to book. So choose one that you feel more comfortable starting with and go from there. If you really want to get your business going you might have to do a couple for free or a lot less just to get your name out there. I would suggest creating business cards/flyers that have your contact information and maybe a “special” discount and then send them out. You can go to your local book stores and put them in all of the wedding magazines, or if you want to focus on corporate gigs, grab a phone book and start calling. You can always ask “Do you have an event coordinator/planner on site?” If they answer no then you can ask if you can meet with HR, Marketing (Trade Show/ Events), or someone who could be able to assist you. Keep in mind you will probably receive a lot of “no’s” to start off but if you remain persistent it only takes a few to build your portfolio.  It’s your business so put some time and major energy into it and you should see results. Good luck!

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