Building a successful business events start up

Starting a new business – regardless of the industry you’re in – can be daunting. The eventing and conferencing industry is no different. On the plus side, it does not always require a large amount of capital to launch a business in this industry. That said, experience and professionalism are crucial, as is doing your research, investing in the right processes and finding the best talent to create a sustainable, reputable operation. In a nutshell, starting a business requires a long-term mindset with an investment in sustainability, over short-term profits.

Knowing the risks and requirements around setting up a business in the events and conferencing industry, and knowing how to avoid the pitfalls will ultimately determine the success or failure of the business. Many of the requirements around the day to day running of a business are administrative – staffing issues, tax returns, VAT registration, cash flow and the like.

All too often a business will open with a bang – with a host of clients and more work than the business can handle. There is a lesson to be learnt here; take a cautious approach to growth. Taking on more work than the business can handle in terms of available resources can end in disaster. At the same time, rapid growth with too little knowledge or attention paid to issues such as invoicing, corporate governance and the like can lead to a similar result.

At times, it’s the lack of business acumen that paves the way for a business to fail. Start-ups should be mindful of all the elements that go into the daily running of a business. The first lesson is that you may have to turn away work if you don’t have sufficient capacity.  While this may seem like career suicide, it is far more damaging than to take on too much and do a poor job.

Business owners need to be fully cognisant of labour laws and issues around staffing – a bad decision could end up destroying a small business. To this end, it’s vital to have comprehensive employment contracts in place, and that both staff and managers understand, document and implement the correct disciplinary process should any transgressions occur.

Tax is another consideration. VAT registration and taxes are complex processes that may best be outsourced to accounting professionals, who can ensure the correct amounts are paid at the right time. If it does happen that tax payments are delayed, the best course of action is to contact SARS immediately – SARS has a strict policy that ignorance is no excuse.

Public liability insurance is a must in the eventing space, and protects your company from unplanned incidents that could very well cripple a business without insurance.

Finally, membership to an industry body such as SAACI means that as a business owner, you have support in the form of networking and mentorship opportunities as well as training and knowledge sharing platforms; all of which will help start-ups to navigate the journey to success. 

Source: Rudi van der Vyver, CEO, SAACI

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