Hospitality Professionals – Is Being an Independent Meeting Planner and Event Planner Right For You?

Being an independent business owner and entrepreneur is an amazing career choice as it offers us the greatest privilege of all – freedom. People start their own business for freedom. Whether it is the freedom of working on their own, having more time to spend with family and friends, financial freedom or just the freedom of knowing they are in charge of their lives, freedom seems to be the main motivator. In my opinion, this opportunity should be seriously considered and tried by most of us within our professional careers.

Over the past 10 years, I have worked with over 100 individuals who have made the transition from working within an organization to going out on their own. Based on this experience, I am often asked the following questions:

1. How do I know if this is the right career move for me?
2. Is it worth it?
3. What does it take to be successful?

“You were born to be an entrepreneur, not an employee”, says motivational speaker Stedham Graham, author of the New York Times seller You Can Make It Happen. “At no other time in history has there been a better opportunity for people to create or retain ownership of their lives“, he says. “Our nation and its communities need more entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurialism is not only a pathway to autonomy and financial independence, but also has a macro-level impact on community development and economic growth, providing sources of employment and higher living standards.”

In the next few paragraphs, I would like to share my responses to the above three questions:

1. Is this career move right for me?
In order to best answer the first question of should you consider being an independent business owner and to help you evaluate this career choice, I am going to start by sharing some facts presented in “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, PhD. The two authors did a tremendous amount of research and here are two excerpts that highlight some of the key points that I would like to share with you:

Risk or Freedom?
Why do people operate their own businesses? First, most successful business owners will tell you that they have tremendous freedom. They are their own bosses. Also, they tell us that self-employment is less risky than working for others. A professor once asked a group of sixty MBA students who were executives of public corporations this question.

What is risk?
One student replied:
Being an entrepreneur!
His fellow students agreed. Then the professor answered his own question with a quote from an entrepreneur:
What is risk? Having one source of income. Employees are at risk…they have a single source of income. What about the entrepreneur who sells janitorial services to your employers? He has hundreds and hundreds of customers…hundreds and hundreds of sources of income.

Actually, there is considerable financial risk in being a business owner. But business owners have a set of beliefs that helps them reduce their risk or at least their perceived risk:

    • I’m in control of my own destiny
    • Risk is working for a ruthless employer
    • I can solve any problem.
    • The only way to become a CEO is to own the company.
    • There are no limits on what amount of income I can make.
    • I get stronger and wiser every day by facing risk and adversity.

To be a business owner also requires that you have the desire to be self-employed. If you hate the thought of being outside the corporate environment, entrepreneurship may not be your calling. The most successful business owners we have interviewed have one characteristic in common: They all enjoy what they do. They all take pride in ‘going it alone.’ Consider what a multimillionaire once told us about being self-employed:

There are more people (employees) today working at jobs that they don’t like. I’ll tell you honestly that the successful man is a guy who works at a job, who likes his work, who can’t wait to get up in the morning to get down to the office, and that’s my criteria. And I’ve always been that way. I can’t wait to get up and get down to the office and get my job under way.

When looking at the independent meeting planner role, you would be considering a unique business opportunity for experienced hospitality industry professionals seeking the independence, freedom and rewards of owning your own business. At the same time, you would be offering dependable and creative outsourced meeting management solutions of the highest caliber to your customers. I believe this career choice is right for you if you want to:

    • Be Your Own Boss
    • Have a Work/Life Balance
    • Ensure Job Security
    • Create Financial Freedom

2. Is it worth it?
It is important to understand if you can meet the personal and financial goals you have established for yourself. For the response to the second question, I am continuing with facts presented by authors Stanley and Danko:

Jobs: Millionaires versus Heirs
About ten years ago, a reporter from a national news magazine called. She asked the question we are most frequently asked- Who are the affluent?

By now, you probably can predict the answer. Most of the affluent in America are business owners, including self-employed professionals. Twenty percent of the affluent households in America are headed by retirees. Of the remaining eighty percent, more than two-thirds are headed by self-employed owners of businesses. In America, less than one in five households, or about eighteen percent, is headed by a self-employed business owner or professional. But these self-employed people are four times more likely to be millionaires than those who work for others.

The reporter followed with the next logical question- What types of businesses do millionaires own?

Our answer was the same one we give everyone- you can’t predict if someone is a millionaire by the type of business they are in. After twenty years of studying millionaires across a wide spectrum of industries, we have concluded that the character of the business owner is more important in predicting their level of wealth than the classification of their business.

Let me be more specific about our industry. According to the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), independent meeting planners are one of the fastest growing segments in the meetings industry today. In fact, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) counts 31% of its members as meeting management professionals, that is, “a person who is a sole proprietor of, or is employed or engaged by a meeting management company.”

What do all of these folks know and why were they able to make the transition? They know that the need for the services provided by the independent meeting professional has never been greater. As organizations try to do more with less, bringing in outside assistance has enabled them to achieve the objectives for their meetings and events.

3. What does it take to be successful?

The final question is a little more challenging. Like a new parent that wishes their child came with a manual, the same holds true for entrepreneurship. From my experience, the following are the top qualities it takes to be successful:

Burning Desire- passion to make a difference for your clients and the belief in your ability to do so.
Specialized Knowledge– use all of your experience and knowledge to create and grow a thriving business.
Goal Oriented– successful people are goal oriented. You need to have a vision for where you are going and able to implement a game plan
Action Oriented– it takes action and hard work to be successful. You need to have the desire and willingness to give the effort.

It will never be said that entrepreneurship is easy. Entrepreneurship is the passionate pursuit of your dream. Passion makes work feel like pleasure. Pleasure is the gratification that you’ve worked hard to create something real, important and lasting. And that cycle is one of the many reasons why entrepreneurship remains an enduring ideal in this country.

So armed with the facts that support our desire to be in business for ourselves and encouraged by our ability to improve our quality of life and earning potential, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you have the industry experience that will enable you to add value to your customers?
2. Would you like to put your knowledge, skills and experience to work for you?
3. Do you believe in the company that you are going to start or affiliate with?
4. Do you believe in yourself: that you can do it, that you are financially prepared to do it, that you are ready to do it?
5. Do you have the potential customers that will join you in this new venture?
6. Do you have the support group to rely on?

I hope this will help you as you consider what it takes to be successful as an independent business owner and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry. It is now time for you to decide. Is this career path right for you


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