The move to become a professional independent meeting planner has been the right career choice for me. I am often asked 1) why I decided to leave the safety and security of a corporate job and 2) why I affiliated with a brand versus being on my own.
There are many reasons that individuals decide to break out on their own in the hospitality industry. For me, I had the good fortune of getting exposed to the advantages of entrepreneurial life as an intrepreneur(a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation). This showed me that it was possible and reinforced the dream within me to one day be on my own. As my friend and fellow entrepreneur, Andy Glick, says: “If you want to control your destiny and create wealth, you probably need to own something. You can make a decent living as a salaried employee – no complaints here -, but if you have the nerve and you think big, starting a business offers the possibility of significant rewards.”
Based on this belief, I went searching for facts. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there are approximately 28 million small businesses in the U.S., which translates to 1,162 small businesses for every one corporation in the country. Additionally, the SBA estimates that small businesses account for 44% of the U.S. payroll – and 70% of those businesses are owned and operated by a single person. So independent business owners are an important part of the economy and can be proud of what they do each and every day. More importantly, it confirmed my belief that if all of these other small businesses can do it…we can do it!
Once I made the decision that I wanted to be on my own, I evaluated all of my options:
- Start my own meeting planning company
- Affiliate with an established brand
- Buy an existing business
I chose to affiliate with an established and respected global brand in the industry for the following reasons:
- It’s the industry I know, love and have 25 years of experience working in.
- Turnkey Start-up- established and proven systems, processes and procedures.
- Brand Recognition- established relationships/numerous networking opportunities.
- State of the art technology available for conducting site searches, registration and housing services.
- Full service resource for customers- conference management, registration, housing, site selection, contract negotiation, strategic meeting management.
- Corporate office staff for training, support, back up and dedicated accounting support.
- Marketing Collateral such as business cards, letterhead, brochures, email and a website already created.
- Assigned a Team Director – a personal mentor, coach and advisor to make sure success is achieved.
- Hotel Contracts offering pre negotiated terms with major hotel chains and independent hotels.Dedicated Global Sales Organization (and often on-property) representation for the brand
Business experts state that to be successful as an independent business owner you must be:
- Dedicated- a passion and desire to achieve
- Persistent- the ability to never give up
- Risk tolerant
- Able to maintain a positive outlook
I felt good that I had some of the qualities above and by being a part of a known brand; I had the support needed to ensure success…the best of both worlds. For these reasons, I made the leap to being on my own and felt that being affiliated with a known brand was the right match for me.
There is no doubt that I work hard as an independent meeting planner, but every moment I spend on my business, is my choice. Have you explored these options? If so, do you have lessons to share?
If you found this article valuable, you might also be interested in ”Hospitality Professionals – Is Being an Independent Meeting Planner and Event Planner Right For You?”