It’s Party Time!

Summer is in full swing and if you’re anything like me you’ve attended your fair share of summer events–weddings, reunions, showers, fairs, and pool parties.

As a small business owner, events are a great way to connect with clients, as well as forge new relationships because they show appreciation to current customers while attracting new ones. Also, getting face to face with your customers and potentials is a great marketing tool because for many of us in small biz, you are the brand.

Events can be deceptively simple, but you won’t get results with a last minute deal where you throw pre-made burgers on the grill (Click to tweet me!and pass the red Solo cups. Instead think about creating a memorable experience for your customer via a rooftop overlooking the city on a summer evening, or a sleek hotel that captures the vibe of your brand. Now close your eyes and picture it—it’s so close you can almost see the hashtags and word of mouth buzz your event will create, right? Great, but before you get too far into fantasy and planning, remember these two things: Insurance and Contracts. This pair will help ensure the success of your event because they’ll protect your business should things not go exactly as planned. Here’s a little more about both:

Insurance

There’s nothing fun about insurance, but it’s so necessary. While things could go smoothly from beginning to end, there are a myriad of things that could go wrong that you’d want to protect your business against—think things that can get you sued and result in you losing money.

So what could go wrong you ask? A guest could get injured, one of your guests could have a few too many drinks, decide to get behind the wheel, and cause an accident; your event could cause property damage to the venue (so, give that pyrotechnics idea a second thought!); or maybe at the last minute you have to cancel or postpone the event.

The good is that there’s insurance to protect your small biz in each of these unfortunate scenarios. Carefully look at your business general liability policy, endorsements, exclusions, and fine print to see what’s covered.  You may want to consider event insurance specifically for your event, which could provide broader coverage.

Contracts

Again, it’s not an exciting topic when talking about party planning, but it’s essential. In planning your event, you’ll enter into contracts with various vendors: DJs, bartenders, the venue, a caterer etc. Very often these vendors will have a standard contract for you to sign—but don’t sign on the dotted line blindly. You have more negotiating power than you think, so don’t be afraid to push back on clauses you don’t feel comfortable with, for instance, you may feel more comfortable giving a final count five days before the event instead of seven, so see what you can negotiate.

Of course, be sure that the contract includes provisions that address payment, cancellation, Force Majure (i.e. Acts of God), insurance, and indemnification. More importantly, make sure you understand all the parts of what you’re agreeing to and what effect, if any, it will have on your event.

And think about agreements you’ll need with your attendees if you’re doing something major like an international retreat with your clients. You’ll want to have them sign releases to limit your liability should anything happen while attending your retreat.

It’s these boring details of event planning that will help protect your business so you can focus on giving your guest a great time—and having one yourself!