Events: How to turn something you love into a viable business
If you’ve ever thought about ‘breaking the mould’ and starting your own business, you’re not alone. Statistics released in 2017 show that the number of businesses started in the UK has broken records year-on-year since 2014. The Centre for Entrepreneurs’ lead researcher suggested an ongoing trend towards self-employment. But given the practical and personal challenges entrepreneurs face, is it really possible to turn your passion into a job?
The basic strategy for starting a successful business is generally agreed on worldwide – find a gap and fill it. Emily Brooke, founder of Beryl (previously known as Blaze), had no intention of becoming an entrepreneur. But “a love of cycling unexpectedly led her down that path”. The company creates innovative products for cyclists in urban areas, including the Laserlight. The Laserlight projects light ahead of the cyclist, highlighting their presence to other road users. The devices are now installed on 12,000 shared bikes in London, with testing ongoing in New York and other cities.
Emily is a great example of finding a problem within a sector you have a passion for and solving it.
Founding a business can be daunting and full of risk, so why not dip your toes in first? Organising events in the sector you’re interested in is an easy way to make connections. You can take the opportunity test the waters and work out whether it will be a viable route to entrepreneurship. We all know event management isn’t an “easy” task but surely it’s easier than diving headfirst into a venture?
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Whether you’re particularly skilled at public speaking, software development or have a passion for sport, there could be plenty of opportunities to expand your peers’ knowledge.
Emily Brooke once said you should “Only build something valuable if you’re solving a problem you know better than anyone else”. You can only become a trusted expert by knowing what you’re talking about and being able to prove it.
It might be that you don’t need to provide a service to your industry but you need to provide opportunities for communication within it. If you feel your needs aren’t being met, others are likely to feel the same. For example, you may decide to start a networking group for those in the sector/area you’re interested in. In doing so, you’re testing the market for business opportunities, making contacts and creating an opportunity to show off your skills.
On the other hand, you might feel you’re skilled enough in an area to share your expertise. Someone will always be interested in starting to learn or expanding their knowledge on a subject.
In B2B, there are often lots of opportunities to support businesses – especially those that are startups. For example, many startups are made of small teams with varied experience. Sometimes there are opportunities for third-parties to train or support internal staff. A company could be full of skilled developers but some might lack public speaking experience. By organising workshops on public speaking, you’d help them improve and eventually, become a trusted source. When you provide value to the company, they’ll likely refer you to other businesses in the area.
This process of having a skill and finding a niche can be applied to a variety of different interests, for example:
If you’re interested in pottery but have nowhere to meet other potters. So, provide a safe space for beginners to learn or a meetup group for experience potters. You’re showing your skill, expanding your network and filling a gap.
If you have a passion for music but know there isn’t a music scene in your area. Create opportunities for peers to enjoy music with you, by producing your own gigs or festivals.
These examples focus on creating physical communities and (and tapping into existing ones) to run successful events – but you don’t have to work locally. We’ve met hundreds of Organisers who travel around the world with their events. As well as those who host internationally recognised events in their home countries! The digital age means everything is at your fingertips and someone, somewhere is interested in what you can deliver. Whether that’s in your town, in your country or even online. For example, you could organise webinars and online training course events!
If you find your events are successful, you can confidently continue to grow them, widening your reach and becoming a go-to expert in your field. Plus, this is all while being your own boss and doing something you love.
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