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How to create a budget for your live event

Today we're talking more about how to create a budget for your live event. I feel like this is the elephant in the room. Not a lot of people like talking about budgets. Some entrepreneurs go ahead and dive right into brainstorming and planning without first dealing with the financial aspect of the planning - your budget. Budgets aren't scary. They're just put in place to prevent you from spending all the money. Think about it. Homes have budgets, businesses have budgets, the government has a budget, so why not your live event? Before you start planning any event, you need to think about how much money you can afford to spend before you recuperate it in ticket sales. This requires you to dig into your bank account and see what's feasible. If you've been saving for this each month, then you're already ahead of the game. In this post we'll walk through how to create a budget and a few considerations to keep in the back of your mind as you're planning.

Consideration #1 - Host a small event. As a first time host, consider hosting a smaller event for your first live event. This will help you create an intimate event but also be valuable as you learn lessons from any mistakes that you make. It's better to learn from mistakes for a dozen attendees than 50 people!

Consideration #2 - Stay away from all-inclusive events. All-inclusive events sound great for the attendee, but they aren't always beneficial to the organizer.. especially the first-time organizer. Usually, events are all-inclusive because meals and hotels are included. The downside is that you're financially responsible if you don't meet your minimums.

Consideration #3 - Equate your live event's budget to any other budget. The roof over your head gets the biggest percentage and the bills will take up smaller pieces of the pie. For your live event, your location/venue will take up a chunk of your budget and the other expenses will make up the rest. The five major categories that your expenses should fall in are venue, refreshments, program, promotion and miscellaneous. Every item in your budget should have a category that it fits into. It helps to give each item a place and sense of belonging. It's also provides a quick reference point for you.

  1. When you think about a space for your attendees, equipment rental, any decorations for the space, signs, AV equipment, music and anything that sounds remotely close to those items would be categorized under the venue category. As you think about different venues and locations, keep in mind that it would be more cost efficient if you stick to venues with the majority or all of these items included in the price. The venue should not take up more than 25% of your budget.
  2. If you are providing all meals for your attendees, keep it mind that it should not take up more than 25% of your budget. This category is called refreshments. Even if you are not providing all meals, be sure to include what you will provide. This category also includes snacks and beverages as well.

  3. Now, your program is another bulky area of your budget, but it should not take up more than 20% of your budget. Anything that pertains to the attendees and speakers will fall under this category. So think of the payment for your speakers, stationery, printing, gifts for the speakers and attendees, photographer, videographer, etc.

  4. Promotion is exactly what it is. Anything that you have to pay for to market or advertise your event will fall under this category. This would include items such as ads, postage, complimentary tickets, email marketing and more. This is a bit of a smaller category with 15% usage.

  5. Miscellaneous is the same percentage as promotion, 15%. Anything that does not fit into the other 4 categories will go here. This may include attendee activities that you will pay for, contracts, insurance, etc. Keep in mind that this pie chart is fluid. If you need to move elements and items around to keep it in balance, do that. You are in charge, but I simply ask that you be mindful that items remain proportionate to your budget and each of the categories.

Now, let's dig into the actual creating of the budget. I'm gonna give you two pointers and it should set you on your way.

  1. Determine the budget amount - We talked about this earlier. You need to decide on that overall number you want for event. Is it $5,000, $10,000, $20,000? Whatever it is, it gives you a place to start. This always makes the financial part of planning easier. Knowing where to start or even knowing that you cannot go over a certain amount is a great starting point. If you already have a vision for your event, this helps as well. Let's say your vision is to host a down-to-earth event with a camping and bare essentials kind of vibe, then you know that your event will be on the less costly side. Knowing what you're working with is always half the battle. It makes planning easier.

  2. Create a spreadsheet - After you've decided on the overall amount for your budget, get on Google Sheets, my personal favourite, or Microsoft Spreadsheet, or Airtable, or whatever you use for calculations and set up a budget calculator that'll help keep you on track during your planning. You don't need anything fancy. Just get it done. Add a column with the header 'Items' or 'Elements' and you will add items such as venue, table and chair rental, speaker #1 invoice, swag bag item #1, attendee workbook, etc. Once you have that setup, create two other columns: Projected and Actual. You can go ahead and start completing the Projected column as best as you can and tally it at the end. This Projected column is really an eye-opener for you. It will let you know if your budget is realistic or unrealistic. If the Projected column tally is greater than your original overall budget, then there are a couple of things you can do. You can either raise your budget for extra padding or start determining which items are unnecessary and cut them.

If you're interested in planning a profitable live event, and not quite sure where to get started, be sure to grab your roadmap that'll help you plan from A to Z.

Grab the roadmap!

Planning your first live event can be so nerve-wracking with SO much to consider. When you download my FREE “Plan Your Profitable Live Event Roadmap,” you’ll learn everything you need to know to feel completely confident in executing your event.

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Live Event Roadmap

Planning your first live event can be so nerve-wracking with SO much to consider. When you download my FREE “Plan Your Profitable Live Event Roadmap,” you’ll learn everything you need to know to feel completely confident in executing your event.