Building A Successful Home-Based Business

Setting up shop at home is not as difficult as you may think. Here are three great business start-ups for the new American workplace

a bit taxing, so she moved the entire operation and her staff of six into the basement of her Mitchellville, Maryland, home. “When the lease I expired, my staff encouraged me to move home,” says Jackson, who operates her home-based business full time. “We’re fully set up. There’s a computer on every desk, file cabinets, two printers, a fax machine/scanner and a phone system set up for billing.”

Meeting planners work with corporations, organizations and nonprofit groups to plan annual conferences, fund-raising events, trade shows, shareholder meetings, banquets and other special occasions. Starting this type of home business is easier if you have a public relations background or prior experience as a meeting planner, but it is not a prerequisite. To get started, you will need a computer, fax machine, word processing software and a two-line telephone system. Depending on the types of equipment and resources used, startup cost ranges from $2,750-$8,500.

To secure clients, network among caterers and travel agents. Visit your city’s convention and visitors’ bureau for a list of upcoming events or volunteer to plan a community event as a way to demonstrate your skills and drum up business. “I was fortunate that during my years at Coors I had worked closely with a number of organizations, so word-of-mouth has been my form of advertisement,” recalls Jackson.

Jackson has planned many events including the 15th annual African World Festival in Detroit, the annual Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association Conference (to be held this ye
ar in Puerto Rico) and a Celebration of Activism, a celebrity reading of Alice Walker’s latest book, All Things We Love Can Be Saved. “We also do a number of golf tournaments and have about 10 events that we’re working on managing for 1998,” she says.

Meeting planning is a high-pressure business. To be successful, you must be able to work under tight deadlines. You must also be creative, have an eye for detail, have excellent presentation and communication skills and be very organized. “It requires the ability to juggle five to 10 things at one time without losing sight of any small issue because one minor detail falling through the crack could result in major disaster,” says Jackson.

Most meeting planners charge by the hour, day or project. The average hourly rate is $40-$60, and the daily fee is $400-$500. Planners of large events tend to charge 15%-20% of the project’s entire budget. “The range of my services is from $20,000-$150,000 per event,” says Jackson, who coordinates an event every 45-60 days. Since inception, her company has earned $500,000 in revenues. Typical revenues for a home-based meeting planning company range from $25,000-$100,000 per year.

For more information about a home-based meeting planning business, contact: Meeting Professionals International, 4455 LBJ Freeway, Suite 1200, Dallas, TX 75244; 972-702-3000.

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