What it's like to run an events-based startup
Now the festive rush has finished, events companies have something of a breather to contemplate the year ahead, and the busy times to come. By nature many events-based companies are often seasonal, with certain times of year - whether that's Christmas, London Fashion Week, or the summer holidays - seeing much more activity than months such as January (unless your business's focus is on healthy events, which means this is probably your time!)
Finding the balance between the busy and the quiet times is vital for your events-based startup to succeed. We asked cocktail events business Mix & Muddle about what the year looks like for an events company, and how to deal with busy and stressful periods.
What time of year do you see most increased demand (or anticipate it)?
For the events industry, where Mix & Muddle is placed, there are two peak periods - spring drifting into summer (June/July), and autumn into winter (Oct - Dec). This is simply because these are the times when a lot of corporate events take place, entertaining their clients and staff and getting them well-fed and watered! This is pretty consistent year on year, which is fortunate seeing as the events industry can be very unstable and unpredictable.
How do you prepare for busier times?
Mix & Muddle uses freelance, self-employed career mixologists, which is great for the paperwork and admin, but not so great in that they can be in demand from other companies during peak season. To counteract this, we make sure that we pay above the average to keep our staff loyal and keen to favour Mix & Muddle for work, and in return they do a great job representing us. We also seek out extra back-up staff who may not have worked much for us, but are just as experienced, in case of emergencies. Stock is ordered on a job per job basis so managing that is relatively easy. Any left over stock can be re-charged out onto the next event, so there's no waste. The only consideration in busy period is that orders of ingredients and hireware may not reach us as quickly, due to demand, so orders are placed sooner to counteract this. Little things, but they make the difference.
What’s the biggest challenge during busiest times?
Mix & Muddle is still a small start-up, so logistics is the main challenge. We have a small van, a small storage space, an office table, and a laptop, so when events start doubling/tripling up on a day, managing where staff and stock and hireware is going can be a bit tricky. It's all in the planning, planning, planning, and some more planning. But we're getting slicker as every event comes and goes! We're also getting repeat custom, which is a good sign.
What was the Christmas period like for you – did you get a break?
From the 23rd December, we were done for the year! 2015 was our first official Christmas period, and I couldn't be happier with how it went. We had staff all over London, and our own events were regular enough not to start getting worried. I had nightmares of no events coming in and no jobs to send out our loyal staff to! Luckily that wasn't the case.
Are there quieter times too that balance it out or are you busy year round?
Our next event is not until February so that leaves January for marketing, planning, and analyzing the year ahead. At the end of February, we're off to do a festival in the middle of the Sahara desert. Talk about logistics! Bookings are now coming in thick and fast for spring and summer, so quotes will be sent out, orders will be made, and menus will be created. We'll probably spend a fair amount of January in the kitchen concocting new cocktail recipes. August is also a quiet month, as a lot of the corporate events dry up, seeing as most of their staff head off on holiday.
Any tips for startups thinking ahead to next Christmas?
Tailor your service and make it festive. People and companies are more willing to branch out of their comfort zone and experiment at Christmas (the whole "Ah well, it's Christmas after all!" mentality), so tailor elements of your service to that. One thing I regret is not doing enough Christmas-ifying. Now that it's January, people like the idea of re-imagining or rejuvenating themselves after the festive glut, so think about how you could potentially use this to your advantage too.