If you enjoy kids and like to entertain them or you know people who do, you may be a good candidate for starting a birthday character party business. It doesn't require a lot of cash up front, and you can start it and operate it full time or part time from your home. With proper planning and a sound business approach, it can be fun and profitable.
Creating Your Business Plan
Writing out your plan will help you clarify what you're doing and why. Make sure it explains the same to anyone else who reads it, especially those you approach for financing.
A basic business plan includes:
- Executive summary. This describes your business plan in a nutshell so when people read it, they have a good idea of your plans. Although the executive summary goes at the beginning of the plan, it will be easier to write after you've written the other pieces.
Business description. Explain what your business will do and how
– for example: "Party People will provide comic book characters, princesses, Santa Claus and other characters for children's birthday parties. Customers will be able to choose how they'd like the character(s) to entertain at the party."
Products or services. Tell which birthday party characters you'll be offering. If you plan to start with a few and add more as you grow, say so. Explain what the characters will do at parties, such as entertain with balloon animals and flowers for each guest, lead games, tell stories, etc.
Target market. Most 15 year olds aren't asking to have Cinderella or Spiderman at their parties, so what ages are you targeting? Children aren't contacting you themselves; it's usually their parents you'll want to reach. What geographical areas will you cover?
Marketing plan. How will you reach your audience? Some use social media, but many don't, so you'll need more than a Facebook page. Will you advertise in local newspapers or on the radio? Will you put flyers where children and their parents will see them?
Budget, finances and projections. Make a budget of expected income and expenses. Find out what companies charge for party characters in your area. Determine the cost to rent or buy costumes and other expenses you'll incur, such as gasoline to get to parties, balloons, magic trick supplies, face paint and any other items. How many parties do you need to break even and to make a profit?
Offering a Well-Rounded Cast
You'll attract more business if you offer a variety of characters. Rent costumes you don't have and make a deal with a costume shop that you'll use them exclusively if they give you a discount. Put flyers on its counter and ask to place an ad on its website. Promote characters for which you have costumes and actors and rent costumes for others when customers request them.
Marketing Your Birthday Character Business
Offer customers a small discount, perhaps 10%, for using flyers (they can read the code to you over the phone) so you can keep track of how customers are hearing about you and thus know the best places to advertise. Put a different code in newspaper ads and anywhere else you promote your business. The discount and code encourage customers to have the ad in hand when they call.
A website is a must, especially if you don't have a place of business. A poorly done website makes you look unprofessional, so invest in having your website professionally created by someone who specializes in creating and writing websites. Put your website address on all communications along with your phone number and email.
Hiring Birthday Party Entertainers
The success of any business depends on its employees. Contact local colleges and theaters for actors. In addition to truly liking children, you and those you hire should possess certain characteristics:
- Patience. The old adage "patience is a virtue" certainly applies when working with children, but it also applies to operating any business. Running a business involves many details, and there are bound to be delays and other hassles to solve.
- Drive. Having patience doesn't mean you should let problems fester. Work through each one as it occurs without becoming emotional. Workers call in sick at the last minute and customers cancel. Handle issues with positivity and don't take problems personally.
- Creativity. Sometimes, problems call for creative solutions, so you need a creative mind. Characters are best portrayed by creative people who can become the character and quickly switch directions to keep children interested. Birthday party entertainers need a talent or two to entertain, whether it's making balloon animals, telling a tale or performing magic tricks. Audition actors performing part of their act before hiring them.
- Popular birthday party characters change over time. Be sure to stay up to date with the latest trends in children's entertainment.
- If you end up hiring employees, make sure your company is insured for any possible catastrophe or act of negligence.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She has written on business topics for afkinsider.com, smallbusiness.chron.com, Harbor Style Magazine, the Charlotte Sun and more, as well as advertising copy and materials. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards in B2B and B2C marketing.