Numbers for the Nerds? Understanding financial concepts makes good sense in special events.

The special event world is filled with creative ideas, over the top concepts, gorgeous displays, beautiful décor and gregarious personalities.  Typically the right side of the brain is where all of the fun, cool and interesting ideas come from.  However, without a general understanding of finance all of the good ideas in the world will remain just that . . . good ideas.

An event only comes to fruition when someone with good financial sense can craft a budget, determine break even formulas, identify sustainable revenue sources and “creatively” determine the best way to allocate funds based on event priorities.

A common thought process when considering career strengths is, “I’m not good at math so I’m going to look for work in the creative industries such as event planning, public relations and advertising.”  But the reality is that having a solid understanding of finance and the accounting world (on some level) is critical for a successful career in creative industries.


The phrase “Rob Peter to pay Paul” is never used more frequently than in the financial circles of event planning.  As an event producer there is NEVER enough money to do everything you (or the client) wants to do, so knowing where to creatively transfer funds appropriated for one line item to something else is key to making the event come together in the best possible fashion.

As someone who literally had to beg his college algebra instructor to change the “D+” on the report card to a “C-“ to graduate I know all too well how easy it is to think that the world of math, numbers, finance and accounting won’t make a difference in my  life. Math is for nerds.  I’m cooler than that! Well, I couldn’t be further from reality and while I promised my college instructor I would never, ever attempt to teach anyone how X = Y I did go on to spend a number of years in banking.  For the ten years I worked at the bank I continued to say over and over I can’t wait to get outta here so I can use my creativity to make a living.  The reality is that while the creative side of my brain has been helpful in developing my career in special events, my understanding of finance, balance sheets, accounts payable / receivables has been just as, if not, more well received than the creativity I bring to the table.

It’s easy to think that there will be “someone else” to figure out the financials of the event but in reality it’s best to bill yourself as a one stop shop.  Can you creatively develop an over the top stunning event concept and also manage the finances to support your idea? If so, then you have found the formula for success.

The perfect event professional is the one that combines both skill sets.  This person knows how to intelligently use BOTH sides of the brain- the right for creativity and the left for the numbers, finances and business aspects.

Consider becoming more familiar with the “art” of budgeting, budget formats, balance sheets, financial statements, electronic fund transfers, cash liquidity, accounts payables, accounts receivables and a whole host of other financially minded concepts that will help develop a fantastic concept into an event reality.  “Numbers” aren’t just for the nerds, they’re for all well rounded event professional too!
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