Hailing from New Windsor, New York, Stacey Chavers is a professional accountant, as well as an event planner and entrepreneur. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in public health administration. Stacey enjoys analyzing and evaluating financial data, budgeting, as well as strategic planning. Well-trained in collaboration and communication, some of her areas of expertise include optimizing cost efficiency and developing policy. In her current position, she handles accounting operations and functions along with budgeting, planning, and government grants reporting.
When she is not busy with her work as an accountant, Stacey Chavers owns and operates a popular event planning business. As someone who enjoys social interaction—not to mention a well-planned party—Stacey is committed to providing her clients with a good time. In the past, she has organized events such as golf tournaments, job fairs, staff appreciation celebrations, holiday parties, and fundraisers. In her spare time, Stacey loves cooking, travelling, and walking her dog.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I’ve always had a knack for event planning in my personal life, and also as a sort of company morale officer at previous jobs. I was the person in the workplace who always planned birthday celebrations for co-workers, holiday parties, and other such things. So, making the leap to creating my own event planning business just seemed natural.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins with a solid breakfast, and then walking my dog before work. From 9 am – 5 pm, I do my job as an accountant as best as I can, then I return home and sift through all the business relating to my event planning service. I check my messages, return phone calls, and go over my weekly and monthly itinerary, noting the various supplies and services I’ll need to procure for each scheduled event. I’m always careful to make sure that I have everything ready for an event well ahead of time. It just gives me peace of mind. Then, once I’m satisfied that I have put in a solid day’s work and can’t really prepare anymore, I’ll allow myself some down time before bed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Visualization. Whenever I sign a contract to plan and produce an event, I take a few moments to visualize the finished product in my mind. I find this exercise immensely helpful, as it gives an ideal to strive towards in my planning efforts. And it works. More often than not, the events take place just about how I envision them in those few moments.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m so glad that dietary restrictions have been embraced as a mainstream issue at parties and official events over the course of the last decade or so. Back in the day, if a vegetarian was invited to a party, there might be some pasta and sauce for them to eat, but very little else. Before I started my event planning business, I would see this and be a little sad. I always thought that they could be having such a better time if only people had thought to accommodate their needs. These days, however, not only are vegetarians catered to, but also vegans, pescatarians, people with gluten allergies and other food allergies, as well as those with religious dietary restrictions. The hospitality industry should always strive to accommodate—that’s our entire mandate!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Seeing things through. I’m all about completing a task. Although I can multitask very well and I do it quite often, I always keep my eye on every single ball that I have up in the air. Only when a thing is finished—properly finished, mind you—and I’ve verified it three times do I allow myself to look away. That way I don’t waste time having to go back and re-do things or take care of mistakes. Time is an exceptionally valuable commodity. I hate wasting it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the present. It all goes by so fast.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That there is such a thing as a perfect party. Most people say it’s impossible, but I disagree.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Check every single detail three times. If you want to be sure things will go right, it pays great dividends not only to go over things twice, but three times. I call it “making sure I make sure,” and it has saved me a lot of headaches in the past by helping me to catch errors and spot potential problems.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Whenever I plan an event, I always make sure that, on the night of, I leave a neat pile of business cards on a strategically important spot at the venue. Sometimes it’s at the bar, sometimes it’s on a greeting table, and sometimes it’s near the coat check, but I always do it. The theory goes like this: if guests at the event have a good time, they might want to retain my services for an event of their own sometime down the road. I’ve drummed up a lot of new business that way.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the early stages of my event-planning business, I made the mistake of assuming my clients all had the same taste, disposition, and goals regarding their events as I did. Without getting into specifics, there was one instance when I presumed something I probably shouldn’t have in planning a party. The client made their displeasure at this presumption known, and luckily, I still had time to rectify it before the event took place—but it was close. I learned from that. Now, I never take anything for granted. I check with clients about every single detail before I take any action.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
How about starting a company that specifically deals with planning gender reveal parties? There’s a huge, emergent market there that is currently untapped. I would do it myself, but my schedule is already booked. I will say that I have been approached to plan one or two in the past, and they’re more involved than people might think. Someone dedicating a business solely to that could make a tidy sum.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Recently, I spent about $100 on an excellent overcoat that I found at the mall. We have really cold, extended winters here in New York, and everyone who lives in the state needs a solid winter coat in order to get through them. The overcoat is really warm, but it also looks stylish and modern. I view it as $100 very well spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My answer has to be Microsoft Excel. Typical response from an accountant, right? It’s true, that program is invaluable when it comes to executing my day job, but I also find it extremely helpful as an entrepreneur. It’s how I keep track of my overhead, vendor expenses, profits, and a whole host of other data. I don’t know how people live without it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend Special Events: Creating and Sustaining a New World Order for Celebration by Joe Goldblatt. That book is jam-packed with tips on how to create a memorable event, not to mention event planning theory, and real-life examples from history. It’s basically the Bible for the whole profession.
What is your favorite quote?
“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” — Leonard Bernstein
- Visualize what your ideal end goal looks like before undertaking it.
- Never make assumptions with clients.
- Check every single detail three times before moving on.
- When planning an event, be accommodating to everyone’s needs—dietary or otherwise!
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.