Candid Conversations small business podcast

S1E1: Behind the Scenes of an Event Management Business

In this episode of the Candid Conversations podcast, your co-hosts Dan and Sagan share a little bit about the purpose behind this business podcast. We also interview Monica Derksen of Ethero Events, who shares the inside scoop of running an event management business here in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Get the behind-the-scenes scoop of what it's REALLY like to start an event management business, in the inaugural episode of the Candid Conversations podcast, a podcast sharing real stories of entrepreneurs in Winnipeg and across the globe

Winnipeg Comedy Festival

This episode is proudly sponsored by the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, which takes place right here in Winnipeg from April 3—9.

It’s a great opportunity to enjoy a laugh and perhaps even do a little networking and make some new business contacts. Get your tickets at!

Pssst… you can enter to WIN a giveaway for two tickets to the show of your choice [excluding Gastrocomique and Rumor’s shows] at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival when you leave a review of this podcast on iTunes!

Hurry—deadline to enter to win is this Friday, March 31.

After leaving a review, email to let us know and we’ll enter you into the draw.

>> Listen to Candid Conversations on iTunes <<

Show Notes

0:00 Introduction to the Candid Conversations podcast

0:35 Why we decided to start this business podcast and an introduction to your co-hosts, Dan Nicholson and Sagan Morrow

“Everyone has their own issues and limitations and obstacles that they face. Yes, on the one hand, it’s nice to have a full-time job so you don’t have to rely on your side hustle… but on the other hand, the amount of time that you can actually spend on your side hustle is very limited. So everyone has different issues and very unique obstacles. And that’s very important to recognize.” – Sagan

“In your business, you want to pass on the stuff that’s time-consuming for you to someone else. Why not enlist another freelancer?” – Dan

5:15 Introduction to today’s guest, Monica Derksen of Ethero Events

5:50 How Monica got started with her event planning business in Winnipeg

“Ethero started with the desire to do fun events in Winnipeg. I wanted to work with not-for-profits and do creative things that would help them expand. I also wanted to do cool events that made people think of Winnipeg in a different way.” – Monica

“I was everywhere… I was out and about. People kept seeing me, and that really helped. When you’re doing stuff, people know you more. The more you do, the more you see, the more you get offered contracts.” – Monica

8:20 When is the right time to take the leap and quit your 9 to 5 job?

“There’s always a lot of risk, and it depends how risk-tolerant you are as a person. For some people, 40% of the salary wouldn’t be enough. I don’t know if there’s a right or a wrong, but for me, that felt right. I knew with that number, it was enough to keep me going. It’s a hard decision as to when that leap happens. It’s a time investment.” – Monica

11:00 On having backup plans when you quit your 9 to 5 job

“You have to know yourself… Fairly early in my business, I partnered with my brother; we were equal owners. He has less risk tolerance than me. He knew himself well enough to know his backup plans weren’t the same as mine. It’s about being honest with yourself.” – Monica

13:00 Having a business partner come on board a year after starting Ethero Events

“It really has to be a personality match; you have to complement each other to be able to do business together as a team.” – Sagan

15:30 On hiring and managing other people in a small business

“It’s your brand, your business on the line; to be able to trust someone is a massive thing.” – Dan

20:30 What a “typical” day looks like for Monica in the event planning business

“There’s some rhythm to it… events have a pretty set timeline. Every event is different, but every event is the same. The first thing people think when I do events is ‘that’s exciting’ or ‘that’s stressful.’ The thing is, if we’re talking about an average event contract might be 6 months; in that time, there’s ONE event day. The exciting part is one day. What people don’t see is the 6 months before that, which is me sitting in a coffee shop, sending emails.

“For 80% of my contracts, I can work from anywhere, especially at this point because I have a lot of contacts in place. There’s a lot of alone time. It’s not as social of a job as people think it is! There’s a balance of going out and being seen, and being alone a lot.

“My job’s not rocket science. You don’t need a certain accreditation for event planning. if you have a certain personality… I have the time and skillset to do this when other people don’t.” – Monica

Get notified when new podcast episodes go live >>

24:20 Any tips for other people who want to get into the event planning industry?

“It’s a personality thing. You have to be a flexible person. The calmer you are about everything, the better it will go. Anyone can learn these skills, but you have to be interested in doing it. You have to be a flexible person; you have to like alone time but also be visible. It’s one of those all-over-the-place things.

“I’m one of the most inconsistent people in the world. I hate consistency. I hate the idea of going somewhere and being somewhere 9 to 5. I like the idea of fluctuation. That degree of flexibility is huge—especially if you want to not just be an event planner, but a self-employed event planner! You have to be able to roll with the punches and not stress about it too much.” – Monica

29:20 About one of the events Monica works on, Table for 1200 More

“It’s these non-event locations that we create an event at, and it’s essentially to draw attention to places in Winnipeg, to show people the potential and how to see things differently, and how to engage in conversation. It gets people out; gets people excited about Winnipeg and meeting other Winnipeggers.”

35:25 What’s next for Ethero…

“The transition from two people back into one has been difficult. It’s been two years since having a business partner, but I’m just now starting to figure out what my business looks like.

“What’s next? More fun events! I do love my job. I have a lot of fun. It doesn’t feel like I should make a living doing this. It’s been a bit of a process up and down, and here we are today.” – Monica

39:00 On directing the conversation with clients to get the kind of work YOU want to do

41:00 Building a business on your own terms (we don’t all need to be millionaires!)

“It’s so amazing to have a business where you’re like, ‘I can’t believe I get paid to do this.’ That’s the best feeling in the world. There are so many people out there talking about how to make six figures… that’s great, but not all of us want that. So that’s important, to look at how we want to grow our business without having a team, or a bunch of overhead costs, or how to be a millionaire.” – Sagan

“I’m also huge about enjoying life. I’m never going to be a millionaire because I don’t want to work that hard. It goes back to where we started: being honest with yourself. What do I actually honestly want with my life?” – Monica

43:10 How to learn more about Ethero

“I’m honest and open. I have very little secrets. If people really want to learn about the reality of day-to-day, I have no problem sharing the gruesome details.” – Monica

44:00 Thanks for listening!

If you enjoyed this podcast episode, give it a like and a share. It would mean a lot!

45:25 Outtake 🙂

Learn all about behind the scenes of one of Winnipeg's most premier event management businesses... plus get an inside peek at what it's like having a business partner, managing a fluctuating team of people, and more! Click on over to learn more at the Candid Conversations small business podcast

Awesome Resources + People Mentioned In This Episode

Don’t Be a Stranger!

Hang out with us! We’d love to chat with you.

For example, you could…

  1. Tweet at us (@Dn_Nicholson and @Saganlives) to let us know what you thought about this podcast
  2. Email us ( with any small business questions you’d love for us to answer
  3. Review this episode on iTunes and share it with your friends so that even MORE people can benefit from the amazing guests we feature!

Pssst… want to grab Dan and Sagan for an interview on YOUR podcast or blog? We’d be honoured! Shoot us an email and let’s chat.

Get notified when new podcast episodes go live >>

Thank you to our sponsor, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival! 

Winnipeg Comedy Festival

Find out what Monica’s up to now in our book, A Year in the Life of Candid Conversations: Behind the Scenes of Creating a Podcast From Scratch.

  • Share post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *