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Megan Kahn

MEGAN KAHN is the owner of Plan Ahead Events and Décor, a company she started 17 years ago, and manager of Cheers Hiring. Plan Ahead Events and Décor manages events for big corporates and individuals alike as well as weddings and other functions

No matter what happens, you get up and move forward

MEGAN KAHN is the owner of Plan Ahead Events and Décor, a company she started 17 years ago, and manager of Cheers Hiring. Plan Ahead Events and Décor manages events for big corporates and individuals alike as well as weddings and other functions. Arrangements cover the entire event spectrum including invitations, catering, DJs, tables and chairs, and crockery. Themed décor, small details or big props, are a specialty. Plan Ahead is fortunate to have developed a partnership with Cheers Hiring, a company which has earned an enviable reputation in the functions and hiring environment, becoming one of South Africa's biggest in this field. After finishing school, Megan started her working career by joining the old Seaboard Hotel. She became interested in the hospitality industry; realising it was where she wanted to be and grow. Megan says she was fortunate to have supportive managers who allowed her to attend training courses. She says, "When you have passion for doing something, you want to grow and improve." This is the reason why she has never stopped learning.

Jill of all trades

Megan moved to Johannesburg when her husband was transferred there by his employer. After having her first child, she wanted to spend time being a mother rather than working in hotels and hospitality. She started "Plan Ahead" with only a computer, printer and fax machine. The company initially operated as a tour operating business, managing inbound tours of South Africa for overseas tourists. Four years later, when she fell pregnant again, Megan returned to Durban. As business in Durban was smaller and attracted fewer tours, she reinvented Plan Ahead to deal with events, conferences, functions, and activations. Working alone, Megan initially had to manage all aspects of the business and carry out everything that needed to be done, becoming a "Jill of all trades". The corporate and private functions business performed outstandingly for Plan Ahead until a recession about five years ago. With the slowdown in big functions, Megan realised that décor hiring for companies and people who did not want the "total event package" was taking off and more storage space was required to store equipment. As a result, about two years ago, the collaboration between Plan Ahead and Cheers Hiring started, and they now operate from the same warehouse. Commenting on what inspires her, Megan says that she is inspired by social media as well as chatting and socialising with different people. "Everyone's requirements are different, but I have always loved following David Tutera International Stylist to the famous. We like to pride ourselves in trying never to create the same look and feel for every client."

Driven to become bigger and better

Sometimes, especially after big, successful events, it is hard for Megan to believe that she has managed to arrange everything. "Once the event is over and you sit back and look and say to yourself wow, we did that and the client is happy - this keeps me motivated - I love a challenge." Every year she sets new goals for big events involving up to 2500 people but also for small ones. Although content with what she has reached, Megan is still driven to become bigger and better, growing both businesses, expanding nationally and into Africa. According to Megan, the requirements for women to be successful in her industry are no different from what they are for men. Her business used to be women-driven, but creative men are entering the industry, giving women good competition.

"You need to work hard and be passionate about the business regardless of your gender, it is about you as person. You need to believe in yourself and do everything, including physical work." She laughs, saying that men are amazed when she picks up heavy things. "In our industry and life in general, what you put in is what you get out."

You get up and move forward

Megan credits her mother for supporting her and inspiring her to get where she is. She was a single mother who raised three children and fought cancer for ten years. She says her mother made her a stronger woman and she aspires to be like her. Her mother's motto was "No matter what happens, you get up and move forward." Megan strives to apply this to life and business. Balancing work with life is important. Megan has a teenage daughter and son who have grown up with their mom doing what she does. She says she supports them, but they also support and inspire her. This is important as her industry is not an easy one to be in, involving late nights and early mornings. She works hard during the festive season, but when it is not busy, she spends quality time with her family. She summarises her policy: "The laptop is off when I get home, so it does not interfere with what I do with my family." The advice that Megan would give her younger self is, "Believe more in yourself, believe that you can achieve things". She would add that it's okay to fail sometimes. Things don't always run smoothly, especially if you have your own business. "If you fall down, what matters is how you pick yourself up, move forward and to learn from failures." She would also advise socialising with more people who uplift and encourage you, who share the same passion as you; the earlier you can learn that, the easier it would become to run your own business.