Give Castle the Royal Treatment


Q. We live in a castle in the mountains and have had requests to have weddings and parties here. We are considering turning it into a business. Are there any associations or organizations where we can get information on starting and maintaining a business of this type?

--George & Carmen Jackson,

Oak Glen

A. Several organizations can help you research, set up, advertise and run this kind of business. Some challenges you need to look into and decisions you’ll need to make include: Will you offer strictly the locale for your clients to use or will you also get into the business of providing food, decorations, consulting, etc.? Will you take a middle road and provide the setting, then partner with other entrepreneurs who do catering, flowers, party planning and other related services? Once you define how the structure will work, you’ll need to make sure you have proper insurance coverage, a marketing plan and staffing.

Check out the Web site of Special Events Magazine at It has information on all aspects of party planning, including a bulletin board where you can read discussions of industry topics and post your own questions to special-event professionals.


Additional resources include: the Assn. of Bridal Consultants,, New Milford, Conn., (860) 355-0464; the Assn. for Wedding Professionals International,, in Sacramento, (800) 242-4461; and the International Special Events Society,, (800) 688-ISES.

--Cookie Lewis, Infomania,

Sherman Oaks

Offering Free Web Help

Q: My Web development company plans to give something back to society by providing free Web designs to qualified small nonprofit organizations. How do we broadcast this service to the nonprofit community? Are there any government agencies or corporations that might provide grants or funding for this kind of service?

--Jackie Anderson, Arcadia

A: Start reading up on the nonprofit community and you will get a much better sense of how it functions and how to get the word out about your service. I recommend that you subscribe to the Chronicle of Philanthropy ( twice-monthly trade newspaper based in Washington for the nonprofit community--and its primary competitor, the NonProfit Times ( Both publications have added an increasingly heavy dose of technology to their coverage packages, so getting some publicity in them about your service would help get the word out.

Another suggestion: Contact local or regional nonprofit training and support centers. Ask nonprofit organizations how to find them, or search the Internet and local telephone directories.

These programs, often called “centers for nonprofit management,” offer numerous training and development courses for nonprofits year-round. They would provide a great way for you to create awareness about your offering at the community level.

Most of these centers have added Web development and other online courses to their mix, so what better way for you to create visibility before your desired recipients than to have them publicize your service?


--Stan Freidman, president,

marketing for small business

and nonprofit entities,

WorldCom, San Francisco

ISP Cost Skyrockets

Q: My Web site has been very successful in attracting new business for me. But I just learned the price I pay my Internet service provider was raised 80% in one year, without any upgrade or change in the service. Are there any consumer protection agencies that look into this matter?

--Luis Vega, Spanish-language

training, Silver Lake

A: This problem sounds like a job for the Better Business Bureau Online, You also could contact several regional associations of ISPs. Your service provider may even belong to one.

These organizations probably will have answers to your question, earned through the concrete experiences of their members. You also might want to get in touch with Penton Media Inc. (, the company that produces ISPCON (, the annual conference for Internet service providers. The conference agenda may include fair business practices and pricing sessions led by the leading national and international experts in this field.

--Jeannine Parker,

Internet consultant,

J. Parker Co., Santa Monica


If you have a question about how to start or operate a small business, mail it to Karen E. Klein, Los Angeles Times, 1333 S. Mayflower Ave., Suite 100, Monrovia, CA 91016, or e-mail it to Include your name, address and telephone number. This column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice.