Owning a small business is a complex assembly of many moving parts. The easiest components are why you want to begin one and what will be the focus of its existence. The more complex elements take center stage when juggling the marketing, accounting, liabilities, insurance, and networking, but if you don’t have the right technology, then none of the other components will cohere.
The October 21 Meeting Professionals International Independent & Small Business Owners (MPI ISBO) CommuniTEA zoom session on Technology and Your Small Business revealed that even though each participant has used hardware and software for their individual business, they all still searched for what may be more manageable, more encompassing, more affordable, or more easily adaptable to the individual’s business.
The monthly socially engaging casual chat typically begins with brief introductions of each person before splitting into limited-size breakout rooms, allowing for more intimate conversation on the month’s topic before reconvening to discuss what was learned. The beauty of each monthly MPI ISBO CommuniTEA topic is no one person has all the answers, but with so many types of businesses represented, someone else may have the solution to your question.
So what are these small and independent business owners using?
HoneyBook was mentioned by several. One person who is launching a new business (but says she’s no fan of technology), said she likes that she can incorporate various tools with Honey Book. A Canadian planner who is expanding her wedding and event management business into more corporate markets says HoneyBook is great for event professionals with its onboarding (proposals to invoicing and scheduling payment) tools and that the system is constantly being updated to the meetings and events industry’s needs. HoneyBook also integrates well with Square and Quick Books.
A business strategist based in Florida asked if there is a CRM (Customer Relations Management) package that populates social media accounts. “Is there one that you can provide a specific name and a search can be conducted through social media platforms to locate which ones that person is using?” CRM was described by another planner as having three arms: management, sales & marketing, and marketing automation. She said as much as she knows and does, one can’t do it alone; CRM is a vital necessity.
“Salesforce has the ability to integrate and populate Social media accounts,” said a Canadian event planner and risk manager. Salesforce was among several companies, including HubSpot, Dubsado and Nimble that are being used by several participants.
Co-founder and chief marketing director of a San Francisco, CA events company advised working with a smaller company who will be quickly responsive to your calls for help. She said, “Salesforce does just that. If you identify yourself as a small business as well as make inquiries about their services at the end of a quarter when they need to make their sales quotas, then you can negotiate down the cost.”
A New York-based marketer who teaches sales techniques has been using HubSpot for her own sales & marketing efforts. HubSpot was described as having a free starter version and excellent CRM. It has training for hybrid (in-person and virtual) training and can prompt you to touch base with clients.
Business management solution Dubsado offers end-to-end capabilities, including proposals to onboarding to client portals, meeting & calendar scheduler. You can create a portal for each client.
A Texas self-described tech enthusiast said she believes BenchmarkONE completes head-to-head with HubSpot’s capabilities. It’s a lightweight automation platform that is reasonably priced according to your database size. She thinks it runs about $150 a month for 10k contacts.
A Californian who represents DMCs globally was one of several who said they use Nimble. She said Nimble is a simple, easy to use CRM for sales. It integrates well with LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter. Then I sync it to Constant Contact for about $25 a month per user.”
The group was advised to find a platform that can bring all the elements under one platform. An Irish sales leadership strategist uses Kajabi for that. That platform has marketing automation, CRM, sales pipeline, funnel, and database building.
A new participant to the group has designed such a system. Having been involved for more than 30 years as an events planner, he designed E-DestinACCESS to bring all the elements under one umbrella that his experience saw as needed. The Arizona-based Software technology provider said his program has been compared to C-Vent. The platform contains proposals, purchase orders, contacts, and participants: what they spent and what they did. It also assists with booking hotels and flights.
As to social media automation, another strategist said one way to save time and stress is to pre-schedule your posts. Many companies were named that enable that. Later, Facebook Biz suite, Planoly (Instagram scheduling), Edgar, Airtable, and Publr.
Two password manager system named are 1Password and Lastpass. Other programs being used by participants on the MPI ISBO CommuniTEA call are Backblaze (automatic backup), Loom, Carbonite, Dashlane, Quicktime, and Five-minute-journal.com.
The next MPI ISBO CommuniTEA zoom session is Building Your Team, on November 18. Noon EST. Check your local time.
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is an active member of International Live Events Association and Meeting Professionals International and is now serving on the 2021-2022 MPI Global Advisory Board for Independent and Small Business Owners. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com; www.KarenKuzsel.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.