By Karen Kuzsel

Have your New Year’s resolutions for organizing, amplifying, and focusing your business gotten caught up in the complexities of personal and business time management, trying to be all things to all people in order to keep the money flowing in, sorting through business apps for one suitable to your expertise and needs, and trying to keep up with governmental rules, both federal, state or even by which country in which you are located?

Running your own small business, especially if it’s still a recent adventure, can be akin to swimming in the ocean when you previously swam laps easily in the neighborhood pond. It can be unexpectedly daunting.

Fortunately, when you join the Meeting Professionals International Small Business Owners (SBO) Connects hour-long session, you are in a pool of small business owners who are ready to reach out with life preserver answers and resources. You do not have to be a member of the MPI SBO group to participate in these sessions or the quarterly education sessions. You also are invited to be listed in the SBO Directory: This is a free listing to encourage business between small businesses owners.

Such was the case for the MPI SBO Connects session, Reboot & Recommit to Your Small Business, on February 21. Participants came from states such as California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Washington DC.

The program kicked off with discussions about the differences between being an SCorp and an LLC. A business strategist delineated the basic differences of filing personally. With both an LLC or SCorp, being sued doesn’t impact you directly. A person buying equipment would be taxed for the purchase. If an SCorp or LLC, the purchase is a company expense and can be entirely written off. He cautioned that rules vary by the state. Other callers chimed in. A couple mentioned transitioning from an SCorp to an LLC, necessary when there are multiple partners in the business.

A planner mentioned that since January 1, 2024, anyone with an EIN must file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report with the United States Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. A company which has become an LLC since January 1 of this year has 90 days to file. The filing is required so the government can track the legitimacy of businesses and who works for them. Here’s the website:

The first of two questions was then posed to the group. What can you do or are doing to reinvigorate and move your business forward in 2024?

The responses ranged from “keeping track of my goals” to one planner whose business is about a year-and-a-half old to say she planned for the first quarter of 2024, but realized she needs to get prepared for the rest of the year. One specific task is to ready a pitch deck.

What are the methods you use to promote and invest in your business?

One participant asked if others scan the prices charged by competitors in their respective business area. A graphic artist answered that she prices her work by the project, as an ad agency does, not by the hour as a freelancer does. She also stated she has not raised her fees since the COVID pandemic struck. Charging by the project builds in time, flexibility, and causes her less stress.

Several software apps were mentioned as useful (and not expensive) to assist with running a small business.

Toggl is good for tracking time and reporting. One planner uses it to track time, saying she finds it easier to use than Excel. She also uses MileIQ to track her mileage.

Someone else suggested Calendar Bridge, which syncs calendars together in real-time and provides scheduling pages when a person has multiple calendars. She said this app has saved her many hours a week. “You can choose which details to sync.” She can block out chunks of time on multiple calendars with one step, preventing double-bookings or having to be sure her appointments are assembled correctly.

Calendly also syncs multiple calendars. Https://

Another person added that Google Calendar now has a Calendly-like ability for external people to book time.

If you travel frequently as one planner does, she recommends using TripIT, a free online trip planner and free travel itinerary website for organizing vacations, group trips, or business travel.

As for what might help to propel a business’ growth, one small business owner suggested structuring a case study around the skills or tasks you have done for clients as a means of showing prospective clients what is possible.

Another planner said to ask for a reference after each project. “It’s helpful for recruiting new business.” She noted younger clients are social media-wise. When she asks for a reference, she might suggest a five or six sentence statement. “Get a testimonial from a client whose project or specific tasks are like another client’s job you hope to book.

The consensus is that people want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for the testimonial.

And just in case you would like to become a pro at asking for testimonials, our MPI SBO March 20 hour-long education session will address exactly that.

How to Solicit Strong & Effective Testimonials will be led by Lisa Speer, founder of Speerhead Solutions, a strategic branding business.

Description: Testimonials are gold and worth taking the time to collect. But simply asking for a testimonial doesn’t ensure it will be strong and effective. During this talk, you’ll: • Learn 3 steps to get that sexy (feed) back • Anatomy of a powerful testimonial • How to drive home what you want to showcase, without telling your clients what to say • Where to leverage your testimonials • Discover what testimonials say about you and your business Examples will be provided throughout, along with opportunities to ask questions.

The session is March 20, 11 am PT; 2 pm ET. To register:

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 2023-2024 MPI Community Council for Small Business Owners. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events in her blog, Hotel Happenings & Program Promotions. 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.;;; She is also active with Experience Kissimmee CVB and Wedding Venue Map.