Virtually every business uses technology in some capacity, whether you’re recording Reels in the studio or scheduling Zoom calls to meet with clients. Yet the power of technology extends far beyond the basics of social media and video conferences—two areas that have existed digitally for over a decade.
In fact, new virtual solutions emerge for businesses every day. For some, it can be exhausting to sort through the noise and identify the essentials from the non-essentials. Before you know it, you’ve signed up for countless software trials, while that notebook and pen seem comforting.
With tech, less truly is more. If you’re just starting out, take it slow and add one tool at a time. For those with a tech stack bursting at the seams, run an audit to see what no longer serves you and consider pulling back. Not only will you save money (subscriptions add up!), but you’ll also find more flow with fewer logins and platforms to stress over.
If you’re all-in for a minimalist approach to technology, here are four critical areas to lean on tech—whether you know it or not.
A contract and invoice management platform
Life is stressful—and for consumers, a complicated billing process can be the final straw that pushes them into the arms of a competitor. As hospitality professionals, it’s our duty to simplify our clients’ lives and take work off their plates. If you’re still expecting to maintain your booking rate with paper contracts or clunky billing software, you’ll find it difficult to keep up with prospects who demand convenience from service providers.
Instead, opt for software that can send digital contracts for e-signature and automate invoices for easy billing. It might take a few hours to create templates (some member success teams will do this for you!), but once you’re all set up, you can let it run like clockwork! Not only will your clients love the streamlined process, but you’ll also free up valuable time in your schedule without needing to recreate it for every client.
A project management system you enjoy
There’s no denying the value of a project management system. Delegating tasks, setting deadlines, attaching files, and sharing feedback are essential steps for keeping your projects organized and on time. But with so many project management tools available, it can get discouraging to try a few and find that none fit your needs.
Task and project management is one area where it’s vital to test a platform’s experience before diving headfirst. Fortunately, many popular options—like ClickUp, Asana, and Trello—offer free plans for users to determine whether it’s a fit.
Before overwhelming yourself with too many trials, consider what type of system best suits your work style. Do you prefer a clean and simple to-do list to keep you on track? Or does your business model call for a more robust system with automation, dashboards, and other advanced features? Get clear on what you need from a project management platform first. Then, find a few that align with your vision and give them a shot.
A reliable automation tool
Technology offers power and flexibility; there’s no reason for event pros to clutter their to-do list with unnecessary tasks. Automation relies on preset formulas to run on autopilot, freeing your time (and your team’s) to address more important responsibilities. Let’s face it—you didn’t start a business to respond to every inquiry in 30 seconds or create new folders on Google Drive. Let an automation tool handle those small, repetitive tasks so you can get back to the creative work you love!
Before jumping into Zapier or any of its competitors, check your existing software first. Many platforms for client relationship management (CRM), project management, and email marketing offer automation features that can save you from the extra subscription cost. It might require upgrading your plan, but you can’t beat the efficiency of
A place to store, track, and analyze your numbers
Bookkeeping may not be the most exciting part of running a business, but you must know your numbers to keep the lights on. Even if you have an accountant or financial consultant, it’s wise to monitor your income and expenses as they can influence your business decisions. For instance, if you realize a particular service sells more than others, you may focus your energy on marketing that offering.
Many business owners start with a spreadsheet of data points: leads, sales, expenses, etc. But as your company grows, it’ll become increasingly difficult to track and analyze your numbers manually. Even if you enjoy math, your time is better spent elsewhere! There are plenty of options for digital bookkeeping, like QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Wave. If you work with a bookkeeper, schedule a recurring meeting to ask questions and run through your reports with an expert.
Beyond these four solutions, most business software is useful, but not essential for keeping the ship afloat. So, start with your foundation, then add other apps and programs as you see fit. Just be careful to avoid tech overload by implementing one new tool at a time!
Nora Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. She is also the founder and lead wedding planner of award-winning firm Bridal Bliss. In addition to recognition by Portland Business Journal in its 40 Under 40 series, she also earned a spot in The BizBash 500 for 2021.