This series is dedicated to learning from event experts on various topics. We cover event technology, meeting design, and much, more more! Today, we are pleased to interview ALON ALROY, Co-Founder | CMO & BizDev at Bizzabo
First of all, please tell our readers about Bizzabo – what is the company all about?
Bizzabo revolutionizes the event experience by socializing conferences for both attendees and organizers. Bizzabo delivers increased potential to network, communicate ideas and receive valuable feedback. By integrating social media to construct highly-interactive event communities, we help organizers, sponsors and exhibitors to engage directly with guests and seek out meaningful new business opportunities. Organizers use Bizzabo to mobilize their event information, increase discoverability and word of mouth. The platform has been incorporated into thousands of events worldwide.
What were the 3 keys to getting the company off the ground – where did you invest your time?
There’s a great deal that goes into getting a company off the ground, but three main areas we’ve invested the most time and energy in and have given us the most success are our team, solving a pain point and continually innovating our product and design.
Putting together a great team was one of the most important factors when beginning Bizzabo. Our team is our heart and soul, the people we work with are our ideasmiths, our motiviation, and our culture. Bizzabo began when our three founders experienced a pain in the market, attending conferences and events is hard work and networking with strangers can be even harder. We are consistently addressing this problem by finding more ways to make life a little bit smoother, easier and more efficient. Finally, our time has been spent in creating, and re-creating, a user-friendly product with a great design. We are always taking feedback from our users and organizers and constantly iterating to achieve the best product possible for everyone.
What kind of clients do you serve?
Socializing events is our vision and this vision serves a wide array of clients. Our work is just as important for small events and big time conferences. Whether it is a small corporate gathering or an international expo with thousands of people, the heart and soul of events and conferences is networking. Knowing who is going, who is there and who to spend your time with is key. Organizers always want to provide the best experience for their attendees and Bizzabo allows them to do that, no matter the size of the event.
How do you use events to expand the reach of your brand?
Each and every event using Bizzabo has social media integration, so our brand has been able to grow through organic word of mouth and sharing on social networks. Networking communities on Bizzabo, no matter the size of the event, not only help organizers in promoting the event but help cultivate our brand recognition as more and more users join the community can create social buzz.
What is your latest and greatest feature that you don’t want people to miss?
Our new conference polling feature is a direct line for attendees to share their experiences using live opinion polls, total experience surveys or competitions. These new insights give participants a real feeling of contributing to the conference and allows organizers to increase engagement and audience connection as well gain valuable feedback directly from attendees. In short, we’re putting one more layer of ‘social’ into what should be a very social experience.
Until today, event planners had to pay for a dedicated polling system in addition to an event app and a networking platform. Bizzabo’s integrated system reduces costs, saves setup time and makes the attendee experience more seamless.
Finally, what is your favorite app?
There are tons of great apps out there – we love Pocket for keeping track of interesting articles we want to read on the go, and Hootsuite for staying on top of our social media engagement, but, honestly, if we were to tell you our favorite app was anything but Bizzabo, we’d be just plain lying 😉
– You have a hard time seeing the positive in most any situation.
– You feel a bit desperate about changing something in your life – perhaps moving or going on vacation or doing something completely out of the ordinary.
Unfortunately, it’s completely common to suffer from burnout. So what can you do to prevent this? Here are a few things that I’ve learned to do when I start feeling burnout symptoms coming on.
If you’re like me, you are completely connected to your devices. Whether you’re on your phone or your iPad or your computer, you’re always connected to something. And, that means that you’re working much more than you may even realize. It’s also important to note that “working” is not always related to what you do professionally. Sometimes, working is as simple as doing a project for your family or focusing on other projects that need your attention. In short, though, burnout is going to come your way when you find yourself immersed in projects all of the time. So – when you start realizing that your schedule is fuller than usual, make a sincere attempt to unplug. This means that your phone should be completely off from mid evening until the next morning. You also should make a concerted effort to look around at the sun and people around you, rather than always down at your phone. This may seem simple, but it’s very hard for people to unplug and many people actually suffer from an addiction to their devices. If you are one of these people, like me, it’s incredibly important to force yourself to unplug.
Do something you love
Maybe you haven’t spent enough time with your family recently or your friends haven’t seen you in the past couple of months. Maybe you love to golf, but you just haven’t had the chance to golf in the last year or two. Use this opportunity to do something that you love outside of work. Take a few days, or single day, or even just an afternoon and do something that will refresh you. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be a vacation, but it does need to be a time where you about to turn off work and get inspired by life. Often, inspiration and motivation come in the simplest activities.
Take a moment to be grateful
This might seem a bit out of the box, but a lot of the time, burnout leads us to feeling very depressed about life. We wish we could work less hours or have more time with her family or do more of what we love. But come our schedule always seems to be in the way. It’s a scientific fact, however, that showing gratitude actually increases your happiness level. Regardless of how busy you are, there are always things to be grateful for all around you. Sometimes, making a list of these things mentally or on paper, really helps to put things in perspective. Perhaps all the work you’ve been doing has given you some great opportunities in your business. Maybe you have a new writing gig or client – these are all important things to be grateful for. Add family, a home to live in, great friends – and you’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Rather than simply getting frustrated and wanting to unplug from everything, remind yourself about all of the great things that have come your way because of your dedication. Beating yourself up over how you became burned out doesn’t help.
Burnout is never a great thing to deal with, but it can be prevented and can be cured. With careful attention to your work life balance, you should be able to make sure that you prevent burnout and can stay focused on your work and life at the same time! Of course, we are always going to have ebbs and flows when it comes to our lives, but it’s important that in the end, it all evens out!
We’ve all experienced the six degrees of separation in work and in our personal lives. We’ve seen jobs offered, deals made and business exchanged because of connections. Who you (may) know is the basis of LinkedIn and most social media. In conference and event world, we pride ourselves on the necessity of networking. After all, it’s all about who you know, right (or hopefully, who you meet at a conference)?
Or is it? A connection might get you a phone call answered or a meeting arranged. But what happens next comes down to relationship and results.
I thought public relations epitomized the who-you-know philosophy, but I’ve quickly realized sealing the deal goes far beyond an initial connection. You can make something happen on a cold call, but if you haven’t established a relationship with that reporter, client or business partner, it will be short-lived. The same is true to get attendees to return, maintain great service at convention centers or nab the best speakers at your event.
It’s actually all about how you treat those you know:
1. Be authentic. When the focus is what we can get from someone, the relationship will always be transactional. Never walk into a business meeting again. View appointments as an opportunity to get to know someone—whether it’s helpful for business or not—and both your perspective and his receptiveness may change.
2. Over deliver. The bottom line is still the bottom line. Relationship or not, if you don’t exceed expectations and deliver results, you’re just friends in the end (hopefully, if you started with step No. 1).
3. Be honest. Be upfront about expectations and disappointments. Respond quickly when things don’t work out and a real relationship can withstand good and bad times in business.
How have personal relationships within your industry been beneficial to you? What rules do you live by to keep them from becoming transactional?
Work in Progress: The Life of an Entrepreneur in Beta
This is a series dedicated to the new entrepreneur. Welcome to the life you’ve always dreamed of creating.
We entrepreneurs have extraordinary lives. If you’re like me, then right about now, you’re just trying to hold together your sanity. It’s the tail end of one of the worst winters in memory. You’ve been sick a couple of times already, and you’re still fighting some crappy cold. Probably traded it back and forth with one of your kids at least twice already. In fact, you may even work at home and your son is home from school with his third bout of stomach bug and he’s watching some stupid Disney sitcom while you’re trying to get some writing done!
So, you feel my pain.
Whether you’re a parent or childless, a caregiver, a pet owner, or just have a complicated family situation, if you are self-employed, and especially if you work at home, your personal life is sometimes going to pull at you in ways that can be distracting and even threatening to the success of your business. However, there are some things you can do to help you feel a little more in control and able to handle the unexpected.
Life doesn’t give a crap about your professional deadlines.
It’s true. Illness and other personal crises don’t defer to that proposal you promised to your client today, or the Twitter postings you have to do or the sales calls you have to make, or the spreadsheet you’re supposed to deliver. Everyone, at some point or another, has some extenuating personal circumstance that gets in the way of normal, daily activity.
The first thing to do when something urgent intrudes on your carefully scheduled to-do list, is to take a step back and rank your priorities. Figure out which things absolutely can’t wait, and which deadlines actually have a little leeway. Depending on the urgency factor, you’d be surprised how far the priority bar can drop. It’s really important to keep a perspective that allows you to take care of what’s important in the broader scale of your life before you start freaking out about a work deadline.
One of the main benefits of being an entrepreneur is flexibility.
I’m a single mom, and I am grateful to be able to take my son to his karate classes and dance rehearsals and help him with his science project and history reports. However, there are some weeks when my workload is really humming, and I feel like I’m trying to cram three lives into one. Flexibility is one thing, but at some point, time and energy simply run out. How does one deal with this?
Well aside from the need to realistically prioritize your business related activities in the form of a well thought out to-do list, it’s important to always program in a little extra time for things to go wrong, take longer than we expect, or for sudden interruptions, or other things that come up out of the blue. That way, our expectations are realistic, and we are less likely to be caught short of time when it really counts.
As an entrepreneur, you have the advantage of being in full control of your schedule. If it works better to do your best creative writing at 5am before the rest of the house is awake, or after 10pm, when they’re fast asleep, do it. Take full advantage of the unconventional lifestyle you have chosen to create a schedule that works for you. Clients or colleagues in other time zones, publication deadlines, and high traffic communication hours should be considered as strongly as the needs of your family and your own personal preferences. You may even have time for a middle of the day workout or yoga class…
You’re gonna screw up. A lot.
Last year, I heard a lot about making mistakes in business when I was interviewing young entrepreneurs at Under30CEO. Again and again, the term, “iteration” came up. One of the most common lessons these 20-somethings were learning was the value in making mistakes. In fact, some went as far as to say, the more mistakes you made, the more you learned.
Is screwing up the best way to learn? Perhaps, if you want to look at it that way. I prefer to reframe the discussion to think about altering our expectations around business plans. If one is open to the notion of engaging in a learning process every time we push forward our ideas, then we become less hung up on the idea of being an expert and having all the answers. As long as you learn something, then your mistake was also a gift.
Ideally, we’re all living our lives in beta.
Don’t beat yourself up. Learn your lessons and move on. There’s no time for sitting around feeling inadequate. Just get better. Be like a shark. Keep moving. Set your agenda, and quietly tick things off your list. Despite all the obstacles, interruptions, challenges, unexpected left turns and revisions, if you keep moving forward, you are going to find yourself making progress. It’s inevitable.
I find completing tasks, especially large ones, to be so uplifting, that I often force myself to start the day with the hardest ones, just so I can ride the energy of getting them out of the way into the rest of my piddly to-do’s. Then, I make sure I reward myself for my accomplishments.
Work hard and play hard.
Depending on how you’re feeling, you may want to change that to “Work hard and chill hard,” but that’s up to you. Either way, make sure you give yourself a break to recharge your batteries. It’s all about balance. You’ve gotta rest up, space out, act silly or go a little wild in between the stretches of hard work. It’s the only way to keep yourself replenished and inspired.
You have no idea what’s going to happen.
Some of our biggest visionaries didn’t know what the hell they were doing. They didn’t have any guarantees or proof of success. But they trusted their gut and were willing to take a chance on failure. If you have already been brave enough to make an unconventional decision to start your own business, then by definition, you are a risk taker. You’ve come this far – don’t stop now! You may end up being more wildly successful than you could have ever imagined… but you won’t know until you give it everything you’ve got!
So 2014 is well underway and if you haven’t already got video in your marketing strategy then you’re doing it all wrong! No matter what business you may have, a video explainer can significantly help increase your digital presence.
Check out these top 6 reasons to find out why…
It Will Sell Your Stuff
No matter what you’re selling, a video is a great way to market your product. If you’ve just released an app then a demo video is the ideal way to get more people downloading it. Not only does it give users a taster of what to expect if they buy, but it’s a great way to show off your product!
Alternatively you could opt for an animated video to help promote your business. This is a great way to tell the story of what problems your customers face – so that they can relate to it – and you can offer them the solution!
- Shows off your product
- Increases your sales
- Demonstrates how you solve problems
It Will Help with SEO
Forrester Research found out that you’re 53 times more likely to get onto page one of Google if you include video on your website. Now you can’t argue with those stats can you? It’s also true that Google actually monitors how long visitors spend on your website – and the longer people spend – the better your rankings. So if you have a video then your prospective customers are more likely to watch it and therefore spend longer your site. Bottom line is, if you’re not making the most of video then you may be missing out on some serious SEO potential.
Did you know…
- Over 90% of traffic is video content
- You’re 53 times more likely to reach page one of Google
- Visitors on average will stay on your site for 2 minutes longer
A Video Tells a Thousand Words
Well 1.8 million words to be more exact. That’s right, Forrester Research again found out that video is so powerful, it’s the equivalent of having 3,600 web pages! Just imagine the time and effort you’ll save if you decide to feature a video on your website. The great thing about video is that it’s so easy to get your story across in such a short amount of time and people respond really well to that.
- Equates to 1.8 million words
- Gets your story across quickly
- Saves you time and effort
YouTube is the Second Largest Search Engine
You probably don’t really think of YouTube as a search engine, but the fact is people use YouTube to search for everything! From tips on how to bake the perfect brownies, to advice on improving your SEO, billions of searches are conducted each month and it’s because people would much rather watch a video explainer, than read text on a page!
Did you know…
- YouTube is the worlds second largest search engine
- YouTube is now 28% of all Google searches
- Over 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
It Builds Your Brand
Building your brand is important and it’s not just the style of your logo or the colors of your product that will create the perfect brand. Literally everything you do will be associated with your company so you need to make sure that you tell your digital story well. And what better way to do that than by creating a video explainer to reaffirm what you’re all about? Within 2 minutes your audience will know exactly who you are and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
- Build up customer trust
- Keep you memorable
- Ensure you stand apart from competitors
It’s Great for Social Sharing
Think about social media for a second. How many videos do you see being posted everyday on your news feed? Lets be honest people love to share fun content and what’s more interesting than a video? Just last year Instagram realized the importance of video so they added it to their app. In 2013 we also saw the launch of Vine, a video social network that in just 7 months of its launch, had 40 million users signed up!
Did you know…
- Internet users watch on average 186 videos each month
- 60% of people share videos
- 80% of users remember a video ad they watched in the past month
So there you have it – our top 6 reasons to make video your top priority this year. Video really is taking over the world so if you haven’t already, now is the time to start thinking about your explainer video.
We are a passionate team of video professionals who specialize in creating animated and screen recorded explainer videos. From innovative startups to really large corporations, we work with customers from all over the world and we’re committed to creating the best videos on the web!
For a video that you’ll be proud to put your name on, click here!
Work in Progress: The Life of an Entrepreneur in Beta
This is a series dedicated to the new entrepreneur. Welcome to the life you’ve always dreamed of creating.
Being an entrepreneur means by definition that you are responsible for overseeing many levels of your business. However, given our economy and the rapidly changing corporate landscape, today’s managers and even administrative personnel in small, medium and large offices are being called upon to exercise many skills that have not previously been part of their training or experience.
The day I showed up for my first temp job after graduation, my new boss handed me a shoebox full of receipts and said, “Do something with this.” Was I a bookkeeper? No. But I took a column pad and divided up the expenses into categories, and made sure everything totaled up properly. It wasn’t that hard. As a bonus, after a couple of months I discovered that the office manager was writing herself extra paychecks. When she got fired (and prosecuted) for embezzlement, I got promoted to her position.
My next office management job was at a small medical practice. Since I already knew my way around a column pad, adding payroll to my list of skills wasn’t a big stretch. That and all the rest of my daily administrative tasks quickly grew to include all manners of patient interaction, including fielding medical questions, playing DJ (important to set the right mood!), calming nerves and cooling tempers when the schedule went awry, not to mention making sure the boss was fed…
When I segued into the event production industry seven years ago, I found that all of the skills I had developed in my earlier jobs were completely transferable. Instead of calming distraught patients, I was soothing anxious clients. Regardless of the business, I encountered people daily who depended on me to provide accurate information, clear communication, technical expertise and a relatively stress-free experience.
Anyone who is intelligent and motivated can develop a comfort level working with new software programs and online platforms. This site is filled with expert tips on which pieces of tech are best suited to your needs. The kind of skills that I’m talking about are the ones that typically develop over time, after you’ve worked in a number of different types of business situations.
This is good news, given how volatile the job market is these days. Many of us are in the midst of changing careers, being re-assigned or just plain looking for work. Whether you are launching a new entrepreneurial venture, trying to manage an expansion of the scope of your present job or looking for work in a new field, it’s important to be able to articulate the things that you know how to do so that you can claim your authority and if necessary, distinguish yourself from everyone else.
Here are some great skills to polish up for the days ahead:
Time Management – Personally, I think this one is paramount. A key ingredient to having a productive and satisfying work experience to is to start out each morning with a plan that pairs a list of priorities with a reasonable expectation of what is possible to accomplish in a given day. Put down the most important things first, and the times when you’ll be working on them. Scheduling it all is really helpful and gives you a better shot at completing the tasks. Just make sure you factor in some “crap time” to allow for the inevitable last minute things that come up.
Ego Management – It really helps if you can develop some ability to manage your need to be right all the time. Put your ego aside, and let your boss and your clients be the right ones. They are the ones paying you. Unless your point needs to be made in order to save the integrity of the entire company, or the fate of a huge campaign, or a major project, or your physical well being or integrity, (I’m not advocating any kind of abuse here), then let it go. If what is being asked of you is truly a deal breaker, and there’s no room for negotiation, then consider walking away – it’s not healthy to be in a situation that makes such unreasonable demands of you.
Diplomacy – I’m a bit of a natural people pleaser (which has its pros and cons), so I can often tell when situations need a little more smoothing over. But the flip side of this is that you need to be clear about boundaries and expectations, so that there are no surprises or miscommunications. Yes, there are tactful ways to say things. You can be kind at the same time as you are stating something very firmly. My friend calls me the “velvet hammer.”
Flexibility – You gotta learn to go with the flow. It’s pretty much the name of the game. No matter which scenario you find yourself in, circumstances can change in a heartbeat. Funding falls through, you lose accounts, technical glitches impede progress, deliveries are late, vendors flake out, snowstorms destroy your event attendance, shit happens! Best to cultivate a positive attitude, so you don’t get completely derailed every time something goes wrong.
Self-Discipline – There are going to be parts of your job that you can’t stand. It’s just the nature of work. Hopefully, there are parts that you really love, too. Make it a point to dig into at least one task that you really hate first thing in your day. Get it over with. Then, move on to the part of the job that you love. If necessary, reward yourself with a cappuccino, or ten minutes playing around on Facebook before moving back to the next unpleasant task. But remember, every time you check one of those nasty bits off your list, you get to pat yourself on the back for being so mature. Besides, delayed gratification is always so much sweeter…
Perspective – At the end of the day, it’s a job. It’s not your soul, your spirit, or your essence. (You get to keep that part for yourself and explore it on your own time.) This work – it may be what occupies much of your waking hours, but in the end, you are more than just your occupation. Keeping this in mind will allow you to let go of the frustrations that might otherwise end up making you kick the dog, or worse. Even if it’s your own company, and you are pursuing your life’s passion, your dream job – you still have to maintain SOME form of life/work balance, otherwise you, too can end up dribbling into a cup at the end of the day.
Being A Renaissance Person – Make a list of all the diverse things you know how to do. You’d be surprised how handy some of these skills may come in… Used to be a DJ in college?
Make a great mixed tape. Make a great Spotify mix that helps set a good mood in the office. Got a license? Pinch hit as a driver or errand runner… Learn your way around Quickbooks, Mailchimp, Paint or Dropbox so you can make yourself useful in other ways. Bilingual? Use your second language!
The bottom line is, the more tools you are familiar with, and the greater variety of talents and skills you bring to the table, the more useful you will be to your team, as an assistant, a collaborator and a supervisor. It’s a new era. We’re all becoming generalists!
There’s a conversation that I’ve heard in many event circles and it goes something like this:
The events industry doesn’t have a tall enough barrier to entry. Therefore, too many unqualified planners start up companies which leads to under-successful events and a behind-the-times industry.
After a few recent gigs on the “sponsor” side of an event, I decided it’s time to tackle this topic on the techsytalk blog.
Let me first start by saying that I am one of those who was able to take advantage of the low barrier to entry in our industry. I didn’t have formal “event” education or a certain degree. I simply had experience and passion and joined the industry to make a career out of doing something I love. In many ways, I don’t see any problem with the fact that the prerequisite list for starting an events business is not prohibitively lengthy. And while there were many times I wish I had more education, I’ve learned a lot through experience and via my peers. So – I don’t think we need to flip the industry on it’s head quite yet.
However, we’re working with a new client – an electronic cigarette brand – and we are helping them with their events strategy from A to Z. This means starting small – sponsoring existing events to capture an already-engaged audience. Of course, we’ll be planning large scale events on their behalf as well, but this is where we start. In this process, we’ve had the chance to sit on the other side of the event planning world – paying money to participate in an existing event and trying to vet the quality of that event before we sign on and after it’s all over. Of course, we’ve worked with some great people, but I have to say that there are far too many planners who suffer from:
- Lack of a clear plan for marketing their events
- Unclear communication with event stakeholders aka sponsors, speakers etc.
- False expectation setting for sponsors – over-promising and under-delivering
- Inability to prove ROI or share successes from past events
- Ancient technologies and poor social media strategies
So what can be done? I’m sure the answer is far beyond my understanding, but here are a few things I’d love to see in our industry:
- More collaboration and sharing of best practices so that people can learn from each other’s mistakes. Too much “fear of competition” leads us down a road of isolation (read: lack of growth)
- Under-promise, Over-deliver
- Standardization of basic event practices – make it easy for people to learn about ADA accommodation, menu planning, A/V and technology, risk management etc.
- Reward systems for those in the industry who push the envelope and try new things. I’d love to see the industry adopt a badge system where you can promote the types of events you do and the quality of work that you’ve done. Of course, this is different than certifications and would have to be objective.
So what do you think? What can we do better to make sure that we grow as an industry and evolve at a much faster rate?
First of all, please tell us a little about yourself. What do you love to do?
Thanks for having me here. I love your mission of helping women embrace technology and become successful entrepreneurs. I am definitely a bit of a geek and I love technology for what it enables me to do in my personal and professional lives. However, I must admit that I unfortunately I don’t have a lot of patience for all the finite technical details. That’s why I have a team of people who have those skills and knowledge. I guess I could be best described as unruly and opinionated. You are looking at the black sheep of the family; the girl who didn’t want to follow the rules. To this day, I find it hard to go places where others already have been. For better or worse, I have an innate need to find a new route. That is why I pursue new ventures, new ideas, and new businesses that push the envelope. To sum it up, I become very passionate about ideas that don’t fit the mold. Good ideas excite me and that is why my favorite thing is to help my clients build great businesses from their ideas.
You had a very successful photo business – can you tell us more about that?
First, allow me to clarify that my business was not successful for a very long time. My overnight success took thirteen years. But, when I finally figured out how to run a business right, it only took me only 18 months to go from $135,000 in debt to selling my company, BeateWorks, for millions of dollars to a company owned by Bill Gates. It took me a long time to find a desirable market niche, and when I did, I knew in my heart that I was on to something big.
My photography business was a stock photography syndication that granted licenses to use images that photographers (my suppliers) gave to my company. It was our job to find buyers for the images. My company packaged and resold the photos to magazines, advertisers, and pretty much to anyone who uses images for their marketing. We specialized in high-end interior design and architectural photography. I was extremely lucky to secure contracts with some of top-notch photographers like Tim Street-Porter, the late Fernando Bengoechea, Oberto Gili, and Pieter Estersohn. These photographers work with renowned architects and interior designers who have high profile clients, including many celebrities.
What had not been part of my plan at first, but ended up being my biggest blessing was when the first images of those celebrity homes landed on my desk. Because I used to be a Photo Editor at Elle Magazine, I knew I could turn it into a golden opportunity. While I didn’t invent the celebrity at home story, I did make it a worldwide phenomenon and we eventually sold our content in 79 countries and our stories were distributed everywhere. That is what attracted Bill Gate’s company, Corbis. At that time, it was the second largest image distributor in the world and the company wanted to expand its celebrity image syndication called Outline.
Where can women entrepreneurs do better?
One of my favorite quotes comes from Maria Shriver who said, “You don’t need courage if you don’t feel fear.” Women need to be more courageous. It’s okay to be afraid. I admit that I still have fears. I am afraid to fail, or that I may not be as good as others think I am, or that something I do will eat up money and never make a profit (and that has happened…) On the flip side, I am also fierce and relentless. I still push ahead with my ventures regardless of my fears. Women need to toughen up when it comes to business and not take things so personally. Your business does not define all of who you are. In my book Happy Woman Happy World, I put a lot of emphasis on how women need to find better support and how we can support each other. We girls need to stick together and help each other succeed instead of each one of us trying to figure it out alone as along the way.
The second thing I want to encourage women to do is to plan their lives better. Many women are very reactive in business and do not take time out to set boundaries, plan, and determine a clear direction where they want to take their businesses. The result is they are forced to react to whatever happens instead of anticipating and planning for what may go wrong, or allow for adjustments. I want women to plan their path but be open to the inevitable changes every business goes through. Planning and revising helps us to determine the direction where we are going.
What tips do you have for event planners who want to build their business to be sold?
If you want to set up a business with the goal of it being acquired, you have to implement certain strategies from the very beginning. All my businesses are set up this way. The first important step is to keep your personal accounts and your business accounts entirely separate. Run your financial aspects and your books very clean. After the initial start-up phase, you have to focus on sales. In an acquisition, the first question you will be asked is, “What are your sales?” You need to know all your numbers inside out at all times.
Second, I recommend you implement systems and use technology to create repeatable processes. If you are the only person who can run your business and it only operates when you present, then you have nothing to sell. If you can step out of the picture and your systems still work and your processes can be repeated, then you have something that can be attractive to buyers.
Third, be a good leader. In The Women’s Code we talk about women’s leadership skills (Lead on C.U.E.) based on women-centric principles, which are Compassion, Uniqueness, and Empowerment. Don’t try to be tougher than a man, that is so…nineties!
We all know that photos are essential to great events. What tips do you have for people looking to capture better images?
Your photos can be your best or worst marketing tool. The extra couple hundred dollars for a better photographer or two shooters will make a huge difference. I have seen event photos that I would be ashamed to post anywhere. You have to understand photos of your event symbolize the memories of the people who attended. You need to ensure your photos flatter your clients and that everyone looks like they are having the time of their lives. The photography budget is one of the things I would never compromise. A great photographer takes great pictures. Your guests look good in great pictures. And they remember the event as a being a fabulous time, which brings you referrals and repeat business. Hiring an excellent photographer is an investment in your business and it should be considered a marketing expense.
My advice is to always hire a professional photographer. I shudder at the thought of a talented 21 year-old with no training and no knowledge of event etiquette, dressed in Chucks, snapping away. Even if the young kid has a good portfolio, taking pictures at an event requires someone with a certain skill set. Did I mention you should ALWAYS hire a professional?
What is your favorite app?
That is a tough question. I work with LinkedIn a lot and I use their app almost all the time. I also frequently use Instagram @BeateChelette. If I have extra time on a plane, I will go to classics like Angry Bird and Solitaire.
Inquiring minds want to know. What has been your biggest tech mistake?
I only get to tell you about one mistake? What comes to mind first is when I started my stock syndication business. I wanted to save money and so I found a relatively inexpensive way to have a program written for the database. The problems were that it was a student project for a University, it took twice as long as expected to be completed, and after all that, it wasn’t suitable to expand as the business grew because the students had graduated and taken other jobs. I had to scratch it entirely and redo everything within only two years.
I strongly recommend you always research the market for any existing solutions that can be customized. While the monthly fees may seem to be a lot at the beginning and you may only need a fraction of what the system offers, do it anyway. Buy technology a size too big so that you can grow into it. Use what the most successful people in your industry use. Period. No exceptions.