How to Add Systems & Automation to Your Event Business

9 min read
Event Management Business Series – III
Starting your own business generally means forgoing the luxury of an IT, finance, marketing and HR department for support. Efficient processes and systems are the secret to staying on top of all the new things you’ll now have to manage yourself.

Index

Efficient processes and systems are the secret to staying on top of your game when starting an events business. Click To Tweet

1. Work to Your Strengths


All the extra bits can eat up your valuable time, taking you away from the thing you do best – event management. Here are some of the Extra Tasks you might need to cover, depending on your business size and strategic priorities:

Accounting & Finance
Invoicing
Accounts Payable
Accounts Receivable
Tax reporting
Business Loan applications
Insurance


Marketing
Marketing Plan
Website design & maintenance
SEO (search engine optimisation)
Content marketing (planning & producing eg blog articles & videos)
Social media planning & executing
Email marketing
Paid advertising (eg Google Ads, Facebook Ads)


People Management
Recruiting good staff
Defining roles
Managing performance


IT
Security
Networking
Connectivity
Repairs & maintenance


In the beginning at least, covering multiple roles is a way for small business start-ups to keep costs low. That’s good to a certain point, but not to the extent that you’re too overwhelmed to conduct event management magic and grow your business.

Discover how to reduce the load by automating or outsourcing repetitive, non-core tasks without breaking the bank, and always work to your strengths.

Reduce the load by automating or outsourcing repetitive, non-core tasks without breaking the bank. Click To Tweet

2. Identify Repeatable Tasks

First, take stock of everything that needs doing. Make two lists, using the Extra Tasks above as a prompt.

  1. What are the core, strategic event management tasks you or your partners will handle?
  2. What are the extra, more repetitive tasks that will take you away from core business activity?

Next, identify any tasks – in both lists but particularly List 2 – that aren’t mission critical for the current phase of your business. Can you survive without them for now, and revisit in 6-12 months once processes are more established?

For example, a monthly newsletter to your email list of prospective clients is time-consuming and might not be essential right now. Life’s short. Cross out the non-essentials..

Identifying repeatable tasks is key to a successful events startup. Click To Tweet

3. Share the Load

If you’re going into business with others, decide how to divvy up the items in List 1 and List 2. Perhaps you’re an IT whiz and know what to do when the printer dies, the WIFI drops out and your devices crash on event day.

Maybe your partner has a marketing background and is totally au fait with digital, in which case they’d be well placed to manage your website and social media (pending their schedule of core business tasks, naturally).

Once again, work to your strengths and be smart about sharing the extra load.


HOT TIP: document on List 1 and List 2 who is responsible for what, so that everyone’s clear. If things don’t work out so well, review responsibilities and explore other tactics like automation and outsourcing.

Events startup? Work to your strengths and be smart about sharing the extra load. Click To Tweet

4. Templates & Tools

The Event Manager’s Toolbox
Events Productivity Tools

Events Glossaries

Perfect for inducting new staff and suppliers (think bookkeepers, social media managers) who haven’t worked in events before. There are so many terms, phrases and acronyms they’ll thank you for give them a head start.



Email Templates

We’re talking here about the emails you frequently send in the course of the working day. Create a set of templates saved as drafts in your email application, or in your invoicing software eg Xero.

Sending a proposal/estimate
Sending invoices and payment reminders
Sending a brief to supplier (such as Speaker Bureau or Entertainment Bureau)
Thank you to Keynote Speakers

It’s amazing how much valuable time can be reclaimed this way.

Reclaim valuable time by using these clever event templates. Click To Tweet

5. Automation


Automation isn’t exclusive to big corporations. Thanks to technology, small businesses can get smart with repetitive tasks too. New apps are always emerging, so keep a look out and read reviews to find the ones that best fit your business. Here are some of our favourites:

Social Media Marketing & Management

Social media is becoming more and more important, and can be a very cost effective marketing tool. Be strategic about social media to maximise results:

Plan it
Link it to business goals
Pick one or two social platforms where your clients are, and do it well, rather than trying to be everywhere all the time
Automate with scheduling software


Social media scheduling software like Hootsuite lets you schedule posts in advance for all your accounts and social platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc). You can also engage with followers from one central place. Huge time saver!

Invoicing

While it’s not fully automated, invoicing software is definitely a huge step above sending Microsoft Word invoices and recording them in an unwieldy Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Xero is a popular choice for micro and small business owners, and it offers free trials. You’ll save loads of time with invoicing software because it allows you to:

Generate easy, customisable and attractive looking invoices
Set up projects with billable tasks and time entries
Bank reconciliation is genius
Create easy reports – a gem at tax time!

Email Marketing

Email marketing software is invaluable for managing lists, whether it’s your own client database or event registration lists. Mailchimp and Infusionsoft are popular with small business owners for their ability to integrate multiple functions like email marketing, payments, appointments and CRM (customer relationship management). They allow you to design a workflow and automate actions.

Let’s say you meet a prospective client who expresses interest in your services, and they give you their business card. You enter their details and tag as a future client. Your workflow is set up to:

  1. Send an introductory email (‘Great to meet you… here’s what we do) with an offer to download your eBook on Running Profitable Events
  2. Opt-in to your email list to receive future reports from you
  3. Schedule an obligation free chat with you
  4. Automate the appointment into your calendar and reminder emails to the client

Email marketing software is also a big-time saver for managing events. Imagine the extra hours you’ll gain by automating sign-ups, confirmations and reminders:

Use a form on your website to register for the event and purchase tickets
Automatically send a confirmation email
Send reminders and directions – great for minimising no-shows!
Request event feedback (goodbye to collating paper surveys!)

Some of our favourite automation tools for event industry professionals. Click To Tweet

6. Outsourcing


Outsourcing is another great way to free up your time to work to your strengths and grow the business. It can be surprisingly cost-effective to set up your own ‘departments’ to handle the extra tasks where you have neither the time nor the expertise.

Bookkeeping

A bookkeeper doesn’t need to a desk in your office, thanks to the digital world we live in. Managing accounts payable, accounts receivable and tra expenses vs expenditure will take a load off your mind.

Taxation

Find a friendly accountant who specialises in small business. They’ll make sure you get all the benefits and minimise the amount of tax to pay, not to mention saving your time and sanity.

Marketing

DIY marketing is actually harder than you might think. It usually pays to hire professionals for:

Brand and logo design
Website design & development
Social media – production of posts
A professional, outsider opinion can elevate your business image to the next level, and the initial investment is worth it. Remember, outsourcing costs are a tax-deductible business expense.

Every hour you save is an opportunity to grow your #event business into a success story. Click To Tweet

7. Good Process is Your New Best Friend

Setting up clear, efficient processes right from the get-go is one of the key ingredients for success in business. Naturally there’ll be process changes along the way as your business evolves, and scheduling a 6-monthly process review is a great way to stay on top of it.

Every hour you save is an opportunity to grow your new event management business into your very own success story.


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About the Author

Jo Tilgals

From managing a Tokyo restaurant to establishing a catering business, the customer has always been at the heart of Josephine’s career. Jo’s high-level communication skills, broad experience and caring manner are the perfect match for your event projects. She handles all details of contracts, invoicing and briefing, freeing up your valuable time and assuring your event will be a huge success.

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