October 1, 2014

Review of the Small Business Events Calendar: Can We Improve It?

Small Business Events Calendar

We are so excited about our new Small Business Events Calendar.  This is a public calendar for the small business community.  We invite you to share your events on it.

How It Works

Events – and Awards and Contests, too – On the Events Calendar (pictured above) we include not only events such as conferences, webinars, Hangouts … but we also include small business contests and awards.  Since contests and awards are deadline-driven, they lend themselves to calendar listings.

It is FAST to submit an event – We wanted to keep it simple… and make it easy. It takes under 2 minutes to submit an event for a free listing.  Go here to submit an event.

Basic events listings are FREE –  There’s no charge for listing a small business event.

More visibility for those who want it — Want to include a description of the event?  What about a discount code, an event hashtag, a logo, and a direct link to the registration page?  Want more visibility at the top of the page? All those things are available for Premium listings, which cost just $99.

No irrelevant events –  One of our main gripes with public calendars is that they quickly get overrun with irrelevant events and, well, spam.  Small business is the ONLY niche we serve – we are 100% focused on it. We wanted only high-quality events that fit squarely into that niche.  Every event is reviewed by a human being. Most events are reviewed within a few hours – but please allow up to 24 hours. You will receive an email when your event is approved.

Events get wide visibility -  This is a joint effort with Ramon Ray and his SmallBizTechnology.com site, and events get publicized in both sites.  Since both sites serve the same audience — small business — it made sense to join forces.

Put an Events Calendar on your site – Would you like to display small business events on your website?  Then grab the code for one of our embeddable events units.  There’s a convenient sidebar widget, and a full-page version.

Weekly events posts – Each week on Saturday we highlight upcoming events by issuing a roundup article. This appears on Small Business Trends and also SmallBizTechnology.com. If you have an event coming up within the next 30 days, and you want to get it in the week’s roundup, be sure to submit it by Friday 9 am EST, the cutoff.

Back Story Behind The Calendar

It’s based on proprietary technology – The events calendar was conceived and built by our Technology team here at Small Business Trends.  In the past we had a third-party calendar, but it had limitations and couldn’t be automated (more on that below).  So we decided to replace it.

Over a period of months, we looked at many third party calendars and online events services.  We studied all the  WordPress events plugins.  None of them was quite right for our purposes.  We ended up starting with an events plugin, but customizing it extensively.

A case of automation –  We don’t talk a lot about our technology here at Small Business Trends. But one of our outside advisors has recommended we open up and share the “Small Business Trends story” more.

In the past two years we’ve invested heavily in our backend systems. To say that we run WordPress doesn’t even scratch the surface.  WordPress is at the core, but this site is heavily customized.

Efficiency is crucial in your business, I’m sure.  It is certainly is in ours.

We’ve built backend systems with an eye toward automating repetitive manual activities as much as possible. We’re a small team. Our company is profitable and totally self-funded. Through automation we’ve freed up our precious human resources to focus on “value-add” activities — ones that require intelligence and talent. The grunt work we let technology handle.

The Events Calendar system is an example of automation.  For instance, the weekly events posts are automatically pulled from the events calendar database — and don’t need to be manually entered.  The posts simply need to be reviewed and the first paragraph customized.

Cost savings of $7,500 – It will save at least $7,500 annually in labor costs.

In the past, we’d manually create weekly events and contests posts.  Those took a ton of time.  People would email us information about events, and our extended team (including someone from SmallBizTechnology.com) would have to dig for the information among several inboxes. We’d manually grab images and load them.  We’d search event sites for descriptions and edit them.  We’d also separately load the events into our previous events calendar – another duplication of effort.

We’ve gone from spending 3.5 hours a week on events, to spending less than 30 minutes. That’s a savings of three hours a week.  In a year’s time, it adds up.

Scaling for growth – Automation is crucial to scale a business for growth. All that manual work wasn’t such a big deal when the site was smaller. But as a business grows, manual activities multiply. They bury you.

Without automation, we wouldn’t be able to offer all the features to the small business community that we serve.

Let us know what you think about the Events Calendar system, and if there’s anything we can do to improve it, in the comments below.

2 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

2 Reactions

  1. Anita,

    To say the least, it’s very useful. As a web publisher and blogger, event calendars, like Small Business Trends’, help me keep track what’s happening in small biz. In fact, I have featured yours in one of my blog post here http://wp.me/p2WnST-fL

    As a website builder, it’s great to know what’s going on in the back-end… perhaps I will going to start something similar, too ;)

  2. Hi Anita,
    The calendar is definitely a very cool feature for BizSugar, something I think many in the small business community will find valuable. It’s especially cool to see opportunities for different budgets, including a free submission option!

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