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From freelance platforms to small business advisers

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It is sometimes called “the ecosystem of the Indies”; was designed to help creative freelancers book and track projects, send invoices, and get paid on one platform; a $ 250 million in fresh investor capital; and stands at a crossroads at a pivotal time for workers in the odd-job economy.

“It’s” HoneyBook, a self-proclaimed “customer experience and financial management platform” that aims to empower more than 10 million independent business owners to “get it done what they love.” Co-founder and CEO Oz Alon told PYMNTS that there is more than enough work to be done and there is plenty of room for HoneyBook to exceed its current valuation of $ 2.4 billion because it targets the growing niche of independent micro-enterprises.

“They are service companies. They sell. It’s very personal, ”Alon said in a recent conversation with Karen Webster. “On both sides of this type of business, the customers and the company really care who they do business with. It is not transactional. They want to know if they are gybing [and] if they have exact chemistry.

It also creates a high-flying act: maintaining upstream customer relationships while making sure business functions are well run in the background, a task Alon believes HoneyBook can excel at.

“How do businesses balance… wanting to be very personal and automating responses? Because if they don’t respond quickly, they lose a deal. This challenge is what we wanted to solve, ”he said.

How it works

It’s not like HoneyBook is the only one running a freelance job site – it has to compete with established rivals like Fiverr, TopTal, Upwork, and more. But as Alon describes, HoneyBooks’ differentiator is its role as a coach and business incubator.

“What we do for these companies [is] manage their flow of customers and how they respond to customers. We’re not just about money in the bank, ”he said, noting that they also advise microenterprises on cash flow management, all at a time of increasing demand and supply for it. type of work.

In fact, since the onset of COVID, PYMNTS data shows an increase in the use of freelancers by SMEs in the 2021 Main Street Business Survivor Study, which has shown that online sales have become an integral part of many surviving Main Street businesses, whether done on SMB’s own websites or through third-party digital platforms, with nearly 60% of all SMBs in Main Street driving more sales on their websites and through platforms in 2021.

Get the report: 2021 Main Street Business Survivors Study

Capitalize on trends from a distance

Given the flat-rate revenues that micro-businesses and SMEs often experience, a single platform to manage tasks, from lead generation to launch to cash flow, has a lot of potential to help increase business. level of sophistication and professionalism within the creative universe it serves.

“These companies often have these big funds, then suddenly a desert, a few months with no income,” he said, noting that their spending often follows a similar pattern, which can cause huge problems for small individuals. companies. “Sometimes the expense comes before the income. We believe we can have an impact on all of these things. Our members trust us with their customers and with their money, ”he said.

And because the pandemic has fueled an unprecedented increase at all from a distance, the timing and opportunities for “independent” entrepreneurs have never been better.

“What’s cool is that now their market … [got] much bigger. If before your market was your city, now it’s the whole country, ”he said.

See also: Independent FinTech strikes a balance between personal and business banking services

Data, trust and collaboration

Like so many businesses and digital platforms today, data is at the heart of HoneyBook’s business, to help streamline every part of the process, including payments, which are arguably one of the most important. Even in cases where customers pay in cash or by check, which he says happens less than 20% of the time, HoneyBook users still track funds and use the platform as a registration system.

“When it comes to data, you always want to make sure that you maintain the trust of your members, and you want to make sure that when you share information, they don’t feel like you are taking it from them as well,” he said. he declared. said, noting the importance of privacy. “Customers are the most important thing,” he said, “and if you trust us with your customers, you trust us a little bit and then [also to trust us] with your money.

This mindset of partnership and shared prosperity is also directly linked to HoneyBook’s own success: it only grows as its freelancers grow, as it makes money through transaction fees and subscriptions.

Future plans, magic software

With $ 250 million in fresh investments to tap into, Alon told Webster he plans to invest heavily in the product to help bring together the currently fragmented “independent” market.

“We find… as we introduce new products… our members really want to consume them with us. If we can replace the bank for them, they will want to do it with us [because] they trust us, ”he said.

Not that HoneyBook intends to take on banks, but Alon said the platform will enter into deals to help members with cash flow.

“We’re the only ones who know about this deal, so if anyone can sign this deal, it’s only us.” We have a responsibility to do it. It’s immoral for us not to do this, ”Alon said, noting that a similar opportunity exists to help small entrepreneurs manage their taxes as well.

“If we can do these [things], if this all happens automatically, you can imagine that it is very beneficial for these companies, ”he said. “Software can do magic, and everything I just described are things we think about. “

Read also: B2B FinTech financing creates another unicorn

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: 2021 HOLIDAY SHOPPING OUTLOOK

On: It’s almost time for the holiday shopping season, and nearly 90% of US consumers plan to do at least some of their purchases online, up 13% from 2020. The 2021 Holiday Shopping Outlook, PYMNTS surveyed more than 3,600 consumers to find out more about what drives online sales this holiday season and the impact of product availability and personalized rewards on merchant preferences.


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