As a small business owner, deciding which software to use for your business operations can be challenging.
With countless options and features available, it can be overwhelming to determine what’s best for you. Moreover, making the wrong choice can be a gamble for the success or failure of your business.
I’m AJ, and I know how tough it can be. After a decade of building my business, I’ve learned what works (and what doesn’t).
After negotiating a seven-figure exit for my agency, I’m building Small Business Bonfire.
With Small Business Bonfire (SBB), I aim to help fellow entrepreneurs get to where I am (in a fraction of the time it took me).
So, let’s talk about a platform I’ve recommended to a ton of clients with my digital agency—HoneyBook. The SBB team and I tested it for three months for this comprehensive Honeybook review.
Let’s dive in!
You Can Trust Small Business Bonfire
The Small Business Bonfire team and I have been testing and rating thousands of business management platforms (overthe last decade) to help you, our Bonfire Nation, start & scale your organizations. To learn more about our testing methods, please read this article here.
HoneyBook is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform designed to help with every aspect of the customer lifecycle from start to finish.
From invoicing and scheduling to project tracking and workflow automation, HoneyBook has it all!
Some of our favorite features of HoneyBook include the following:
Client managementInvoicing & paymentsLead formsProject managementContract managementAutomation creationWorkflow & task management
Based on our testing, we think HoneyBook is the perfect solution for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) looking to streamline their operations as they scale.
As I mentioned, I’ve used and recommended HoneyBook to several clients (for everything from photography to home service businesses) over the years at my digital agency.
Based on that alone, I can safely say it’s worth every penny.
With automated reminders, customizable invoice templates, and one-click payment processing, HoneyBook helps you get organized and have a more profitable business overall.
It’s important to take the good with the bad, so let’s look at the pros and cons of HoneyBook.
Let’s narrow down who HoneyBook is best for.
Here are some situations where we think HoneyBook is particularly well suited:
Small businesses – HoneyBook is perfect for small businesses looking to streamline their operations with an all-in-one solution. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of a larger platform, HoneyBook helps you book clients, handle administrative tasks with ease, and ramp up your business processes as your SMB scales.Midsize businesses – HoneyBook is an incredibly easy-to-use and affordable solution for midsize businesses. With its intuitive interface, onboarding all team members is a breeze, ensuring the entire team can use the platform without any hitches. Plus, HoneyBook’s powerful automation features help eliminate the burden of tedious tasks, allowing your team to focus more on strategic initiatives that drive growth.Freelancers – HoneyBook is an ideal solution for freelancers or independent business owners. As a freelancer, you are essentially running a one-person business, and HoneyBook can simplify your operations in multiple ways. Its client management tools make it easy to maintain professional relationships and keep track of your projects.
While HoneyBook excels in many areas, it may not fit every business scenario perfectly.
Particularly, the following situations might not benefit as much from HoneyBook’s features:
Startups – While HoneyBook offers a range of comprehensive features that can benefit your business, its lack of a free plan may deter startups operating on a tight budget.Large enterprises – HoneyBook may not be the ideal solution for large enterprises as its features and tools are tailored to small businesses. Moreover, it does not offer enough customization options to meet the demands of larger organizations.
HoneyBook offers three pricing plans (billed annually).
They include the following:
Starter plan – $8/month per userEssentials plan – $16/month per userPremium plan – $33/month per user
Let’s see how HoneyBook stacks up against the competition in terms of both pricing and features.
HoneyBook – $8/month per user
No free planAdvanced invoicing & contractsClient (self-service) portalPowerful automations
Jobber – $45/month for 1 user
No free planAdvanced invoicing & contractsClient (self-service) portalPowerful automations
Bitrix24 – $49/month for 5 users
Free planBasic invoicing & contractsClient (self-service) portalPowerful automations
ClickUp – $9/month per user
Free planBasic invoicingClient (self-service) portalPowerful automations
As you can see, these plans and features vary pretty wildly. Regarding the most affordable, HoneyBook easily takes the cake at just $8/month per user.
When it comes to features, Jobber and HoneyBook are neck and neck. While we’ve got to give the nod to Jobber here, we ultimately think HoneyBook is the better option for SMBs on a budget.
Therefore, we declare HoneyBook the winner here (with Jobber as a close second).
HoneyBook provides an array of client management tools designed to streamline and enhance your interaction with clients.
Let’s walk you through how it went for us.
We synced our Small Business Bonfire Google account with Honeybook to test how easy it was to import contacts.
Here’s how the setup process looks.
With just a few clicks, we were in business.
The Google integration allowed us to import contacts and synchronize our calendar (for seamless scheduling).
To test out the platform (during our three-month period), we also manually imported our B2B affiliate marketing contacts.
We simply clicked “add contact” and got started. Here’s how it looked (to give you a better idea).
As you can see, when adding new clients, everything is laid out in a way that’s clear and easy to read.
Once we created the contact, we were able to easily add the following to our contact card:
While client management with HoneyBook is great, we would have liked to see more customization from the platform.
For example, we couldn’t add any custom fields to our contact cards, which we found very limiting.
We also couldn’t customize our contacts dashboard, which was a drawback in our opinion. This can make it difficult for niche SMBs to personalize the platform to their specific needs.
Creating, managing, and sending contracts can be a significant strain on any business, particularly for SMBs where resources might already be stretched thin.
Drafting contracts requires a keen eye for detail, and sending them out can be time-consuming.
Luckily, HoneyBook steps in to eliminate these headaches.
During our three-month testing period of HoneyBook, we dove deep into its contracts feature.
We created a variety of different contracts, including:
Employee contractsAffiliate marketing contractsTerms of service agreements
Look at the creation process, where we easily drafted an affiliate marketing agreement (in less than 5 minutes).
As you can see, we were able to include our branding, plus HoneyBook automatically added our contact info to the top of the contract to make things even easier.
The contract templates (shown below) were well-constructed, covering all the legal bases and leaving room for customization.
Plus, the ability to send out and have clients sign contracts online (directly from the platform ) was a game-changer, saving us from the hassle of manually emailing each document.
Aside from testing with SBB, I’ve worked with several clients at my digital agency using HoneyBook.
This is one of the features that I’ve consistently heard positive feedback about.
Some things my clients have said include the following:
“It’s great to be able to quickly send out contracts without having to worry about formatting and the legal language.””The templates are a lifesaver. I don’t have to spend hours crafting each contract from scratch anymore!””HoneyBook makes it easy to stay organized and keep track of all contracts in one place. I never have to worry about losing a contract again!”
The bottom line: HoneyBook’s contract feature is fantastic for just about any business that needs to create and send contracts without hiring an entire legal team.
At Small Business Bonfire, we believe in working smarter, not harder. That’s why we were excited to test out HoneyBook’s lead forms.
Quick refresher: Lead forms are digital forms that allow businesses to collect contact information from prospects from the following locations:
WebsiteSocial mediaOther marketing channels
We are happy to announce that HoneyBook makes it extremely easy to create and customize these forms.
We’ll walk you through our setup process.
We simply navigated to the “lead forms” tab, where we were greeted with a collection of helpful templates (shown below).
We went with one called “partnership form” and started the customization process.
We were pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to incorporate our branding with the lead form (shown below).
We were able to customize the following aspects of our theme:
Main font & colorsButton fontQuestion colors
Check out a sneak peek of the creation process.
The whole thing took about 10 minutes from start to finish, and we were able to easily embed the form on our website.
At the end of the day, HoneyBook provides some of the most intuitive lead form creation we’ve seen (and that’s saying a lot). It’s definitely a standout feature of the platform.
HoneyBook features an intuitive client portal that gives your clients a clear overview of all their pertinent details in one centralized location.
This becomes a particularly convenient feature as it saves much-needed time and eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails to exchange information.
Here’s what clients can access directly from the portal:
Invoices: Clients can effortlessly access all their invoices, past and present. This feature eliminates the need for digging through a pile of emails to find specific invoices.Documents: Any important documents shared between you and the client can be easily accessed here. This includes contracts, proposals, and other related files, all neatly organized.Project Details: Clients can view details of all their projects, including their status, deadlines, and any associated tasks. This helps them stay informed and up-to-date about their projects.
The client portal by HoneyBook is designed to foster transparency and enhance client satisfaction.
By making essential information and communication easily accessible, it enables a smoother, more organized business-client relationship.
Let’s face it—managing your workflow is essential to running a business.
HoneyBook provides an intuitive solution to this problem with its workflow management tools.
These include the following:
CalendarSchedulerTask managerTime tracker
For our three-month testing period, we utilized all of these features to get a better understanding of the ins and outs of HoneyBook.
The calendar tool was particularly helpful, allowing us to plan our events in advance and manage our client schedules.
Here’s how ours looked for reference.
We especially liked how we could change between the following views:
The task manager (pictured below) was also great, giving us a comprehensive overview of our day-to-day activities and upcoming projects.
Our takeaway: HoneyBook’s workflow management tools are awesome for staying organized and on top of our tasks. If you’re looking to revamp your SMB’s workflow, HoneyBook is definitely worth checking out.
HoneyBook has an invoicing feature that is not only easy to use but also incredibly efficient at collecting online payments.
Throughout our three-month testing period at Small Business Bonfire, we found that HoneyBook essentially eliminates the need for any manual tracking of payments.
Outside of SBB, I had a photography client (at my digital agency) who was spending an excessive amount of time creating, sending, and tracking invoices.
Once I told her about HoneyBook, she saved significant time (and money).
HoneyBook allowed her to quickly accomplish the following:
Generate invoicesSend them off to clientsEffortlessly track the status of each payment
What’s more, she was able to send payment reminders directly from the platform, eliminating the need for any additional reminder or communication software.
Here’s an example of an invoice she was able to create (within seconds) for a client.
All in all, the invoicing and online payment capabilities of HoneyBook greatly reduce tedious tasks and manual tracking for SMBs and freelancers.
It’s an excellent tool to ensure you’re paid on time and can focus more on your actual work and less on paperwork.
HoneyBook also offers outstanding project management tools that truly simplify the process of managing and tracking various projects.
During our three-month testing period, we created tons of projects, pushing the platform to its limits.
Here’s an example of a project that we created related to onboarding at Small Business Bonfire.
We were genuinely impressed by the ease with which we could:
Add tasks to each projectSelect a lead sourceTrack employee timeSet a date and location for the projectCreate notes within the project
These features provided a comprehensive view of each project, enabling efficient management and timely completion.
Believe us when we say that HoneyBook’s project management feature is a game-changer for SMBs seeking to complete more projects and boost productivity.
From strategic planning to execution and follow-ups, everything can be handled within HoneyBook, making it a preferred choice for SMBs.
HoneyBook’s automation capabilities came as a pleasant surprise during our testing period.
These features are designed to simplify routine tasks and save time, which is invaluable for any SMB or freelancer.
HoneyBook allows users to set up automated workflows that streamline the process from lead capture to project completion.
Setting these automated workflows is a breeze.
Once set up, they can handle a wide range of tasks, such as:
Scheduling appointmentsSending payment and task remindersAutomating invoicesSending follow-up emails
For instance, we set up an automation that would automatically send over a contract to one of our clients when a project with them was closed.
This saved us the time and effort of having to manually track which clients had been sent affiliate contracts.
Here’s how it looked while creating our contract automation.
HoneyBook made the whole process as straightforward and beginner-friendly as possible (which we thought was great).
Ultimately, HoneyBook’s automation capabilities proved to be a big time-saver throughout our testing.
They allowed us to automate mundane tasks, allowing us to focus on more strategic aspects of our business (such as better client communication).
HoneyBook has a couple of limitations to be aware of before signing up.
They are the following:
No free plan – While this isn’t a dealbreaker for us, it is worth noting that HoneyBook does not provide any free plans.
Lack of customization with client management – The lack of client card and dashboard customization was one of the main drawbacks of HoneyBook that we noticed during our testing period. This makes it hard to recommend the platform to niche businesses across the board.
You’re probably asking yourself, does HoneyBook integrate with my favorite tools?
The answer is—kind of.
HoneyBook integrates with a few key platforms, such as the following:
Here’s the “integrations” hub to give you a better idea.
While there are some great options here, we would have liked to see more native integrations with some of our favorite platforms, such as MailChimp or Slack.
Luckily, HoneyBook offers third-party Zapier integration with those platforms (and thousands more).
So, while the direct integrations aren’t quite there yet, there are a lot of options available if you go the third-party route.
Onboarding with HoneyBook was as easy as possible.
We navigated to the homepage (shown below), where we were greeted with a bright blue call-to-action (CTA) to get started with a free trial.
Naturally, we clicked the button.
Next, we filled out the following fields to get started:
Here’s how it looked to give you a better idea.
From there, we selected the following:
Company phone number
How we found HoneyBook
The next step was inputting our website URL (shown below) so that HoneyBook’s AI could pull any relevant branding info to our account (which we thought was really cool).
Then, we selected an aspect of HoneyBook that we’d like to start with (CRM).
At that point, we were able to customize HoneyBook with a few of our brand elements (shown below).
We thought this was a nice touch as it made the platform feel like it was our own.
From here, we started inputting our B2B affiliate marketing contacts and checking out HoneyBook’s project management capabilities.
Overall, onboarding with HoneyBook was great. If we had to put a number on it, it would be a 10/10 from the SBB team.
HoneyBook is extremely user-friendly and easy to use!
Here are just a few reasons why:
Simple interface: HoneyBook has a clean, intuitive interface. It’s not cluttered or overly complicated, which means even the less tech-savvy among us can navigate it with ease.
Enriched onboarding experience: As detailed above, HoneyBook offers a comprehensive onboarding process that quickly familiarizes you with its features.
Automated systems: HoneyBook’s automated systems for tasks like invoicing and scheduling can save you significant time and reduce manual errors.
Customization: The platform allows you to inject your own branding into its environment, making it feel more like a custom piece of your business than a third-party tool.
Helpful tips & tutorials: HoneyBook offers a range of helpful guides and tutorials to get you up and running, and their support team is always on hand to assist with any queries.
User feedback: The platform actively incorporates user feedback into its updates, meaning it continually becomes easier to use based on actual user experiences.
In short, HoneyBook’s ease of use is a major advantage in a landscape of often overly complicated SMB tools.
Great customer support is like having a safety net—you want it there if something goes wrong (but hopefully, you never need to use it).
Luckily, HoneyBook excels in customer support.
During our three months of testing, we reached out with several questions related to their features, and each time, the team got back to us within minutes.
Not only did they answer all our queries quickly and accurately, but they also provided helpful resources and tips to make using their platform even easier.
We really appreciate this, as it shows that the HoneyBook team is invested in ensuring you get the most out of their software.
We especially loved the live chat, which offered a near-instant response whenever we reached out.
Overall, HoneyBook knocks it out of the park when it comes to customer service!
Yes, HoneyBook offers a fantastic mobile app readily available for iOS and Android devices.
At Small Business Bonfire, we took the initiative to download the HoneyBook app on iOS for a firsthand experience.
The app is incredibly user-friendly and efficient, allowing you to manage multiple aspects of your business on the go.
One notable feature we appreciated is the seamless synchronization with the desktop version, ensuring you are always updated no matter where you are.
Furthermore, the clean design and intuitive interface make it easy to navigate through different functions.
HoneyBook makes the following tasks a breeze with their mobile app:
Sending proposals and contractsScheduling appointmentsManaging client communication
The app truly stands as a testament to HoneyBook’s commitment to providing a comprehensive solution for small business owners.
HoneyBook is a solid choice, but it’s not the only one. Here are a few of our favorite alternatives.
The Small Business Bonfire team and I absolutely recommend HoneyBook to SMBs across the board!
If you’re looking to simplify tedious tasks, strengthen client communication, and scale your business with ease, HoneyBook has all the features you need.
They offer a comprehensive 7-day free trial, so check them out today!
The post HoneyBook Review 2023: Best All In One SMB Software? appeared first on Small Business Bonfire.
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