A Day in the Tech Life of an SMB, Pt. III

Last week we shared the second in the video series that we’re calling “A Day in the Tech Life”.

The series has a simple premise. We visit small businesses and ask them to describe how they use technology to run their businesses. And in some cases, they tell us why they choose not to use any software for some aspects of their businesses.

SaaS is an increasingly dominant factor in running a modern SMB, but pen and paper (not to mention dry-erase whiteboards) are alive and well, including in businesses where you wouldn’t expect them to be.

The impetus of the series was to share the day to day experiences of SMBs at the LSA’s recent LOCALOGY:ENGAGE conference in Washington, which was all about building SaaS products for SMBs.

In the weeks leading up to the event, I spent a few afternoons visiting Chicago-area small businesses with a videographer to capture some stories that illustrate the themes addressed in our Modern Commerce Monitor SMB survey research. These include the need to save time, to have a better view of the business’s performance, and to deliver better customer experience.

This episode features Christopher Laughlin, a classical guitarist and the owner of the Christopher Laughlin School of Music in Northbrook, IL. And yes, he is also my big brother.


Chris has been running the school for 23 years, starting out as a solo shop offering guitar lessons and evolving into a full-service music academy with a full staff of teachers offering everything from voice lessons to Suzuki violin classes. Scheduling his teaching staff and lessons is the most complex part of the business, and Chris has long since automated this process through MindBody, which he more or less runs his business on, except for accounting, for which he uses QuickBooks. But thanks to integrations, he can handle booking lessons and billing customers all through a single interface.

Chris’s business is pretty fully app based. The only visible nod to the school’s analog past is a whiteboard behind the front desk that offers a quick glance of the teachers’ schedules. But it’s all stored in the app as well.

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