As a new SAHM-turned-businesswoman, I spent hours researching and throwing my efforts behind tasks that all the advisors (and the blogs) told me were the most important – writing a business plan, spending an exorbitant amount of money on a website, buying business cards, etc. For about two months, I was a complete productivity machine. I was completing tasks for establishing my business almost as quickly as more tasks were being added to the list. Burnout was almost certainly inevitable – and probably quickly – but the pure adrenaline and excitement kept pushing me through.
The housework was…leaving something to be desired, I wasn’t gathering up my four kids under four (yes, you read that right) and hauling them all around town to appease them every day, and *sniff sniff* have I showered today?
Nevertheless, I had stars in my eyes. I wasn’t dissuaded by the lack of glamour in the task-completion phase. I daydreamed about all the traffic that would magically find itself on my website. And, naturally, those leads I did nothing to generate would also convert at a rate of 100%, because why not? I would make so much money that I could go to the spa monthly…no, weekly! I would save for Disney with my kids, my husband and I could take a weeklong trip to Aruba, we could get out from under the never-ending burden of student loans, and maybe I’d become a millionaire? Totally reasonable.
But for all my planning, I missed several pretty important components. I wish someone had stopped me and said, “But, how do you actually want your business to run?”
If they would’ve, they (and I) would’ve discovered that I didn’t actually know! For over a year, I handled all client requests via email and invoices on Paypal (big mistake, btw). I went with the most basic of services for retrieving critical information from clients, using SurveyMonkey to identify what clients needed for their resume orders. And for every.single.client inquiry I manually responded via email. It was exhausting. I was miserable. I was having trouble balancing an individualized customer service experience and finding processes to reduce the amount of time I spent watching my notification bar for new emails from clients. I hired an additional staffer to assist with orders – so then, we had two people overwhelmed with the back-and-forth emails with clients. I was missing the forest for the trees.
One day, it hit me. I needed to reevaluate how I was doing business. And then, the sky parted and I happened upon a few services that literally changed my life. I am spending less time as a slave to my phone, but I am receiving more leads and have almost completely automated my business processes!
There are many services out there designed to help small business owners with many of the processes required to actually run a business. If you’re interested in learning more about these programs, you can check out the list below!
But for this post, I am going to detail the three programs that have completely transformed my business: Dubsado, MailChimp, and Trello. Each of these services have their strengths and weaknesses, but so far, I am beyond pleased with their results. I can still interact with clients in a very personal way; I can better handle an influx of client requests; and, most importantly, I can spend more time with my family. Because, who doesn’t love more time in a day to relax, amirite?
DUBSADO is truly what dreams are made of. In addition their truly amazing customer service, they provide an incredibly stress-free client management experience. It is so wonderful to wake up in the morning to discover that a client has submitted a resume or writing/editing request, signed the contract, and paid an invoice – without me having to do a thing! I am handling 3-4 times the volume of client requests with half of the time I was spending before on communicating via email for everything! One of the best features of Dubsado is their “unlimited” free trial. Instead of a 14-day or 30-day timeline, you are allowed to use the free trial of their system for as long as you need to get your processes setup. Note: Setup is definitely extensive. It took a few weeks for me to get it all setup the way I wanted, and a few additional weeks to make tweaks as client requests started rolling in.
- They have stellar reviews from their users. Just YouTube “Dubsado” and you’ll see dozens of videos attesting to the awesomeness that is Dubsado.
- They have a Facebook group which allows business professionals in the trial phase or as paying subscribers to collaborate with one another. You can ask questions about setup, get advice on how to streamline processes for your unique business, and get inspiration from viewing other professionals and how they implement Dubsado in their business.
- They offer setup services, both paid and free – ensuring that you are able to integrate your current processes into their system.
- They have FREE screen-share sessions, phone consultations, etc. to help you setup your business automation processes.
- They have functions that allow clients to select their order preferences, sign a contract, and pay an invoice – ALL IN ONE.
- They work with Quickbooks and Square/Stripe so that you can keep all of your bookkeeping in check.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend time in the free trial and research your heart out. If, after you have investigated, you decide that you want to subscribe, use my referral code: grow2019 for a 20% discount off of one month or one year of the service!
MAILCHIMP is a pretty well-established marketing service at this point. They provide email marketing, social media marketing, and more! I mean, if you aren’t familiar with MailChimp, are you even really a businessperson? All jokes aside, MailChimp is a wonderful free option for small business-owners who don’t have the funds to spend on extensive marketing campaigns.
- They have dozens of integrations (over 300) for all of your favorite programs, and you can even sync with websites like Squarespace so that you can add website visitors to your subscriber list.
- Their pricing is affordable, and if you use only a few simple functions, you can use MailChimp for free!
- They provide clients with marketing tips for their business, which is particularly helpful for someone like me who is virtually clueless when it comes to marketing.
TRELLO is another saving grace for me. Because I work from home, it is absolutely imperative that I have an efficient system task management and a way to communicate with my contract workers. Trello provided an easy and free way to do both! I have heard rave reviews about Asana and Wrike, but just looking at their dashboard and trying to figure it out overwhelmed me. I attempted their free trial for a few weeks, but when I learned about Trello, I was sold on it! It just clicked.
- They have lots of perks and free months of the premium (paid) service if you invite new members to join your team or board.
- They have both a website and app that are relatively easy to use. They sync pretty quickly, which is also nice.
- Trello can be integrated with Gmail and other programs using an intermediary like Zapier. This will allow you to create cards and boards automatically!
- You can update attachments to cards, change due dates, set notifications, and more. A little fun piece: they have emojis, as well.