Today I want to talk about three things that changed everything for me and my business. The past year my business has grown from a job that paid the bills to a business doing over six figures a year. With the added success came stress. Stress about client management, finances (I am not an accountant. I just kept thinking “how am I going to keep track of everything properly so doing my taxes doesn’t kill me next year?”), and showcasing my work. I have three staples that have completely changed the way I run my business, and IT’S SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT WAS. Each thing plays a different role, but is something I hold near and dear to my heart.
So, I am going to let you in on these little secrets. Hopefully they make a difference in your business, or they already have! (None of these programs are new, I was just sleeping on them!) Let me know how they have changed your business!
The first thing is ShowIt. I was toying around with the idea of hiring someone to rebuild my website and had a few people in mind to do it. Their work was thorough, and their sites were sooo much better than my Squarespace site. I had no clue how to do it, so I decided I should probably fork over the 8k to invest in my business to have a website I really love.
Fast forward a week or so, I did a little more research and found a commonality with all these branding businesses that I loved: they all used ShowIt. At first I was a bit skeptical, I had never heard of it, and I was finally comfortable with Squarespace. I created a free account to play around with it. It took me about 3 hours to pay for the full version and decide I was 100% doing it myself. I was excited! The platform allows you to do pretty much anything you can think of (and things you can’t even think of!). Their support is helpful and they have tons of articles answering questions if you need help during non-business hours. They have pre-made templates, and tons of options for you to buy.
I started with a pre-made template and just tweaked it a ton. I have this really hard time committing to anything; so I have changed my website 3 times since switching to ShowIt. (Still better than when I had Squarespace – I was at #19 before switching over). Anyways, I am at a point where I love my website. It’s easy to change (no coding!). It’s user friendly. And most of all, it’s pretty!
Dubsado has helped more than I could have ever imagined with client management. From contracts, to proposals, to invoices, to sub-agreements. The program provides more than I knew I needed. The contract aspect was the main reason I joined the Dubsado fam. As a business, you have to have a formal contract and an efficient way for your clients to complete them. Dubsado allows everything to be done online through their client portal. The contract is stored there (and never deletes! So you have it forever as the business owner).
The lead capture and proposal options have bumped up the professionalism of my business ten notches. Not to mention the amount of time it saved Leah and I. Leah spent hours every morning working up quotes for clients, and gathering information about their orders before even booking. The lead capture allows me to ask all of the necessary questions up front. By looking at their questionnaire, I know when their wedding is, what products they need, when they need them and where they live. (This is important for shipping purposes).
The proposals allow our clients to go through and pick and choose what components they want and what fits in their budget. 85% of what we offer is laid out on the proposal and clients just have to check off what they want with their quantity. The whole time this is happening, their total is changing at the bottom of the proposal, so they are able to see how much they would spend with certain packages. Alas, eliminating quotes for each individual inquiry and gaining HOURS back into the work week. We have a portion of the proposal for clients to leave any questions they have and after talking with them we are able to send them one final invoice/quote.
Remember when I mentioned not being an accountant in the first paragraph? Yeah, so, my first year of business I used a spreadsheet. AN EXCEL SPREADSHEET. I tracked everything on there, WITHOUT labeling what category each expense fell into. Let’s just say, when I did my taxes it took about 20 hours to go through and organize everything.
*Insert Quickbooks Online here*. I set up Quickbooks this year and the first month or so, I confirmed all the incoming and outgoing transactions. When you do this the first time, it prompts you categorize each one. OMG – are you kidding!? Now all I do is confirm or “ignore” every transaction linked to my business card and my Paypal. It’s so easy. I’m getting ready to do taxes this year, and just knowing how much easier Quickbooks is going to make it makes me all giddy inside. Finances are something you can’t ignore in a business. Whether numbers are your thing or not. Quickbooks has been the biggest game changer for the true ‘business’ aspect of Unica.