Last time, I shared some of the top free (or nearly free) marketing apps and software that have transformed the way ‘simply Jools’ and I promote our businesses and communicate with our clients, you can read more of that here.
In Part 2, we’re sharing some of the apps and systems that help us run our businesses. From our finances to our workspaces, our project management to our appointments, we’re sharing the quick fixes we use to maximise output with minimum input.
Customer Relationship Remedies
Dubsado is a favourite of Jool’s and is much more cost effective than it used to be. The platform allows you to automate aspects of your work, freeing you up to spend time on other areas of your business. The whole onboarding of a client can be automated from contracts, to invoicing, to customised forms. Like most platforms, you can trial it for free, the price then steps up the more functionality and features you require. However, with a starting price point of $200 per year, you get massive bang for your buck.
Word of warning though…set up can be quite complicated, and you may find that you need some support to really get the most out of a paid subscription.
Jool’s Top Tip: If your business isn’t ready to invest in CRM software, a great way to onboard clients more efficiently is to save a series of template emails – a follow up to a discovery call, an onboarding email, contracts, how you’ll share document etc. I guarantee it will save you hours of time!
What’s New with WhatsApp
You can now change your WhatsApp account to a business account. It doesn’t look much different to how we use WhatsApp personally, what it does do is give you extra space in a profile to showcase your business. There’s opening hours, space to add a website link, it can create automated responses to go to business contacts (don’t worry, your friends and family won’t be receiving out of office notifications 😆). You can also link it to your business Facebook and Instagram accounts. It’s a great way to promote yourself without the hard sell, as every contact, from every WhatsApp group you’re involved in, will be able to see what you do.
Focus on Your Finances
Coconut costs around £12 per month and it is a very simple app (or desktop programme if you prefer) that you connect to your bank account which helps self-employed people track income, manage invoicing, claim expenses, and work out how much to set aside for tax.
Starling Bank is a digital bank that offers a really simple app that I love. It pings you every time you receive a payment, before this, I was manually going into my bank account to check that I had received payments which sucked up so much of my time! It also separates payments and income, so you know how much you are spending on entertainment or systems or services, helping you to keep track of your business’ spending.
Workspaces that Work
Google Drive is another must-have for me! I use the free version (although I’m on the limits of storage – living on the edge 🙈) but it is just absolutely brilliant at saving everything, and then backing it up on the cloud. By upgrading to a package that costs just £4 per month, you get extra storage, forms, presentations, access to Google Meet (with Zoom costing over £100 per year, swapping to Google could be a huge efficiency) plus so much more!
Zapier is a clever bit of kit that allows two pieces of software that don’t naturally talk to each other to do just that. The free plan is brilliant, you get five ‘zaps’ and they can trigger 100 times before you have to start paying.
Vicki’s Top Tip: If you’re unsure how to use Zapier, try this…I’ve set it up so that when I send an invoice to a new client, it triggers Google to set up a new folder in my drive so that we can begin to share documents. Another task ticked off the list without me having to lift a finger!
Acing Your Appointments
Calendly is one of my personal favourites. It’s a scheduling automation platform for eliminating the back-and-forth emails such as meeting confirmations and reminders. You can schedule one type of appointment for free, whether that’s a discovery call or a consultation, however, once you require more than one type of appointment there is a small monthly fee.
Perfecting Your Project Management
Click Up is a project management system that does so much more! It has an excellent free plan with pretty much unlimited functionality, the cost comes in when you want to add more people to your plan. It is perfect for people who struggle with a to-do list that lives in their head. It can be used on desktop or by the app, which is perfect for adding ideas or to-do’s when you are on the go. It reminds you to invoice on the last day of the month, submit your expenses, check metrics. It can also be used to remind you to complete recurring client tasks too.
Jool’s Top Tip: Don’t be intimidated by a system that has a huge amount of functionality. Just use it for what you need it to do. We tend to go into a system and think we must use it all but that might not be the most efficient use of your time.
I know from my own experience that running a small business can be tough. But there are ways to make it a little easier thanks to all the tech solutions out there. However, if you’re looking for some support that has more of a human touch, then why not check out my Co-Working Club. It’s a fantastic way to meet fellow business owners, be inspired by how others work and most importantly, have a little bit of Friday fun with some like-minded people. I’d love to see you there!