Systems I love and use in my business every day.
I spend a lot of time talking about systems and tech tools. It comes with the territory. With all the different tools to choose from and all the great ones people hear my talk about, people often wonder which tools I actually use to run my business.
The following is a list of the systems I rely on to keep my business running and growing. Some of the links are affiliate links, but everything on this page is something I love and use.
ASANA – Project Management
Asana is my back up brain. I organize my projects, tasks and to-do lists here. Even though I use a paper planner, my master to-do list is in Asana. I use it with clients, with people on my team, and I have projects that only I have access to. Asana is free for up to 15 users. Paid plans are available, but I've used Asana for over five years (probably way longer) and have never felt the need to upgrade. Try Asana.
SALESMATE – Contact Relationship Management
It took me a while to find a suitable replacement for Contactually, the CRM I previously used. I finally found it in Salesmate. As a service based business owner, its imperative that I keep on top of my prospects and where they are in my sales funnel. With Salesmate, I can get a visual representation of my sales funnel and track every prospect along the way – along with their contact information, activity history, relevant notes and more. Having a CRM gives me tons of insight into my business – where things are working (and where they aren't), which referral sources are the most valuable, and I can set goals and forecast my income. Try Salesmate (when using my link, Salesmate will help migrate you from your current CRM, if you have one).
DUBSADO – Business management suite
While I keep my prospects in Salesmate because I love the power of a full-fledged CRM, Dubsado is my home base once those prospects become clients. But, if you wanted to, you could absolutely track your leads and prospects in Dubsado. In fact, you can do tons of things with it. I use Dubsado for contracts, invoices, proposals, questionnaires and time tracking – and those aren't even all the features. If you're curious, but not ready to commit all the way, Dubsado offers one of the best trials on the market. You can use the system for free for your first three contacts/jobs. So, you can fully test it out (for as long as you want) and make sure you love it before you buy. Try Dubsado – when you use my link, upon subscribing, you'll save 20% off your first month OR 20% off an annual subscription.
CONVERTKIT – Email Marketing
I was a MailChimp user for a long time – over six years! I made the switch to ConvertKit for my primary email list back in 2016. While there are things I miss about MailChimp sometimes, I fall deeper in love with ConvertKit as time goes on. Setting up newsletters is a breeze, I can segment my email list and create automate sequences in minutes and there's way more wiggle room as I grow my list than there is with MailChimp. Try ConvertKit. (14 day free trial)
ACUITY – Online scheduling
Having an online scheduler helps me save time when scheduling meetings – and cut back on email clutter. Acuity helps me manage my free Growth Chats, for people who are interested in working with me, podcast interviews, client meetings and more. You can a bare bones version of Acuity for free. For $15 a month, you can connect your calendar, embed your scheduler on your website, connect with your webinar tool, accounting tool, email marketing system, accept payments, offer coupons and discounts, and more. If you spend more than an hour each month scheduling (and rescheduling) appointments, you can't afford to be without a scheduler. Try Acuity.
QUICKBOOKS SELF-EMPLOYED – Accounting, bookkeeping, mileage tracking
Even though I use Dubsado for my invoices, I consider QuickBooks Self-Employed my financial hub. All my income and expenses are automatically imported and categorized. At any given moment I can see what my estimated taxes are, and the app allows me to track my miles. QBSE is ideal for freelancers and solopreneurs, what QuickBooks labels as “self-employed” vs. “small business.” If your accounting is pretty simple and straightforward, this is for you. And, you can invoice and collect payments through it if you want to. If you have more complex needs, QuickBooks Online will allow you to add vendors, track inventory, and add employees or contractors. For those of us who don't need all that, QBSE is just the right fit. Read more about my experience with QBSE. Try QuickBooks Self-Employed (only $5 a month to start!).
CROWDCAST – Livestreams, webinars, etc.
Crowdcast is brand new for me. I signed up in January 2018. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to engage with me on my livestreams and webinars. Crowdcast made sense because several people who regularly participate in my Plan with Me Sunday livestreams had asked about a way to easily sign up for multiple sessions at a time. I was a little nervous about leaving my previous webinar platform, but so far, my community has loved to, so Crowdcast is here to stay. Try Crowdcast.
AIRTABLE – Organizing stuff, people and ideas
It took me a while to jump into using this tool after knowing about it for years. I couldn't figure out why I would need Airtable AND Google Drive. Right now, my accountability partner and I use it to track our marketing activities. In this sense, we're using Airtable like a spreadsheet on steroids. It was much faster to set up our table with info about our marketing efforts (activity name, type, which one of us is doing it, the date, etc etc) in Airtable than it would be in a Google Sheet or Excel. I also have clients who use it to plan their social media editorial calendars – you can attach files and display pictures in your table “base,” something you can't do as easily in those other programs. Other popular uses: Product launches and planning, event planning, book planning, time tracking. And – it's free to use! Try Airtable.
SHOPIFY – E-commerce
It's no joke when I tell you this: I wish I had signed up for Shopify a lot sooner. I'd used it before – helping clients embed Shopify stores into their existing websites, but the first store I built from scratch was my own, when I decided that The Next 12 Months planners needed their own home. I had already been using Shopify buttons here on my site, but I was blown away at how quick and easy it was to build a store from scratch. The minute I was done, I wanted to change everything, just so I could keep playing. I souped up the back end with some powerful (free!) apps and was itching to tackle more Shopify projects. It's been a joy to work with and their customer service is super helpful. Try Shopify.
G SUITE – Email, calendar, documents
I've been using Google Apps – now called G Suite – in my business for eight years (I've had a regular Gmail account much longer). I just think it can't be beat. Though it's no longer free, the 5 bucks per month you'd pay to have your own branded email address plus the calendar and Google Drive is well worth it. Try G Suite free for 14 days.
SOCIAL PILOT – Social media management
I've used a lot of social media management tools over the years, for both myself and my clients. Some options are bloated and offer way to many things I have use for. Others don't offer things that seem pretty basic at this stage of the social media management tool game. SocialPilot is just right. There's a free Lite plan that allows you to connect up to three profiles. For only $10 per month you can connect up to 10 profiles, publish up to 50 posts per day and have 1,000 posts stored in your queue. I've never even come close to maxing that out. It's easy to use and they have a smartphone app, too. Try SocialPilot.
TRACKMYSUBS – Tracking subscriptions, budgeting
THIS is the system I am so mad I didn't think of first. So simple, so brilliant. I've spent a lot of time talking to people about making sure they track all the subscriptions they sign up for. Most of mine are business related, with some personal ones sprinkled in. How many recurring subscriptions do you have? Your gym, email marketing service, Amazon Prime, health insurance…there's tons to keep track of. That's where TrackMySubs comes in. Add your subscriptions, the renewal dates and let them know when you want to be reminded. You'll then get alerts that your free trials are about to end or that your subscriptions are going to renew. I love it because I *hate* paying for services I don't like, want or need and sometimes it reminds that I'm signed up for something and so I should make the most of that subscription. TrackMySubs is free for up to 10 subscriptions. After that, its only $7 per month (cheaper if you pay for the year). If you've ever forgotten to cancel a free trial or a service you no longer wanted and wasted $30 bucks (or more…), this service is well worth it and pays for itself. Try TrackMySubs.
THE NEXT 12 MONTHS: WEEKLY PLANNER
My planner of choice. Of course I use my own product! I created this planner specifically for small business owners and solopreneurs who wear many hats. Even though I use a lot of online tools, I really like writing things down and checking things off my list. I use my planner every day and the weekly version includes a marketing tracker that helps keep me on track with my own marketing. Learn more bout the planners.
DROPBOX – File storage and sharing
Dropbox helps me keep all my files organized. I use two different computers and sometimes I need to access files when I don't have either one nearby. Dropbox is essential for me personally. But, I also use it regularly with clients, with my podcast editor, designers, team members, friends – you name it. While I do use Google Drive for documents that involve active collaboration, I prefer the way Dropbox organizes documents MUCH more. And, I find photo organization on Google Drive to be frustrating. It's easy peasy with Dropbox. Don't have an account yet? What are you waiting for? Try Dropbox.
LIBSYN – Podcast hosting
Since 2013 when I launched my first podcast, I've used Libsyn as my host. It's no frills and straight forward, but they have amazing customer service, listen to customer feedback and are always improving. Thinking of launching your own podcast? Try Libsyn.
If you have questions about any of these systems, or which ones may be a great fit for YOUR business, feel free to contact me.