Wondering which systems you need to put in place for your business? Here are the 5 most important ones – along with suggested resources and tools.
Note: this post contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to purchase one of these services through my links, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend things I love and trust. I've used everything recommended on this page for my own business or for my clients.
Contact Management System
Every business needs a great contact management system. Your contacts are your business – especially if you're in a service-based business that's relationship driven. If you've ever missed out on an opportunity because you didn't follow up or didn't have someone important on your radar, you probably don't have a good system in place- or you aren't using it. The tools I've recommended most this year to help clients manage their relationships include Salesmate and Dubsado.
A calendar is a must! If you're anything like me – if it isn't in your calendar, it isn't going to happen! Stop trying to remember everything off the top of your head. Also, piles of Post-its aren't a great system. My calendar of choice is Google Calendar. I also have a planner that I write in every day. You don't need to go crazy like me with two calendars – but pick a good one and stick with it!
Questions about finding the right planner? Here are some resources that can help.
You've GOT to know what's going on with your money if you're going to grow your business. Stop making invoices in Excel. We've got great tools now that take care of it for you! I've been a QuickBooks Self-Employed customer for a few years now and love them. If you need something with more features, QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online are some of the most widely used tools for bookkeeping and accounting. I was a Freshbooks customer for about six years and still highly recommend them. Dubsado handles invoicing and has some bookkeeping features (they also integrate with QuickBooks Online). There are several other great services out there as well.
Track the money coming into and going out of your business. If you're not sure where to find a good bookkeeper, check out Bench. I used them for most of 2014 and it was great relief to know they had everything organized. They'll even do one month of your books for free to see if you like the service.
Projects and Tasks
You've probably got a lot of things on your plate. How are you tracking them? In your planner? Great! In your Google Calendar? Awesome! By memory? FAIL! Make sure you have a system in place so you get important things done. If you have too many projects and/or tasks to manage in your everyday calendar, you'll probably need a separate tool or app. Asana and Trello are great task and project management tools. They are widely used – and free! Basecamp is great for website and design projects or projects where you have several team members that need access. Evernote can also be used for projects and tasks if you work it the right way. It's also great for note taking, writing projects, storing ideas and bookmarks. The list goes on…The free version gives you what you need, but they also have a Premium plan if you're feeling fancy.
If you want to grow your business this year, you need to market it! That's going to look different for everyone. Whatever you decide to do, make a plan and stick to it. Is networking part of your marketing strategy? Make sure you get interesting events on your calendar. Schedule time to follow up (the right CRM will help you with this…). If social media is on your radar, make sure you have a plan that helps maintain some consistency. My favorite marketing tool for every service-based business owner is the book Get Clients Now! I've used it almost a dozen times since I started my business. You can use this book and the corresponding plan over and over – and it will be different every time. The program is great on its own. It is better with a partner. It is best with a group. Start your own or join an existing group. Want to know when I'm leading another GCN mastermind? Make sure to get on my list. Oh – and get the paperback copy. Don't go Kindle on this one.
That's it – the 5 most important systems to get in place for your biz this year. Focus on one area at a time if this is a lot for you to handle. I realize you might not geek out about this like I do. Which area is your biggest pain point? Dive in and explore the options. There are so many great tools out there, you're bound to find the one. If you want to speed up the process and zero in on which systems are right for you and your business, I'm happy to help you solve that puzzle.