The 3 Business Tools I Can’t Live Without

One of the things that I’ve found incredibly important to running a successful one-person business is having systems and tools in place that help keep me organized and efficient. When you’re the owner, creator, customer service manager, accountant, social media manager, etc., being smart with your time is key because as we all know, the goal for any business, small or large, is to work smarter, not harder.

As a solo business owner, it can be hard to find the time to accomplish everything on the to-do list and stay organized, and tasks like sending out contracts, following up on invoices and keeping track of your expenses can be incredibly daunting, especially when all you want to do is create (which is why you started your creative small business in the first place, right?).

Luckily, there are a lot of systems and tools out there that can help you manage all aspects of running your small business. After lots of trying and testing and trying again, I’ve narrowed my processes down to 3 main tools that I can’t live without and that I utilize every single day. These 3 tools save me time, keep me organized and help me ensure that my business is running as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. Check em out below!


HoneyBook

I spent over a year debating whether or not I needed a system like HoneyBook. I tried Trello, Asana, did trials of various other softwares, but nothing seemed to stick as a process and really serve my needs. Once I made the decision to finally give HoneyBook a try, I never looked back.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with HoneyBook, it’s basically a CRM (customer-relationship management) program that streamlines workflows, serves as a customer database, houses contracts, and most importantly, helps you get paid for all of your hard work!

When I first heard of HoneyBook, I didn’t think it was for me. I thought my business was too small to actually need a CRM and it seemed like HoneyBook was geared more towards photographers and event planners than calligraphers. I couldn’t have been more wrong! As soon as I signed up for the 7-day free trial, I knew I was going to end up purchasing the yearly membership and that it would become an integral part of my business.

HoneyBook has literally been a lifesaver. From email templates that save me time responding to inquiries and help me follow up with clients, to contract templates and invoices that can be signed and paid electronically, I’ve saved hours on the admin side of my business. My favorite aspect is definitely the contract templates because I no longer need to write a new contract for every single project. With HoneyBook, I’m able to create one template that has highlighted fields for myself and my client to fill out. And best of all, the contracts can be signed electronically, which means no more printing and wasting paper and everything is organized within each job’s file.

The other thing I love about HoneyBook is their “pipeline,” which is basically a page that shows the status of each of your projects. In the pipeline, I’m able to see what stage each open project is in, such as “inquiry,” “follow up,” “contract signed,” “in progress” or “completed.” (Screenshot below) All of my new inquiries feed directly into my Honeybook pipeline and I can customize the different stages so that they fit my business and workflow.

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And of course, my other favorite feature is the ability for my clients to pay their invoices directly online. As small businesses, we work hard to bring the best quality service and products to our clients and it’s important to get paid for that work. Honeybook makes it incredibly easy to send out invoices, set up payment reminders and receive payment for all of the hard work that you do.

Best of all, everything is super customizable, so you can pull in your logo, your brand colors, etc, and create professional-looking documents in minutes. 

If you’re looking for a program to help keep you organized, on top of your paperwork and streamline tasks for you, then I would 100% recommend HoneyBook. You get a 7-Day free trial and I’d suggest taking that time to customize everything for your business so that you can really see how it will work for you.

And guess what - I’ve got a special offer just for my blog readers! When you use the link below, you’ll receive 50% off your first year of HoneyBook! That’s a $200 value, but really, you’ll save even more with the time you’ll get back to do more of the work that you love.

Give me 50% off my first year of HoneyBook!

 

Quickbooks

It took me awhile to realize how important it is to keep your business finances organized and separated from your personal finances. (Hence why I’m writing this post - so you don’t make the same mistakes that I did when I first started!) There are a few different versions of Quickbooks, so you might need to shop around to see which is best for you, but I use Quickbooks Self-Employed. It connects directly to my Etsy shop, which is why I decided on that one, so all of my sales and shop fees are automatically imported into my Quickbooks account. You can also link it to your business bank account(s) and credit card(s) so that all of your transactions are imported every time you purchase something or receive payment. What I love the most about it is that there’s an app, so I can keep track of all my expenses and income on the go. You can take pictures of all of your receipts with your phone and attach them directly to the expense entries. Quickbooks will also give you an estimated tax payment, so that you always have an idea of what you’ll owe each quarter/year.

If you’re spending or making any money on your business, you definitely want this app! Use the code below for 50% off your first year of a Quickbooks Self-Employed subscription.

Give me 50% off Quickbooks Self-Employed! 



Google Suite

The thing I’ve found to be most instrumental in keeping myself and my business organized is utilizing the Google suite. From Gmail to Google Calendar to Google Drive, I’m in these programs every single day. My favorite thing about the Google suite and why it’s the one program that I’ve been able to make stick is that I’m able to access my files on any device. Whether I’m on my computer at home or on my phone on the go, I can view and update my calendar, check off my tasks, and access files as needed.

I keep all of my business documents in my Google Drive, including client docs such as seating chart grids and address lists for envelopes, that way I can pull them up on my computer, phone or tablet regardless of where I’m working.

Google Calendar is the only thing that keeps me from double-booking myself. I have multiple calendars set up (all of which are color coded and also which HoneyBook can be pulled into), such as Appointments, Events, Jobs Due, Personal, etc, so that I can see everything that I have scheduled for a specific day, whether its a client drop-off, a workout class or happy hour with friends. I put all of my jobs into my calendar on the date I want to have them done by (not necessarily the wedding date, for example) and add the job description into the notes, so I know exactly what needs to be done for that project.

I use Google Tasks to write down all of my “to-dos” for each day and then check them off as they’re completed. One of my favorite features is that it can be set up as a sidebar when you have Gmail open on your computer, so when I’m emailing with a client and need to set a follow up reminder (such as “reach out for guest list”), I can go to the side screen and add that task right away so that I don’t forget.

All you need to access the Google suite is a Google account, which you might already have! If you do, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the benefits that come with that account!


There are lots of different programs and tools out there and you might find that some work better for you than others. These are the ones that I’ve found work best for me and my small business. If you have any tools/systems that you really love and would like to share, let me know in the comments below! And if you have any questions on the programs that I use, feel free to holler!

Part of running a business is always looking for new ways to improve, so I’d love to hear what you do to stay organized!

I hope this post helps you to go be the most efficient boss babe you can be!

 xox, 
Alane