Top 4 Tools To Organize Your Business
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I have spent the last few months setting up systems to make my business run more smoothly and the inner-organizer in me is dancing her happy dance. Arranging, organizing, keeping things neat & tidy speaks to my soul. And I’m not even kidding.
When I was a teenager I asked my mother to stop folding and putting my laundry away because I liked things folded a certain way and I had specific drawers/places for different articles of clothing. My closet was neat, with everything hung up nicely. My books put tidily back on the shelves. My dear mother would fold and shove her towels in the linen closet and it drove me bonkers so I would dump them all out, fold and re-stack them neatly back on the shelves. Now that I think about it, it’s possible she did it on purpose.
For a real sense of satisfaction I like to clean out closets and get rid of junk we don’t need or use. I just did a post-Christmas clean-out (it wasn’t even very thorough) and I got rid of so much stuff! Having moved homes several times, including one halfway across Canada, I realized we have so much stuff that we don't even need. Or use. Or remember we even had.
After starting my own family and having a husband, kids, dog and a home that is constantly under renovation I can safely say that particular trait in me has been downgraded to somewhat tidy (as my sister, with whom I shared a room as a child and lived with as an adult, finally rejoices).
So, organization is my jam and when I decided to rebrand my business and focus my services more specifically I took this opportunity to set systems in place to keep everything organized and to take the brain work out of doing all those tasks manually.
I’ll be the first to admit I am a notebook/journal/planner junkie. And I still have a difficult time resisting a beautiful journal or planner. I have a box full of them, jammed with notes that I will probably never look at again.
It seemed important in the moment and I’m sure they are full of great advice, tips and tools I could be implementing but there are just so many. And who even knows where any particular topic is? Not this girl. It’s not like I indexed or charted anything that goes into those books. You can’t google search a notebook.
Months ago I promised myself I would get more organized in business. I would set up systems to do the things I’ve been doing manually for the last 6 years. (I’m so behind). I signed up for #allthethings. You got it, I’ve got accounts with Asana, Trello, Dubsado, 17Hats, Evernote and more I’m probably leaving out. But I didn’t know how to use any of them for my business.
Sometimes I need people to walk me through how to set something up, give me examples, tell me where to start. I find that so valuable, don't you? You can cheer me on and tell me “You can do it” all you want but I will just sit here and Netflix until someone says, “Look, this is how I use it and it might be a great starting point for you too”.
Because you can’t think of all the different things you need right away. And it can be overwhelming! What do you include? What do you leave out? How do I set this up so that this happens, etc. So here are a few of the systems, programs or courses I use in my business that you may find helpful too.
I found Think Creative Collective on Instagram and became a fan of their "Lunchbreak Booty Shakes". I ended up enrolling in a few of their courses and Abagail and Emylee are encouraging, supportive and great cheerleaders. I have found some of their courses to be more valuable than others (specifically, regarding actionable items - which is what I’m all about) and one of those is their “Trello for Business” course.
Of course, I can always use a pep talk, but this course was actually full of really great information, tips and tools. You can copy their actual boards into your own account (complete with pretty pictures, even if you don’t have the Gold version). They provide you with all the boards, workflows and checklists that will get you started so you can create and customize it to suit your needs and your business. It is, perhaps, more geared toward online-based creative entrepreneurs but I think it would really suit any business (self-employed or a company) that values being organized. If you have goals to grow your business, this would be an awesome tool to hold all your workflows, schedules, checklists, business information in one place. When you’re ready to bring on another team member they can view all of these items on your Trello boards and see exactly how you like things to be done.
And the best part of all is that it was only $29 USD, so I would definitely recommend it.
As I mentioned, I’d signed up for a few of the other CRM (Client Relationship Management) tools that are out there. But I hadn’t done anything with them, until I got a newsletter from someone about Dubsado. She was a fellow designer also, so I took note and went to check it out. It’s free for up to 3 clients so I signed up and looked around a bit.
I left it there. I didn’t really do much with it aside from adding my contact information and logo. I joined their facebook group, and that was the turning point for me. Jake & Becca Berg (especially Becca) are super involved and active in their facebook groups. And if they don’t answer your question right away there are a dozen other users there to help.
The community they have created and their customer service is amazing. I really can’t wait to see where this goes and I hope they can sustain it all as it grows in popularity (and grow it will). Everyone in the group is so helpful and open about sharing their processes and templates which is gold for me. After attending some webinars and checking their groups I have really been customizing it for my business and I’m really excited about it. I’m still on the free version but I hope to “graduate” soon and fully optimize the program for my business.
They are constantly adding upgrades and new features, so if you’re unsure about taking the leap because it’s missing something pertinent to your business, check their upcoming features list and see if it’s there.
Click here to sign up for your free, no-time-limit trial.
After taking a one-on-one photography tutorial with a friend last summer, she encouraged me to try Instagram for my business. I had signed up ages before but didn’t really get into it. (Am I seeing a trend here?) So I thought I should try again and see what it was all about. “Facebook without all the annoying stuff” is how one of my good friends put it.
I wasn’t exactly sure how people used Instagram for business but I started following people that were being followed by friends or just random people from specific hashtags. And I fell in love. Instagram, for me, is like all the pretty things that you want to see, all the encouraging friends you should surround yourself with and all the helpful advice you can shake a stick at. Actually, it became a bit overwhelming.
I began following Jasmine Star on Instagram and did a few of her webinars that she used to launch her Insta180 course. At the very last minute of it being opened, I bought in. Now, I haven’t actually made a sale on Instagram because of it (honestly, it’s probably more my fault than the fault of her program) but it was full of really great steps, worksheets and breakdowns for Instagram. She talks about the different types of accounts, how to shoot iPhone photos, who you should be targeting and how to write good captions. I haven’t implemented all of her strategies but it was a really great way to work out how I could use Instagram for business and not just for shots of my kids & food (although that is totally fine too).
Courses and online learning are part of my personal and professional growth strategies for 2017. There are a few more on my radar for this year and I will keep you posted on any that I deem worthy of investment.
I began using Later to schedule my posts for Instagram (which I’m still not great) but when I do I find it immensely helpful. Have you ever sat down at your computer (or on your phone) and try to think of something worthwhile to say? And you come up with...crickets? Yup, I’ve been there too. One of my goals for the first quarter of 2017 is to sit down every week and schedule out 5-7 posts to Instagram. When you batch together items, you get in the groove and become more efficient. I totally believe that. So, when I’m trying to think of what to say, I try to keep these three things in mind:
Does this post provide value?
Does it provide inspiration?
Is this relatable?
I try to answer at least 1 of these questions with every post (I don’t always succeed) so that I’m always providing value to the people that take the time to read my post.
If you have systems, courses, or programs that you use in your business and couldn’t live without leave me a comment or send me a message, I’m all ears! I love the community of sharing and transparency that I have found and I really want to help others figure their stuff out too. It took me 6 years to jump on the bandwagon and I don’t want that to happen to your business.