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How to Choose the Right Tools to Organize Your Online Service Business

How to Choose the Right Tools to Organize Your Online Service Business

Does it matter which tools you use to organize your business?

Yes.

A lot of people will tell you it doesn’t matter and that you should just use the tools you “prefer”. But choosing your business tools based on what you personally prefer is a dangerous way to go about choosing tools to organize your business.

In fact, simply choosing what you prefer has led to a lot of solopreneurs taking weeks to set up a certain tool to organize their business... only for them to go ahead and migrate to another one in a few months.

Why?

Click “play” on the podcast player below OR keep reading to learn more!

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why you’re choosing tools the wrong way

  • How to avoid shiny object syndrome and STOP trying every new tool that comes out

  • Why you should choose tools with your clients and future team in mind.

  • How to stop being perfectionistic about the tools you use and stop taking forever to organize your business

Want To Raise Your Web Design Rates? Do This First.

 
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Today I want you to meet Cat, the designer behind Gatto Web Studio and one of my Organize & Automate course students!

Cat was ready to stop playing small and working on blog designs only. She was ready to design for businesses and brands, take on larger projects and charge more for them. She was ready to level the heck up.

But she was also worried about the extra work that comes with taking on larger projects.

She wanted it to feel simple, not complicated. She wanted to be able to take on more than one large project at a time and handle it smoothly and stress-free.

That’s why she joined Organize & Automate.

If you’re ready to charge more for your design services and start taking on larger projects, Cat’s story will help you.

Interview Breakdown

0:33 - Cat decided to up-level her business and raise her pricing.

01:12 - The challenges Cat faced before she organized her business.

03:07 - The moment Cat realized she should be stepping into a CEO role in her business, not handling emails and admin tasks for hours each day.

04:41 - Cat’s opinion of Organize & Automate.

05:36 - How long it took Cat to complete the course.

06:01 - Her favourite thing about the course.

06:27 - The one thing that surprised Cat about the course.

07:07 - Where Cat would be now if she hadn’t organized her design business.

08:17 - Why Cat never stuck to the business systems she’d implemented in the past.

09:20 - How organizing her business has transformed how she feels about herself and her work.

10:52 - Why Cat joined Organize & Automate even though she’d had bad experiences with online courses in the past.

Organize your entire web or graphic design business in just two weeks

  • 2 hours spare each day.

  • Clients are becoming referral machines.

  • Double the income in half the hours.

These are just some of the results my Organize & Automate students have had, and you can have them too.

 

The ONLY 5 Free Tools You Need To Organize Your Business

 
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In today's video, you're going to learn the only five free tools you need to organize your business.

There are a LOT of tools out there that you can choose from, and it can be a real time suck trying each and every one to see what's a good fit for your business.

Instead, you can use this video to discover the best ones!

Watch the video below or continue reading.

01. Wave Apps

The first business tool that I want to talk to you about is Wave Apps. Wave is a free bookkeeping and invoicing tool.

The pros? It's free and it's super easy to use, you can add your accountant, you can use it to document your personal bills and expenses as well as business, you can download the Wave Receipts App to photograph and upload receipts on the go, and all of the reports that you need (such as your profit and loss reports) are included!

I have tried a lot of accounting tools over the last six years, like QuickBooks and Xero for example. But Wave has always been my favorite.

The cons? You can only invoice clients in your own currency and you can't import transactions automatically from Stripe. You have to import them manually.

I personally don't think that those two things are that big of a deal, so I've still stuck with Wave because I love it that much.

I suggest you use Wave Apps and create a monthly bookkeeping day. So on the same day every month, you will dedicate one or two hours to bookkeeping.

Simply open up Wave on that day, input all of your receipts for the month, and categorize all of your transactions for the month. Then you are done! This will help you to avoid the crazy chaos that so many freelancers go through at tax season when they suddenly need to organize a year’s worth of receipts.

02. Calendly

Have you ever sent dozens of back and forth emails to a client, trying to agree on a date for a consultation that works for both of you? It takes so much time and energy just to find a day that works for you both.

The solution is to use an online scheduler like Calendly. Here's how it works: you send your client a link to your Calendly calendar, and then the client just clicks the link. It shows them the dates and the times that you're available. They choose one, fill in their details, and then Calendly automatically imports that information to both of your calendars. It takes all of the hard work out of it for you completely!

The pros of Calendly? It is super simple for you and your clients to use, it integrates with your Google, Apple, Office 365 or Outlook calendar, it’s time intelligent (meaning it seamlessly detects the timezone of your invitee and converts your available meeting times to their timezone), and there's a free plan you can use if you only have one event type.

The con? If you need more than one event type, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. (An event type is a category for your meeting. For example, I have an event type called 'Coaching Call' and one called 'Coffee Chat'.)

The other con is that you can't customize the email notifications your clients receive if you're on the free plan. It's not a big deal though because Calendly's readymade email notifications are just fine.

03. Hellosign

Stop sending clients contracts to print, sign, scan, and send back to you because that makes your clients jump through hoops to get booked in your schedule.

Hellosign let's you send contracts electronically. So, when a potential client wants to book a spot in your schedule, what you'll do is send them the contract from Hellosign. It will allow them to sign the contract right from their inbox so they don't have to print it! They can just click a couple of buttons and sign the contract electronically, then Hellosign sends you both the finalized copy.

The con of the free plan on Hellosign is that you can only send three documents per month. But for most of you reading this, that is enough.

(Need a legit contract template? A template that was specifically written for web and graphic designers? I recommend The Contract Shop!*)

04. Asana

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You guys know I talk about this tool all the time because I love it that much. Asana is a free project management tool that you can use with unlimited clients and up to 15 team members before you need to upgrade to a paid plan.

Now, in case any of you don't know, a project management tool is a secure space online where you can handle your entire project with the client. So you can communicate with the client, send feedback and files, assign tasks to yourself or the client, assign due dates, create calendars, and more!

The beauty of Asana is the task reminders. If you want to make sure your client remembers something (like their payment, for example), simply create a task in Asana, assign it to the client and give it a due date. When that date approaches, Asana will send an email reminder to your client!

Another pro? You can create recurring tasks that pop up on your calendar or your client’s calendar on a regular basis.

Honestly, I could go on about it for a long time because I like it that much. The cons are pretty much none that I can think of. That's why it is my favorite free project management tool.

For those of you who don't know, I have a free course that teaches you how to use Asana with your clients! 

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05. Gmail

Instead of using Apple Mail for your business, I recommend Gmail. The reason I think that Gmail is better is because of the simple fact that it is easier to give team members access to Gmail than it is to Apple Mail. You may not have a team now, but if your business keeps growing, you will eventually have one, and you don't want to get to that point where you're suddenly hiring team members and you've got to also start using a different inbox tool because these team members can't work with the one that you're currently using.

Some of your team members may not have an Apple device, whereas everyone is familiar with Gmail.

Plus, there is the added benefit of joining Gsuite when you’re ready (it starts at £3.30 per month) so you can create a professional email address right from within Gmail. For example, instead of yourname@gmail.com, your email address can be hi@yourwebsite.com.

There are lots of great features to Gsuite. There's also Google Drive, which you can use to send files to your clients, and Google Calendar, which you can use to stay organized.


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* All links with an * next to them are affiliate links. Don’t worry though, I’d never recommend something I don’t use and love!

 

Why I Almost Quit My Web Design Business

Let's rewind 6 years ago. I was a year into my design business, things had finally picked up and I was fully booked. It was great! But it was also OVERWHELMING.

I had never taken on more than one client at a time until then. My idea of project management was back-and-forth emails, my work days went into the evenings and weekends, and my social life had pretty much disappeared.

My friend once said to me ‘we never see each other anymore’.

Here was my problem:

I knew that setting up systems to organize my client process would speed up my projects and free up my time, but I thought I didn't have TIME to set up systems.

Top 3 Project Management Tools For Freelance Web Designers

Top 3 Project Management Tools For Freelance Web Designers

You know you should use a project management tool, but you don't know where to start.

But there are so many out there. How do you choose which one to go for? How do you choose the best one for your business?

Well, you don't need to stress anymore because I'm going to show you the top three project management tools for freelance designers.