Over the past few years, in my attempts to streamline, automate and simplify my business – all while building an extremely personal and connected brand – I’ve come across a few really great tools that have helped me tremendously. Back in 2008 when I was brand new, I wrote helpful blog posts to “pay forward” all the help and advice I’d received along the way. (Read here about trademarks, setting up a business and budgeting). I want to get back into that in all aspects of my life – in business, as a Mama and as a wife. I’m going to start a series here called Keep It Simple. I truly believe that it is possible to do it all (our need to’s, have to’s and want to’s) when we get rid of the excess.
I’ll go into more detail on this topic later, but I recently let go of A LOT of excess in my business. Someone once told me, “Just because you’re good at it… and can earn a living at it DOESNT mean you have to do it.” I chewed on that phrase for a long time before I finally decided to trust my gut and grow this business from my core – our Simplified Planner and my love for helping other busy women make what matters happen.
I work 24-28 hours a week. This is the most I’ve worked since Brady was born. For the first year, I was with him most of the time with the occasional afternoon to work (Oddly enough, that was my BUSIEST business year to date. I had my iron in so many fires it makes me tired to remember). During his second year, I worked three days a week and spent two with B. Now that he’s three, I’m working 4 days a week from about 9:30-3:30. I love having a flexible schedule but running a growing business and working these few hours I have had to put some tools in place to help me streamline my workflow and make everything happen. My favorite tools:
Guys, I never EVER thought I’d say this. I love Quickbooks Online. I have tried Quickbooks at least seven times in my 5 years in business. I’ve devoted days and weeks to setting it up only to throw in the towel because I was so overwhelmed. My brain “doesn’t work that way” I used to say. I used Outright up until a few weeks ago when I decided to put on my big girl pants and give QB one more shot. The new Quickbooks Online is fantastic. It’s new for 2014 and is very visual – charts, graphs, colors – it’s great. I feel like I have a much better handle on my financial picture – thanks to QB and Will Ray. I’ve been working with Will for a few months and he’s FANTASTIC. I highly recommend both :)
Our shop is built on the Shopify platform and I will sing their praises to the moon and back. I’ve used other cart platforms before and I really love the way Shopify gives me so much control. God bless Aeolidia, they also give me a lot of control with the custom theme and adjustment abilities they gave me within it (because they know how much I like to customize and adjust things as we go).
Perhaps my greatest discovery in my tenure as a shop owner is ShipStation. Shipping is REALLY hard whether you’re receiving two orders a month or ten thousand orders a month. ShipStation was something I discovered through Shopify. It pulls our Etsy sales and our Shopify sales into one safe place and allows us to batch ship our orders. We use a Dymo 4XL LabelWriter (we have a love hate relationship with this label printer just like any other printer that tends to jam from time to time) but it does the job quickly.
There you have it. I’d love to know some of your simple business tools. Running a busy family is a lot like running a business, so if you have simple family tools I’d love to hear those too! I hear Mint is a good one but I’ve yet to try it!