Keep it simple – business

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:

1-01Guys, 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!








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  1. Jennifer commented:

    I too love ShipStation (was revolutionary for me), but am trying to break up with shipping in my own efforts to simplify and streamline my business.

    My new favorite tool is the Batchbook CRM system. It allows me to keep track of a lot of customer data that was previously in spreadsheets.

    Curious, does the new Quickbooks Online have better PayPal integration now? Like you I’ve tried it a zillion times but always fought hard with it. I love how easy Outright is for accessing my transactions, but wish there were more sophisticated reporting features.

  2. You turned me on to Outright last year and it really helped me in business. I am going to look into the QB. As a family I love It is amazing and both my husband and I can see ALL our accounts (bank, credit cards and investments) at any given time. It sure helps us plan for big expenses by seeing it all in one place.

    I love this new series Em and I think making people more knowledgeable and sharing this information is such a great thing to do. It seems so many people don’t want to “spread the wealth” and it is disheartening.

  3. Emily Ramstetter commented:

    This is so, so helpful, Emily! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I purchased the PC version of quickbooks (but I own a Mac) so I hate the fact that I can’t really do my accounting on it. (I hired an accountant) At first I felt the online fee was too high for what I needed but now you might have convinced me otherwise. Does your shop sales/inventory talk to your Quickbooks? I know there are apps in shopify but I was hesitant because reviews aren’t great.

    Having a ecommerce platform that talks to quickbooks is my #1 priority in 2014. Im presently on SquareSpace and while I love the overall site (and price) it doesnt work for me. So I will have to switch. I was just afraid of all the fees attached to shopify but it seems to be all people rave about… so I might have to try it out.

    Ship station…. gosh I never heard about it. I think I might have to take a look. Its so hard to justify 100$ + a month on all this stuff when you are a startup. But if you dont invest you dont make money… right?!

    Thanks for the tips

  5. Emily! This is amazing! The treasurer of our non-profit, the Toloha Partnership, just sent an email today sharing that he wanted to try quick books, but we were debating about the price tag! Now he can try it and get your discount! I am so excited! I also have been wanting to try it! Thank you!!!

  6. Nicolle Spitulnik commented:

    Have to say I use and love both Shopify and ShipStation… hmm- wonder if I need to look into QuickBooks. Just the word alone makes me tremble a little. ;) And have you ever called ShipStation? They are the bees knees! Best customer support!

  7. DYMO support commented:

    Well, first of all, the blog is a beuaty. I see dozens of blogs and web sites per day, this one clearly stands out. The branding part is amazing.

    Having said all of this, many thanks for using a DYMO printer. We all appreciate businesses that use our machines and are happy to hear yours helps you in your work. If you ever need any support from us, simply ring us, chat with us or send e-mail ( has the details).

    DYMO support

  8. Alli Robbins commented:

    I don’t run a business. But, I take my role as keeper of our home seriously and I have always struggled with the budget and associated software. I feel like I have tried everything. Recently, I converted us to You Need A Budget software and program and we are in LOVE. Just thought I would pass along the info :)

  9. Robert commented:


    Thanks for the great feedback re: our offering – ShipStation!

    Onward and Upward,

    Robert Gilbeath
    VP of Marketing

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  13. Wendy commented:

    I recently switched from spreadsheets (I’m an auditor by day and I love my spreadsheets!) to for my business. It was SO easy and completely custom. Best thing yet: FREE. I love it. They even have some great apps you can download for tracking receipts and invoicing on the go.