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Hi, I'm Isabel
You’re the Founder, CEO, COO, CMO, Boss Babe, or whatever other titles you want to add to the long list of roles you play for your business. You have a long, long list of responsibilities to your company and your clients. No matter how organized you may be, it’s nearly impossible to keep everything at the forefront of your mind, and honestly what is the point of putting all that pressure on yourself anyway? I’m here to let you in on two of the major secrets to my success.
A Project Management System
A Customer Relationship Management System (or CRM for short)
These systems help you to stay on top of all aspects of your business without micromanaging everyone around you. Let’s start by getting into what a project management system is. A project management system assists you in keeping your team organized. This technology is a way for you to plan, organize, and manage projects. A CRM is a way for you to keep your client on task and organized without having to constantly check in on them. A CRM allows you to manage projects, book clients, keep track of contracts and send invoices automatically.
Sure you can try to keep all the balls up in the air by yourself, but why when you can let these systems act like your personal assistant, bill collector, and financial advisor? By freeing up your time, brainpower, and energy, you’ll be able to deliver your best work to your team and your clients. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what each of these systems offers.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. As the boss, you’re the one who is responsible for every single piece of your business and it’s more than okay to admit that you need a little help. An effective project management system will lighten the load. It’s like having your own assistant who runs around all day with you reminding you of what is in the pipeline and who is working on what. If you’re the kind of person who keeps sticky pads everywhere, a planner in hand, and lists all over the office, then this is a dream tool for you.
One thing to note, it will take some time to set up your project management system. So set aside a Friday afternoon, gather all your sticky notes, and start putting your tasks into the system and setting due dates. You’ll be thrilled when that reminder pings three weeks later for a task you completely forgot about!
A captain is nothing without their crew. Imagine this: a new client comes to you. You’re excited to get to work, but the scale of the project is huge. You sit down with your team and dole out the assignments. You take your notes, so you know who will be working on what, but there’s always one in every group who swears it was someone else’s job, loses their notes, or just forgets what they were supposed to do. Instead of crawling back to you to ask to rehash that conversation, they can instead check the system to see what they missed and can easily get back on track. Project management systems offer an easy and streamlined way to keep your employees accountable and for them to keep themselves accountable. Save yourself the drama or guessing who is on first and let the system do the work.
Even if you have the most organized team in the universe, let’s not forget that people go on vacation, and sometimes things just come up. In these instances, you’re going to need to shift around responsibilities. People get sick, emergencies happen, and you kind of know, but you don’t really know when someone is going to start their maternity leave. A project management system eases these transitions, so members of your team can help in a pinch without a huge scramble.
Is it too dramatic to say that my life changed when I started utilizing a CRM? I don’t care. It’s the truth. I’m the kind of person who replays again and again in my head all the things I need to accomplish until I put it on the to-do list. I also don’t enjoy micromanaging anyone. Lucky for me, I now use Dubsado, which has made coordinating with my clients a million times easier. It’s also streamlined my business and freed up enough of my time that I am now able to take on more clients. That’s what we call a win/win.
In theory, I have one project lined up after the other. None are supposed to overlap too much, but in a reality, that’s never the way things seem to go. Little things always come up, sometimes a client is running behind on our deadline, or whatever snafu gets in the way, there always tends to be a few more things going on at the same time than I had intended. A CRM allows me to easily track where everyone is at, what I should be working on, and the work I am anticipating. This way nothing falls through the cracks and I don’t have to wake up in a cold sweat remembering that thing I was supposed to do, or that email I never got.
Are you tired of feeling like a nag? Do you hate sending bill reminders? You didn’t start your business to chase people for checks. Let your CRM do your dirty work. A CRM will allow you to invoice your clients, send reminders, and collect payments. Plus, everything is automatic so you’re sitting down to watch TV and get an email that your client just paid. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Whether it’s proposals, contracts, or questionnaires you need to share with your clients, a CRM stores all those documents for you and allows for easy sharing with your clients. You certainly don’t want to lose any vital paperwork in the shuffle of your busy life. A CRM acts like your own virtual filing cabinet, so you don’t have to scramble to find that missing contract you left in a pile on someone’s desk. And best of all? It sends automatic reminders to clients to fill out questionnaires or contracts by the deadline so you don’t have to worry about it.
Hopefully, you’re already prepared to greet new clients with your onboarding package. You probably have documents, guides, and tools you want to easily share with each new person you work with. A CRM should save you the work and hassle of reinventing the wheel and allow you to click a few buttons to share all your go-to resources. CRMs can even input customer information so onboarding docs can be customized for each client with ease.
Your CRM has been billing your clients, sending reminders, and collecting payments. You’re getting paid and you’re psyched, but what if on top of keeping track of your finances you could also make a better projection of where your business is headed? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see into the future without being a mathematician? A CRM allows you to track your sales, so you can easily see sales forecasts. It’s like your own digital financial advisor.
This isn’t rocket science. If you want to improve or grow sales, you need to know who your strongest customer base is. A CRM can give you a snapshot of where your business is coming from, so you can focus on growing the appropriate clientele. Maybe you’re a baker who has been dishing out desserts every weekend and hasn’t had the time to take a step back to think about who has been buying your cakes. You may feel like you’ve made a million birthday cupcakes in the past year, but when you look at the data you may realize you’ve turned the biggest profit on wedding cakes. That’s gotta make you think twice about how you’re using your time.
Then there is the marketing aspect of your business. If you’re tracking referrals and how people find their way to you, you may be surprised to see what has made the biggest impact. You could be all over Instagram, buying ads in magazines, and attending networking events, but it is important to understand how your clients are finding you so you can put your money into a marketing medium. A CRM will do just that for you. If you ask each new client that simple question of, “How did you find us?” and track that data, you’ll get the answers you need in a few quick clicks.
I know what you’re saying, “enough Isabel, I get it! I’m sold. Now which project management system and CRM should I be using?” I’m so glad you asked.
For project management systems, I recommend Trello, Asana, Monday, and ClickUp. There are a ton out there and you need to find the one that works for you. Some use list formats, others use kanban boards, and others use Gantt charts. Most have a free option or a free trial so you can test what works best for you. And if you’re finding that you’re not loving one, switch to another! You want to make sure your project management system reflects the way you like to work.
For CRMs, I recommend Dubsado* (this is the one I use and am obsessed with) or Honeybook. Similar to project management systems, there are a lot out there and you need to find one that works for you. These can be a bit more on the expensive side, but I promise they will allow you to scale your business and ultimately make more money. Both Dubsado and Honeybook tend to run sales around holidays and Black Friday so keep an eye out for those!
Utilizing a project management system and a CRM has truly changed the way I run my business, saved me more times than I can count, and has streamlined my business to the point where I can now take on more clients than I had ever thought was possible. We only have two hands and we can’t be in a hundred places at once, but these systems will trick everyone who does business with you into thinking you have an army behind you.
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