Working for yourself is hard, man. Even at the best of times, I often find myself floundering to keep everything on track. On top of actually, you know, developing websites, it’s my job to schedule & attend meetings, write proposals, send invoices, and provide support. It’s amazing, but at times it can be overwhelming.
The last quarter of 2017, I decided to buckle down and really hone in my process. This meant eliminating tools I didn’t use anymore, and implementing new systems to keep everything organized. For the first time ever, I feel like I actually have a handle on my business. Which means less time doing “Administrative” tasks, and more time doing what I love – coding.
While everyone, and every business is different, a lot of Admin tasks are the same. So here are the tools that I use to get a handle on them.
Project Management: Trello + Planyway
For years, Trello was an unattainable dream. I heard so much about it, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work for me and my business. I finally discovered Trello For Business. While I didn’t end up using the exact system Abagail & Emylee use in their course, I was able to learn the ins and outs of Trello enough to adapt it to my workflow.
Then, I discovered Planyway – a browser extension that pulls all of your Trello boards into one calendar. You can even pull in your Google Calendar. I used it to create a single “Admin” board, that displays all my business tasks and my weekly agenda, complete with all my tasks on all my boards.
I have literally never been more organized.
Invoicing & Contracts: Dubsado
I actually tested Dubsado in early 2017, only to abandon the platform because I couldn’t figure it out. But, just like Trello, I heard amazing things about it. So I decided to give it another chance and wow.
I’m a purely-digital business, and a majority of my work is done by the hour, so it took me a while to figure out how Dubsado could work for me. But once I got it set up it became a dream. I can manage contracts, send proposals, collect payments (more on that below!) and track income all in one super easy to use dashboard. Everything looks clean and professional, and it makes it easy (dary I say fun?) to get documents out to my clients.
The one downside? No iPhone app. If it had a mobile app, it would probably be perfect.
Time Tracking: Toggl
Dubsado has a time tracker, but it’s a little lacking for me – no browser extension, no app, etc. So when I’m doing hourly work (which is most of the time) I use Toggl. In fact, Toggl is my first pinned tab in Chrome (Trello being the second).
It’s a super-simple time tracker. Enter a task name, pick a project/client, and click Start. Boom. It also produces some pretty awesome reports, if that’s your kind of thing.
Credit Card Processing: Stripe
Waiting to get paid sucks. And one of the best ways to avoid the wait is by making it easy and convenient for your clients to pay you. Which, in this day and age, means accepting credit cards.
As I said before, I use Dubsado to send out my client invoices. Fortunately, Dubsado integrates with Stripe, which is my go-to online payment processor. It charges a pretty standard 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction, integrates with tons of tools like WooCommere or Typeform, and supports subscriptions and saved credit cards.
Social Media Management: Buffer
I don’t do a lot of social media management. It’s probably one of my least favorite things to do. But Buffer makes scheduling posts super easy, which means I spend less time doing it and a lot less time hating it.
You can set up a custom schedule for each social network, then just use the browser extension (or app) to add content to your queue. Buffer will post according to your schedule. Quick, simple, and easy. It also has a ton of advanced features, like analytics for each post, and RSS to post feeds.
The best part? It’s free for up to 3 accounts! After that you can get the “Awesome Plan” for just $10 month.
Bonus: My Paper Planner
While I love working with online tools, I’m also a bit of a planner junkie. Every morning, I sit down and look at my tasks and appointments in Trello, then copy them down into my paper planner. That way I get the organization of Trello, but the sweet satisfaction of actually crossing them off my to-do list in pen.
I also use the paper planner for home tasks. I color coordinate – green items are work, pink items are home. Lets me see my whole day outlined, without having to keep extra tabs open.
Do you have any go-to business tools? Share them in the comments!