Guest Post: 3 Systems that Save Me 3-5 Hours Per Week

As business owners we all have a lot going on but you can choose to do tasks sporadically or organize those tasks and maximize your time. We all have the same 24 hours and anytime you see a famous entrepreneur and wonder “How does she do it?”, the answer is probably systems. I’m going to take you through 3 systems I have in my business that save me 3-5 hours each week.

My Email System

I prioritize learning and for that reason I am subscribed to a lot of email lists. That sounds like a great thing until you realize that your inbox fills up with an insane number of emails in the time it takes to have a coffee break. I don’t like to completely close out my email but I also don’t like to get distracted every single time I see a new and interesting email come in.

And then I discovered Unroll.me

Unroll.me has allowed me to create an actual system for going through all of the great emails I get. Every afternoon, Unroll.me sends me a digest of the emails I got in the form on 1 single email. That allows me to take 30 minutes to go through it all at once at a time that works for me. If you use Google Apps to host your email, check out Unroll.me here.

My Social Media System

Social media can be a huge time-suck for people and it’s easy to get lost in it. That’s why I knew I had to figure out a way to scale back the amount of time I spent on social media while still sharing great content. I had been using Hootsuite to schedule posts but it’s not the easiest way to schedule them so that didn’t stick. I came across Buffer and it has totally changed the way I use social media. It let’s me schedule posts to my Twitter account, Facebook page, Google+ profile and LinkedIn profile with the click of a button. Now, I only spend about 30 minutes each week scheduling my social media posts.

One thing that I love about Buffer is that you can fill it up and let it post for you and it will email you when your Buffer is empty. This means you can pre-load all of your tweets and Facebook page posts for the week in one sitting. They also have extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari so that you can add the page that you are on to your Buffer with 1 click. And it gets even better. You can choose the times that your posts will go out at or use the Buffer integration with FollowerWonk to analyze your accounts to figure out the best times to post.

One of the traps that many people fall into is thinking you have to always be posting new original content that you created. That limits you to only posting to your social media profiles when you have a new blog post or spending way too much time trying to come up with topics. It is far easier and effective to curate great content that your audience will love in addition to your original content. Bearing this in mind, I set up a Feedly account and added all of the websites that my ideal client loves so that I can keep up with their new content. Each week I log into Feedly and add selected posts to Buffer.

Every week I have a block of time in my calendar that prompts me to add content to my Buffer. At that time, I simple log into Feedly and add some content to Buffer and add some of my own content and voila! A week’s worth of posts done in 30 minutes!

My Scheduling System

In order to make sure I get everything done that I want to get done, I use Google Calendar to manage my schedule. I actually make appointments with myself and treat them as appointments with other people. Let me explain. If I know I need to write 3 blog posts this week, I’ll put a 2 hour appointment in my calendar. Now I’m not meeting with anyone but if I schedule it, I know I’ll do it. Also, I’m horrible in the morning so if I don’t have my day planned out the night before, I’ll just be totally lost until about noon. When I start my day, I can see exactly what I need to do and when so I don’t have to waste any time figuring that out.

Google Calendar is collaborative so if you do have a team or an assistant, you can make appointments with each other. It also lets you set up different color-coded calendars so that you can see at a glance what is going on. You might choose one color for client appointments, one for admin work and one for content creation. It’s also cloud-based so you can access it from any device, anywhere in the world. It’s pretty much the best calendar ever and I’d be lost without it.

These are just 3 systems that I have in place in my business and they save me about 3-5 hours per week, every week. That’s 18-20 hours per month and 156-260 hours per year. Systems can save you serious time so I’m sure you can see that they are well worth setting up.

If you’re serious about getting out of overwhelm, you won’t want to miss the exciting free webinar I’ve got for you. It will help you get systems in place in your business and put them on autopilot. To find out more and save your spot visit www.evolveyourweddingbusiness.com/webinar

Heidi Thompson of Evolve Your Wedding Business helps wedding professionals market themselves on a budget and create a consistent flow of leads because in business, it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do if no one knows about it.

Check out her free video training designed to help you turn fans into buyers, perfect your website and crank up your cash flow.

 

Pick the Best Accounting Software for Small Business

This is a guest post from Sara Collins over at NerdWallet.

As a small business owner, you know how incredibly frustrating it can be to keep track of records and finances accurately. By this point, keeping huge binders filled with indexed files and spreadsheets is an almost archaic practice; if you’re still operating this way, ask yourself “why?”. Doesn’t your small business deserve the same top-of-the-line software used by almost every mid-large scale business for financial planning and budgeting? You work hard enough to run your business – let these programs take at least a little of the weight off your shoulders.

I’ve taken a look at two of the best accounting software programs for small business which should just about cover your every need. These options are super intuitive and all about usability, so even if your expertise lies with event organization or food prep, you can still be your own accountant. If this English major can get a basic grasp on bookkeeping, so can you.

quickbooks1.) QuickBooks by Intuit
QuickBooks can easily organize your records, freeing up your time for other tasks. It consists of a double-entry accounting system, which means that it follows standard bookkeeping rules. You don’t have to worry about that because the program takes care of the debits and credits in the background. The 2013 version also allows users to create and share report templates. Reports can be sorted by industry type, user rating and/or popularity. QuickBooks is designed to be simple to use regardless of how clueless you may be when it comes to accounting. There’s even an online troubleshooting database and a community forums section, featuring many accounting professionals who can provide assistance for those of us who still aren’t quite sure what we’re doing. The site will even help you get in touch with a local expert if one exists near your location.

Information about your customers, vendors and employees is stored in the form of individual records. When you begin entering financial data on forms like invoices and purchase orders, these records will be used to automatically populate fields on your transaction forms. Record and transaction information will also be used to create the reports you’ll need to run. QuickBooks contains dozens of ready-made templates (again, catering to us newbies) and allows you to customize your output and/or export it into Excel. Because of the close integration throughout the system, you should be able to avoid duplicate data entry. QuickBooks is generic enough that it can be a good fit for a wide variety of business types and sizes. A Premier version of QuickBooks is available in several different industry versions, including Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, and Retail.

sage502.) Sage 50 Complete
This accounting software is cleverly designed to anticipate the needs of small-business owners, from billing clients to tracking down inventory. Sage 50 Complete is specifically designed for small businesses and includes all the modules you need to run every aspect of your business, including accounting, billing, customer and vendor management, payroll processing, banking and inventory management. Providing everything you require and yet simple enough for non-accountants to master, Sage 50 Complete are one of the best leading industries accounting software on the market. It’s compatible with other products, and Sage software is scalable up to 40 users or 499 employees. Data entry screens in Sage 50 are easily navigated, and contain excellent look up options as well as tabs for related tasks. This software can do everything from printing pick lists to generating income statement reports.

This accounting system can generate more than 140 reports and includes the option to filter and track custom data fields. This small business software produces professional-looking invoices, prints checks and manages direct deposits. Sage 50 offers an excellent selection of third party applications that easily integrate with its core financial products. It has a powerful inventory manager that can handle a wide range of inventory data, including location, preferred vendor, substitutions, and assemblies. The payroll and employee module is also impressive. Sage offers excellent scalability in its products, where users can scale up from the Premium version up to the Quantum version, which can handle up to 40 system users. It can manage all employee details such as emergency contacts, accrued vacation time, commissions and overtime. Sage 50 is, as the name implies, complete.
If you’re looking for a new way to manage your business’s finances, don’t be intimidated by the software programs that can help you do it. All of their intricate capabilities are only designed to make your life easier. Making the decision to get started will be the toughest part – do your business a favor by checking out these programs today.

Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping consumers find the best interest rates.

Meh to Marvelous Transformation: Day 30

In today’s “Meh to Marvelous” video checkin, Michelle shares her big news! You can feel her excitement for what’s next. It’s a day for celebration as Michelle describes the power of Energy Leadership, visualization and going after what you really want.

“Michelle came to me because she was looking to make some huge changes in her life and kickstart her new business. She’s an experienced florist living in a major city and she is totally devoted to her kids, including a daughter with special needs. Michelle’s motivation to start her own business stemmed from her desire to spend more time with her daughters. She’s keeping a video diary of her progress in this 90-day Meh to Marvelous transformation.” -Jeff Hellenbrand, Cake Coaching

Day 5: Check Your Baggage: Lose the Guilt this Season

It’s Day 5 of the Simplify Your Summer series and I’m wrapping things up (except for the live Q&A session of course) by talking about ditching the guilt this Summer.

Watch the video:

If you’re ready to let go of the guilt this wedding season (and forever), here’s my formula:

  • BYOBF (Be Your Own Best Friend)
    • Realize everyone experiences needless guilt.
    • Cut yourself some slack.
    • Know that you are more than enough, just as you are.
    • Get present. Go out for ice cream, do something productive.
  • Take on the motto: “No Guilt, Just Results”
    • If you’re slacking, go big. Go skydiving. Have a picnic.
    • Don’t just sit there moping on Facebook.
    • Refuse to live in the past.
    • Instead, ask “what is the opportunity right-freakin-now?”

It’s all about changing expectations and letting go so you can be happier and more productive right now. If you want to learn more about that process, check out my blog post on Being like the Roomba®.

Get the rest of the Simplify Your Summer expert tips delivered straight to your inbox and get access to the live Q&A with Jeff Hellenbrand on May 20th at cakecoaching.com/kiss.

Day 4: Avoid the Wedding Season Website Traffic Rut

Kathy DalPra Bride AppealIt’s Day 4 and Kathy DalPra from Bride Appeal has some awesome ideas for you on how to stay ahead with content this Summer. Have a pen ready, because she’s got some homework for you. Settle in and enjoy this great mini-webinar on how to get your website traffic to make sure you stay in front of brides all season long (without pulling all-nighters to write blog posts in July).

Make sure to get on the waiting list for Bridal Traffic Domination with conversion-genius Kathy DalPra, CEO of Bride Appeal, right here: http://brideappeal.com/btd.

Get the rest of the Simplify Your Summer expert tips delivered straight to your inbox and get access to the live Q&A with Jeff Hellenbrand on May 20th at cakecoaching.com/kiss.

Day 3: Three Tips to Streamline Your Wedding Business

For Day 3 of the Simplify Your Summer series, we have some ideas for keeping it together this wedding season (and beyond) from Heather and Jennifer of Outstanding Occasions. Check it out:

Heather and Jennifer from Outstanding Occasions
If you want to simplify during wedding season, these three tips will help you streamline your wedding business so that you can really focus on your clients and their weddings.

Calendar it: Whether you use iCal, Google Calendar, a traditional paper calendar or something else, make sure that you schedule everything. In our company, if it is not in our Google calendar, it is not considered real. Each team member includes all of their tasks, appointments, vacations, blog posts, team meetings, reminders to review our monthly finances, due dates for client projects, etc. in our company calendar. If you have a team, we suggest using an online version, because (1) it can be accessed from anywhere, (2) you can email or send text messages as reminders, and (3) the calendar can easily be shared with others.

Organize it: Whether you use the traditional paper and file system or an online project management system such as Basecamp, try to organize each of your projects in a way that is easy to recognize where you are in your process. Remember, organizing is a form of planning. By taking the upfront time to consolidate your project with to do lists, meetings, due dates, etc. you will be more efficient when things are busy. Good organization results in less mistakes, avoids duplicate work and gives clear objectives for you, your client and your team. A well-run organized company is in a stronger position in a competitive marketplace.

Automate it: While we do suggest you give a personal experience for each individual client, some things can be automated and will quickly help streamline your business. Invoicing a client is one of those monotonous tasks most wedding professionals do not enjoy doing, but we must get paid. Setting up recurring billing with an online invoicing system such as FreshbooksHarvest or Curdbee can be very beneficial to your company. An automatic online billing system reduces time spent sending invoices each month, gives clients the ability to pay via credit card, and provides a more professional way to send your invoices.

Take action today so that your wedding season can run smoothly. Calendar, organize and automate it!

Get more tips from Heather and Jennifer from Outstanding Occasions on how to run an outstanding wedding business: http://www.outstanding-occasions.com/business/.

Get the rest of the Simplify Your Summer expert tips delivered straight to your inbox and get access to the live Q&A with Jeff Hellenbrand on May 20th at cakecoaching.com/kiss.

Tuesday Tech Tip: Eliminate Social Media Overposting with Buffer

buffer-app-logo

Instant Gratification: Buffer is a great service that automagically spaces out your social media posts to Facebook and Twitter so you don’t fill up your fans’ news feeds.

I love finding great stuff to share with peeps on the Cake Coaching Facebook Page. But I have two problems. First, I tend to find a bunch of great content at once, followed by a dry spell. Second, I’m too lazy to schedule every post in Hootsuite, which is a great service, by the way. Hootsuite also has an auto-schedule feature which is worth a look. I tried it a couple of times and didn’t like when it was posting or how close together it posted and that’s why I decided to try Buffer.

In comes Buffer, the magical service that lets you quickly and easily add content from all of the web (the Chrome Extension is a must-have) and posts it at the best time. I have to admit, I just started using this service, but so far I’m impressed. You can control how often and when you post to different social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There’s also a WordPress plugin for automatically putting new blog posts in your Buffer queue. Pretty cool, huh? Keep in mind the free version is pretty limited (you’ll have to choose between your company page or your personal account). The paid version is $10/month, not bad for the time it frees up.

If you have a tendency to overwhelm your followers with content one day and then not post anything for two days, this is a great way to spread things out so that you’re reaching the most people and not being annoying.

Meh to Marvelous Transformation: Day 15

In today’s Real Vendor Transformation video, Michelle gets a lot of “help” with her video. She talks about the challenges of trying to run her own business, while looking into purchasing another business. All of this is of course on top of her gardening commitments and needing to plan birthday parties for the girls. She shares just a bit of what’s running through her head today and we get to see what it’s like in her household while mom tries to get something done.

“Michelle came to me because she was looking to make some huge changes in her life and kickstart her new business. She’s an experienced florist living in a major city and she is totally devoted to her kids, including a daughter with special needs. Michelle’s motivation to start her own business stemmed from her desire to spend more time with her daughters. She’s keeping a video diary of her progress in this 90-day Meh to Marvelous transformation.

Meh to Marvelous Transformation: Day 10

For Day 10, of her “Meh to Marvelous” transformation, Michelle remembers how fun other parts of the flower business can be besides her bread and butter – weddings. Switching up her routine gets the creative juices flowing as she drives around town. Don’t worry, she promises she’s not actually driving in this video.

 

How can you switch up your routine to get some new business ideas this week?

 


“Michelle came to me because she was looking to make some huge changes in her life and kickstart her new business. She’s an experienced florist living in a major city and she is totally devoted to her kids, including a daughter with special needs. Michelle’s motivation to start her own business stemmed from her desire to spend more time with her daughters. She’s keeping a video diary of her progress in this 90-day Meh to Marvelous transformation.”

Meh to Marvelous Transformation: Day 9

Today, in her Meh to Marvelous Transformation, Michelle shares her takeaways from the Stop Struggling & Start Killing It tele-class. She gets back in touch with her mission and values. She also talks about a new way to look at procrastination.

What’s your mission? Having a powerful, values-aligned purpose for your life and your business will ignite both. Without it, you’ll have to stop and re-evaluate each time a new opportunity presents itself. With a clear purpose, you’ll be able to instantly identify which opportunities fit perfectly and which ones you should pass up. If you need help knowing what yours is and how it fits into your business, email Jeff.
So… What’s your purpose? Write it down and live it!


“Michelle came to me because she was looking to make some huge changes in her life and kickstart her new business. She’s an experienced florist living in a major city and she is totally devoted to her kids, including a daughter with special needs. Michelle’s motivation to start her own business stemmed from her desire to spend more time with her daughters. She’s keeping a video diary of her progress in this 90-day Meh to Marvelous transformation.”