guest post | The Secret to Running an Efficient and Effective Business (or Three!)

by guest author kelly evans

Whilst I am the first to admit that one person can’t do everything – woman can do a lot… and often have to. So when the challenge arose earlier this year to join a new business venture (or two) and follow my passion, I couldn’t resist!

But what was I to do, running a few businesses, with a 2 year old daughter as well… the only answer was to be even more organized than ever before. 

What is the secret?

The secret for me has been integration… by that I mean virtual integration. By finding online software that integrates with other software to manage all the pieces of the (small business) puzzle.

I would also recommend:

• having a system (yes I know this is pretty much obvious but it’s amazing how many of us avoid it for fear it will be too much work to set up and maintain)

• do as much as you can on the cloud (as possible) –it’s accessible anywhere with internet – but it also means that hard drive failure won’t result in much lost work/data.

• test and tweak things (businesses are like kids, what works today doesn’t seem to work tomorrow or the next day, and hey you might stumble upon an even better way).

So here are the apps that all have INTEGRATION that are seriously making my life easier and I am loving them all! Some of these won’t be new to most of you (though the level of integration might be).

Gmail

Setting up Google Apps and using Gmail as my email, calendar, and virtual control panel (to access CapsuleCRM, Xero and Mailchimp) has saved countless hours and frustration. All the emails from my website email address (eg xyz@gem.com) are run through Gmail. Of course I use Google Analytics too.

I can add an email from a client directly to Capsule (see below) from the footer of any email (for storage). I can forward emails to my own personal Capsule Dropbox. Deadlines for tasks from Capsule are integrated to appear in my Gmail Calendar so I have the one consistent calendar for everything. I also have all my mailboxes, contacts and calendar setup on my mobile phone for easy access.

CapsuleCRM

Capsule makes customer relationship management easy. Capsule can be accessed from the Gmail menu (thanks to Gmail Integration). Allows you to track leads as well as customers, and integrates with Xero too. Capsule provides you with the code to add a contact form to your website – which will automatically add the customers details from the contact form to Capsule when someone makes an enquiry.

Xero

Xero is an accounting package which also integrates with CapsuleCRM. If you update your customer’s details in Capsule, these will be automatically updated in Xero. This software integrates with a bank feed feature which downloads transactions daily from your bank account! This makes it really easy to keep on top of your transactions and be proactive in budgeting and keeping track of receivables, meaning better cashflow  (for smaller businesses you will be pleased to know that Freshbooks also has Capsule integration).

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is mailing list software that integrates with Capsule. Once you have captured a new customer’s details using the Capsule Webform – you can use a drop-down menu in Capsule to add them to a mailing list in Mailchimp with two clicks. We can also add, edit and tag our contacts in various ways (including suppliers) in Capsule and then push those changes out to MailChimp. New contacts from MailChimp signups will automatically be added to Capsule.... it’s too easy.

To summarise… using software that INTEGRATES has meant that I can work with my business partners and clients from any geographic location effectively (as long as I have internet access). With integration setup from the start, the work processes just flow. Potential clients make contact, become a part of your sales process, convert to clients, are added to mailing lists, communicate with you, are updated, and are invoiced and pay, all as part of one large integrated ecosystem.

What systems and tools do you use to run your business(es) efficiently and effectively? Share your ideas below, we can create an awesome list for readers! 

Kelly Evans is busy. When she’s not busy being a doula (The Modern Doula), or a partner at Your Doula Business, she’s a website designer & trainer at WAHM Website Success. She loves helping little businesses to learn the tricks of the (small business) trade, build their own Wordpress Websites and just give DIY a go!