I keep a lot of important info in my head. I’m a big picture person and I move at lightning speed, so I hate “wasting time” by stopping to track things. When I do document, it’s in a language only I understand. That works for a business of one, but I plan for Brains over Blonde to be much, much bigger than that – which means I need to document my processes to scale as my team grows. I guess that means fewer post-its, and more stuff in the cloud. FINE. So at the beginning of this year, I set a goal to let go of my “flower child entrepreneur” ways, and start formally tracking EVERYTHING, starting with tracking my expenses in Quickbooks.
I’m six months in, and after trying just about every tracking and productivity app on the market, there are three apps that I just can’t live without. Not gonna lie, these tools aren’t the sexiest, but they’re CRUCIAL to my workflow (90% of my business isn’t as “Instagrammable” as you might think!) Self-employed warriors listen up — Here’s the rundown.
I use Intuit Quickbooks to track my finances.
Before I used Intuit Quickbooks and Turbotax, my version of managing finances was having a business bank account. As I grew, that became disorganized and unsustainable (especially since tax season was rapidly approaching!) Intuit Quickbooks and Turbotax really saved my butt here. With the help of Quickbooks’ chat assistant and my virtual accountant who has access to my account, filing taxes for my new business really wasn’t that bad after all.
Now, I manage all of my costs and revenue in Intuit Quickbooks by default (more deets on that here). My accounts and cards automatically sync and my accountant has access to make sure my expenses and revenues are tracked correctly. I invoice my clients directly from the dashboard. Every week I check out the dashboard and can see at a glance how I’m performing each month and tracking against my financial goals. Quickbook tracks all my finances in one place and now that it’s set up, it’s super low maintenance – which I love.
Intuit Quickbooks and Turbotax helped make me a believer in formalized tracking (I have to admit, it really does save you a headache later on) and inspired me to track other parts of my business in a more organized way too.
I use Evernote to track my ideas.
I LOVE LISTS. Like, too much. Last year I had lists EVERYWHERE: on my iPhone notes app (duh), in planners, on a notepad on my desk, in a notebook on my nightstand (insomniac alert), in emails to myself, post-its, and on the back of envelopes, receipts, napkins, you name it. You’re probably assuming I lost them all, but I somehow knew where everything was. The problem was if I ever had to pass it off to someone else, I couldn’t. Just like my expenses in Quickbooks, I needed to keep my notes in a centralized place.
I love Evernote because it’s like the iPhone notes app on steroids. Trust me, it took a LOT to pull me away from the notes app. It was my baby. But Evernote is just… better.
With Evernote, you can create a magically organized information library across all your devices. I set up different notebooks (Brains over Blonde and Personal), and then I divide similar thoughts for different pages. For instance, in the Brains over Blonde notebook, I have different pages for my to-do list, goals, newsletter, social planning, partnerships, and each of my coaching clients. In my Personal notebook, I have shopping lists, random thoughts, quotes I like, books to read, podcasts to listen to, etc. It’s so much more than just typing – there’s loads of formatting and you can even easily add web clippings with the Evernote Chrome extension. You can also share these lists and collaborate with other people.
I’d say I’m 90% converted. The middle-of-the-night notebook by my bed is never going away, but I do translate most of those notes into Evernote the next morning now. Sanity feels good!
I use Basecamp to track my projects and clients.
Basecamp is the HERO of project management. Whenever I take on a new coaching client, I first invoice them in Quickbooks (easy peezy), and then I create a new “project” for them in Basecamp. In Basecamp, we track all of the milestones as we work toward a goal (be that building their brand, a launch, or personal development).
In Basecamp, you can chat, schedule calls and manage your calendar, keep track of to-dos and assignments, and manage progress. It’s the all-in-one shop for managing clients and vendors.
I used to use Google Docs and Spreadsheets for managing assignments and deadlines, and Slack for chatting. This strategy still works, but I prefer keeping things all in one place – and my clients love Basecamp too! They have a record of what we’ve done together, and can always refer back to it as needed.
The bottom line is, I’m all about efficiency.
If you follow me on IG you know that a few weeks ago my laptop completely DIED out of the blue. Let’s be real, I hadn’t backed up on my external hard drive in a while. I lost some important stuff… but was able to recover most of it because my finances were all in Quickbooks, my clients were in Basecamp, my analytics were in Google Analytics and Iconosquare (duh), and most everything else was backed up in Dropbox or Evernote. Which is pretty much the only thing that softened the blow of having to buy a whole new laptop (damn you Apple).
Now, I’m RELIGIOUS about backing up and tracking my entire life.
I hate superfluous or redundant tools. I hate tracking for the sake of tracking. These are the three tools that save me enough time and energy that they make tracking worthwhile – and actually make running my business more efficient so I can spend more time doing what I love: coaching and creating content for all of you.
What tools can YOU not live without? Leave a note below so we can give them a try!