Most mornings you’ll find me working from home, writing my next book, studying (I’m a work in progress!), or dallying over a cup of fresh espresso. But this morning I’m not working from home. I’m working from a Panera Bread in Indianapolis, and as I was packing my bag to head over to Panera this morning, I thought, “This is probably something I should blog about, because this is when working from home really pays off.”
Why I’m not working from home today
This morning my dad is having heart surgery. This surgery is considered sort of a routine thing (ish), but even so, I can’t imagine being anywhere else than in the waiting room, sitting with my family and hoping to hear that my dad made it through the surgery with flying colors. Luckily, with the way I’ve set things up in my business, I can work for a bit here at Panera Bread and then head to the hospital in time to see my dad before he goes in for the surgery.
How I manage my business
After over a decade and a half in business, I’ve found a ton of ways to make my business more mobile and amenable to things like travel and emergencies. I remember, six years ago, getting on a plane to South America with a backpack full of client files and folders, knowing for sure that I was forgetting something and thinking, “There must be a better way.” That day, I vowed to find that better way.
In fact, I found such a better way to run my business that Costco Connection featured Business in Blue Jeans in an article about offices going paperless.
Today, I use an online invoicing and bookkeeping system to bill clients and stay on top of payments. Almost everything happens via email, and much of it is automated. Keeping track of my business finances this way has many benefits, including making tax time a breeze—I simply print out the important stuff and email it to my accountant.
To book appointments, I use an online scheduling tool. My clients can book their own appointments on an as-needed basis, and my assistant can book things easily as well. The tool I use imports directly to Google Calendar, which I use on my phone and iPad. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, it’s unlikely I’ll miss a meeting, because I get automatic reminders from Google Calendar. Plus, my clients get reminders of their meetings as well, so I end up with very few (if any) no-shows.
All of my client records and notes are kept in a secure CRM (customer relationship management) tool. The CRM allows me to keep detailed notes from my client calls and meetings, whether I’m working from home or meeting with a client at their offices. I can access and update my records from my laptop (duh) but also from my phone. And that means no more carrying heavy files and folders when I travel!
Here’s what’s even better about the CRM: when I had paper files and folders, if a client referenced something we’d discussed before, I’d have to flip through pages, trying to find my notes from that conversation (look, my memory stinks, okay?). Today, I just enter a quick search term and voila! I find the conversation immediately and we’re off and running.
At Business in Blue Jeans, we do a large number of client projects like creating web sites, online reputation management, logo designs, and general marketing projects. So we have a lot of client files that need to go…somewhere. And these documents need to be shareable. Plus, my assistant and my intern need access to various documents for the business as well. That’s why we’re big, big fans of Dropbox for sharing larger-sized files and documents.
We also use a project management tool to stay on top of large-scale projects, so that our entire team is apprised of who’s doing what, who’s waiting for what, and where everything stands. Having a bird’s-eye view of a large project (and being able to zoom in) is crucial to staying on-task and meeting milestones.
Latest posts by Susan Baroncini-Moe (see all)
- Sponsored Post: Minimizing Miscommunication in the Workplace - November 28, 2017
- Sponsored Post: 5 Ways Business Owners and Office Managers Can Be More Efficient - October 16, 2017
- Guest Post: I Started Sending My Team a Weekly Inspirational Email. Something Extraordinary Happened, by Robert Glazer - October 13, 2017