My favorite tool to keep my business organized
I am a self-proclaimed disorganized nut. No, really. On the outside, everything looks cool, calm and collected, everything has its space. In fact, when I worked in the office world, it always remained one of the most pristine and organized space. Ha! If only people knew that I went on an organizing spree every six months when it got to the point that I just couldn't find anything anymore (or a Desktop folder was placed within six other Desktop folders in order to hold onto some sense of organization and a clean desktop).
Granted, since I've moved to my own business full-time, I'm still a bit of a mess (hello, thirty "Screenshot-2016" files)... BUT! Organization is as important as it has ever been when it comes to keeping my client files, tax paperwork, contracts, meetings... The list goes on and on.
Catered toward creatives, 17hats is brilliant for those who cringe at the thought of doing paperwork for several days a month (or more). In fact, from the first contact with a client, this website (and now app!) keeps things running smoothly, whether you're charging by a per-project or hourly basis. It works seamlessly with any other programs you're using with the ability to import your email, calendar, contacts and more to integrating with QuickBooks, PayPal and Stripe to make payments easy as pie.
While 17hats has close to a billion features - okay, maybe not that many - here are a few of my favorite features I use on a daily basis(also known as those things that keep my head from falling off and rolling away):
Within my account, I keep templates for my quotes, whether it's a website design, brand identity, social media + website management and quotes individual designs (stationery, social media templates, etc.). As a designer, quotes are key to my business. Rarely does a client come in and say, "I want you to design my new logo. I'll pay whatever it costs" (if you are that client... hello, contact me!).
Templates are also available for contracts, emails, invoices and questionnaires and the great thing is, the longer you use it, the easier it gets. After a year of using 17hats, I have templates that make it quick and easy to get a quote out the door, get a contract signed and countersigned, a deposit request sent and paid within minutes.
I'll get a post up soon walking you through some of the major tools of 17hats, but once you've created a template, you can email it directly to your client through the website. You'll get a notification once your client has taken action - accepted a quote, signed a contract, made a payment, etc.
While I usually charge on a per-project basis or a flat monthly fee for social media clients, the timer is helpful in making sure I'm keeping within the time restraints of a project, even for those projects I charge a flat monthly fee to make sure we're both playing fair and keeping up our end of the deal.
Through the timer function, you can choose the client or project for which you'll be using the timer. From there, you can enter your hourly rate and manually enter a time or start at 0:00 to start the timer from that moment. Work away and when you've wrapped up the project at hand, stop the timer and it will populate into an invoice for the project.
Also, it's a great tool to keep you focused when you're tempted to go down the Facebook rabbit hole. Just remember the timer is running and time is money, folks!
When I decided to take my business full-time, the thought of payment terrified me. Earning money? No way. Trying to figure out the easiest way to keep money straight, especially when it came to invoicing and taxes? Oh yes. Had me shivering in my boots. I'm a creative, not a numbers person.
The payment tools on the website are most likely my favorite. It works for those comfortable making payments online, those businesses starting out with only a PayPal account or the old-school or larger businesses that would still like to pay by mailing in a check.
Once a project is wrapped up, shoot your invoice over to your client and they can pay right away. You can choose to use PayPal (2.9% + $.30 per transaction), Stripe (also 2.9% + $.30 per transaction) and brand spanking new is payment via ACH - also known as eChecks - for a minimal fee of .8% or a max of $5, which is what I've moved over to for my clients. Clients can also send in a check by mail - since your business address automatically populates your quotes and invoices - and you can simply mark the invoice as paid through the website.
And! And even better, 17hats works with QuickBooks for small businesses, which makes taxes an absolute breeze. Once your accounts are connected, your history pops up automatically, making it easy to categorize your purchases, payments and even mileage.
Some of the tools I can't wait to put into action:
Lifecycles is a newer feature of 17hats and makes it even easier to push your projects along.
Lifecycles give you the pulse of your client projects from start to finish by dividing them into stages. Once a project stage is completed, the lifecycle will automatically move the project forward so you’ll always instantly know what the status of every project is.
For example, notice that a client has approved your work? You can check your lifecycle to see that the project has moved onto your Invoicing stage, and that your workflow has automatically generated an invoice for your client.
Customize your Lifecycles with as many steps as needed to complete an entire project.
I've been a big fan of the ol' pen and paper type of to-do list, but as my on-going client list grows along with individual projects, I'll be implementing 17hats' to-do list feature. Your to-dos pop up on your dashboard, along with your meetings, any outstanding invoices, emails and quotes, making it easy to log in and see what's on your plate for the day.
17hats also offers an extensive help section, both in the form of a FAQ and chat function, plus webinars to help you get started! Click here to see upcoming webinars to learn more about 17hats - you don't have to be a member to access the webinars.
When you sign up for 17hats, you're automatically signed up for a free trial and can cancel at anytime. Quick tip: Sign up for the free trial and once your trial is almost up, they'll give you discounted membership!
Do you use 17hats to keep your business running on the tracks? If now, what are your favorite tools to keep your business organized on the backend?
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