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Episode 105: Best Essential Business Systems

This episode details some of the best essential business systems available, as well as low cost software options that will help you to get started and boost efficiency.

I’ve just finished the latest round of my 12-week Passion to Profit business training course for coaches. 

I find that a lot of students in this course are unclear on which systems they need to set up a streamlined, professional, tickety-boo coaching business, how those systems can save them time and money.

So in this episode, I want to walk you through four of the best essential business systems that all businesses need, plus to talk about some low cost software that will help you to get started and run your business more efficiently and effectively.

In the next episode, I’ll talk about more advanced business systems.

But for now, let’s dive in.

1. Your Financial System

The first system I want to talk about is your financial system. 

Every business needs a financial system – sorry to be Captain Obvious here!

Your financial system needs to perform several functions, including things like: 

  • tax-compliant invoicing, 
  • reconciling bank statements, 
  • keeping track of business income and expenses, 
  • keeping track of capital purchases, 
  • budgeting, and 
  • keeping track of debtors (people who owe you money) and creditors (people you owe money to).

When you start out, it’s possible to do most of these things in spreadsheets or word processing software on a cycle of regular tasks that you put into your calendar.

This is a really low cost way to go.

But there are two problems with this method: 

  1. You need to know what all the moving parts of your financial system are, in order to be able to do them properly, and
  2. It is a very manual process and one that can be fraught with mistakes.

In my experience, most people don’t like finances or spreadsheets very much. So your options are to get a bookkeeper to help you with these regular financial tasks, OR, to find a more effortless way to do the financial tasks. 

After all, why would you use a cumbersome, difficult system to manage an area of business that you don’t particularly like?  It’ll just make things harder and will be an energy drain.

I have come to believe it’s actually way better to get straight into a software that will help you to run your books in a way that is accurate and time-efficient and that makes your business look professional.

I have two recommendations for software; one free, and one paid.

If you are ready to commit to subscription for a software that does the work of your bookkeeper and accountant, and can even be accessed by them, then I recommend Xero.

But if you can’t afford that yet, I suggest looking at a free software that does all of the essential financial functions that Xero and similar softwares can perform.

That software is called Wave Financial and you can do basic accounting, invoicing and receipts in the free subscription.

2. Your Payment System

Most accounting systems are designed to manage the books but not actually take payments, so I want to talk about your payment system now, as a kind of a subset of your financial system.

There are lots of ways to collect payment and a lot of people who are starting out will usually take either cash or direct debit.

Those are fine, but there are three issues with taking payment like this:

  1. A lot of business owners feel uncomfortable about asking for money and more manual payment systems bring those conversations to the forefront e.g. you have to physically ask for money in a session.
  2. Manual payment systems require a lot more time to administer, additional forms, and good planning to reconcile your books. 

Probably by now I’ve convinced you that an up-front payment system is way better.

I’ll talk about how to get payment up front in a moment, but first, we need to talk about the system for collecting money – also known as the payment gateway.

A payment gateway is a means to receive money – it is the middle man between your customer and your bank. 

Online platforms offer a great way to collect money in many different ways and there are a lot of options available. 

I personally use Stripe and Paypal, which are two payment gateways that are secure, well known and trusted. There are other gateways for collecting money, but I like to use those that have the best reputation.

The great thing about Stripe and Paypal is that they work internationally, they can collect payment in a variety of different currencies, and they only charge a fee per transaction rather than on subscription.

They also integrate with a variety of websites and booking forms, which means no tech headaches for you – everything in your client onboarding process can happen at once!

You will need a business bank account to use these platforms, and can use them to collect payment even if you don’t have a website. 

You can manually enter customers and send invoices from either system.

But let’s talk about automating things!

3. Your Booking System

You can manually book people in for sessions in a diary or a spreadsheet, but there are two main problems I discovered with doing this: 

  1. You can accidentally double book yourself, and
  2. You can accidentally overbook yourself.

Picture this – two people want to talk to you, and you offer them both a few time slots. 

But you realise afterwards that you aren’t actually available in one of those slots, and then one of your clients wants to book into that time, so you need to go back and break the news.

Argh! Not very professional.

Further to this, if your booking system is separate from your payment system then it means multiple manual, administrative steps to get bookings and payments sorted out.

And then, there is the challenge of manual reminders, and sometimes needing to chase overdue or declined payments which can feel uncomfortable and take up your valuable time and energy.

Luckily, there are booking systems that take the pain out of things and help you take bookings and payments at the same time up front, including all your client contracts etc, so that you can simply get it all done at once without needing to lift a finger!

I like using Acuity scheduling because it integrates seamlessly with my payment gateways Stripe, Paypal, and it ALSO does reconciliation for me automatically in Xero.  

In fact, Acuity links with a whole bunch of different webinar, email, accounting, website and CRM platforms. Those linkages are available with paid plans, although there is a free scheduling version available too.

But for around $150 per year, it’s a steal for a software that saves you hours of time.

4.  Your Coaching System

Finally, there is your coaching system, the last part of the essential business systems that you need to run a service-based business.

When I talk about your coaching system, I mean the sequence of documents that you might use in a coaching program that you deliver, from worksheets your clients use to set goals, to any emails you might send afterwards.

I tried a few different coaching software programs out there (and there are about 30 different kinds) but I didn’t want to pay upward of $30 per month for two clients, increasing from there, for a software that didn’t do what I wanted and overlapped with some things.

Maybe that’s just me and my Rebel tendency, but I decided nothing fit the bill therefore it wasn’t worth the fees.

SO I set up my own system using Google Drive and Google Forms, Sheets and Docs.

I use google forms for questionnaires and quizzes, client feedback surveys and my own coaching log. These forms dump all the answers into a Google Sheet for each form, so everything is consolidated automatically.

I use Google Drive to create sharable client folders and as a place to share Docs and Sheets used to contain notes, plans, schedules and other important information.

There are other ways to do this, but I find the Google system is easy to navigate, cloud based and all in one.

For example, you could use Word and Excel to do these things but the form/quiz function isn’t as easy to set up and run with.

Taking Time to Learn

Don’t expect to buy a software and ask someone to teach it to you. That won’t work, and it will be a long and frustrating process.

If you want to use a software, do the free two week trial (or whatever they offer) first and test it out to see if it suits your learning style, and makes sense to you.

Use the help videos and blogs to help you learn how to use it. Don’t ask someone else to do it for you. Set aside several 1 – 2 hour slots over two weeks to have a good go and understand it.

As the future manager and owner of any business systems, you need to start developing these skills right from the start unless you plan to outsource these things.

My litmus test for anything is if you can’t get the hang of it within two weeks, it isn’t the right system for you.

Summary

When you start your business, you want to run it as efficiently as possible to eliminate mistakes and reduce arduous admin tasks by using simple, efficient and effective systems.

Today I’ve outlined four of the best essential business systems that you can use in your service-based business to run a start-to-finish client process, from onboarding and taking payment, to running sessions and closing a program.

The right software will help you to run your books in a way that is accurate and time-efficient and that makes your business look professional.

Use the free trials and allow several hours of using the free training and help videos over two weeks to properly assess if something is right for you, before you buy it.

Then, you can say goodbye to tedious paperwork and manual, laborious, error-laden spreadsheets, and hello to some efficient and effective systems that give you confidence, professionalism and a rinse-and-repeat way of working.

If you need help with business systems and are ready to create your own rinse-and-repeat way of doing business, hit me up on the contact page and we can talk about how I might be able to help you get this up and running, quickly and easily.

Ready to get automated?

Using software will help you to simplify the tasks that you don’t love. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 101: Two Hot Marketing Success Tips

In this episode I’ll be sharing two powerful aha moments that my clients have had this week, so that you can get really comfortable with marketing AND do it with confidence, and sell your stuff like a boss.

This past week I have had two really interesting conversations with a couple of my clients about what marketing is and what marketing isn’t and how to get into the right mindset to really embrace marketing and do it well. 

These conversations were eye openers for my clients and it helped them to totally get a different perspective on  marketing, so I wanted to share them with you here today. 

The tips are to help you 1. feel totally comfortable about marketing and how to do it, and 2. To sell your services with a sense of conviction.

Tip #1 – a comfortable marketing perspective

One of my clients is SUPER good at connecting and networking with people, yet she has always shied away from the idea of ‘marketing’

I explained to her that, essentially, marketing is exactly like the process of making friends.

You need to invest in friendships and earn the right to be a friend before you can ask them to help you move house, or babysit your three kids for a weekend, right?

So in the same sense, marketing is a process of getting to know your kind of people who have a common problem and interest. And it’s about networking with colleagues in the same way, having general conversations on points of interest and staying in touch.

You’re staying connected with those friends (potential clients) and talking about things that matter to you both. 

You can do this on an email list, or in a FB group, or via a WhatsApp feed, or a meetup group, or whatever way you want.

The point is, whichever way you choose to build and maintain a community of ‘friends’ (prospective clients), you need to show up consistently and talk to them about what matters.

By being a good friend – supporting them, offering help and value, helping them stay motivated or inspired – they will want to reciprocate.

So every now and again, when you DO make an offer, free or paid, they’ll either want to buy it, or recommend it to others, because they think you’re amazing.

Once I’d explained marketing this way to my client, she had a massive shift and it suddenly opened up so much understanding and possibility for how her marketing could look, going forward.

Tip #2 – celebrating success to sell more, more easily

I have helped several clients with sales conversations recently and there seems to be a common theme – the feeling of I’m not good enough.

Sound familiar?

Most of us are taught that we shouldn’t be boastful, or that we should be humble, or that we shouldn’t talk ourselves up.

I totally agree! Humility is an important and attractive trait.

BUT you can be humble AND promote yourself at the same time in an authentic way, so that you can sell more easily.

The main obstacle most people face is that they’re stuck in the ‘I haven’t done anything amazing’ headspace.

The way to get around that is to celebrate your success – then the authentic sales copy will come tumbling out.

Here’s an example.

I was speaking with someone trying to reach people in a new niche, and she was feeling pretty disheartened by what she described as a ‘lack of ideal clients’ in her latest program.

With some coaching conversation around her successes, it was revealed that she had more clients than she thought. In fact, 50% of her current clients were her ideal clients.

Further, those 50% of clients were all very well networked and could introduce her to potential opportunities in the corporate space.

Celebrating success created a fresh perspective on things.

Coupled with Tip #1 above, suddenly a whole new world opened up for this client of mine, in terms of marketing and she left our session feeling energized, excited and very proactive about connecting with people (instead of marketing) and expanding her niche.

By celebrating her own wins, she was able to see what she had achieved and how to go out and talk about the wins of her clients so she could attract more of the same.

I had two other experiences like this in the past week and it made me realise that I had to share this with you!

In all cases, it all comes down to that good old coaching question – what are you making this mean?

The facts of the situation never change – it’s your interpretation of them – or what you make them  mean – that affects whether you feel like a loser or a winner.

The great thing is that you can control your thoughts.

And to succeed in anything, in business or life, you need to believe in yourself and your methods. 

In Summary

Marketing and making friends follow roughly the same sort of process. You have to have some general conversation to build trust and rapport over a period of time – at least a few months – before you can expect anything in return. You need to give first in order to receive, as Stephen Covey would say.

Marketing is a process of getting to know your kind of people who have a common problem and interest.

In addition, when you celebrate your successes, you see valuable wins which can help you to either feel more confident in talking about what you do, or even better, to help you speak about the results your clients achieved, so you can attract more of the same.

It all comes down to your thinking patterns – they rule your results.

If you want to master your thinking and beliefs about your business, visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology and join my monthly membership where you’ll gain the skills, structure, support and confidence you need to take action and get traction in your business.

Ready to get more comfortable with marketing?

There are habits can help you sell more easily! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: