The Top Ten Programs I Use To Run My Small Business

Hey there yall! I’m really excited to start this new blog series, and hope that it is helpful for you in balancing growing your small business while working full time.

In case you don’t know, Lauren Perry Studio is not my full time job – and most people are usually surprised to hear that! I work as an architect full time, and run LPS on nights and weekends. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “how do you do all of that” or “do you sleep”? And while I’m flattered by all of the incredulous compliments, I’m here to share some of my secrets so that you can do it too!

Whether you are like me and never plan to leave your full time job to run your creative business (psst – it is OKAY to want to do both!) or you dream of the day you leave your corporate job, you probably know what it is like trying to balance growing your small business while working a full time job!

And I’m here to tell you – it’s possible. I have been able to grow Lauren Perry Studio to nearly match my full time salary, all while working half the hours.

How do I do it?

Discipline, great scheduling, and my secret sauce – programs!

When I first started my business, I thought that the more I could do by myself, the lower my overhead costs, and the more profit I would make! Boy, was I wrong.

Today I’m sharing all of the programs that I use for Lauren Perry Studio! In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing step by step how I use each program, so that you can employ them in your own business!

SOCIAL MEDIA:

1. Planoly – I use Planoly to schedule all of my Instagram posts, and make sure my feed looks great. I can add in the photos, captions, and hashtags, then schedule them to automatically post at the time that is best for engagement. Which means I could be in a meeting, driving, or even sleeping and my post will go live! No more being tied to your phone and secretly posting at work!

2. Hootsuite – I use HootSuite to do the same thing as Planoly, but for Facebook! You can use it for Instagram as well. If you’ve ever shared your Instagram post to Facebook, you’ve probably realized that you quickly have to click over to Facebook, only to update your tags, take out your hashtags and add in links! With Hootsuite, you can have that all pre-scheduled!

3. Tailwind – Can you tell I love automation? Tailwind is the automation for Pinterest. Did you know you should pin 30 pins a day? You best BELIEVE I do not have time for that. Tailwind allows you to schedule pins that you’d like to repin, as well as any of your own content you’d like to add.

4. Dropbox – So you’ve got a bunch of great pictures, but you can’t upload them to Planoly, Hootsuite, Tailwind, etc. if you’re not on your home computer where they have them saved, right? Wrong! I use Dropbox to keep a saved copy of my photos so that I can schedule on the go – during my lunch hour, or in the car! (Those precious minutes add up!) You can upload a good deal with their free plan, but they offer paid plans as well if you need more.

CLIENT MANAGEMENT / ORGANIZATION:

1. Dubsado – I could write a whole love sonnet to Dubsado. Dubsado certainly deserves a blog all of its own, but I’ll summarize its amazing-ness here. I use Dubsado for every step of my client experience. From receiving and tracking inquiries, to quotes and contracts, proofs and final project close out – everything in Dubsado is easily accessible for my client in their portal. And best of all for me, the files are accessible to send, receive and view from anywhere. That means I can send a proof over on my lunch hour, put together a quote in the car on a road trip or pull up an example at a consultation. Simply put – this is the best program on the list! You can use code “laurenperrystudio” for 20% off your subscription!

2. Trello – Although Dubsado does a lot of the work for me, it can be hard to remember what stage all of your projects are at. I use Trello to keep track of my workflow for each of my clients, so that I don’t forget to get or send any important information from them. It’s also where I house my to-do list for my Monthly Duty Days and keep a brain dump of rainy day ideas!

WEBSITE:

1. WordPress – Let me preface this with I am a closet tech nerd. I taught myself website coding when I was a kid, because it was fun and I wanted to make my Neopets page look really cool. There are a lot of great options for websites now, but WordPress has been the one I’ve always stuck with. It allows you the most flexibility in design, paired with the best set up for SEO (at least in my personal opinion).

2. BlogStomp – Ever have an image that is huge that you want to share on your website? Well, that will affect your page load time, which will cause your visitors to get annoyed and leave the page. BlogStomp allows you to upload your photos and then “stomp” them to the perfect size for your blog.

ACCOUNTING:

1. Wave – I’ll be the first to admit that I could be better at this – but the first thing you should be doing in your business is setting up a good accounting system! You may bring in $100 in sales, but if you have $200 in expenses, that isn’t sustainable. That’s easy to remember when there’s only a few transactions, but the more you have – the harder it is to keep track. And those $20 subscriptions here and there add up! Using an accounting system to track your income and expenses will give you the best picture of your business’s financial health. Wave will do all of this for you – and best of all, it’s free!

2. Gmail Folders – You should be tracking the numbers for your expenses, but you also need to keep a back up of receipts in case you are audited. If you’re like me, 99% of your business shopping is online, which means there’s no paper receipt to keep. I use Gmail folders labelled “Purchases 2019”, “Purchases 2018”, etc. to keep track of the digital receipts of all the purchases that I made in that tax year. That way if I ever need to provide proof of deductions – they’re all there waiting for me!

So that’s it! A complete list of my favorite programs that have saved me countless hours, and allowed me to chase both of my dream careers. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing in depth exactly how I use each program, so that you can put my time-saving strategies to use!

Best,

P.S. Some of these links may be affiliate links, which means I may receive a discount off of my subscription or credit based on referrals! I use all of these programs in my own business, and would never recommend them if I didn’t love them myself already!

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