One of the things that people have a tendency to overlook when they are starting out as a new business is a powerful CRM (Client Relationship Management) tool. I’m regularly shocked by the number of small businesses that prepare their contracts manually, send invoices manually, and process each step of their workflow…manually.
Who has the time for that?! As a new small business owner, you should be focused on connecting with your target audience, creating amazing content, and expanding your network. The last thing you should be doing is sitting at your desk juggling contracts, invoices, and questionnaires. Frankly, it’s ridiculous. Before I launched my business I spent so much time working on finding a CRM I loved. I posted in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn asking for recommendations. I posted the question during Twitter chats. I reached out to fellow business owners for referrals. It was so overwhelming! Honestly, there were nights I just wanted to grab my dog and hide under the blankets away from the world of small business and all the boring paperwork shuffling that goes along with it.
It felt like there were dozens of people shouting at me from all directions. 17Hats! Pipedrive! Insightly! Batchbook! FreshDesk! Nutshell! Mosaic! I couldn’t handle it. I had trial versions of each of them at various times and I was spinning in circles until I couldn’t see straight. This one was more expensive but that one lacked contracts. This one has email integration but that one allows me to use my own branding. That one allows me to add team members but the cost is so high. This one manages my payments for me but their fees are higher than those two. It was enough to drive a person to the brink of insanity. It felt like every small business CRM I looked at was either far too robust for my needs or it was too minimal. I felt like Goldilocks looking for the perfect bowl of porridge. It was starting to feel hopeless, but then I stumbled upon Dubsado (use code helloashley for a trial). As soon as I found it I wanted to break down into a pool of happy tears.
What I instantly loved about it is that it is a CRM designed for Creative Entrepreneurs rather than a small business like a tax office, fashion boutique, or landscaping company. It’s designed for photographers, writers, calligraphers, virtual assistants, etc. They are singularly focused on creative entrepreneurs (they know their target audience…see why I constantly scream that is so important?) and because of that focus they are able to provide exactly what I need to run my business. I’ll explain…
First though, before I get in to all of the glorious features and how it saves me hours and hours of time each week let’s talk about money. It matters, especially to a small business, so let’s not pretend like the cost of a CRM or other software isn’t important. Fair?
The Cost to You
Some of the CRM’s I tried cost upwards of $40 or $50 a month. One of them was upward of $100 a month. Now, when business is rolling and the dollars are flowing that’s not a big deal but during the off-season (or *ahem* when clients are slow to pay *ahem*) then $50 or $100 a month can be a big deal. Dubsado is $20 / month. Yeah, you read that right. It’s $20! Insane. You can also pay by the year or for a lifetime membership and save major money that way too. It’s your call really, whatever fits your budget.
(BONUS: You get a discount for every person you refer so, again, use my code helloashley if you want to check it out.)
Is the price worth it? A gigantic YES is my response. I pay nearly 4x that amount just for my social media scheduler so the idea of only paying $20 a month (or less based on referrals) is tremendous especially when you consider all of the amazing features that it offers. I’m talking about features like:
- Lead Management
- Client Management / Address Book
- Client Portals
- Email Integration
- Email Templates / Canned Emails
- Contract Management
- Invoice Management
- Credit Card Payments
- Workflow Automation
- Google Calendar Syncing
- To-Do Lists
- …and more!
Seriously, this thing is a life-saving game changer!
It would take me ages to go through every single feature so I’m going to break down just a few of my favorites. If you want to get the full she-bang you can hop over to Dubsado and try it out for yourself (remember…use code helloashley).
Confession: I used to use Adobe for my contract management. I created the contract in Microsoft Word, converted to a PDF Form, added the signature lines, and sent to the client via Adobe. Lord, I’m cringing just thinking about that “process.”
Using Dubsado, my process is so much cleaner and simpler which is saving me hours each week. I have a few contracts for Freelance Writing created in my Forms; there is one for jobs under $250 and another for jobs that are on a payment plan. Using shortcodes within Dubsado, my contracts automatically populate with the Date, Client Name, Company, Address, Phone Number, and Total Fees using the information stored in the Job. There is an automatic space at the bottom of the contract for signatures. I don’t have to do a thing but select the Job and click Send.
It is ridiculously easy. Once the client signs the contract it is attached to the job for simple record-keeping.
Client Questionnaires are the best! No, seriously. THE best! My entire business model is built around a starting and ending questionnaire so having it built right in to my CRM makes my business management so much easier. No more Google Forms, no more SurveyMonkey, no more TypeForm. Now, all of my questions and answers are in the system, connected to a Job, which is connected to a client. It’s all in one place.
Before I used Dubsado I was either accessing multiple locations to retrieve all of my client data or I was printing the questionnaires and doing it old school. Can you imagine? Ugh! If you’re still doing it that way, you have my apologies and I highly encourage you to reconsider your options.
Plus, just like with a Contract, once a Questionnaire is completed, it is attached to the Job and Client history so you can review the entire assignment at a glance.
The automated workflows were recently expanded in what Dubsado called Dubsado 2.0 and I’ve spent all morning working on getting them set-up. I immediately set up a workflow to automatically send an invoice 1 hour after the contract was signed and a welcome email immediately after the invoice was paid.
I set the workflow to send an invoice 1 hour after the contract was signed because I didn’t want it to feel like I was all about the money. Giving them 1 hour before I hit them up for payment seemed like a reasonable thing to do and helped avoid immediate overwhelm.
My second workflow sends a welcome email to the client immediately (like within minutes) after the invoice is paid. It expresses my enthusiasm for the job, thanks them for their prompt payment, and asks that they contact me to schedule their discovery call and includes my contact information.
These workflows allow me to move a person from client to job and send a contract before having automation take over. After I send the contract, the invoice, payment, and welcome email is automated. I don’t have to get involved again until I receive a client response scheduling their first call. It saves so much time!
There are a lot of options for customizing workflows so you can set them up to meet your own business needs. You could, for instance, set up automated workflows to:
- Send a beginning, mid-process, or ending questionnaire
- Send canned email responses
- Send forms (like quotes or contracts)
- Add items to your To-Do list
- … and more
It is a tremendous time-saver and I don’t ever have to sit back and wonder if I sent someone a welcome email or if I invoiced a client. It’s done and done.
There is no doubt that Dubsado is a smart investment for your business. Not only does it allow you to work smarter, create automated systems, manage your contracts and invoices, but it frees up more of your time so you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying a little downtime on the weekends. It changed my life and my business. If you’re a creative entrepreneur, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
It’s time for you to invest in your business and start working smarter with automated workflows and contract management. Dubsado is a CRM for Creative Entrepreneurs and was a total game-changer for me. Use code ‘helloashley‘ to check it out today.