When I first started my business as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I thought that all my time would be spent working with clients and changing peoples' lives. In reality, I spent about 80% doing other stuff, and 20% doing what I was really passionate about, which was helping my clients.
Over the years, more and more online productivity tools have been coming out that promise to make your biz life easier. Tools that can keep track of your money, your calendar, and social media.
Some of these end up taking up way more time than they save, like apps that help you create to-do lists. Can't you just write them down on a piece of paper? I'm old school like that, I guess. Plus, there's nothing more satisfying than crossing off things you get done, right?
Some of these online tools, however, have almost completely eliminated entire administrative tasks that were taking up hours of my week. Things like trying to book an appointment with a client when they're busy and I'm busy. You all know what I'm talking about, when you're e-mailing back and forth about 10 times, with each person writing "that doesn't work for me, how about Tuesday at 10 am instead?", followed by "nope, doesn't work for me, how about Thursday at 3 pm?". Ugh, I detest wasting time like that, and I'm sure you're no different.
Here are my favourite online tools (that are super helpful and actually DO save me time) that I absolutely can't live without in my holistic nutrition biz:
1. Evernote - cost FREE: I use Evernote for everything. Pretty much anything that I write down on a scrap of paper, which then gets lost of my desk, gets put somewhere into Evernote. I consume a LOT of content. I listen to free webinars and take tons of notes and screenshots. I've purchased online business programs and work through the modules and exercises. I have tons of business ideas for online programs that I haven't even made yet, and all of these things get put into Evernote. I also keep track of every single reply to my autoresponder that automatically gets sent out every time someone joins my e-mail list. This autoresponder asks them "what is your biggest struggle about eating healthy?", and I've had almost 200 replies. Some are shorter, and some is that person's life entire story, but there's always clues in there that I can use to create future programs and content, including blog posts. I copy and paste each reply into a notebook, and create tags on key words. Words like "busy", "anxiety", "dairy free", or "lose weight". I can then look up how many times a certain word has been tagged, and start brainstorming ideas on what people on my e-mail list really want and need from me as a holistic practitioner. The more times it's been tagged = the more people who have that pain point = the more likely lots of people will pay for a program that addresses that pain point.
This program also helps as I have a laptop and a stationary computer, and go back and forth between the two depending on where I feel like working that day (my desk or the couch, which is next to the fireplace). I can access my Evernote account from both computers, so I don't get working on one computer and realize that I need an important document or note that I left on the other computer. This also helps if I want to escape to a coffee shop on a whim and work there for the afternoon.
2. Squarespace (SS) - costs $8-$26 U.S. per month: My old, custom website that I paid over $5,000 to develop was hosted on the Wordpress platform. I'm pretty proficient in Wordpress, but as this website is custom, I couldn't change anything on it without screwing things up royally. If I needed to change any copy or design, or add content on an existing page, I had to contact my developer and designer ... and pay accordingly. It wasn't cheap. Those are things I didn't even think about before I got it made. When I was re-branding, I knew that I wanted to design my entire website myself, and be able to change things as I evolved my business. I had been hearing great things about Squarespace, and it hasn't disappointed me. In fact, it's been so easy that I'm now recommending and teaching other entrepreneurs how to develop their own websites on this amazing platform. The fantastic part is that it's all drag and drop. If you can move your mouse and upload a picture, you can develop your own beautiful website. Also, the hosting of your website is included in your monthly fee, as well as your merchant services (SS uses Stripe, so I don't have to use Paypal anymore. The fees are about the same for what I feel are more features), so it's a very affordable one-stop shop. I can't tell you how happy I am that my new website is on SS! There's one drawback so far, that there's no recipe widget function that you can add so people can print a recipe easily from your website. My old Wordpress site used the Recipe Card plugin, and it was so easy and beautiful to use. There's a way around it, but it's clunky and annoying. SS, come out with a recipe function ASAP, please, and then you'll be perfect!
3. Calendly - cost FREE to $10 U.S. per month: This has totally revolutioned my online biz, and has saved me the most time and frustration on a daily basis. Every single person who enrolls on my Essential Oils team gets a free 30 minute "Intro to oils" session with me, where I teach them how to use their oils safely and come up with a daily routine using the oils they purchased to help their unique health situation. On average, I enroll 8-15 people per month, and about 50% of those people were booking their sessions with me. That's a lot of e-mailing back and forth to figure out a time that works for both of us. Now, I can just send them a link so they can see what times I have available, and pick the one that works best with their calendar. FREAKING GENIUS. You could use this if you're a message therapist or a holistic nutritionist for each of your appointments. I use the Premium version ($10 U.S. per month) so that I can make different types of events, depending on if I'm booking for one of my Biz Strategy Sessions, Intro to oils session, or chatting with holistic practitioners who are considering incorporating essential oils into their practice. It syncs with my schedule, so if I have to book something else during a block of time that I normally would offer one of these events, as soon as I block off the other event on my calendar, it instantaneously removes that available time from what people can choose. I can also immediately see when someone books an event so that I don't book something over it.
The other part that I love about this is that it sends reminder e-mails, which you can choose how often and when (I choose 48 hours and 2 hours before our scheduled time together), and it also sends a welcome e-mail that you can customize. In that welcome e-mail, I include the links to any intake questionnaires or relevant info that I need for the scheduled session. For example, if I were using this for my one-on-one holistic health clients, I would include the intake questionnaire or NSP that they can fill out and return to me before our first appointment together. For my Biz Strategy Sessions, I include a questionnaire about their business and what they want from our hour together, so I don't have to waste our precious 60 minutes asking questions that I could have learned and researched beforehand.
4. Google Docs - cost FREE (have to have a Google account): I used to send my nutrition client intake questionnaires as a Word document, and every now and then someone would tell me that they didn't have Microsoft Word, and so they couldn't answer the questionnaire. I'd then have to figure out some other way to get it to them, and it was a pain in the ass. Some people even asked me to fax it to them ... seriously, is this 1992? Another option was to create a fillable PDF, but it required Adobe Acrobat, which I didn't have and didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars for at the time. Now, you can get an Adobe Cloud subscription for $14.99 a month, however, I've found another solution that's free. You can upload your Word document into a Google Doc, and if the person doesn't have Microsoft Word, they can start their own Google Docs account for free. Then they can simply create a copy of your questionnaire into their own account, fill it out, and share the file with you. If they do have Microsoft Word, they can download the file into Word, fill it out, save it on their computer, and send it back to you in an e-mail. Easy peasy, and just about everyone knows how to use Microsoft Word. Other than Evernote, I think I use Google Docs the most for online documents that I either want to share easily with other people or my essential oils team OR for my own documents that I want to be able to access from whatever device I'm on, wherever I happen to be working from that day.
Here's how I sync all of these systems up when I have a new client for a seamless flow from booking to our session together:
1. Client pays for service with me (whether it's a health service OR business service) through my Squarespace website and Stripe merchant account. I get an automatic notification that I got some money, how nice!
2. Client gets an automatic e-mail and receipt, with the link included to book their time with me.
3. Client clicks on link, which goes to my Calendly event options. They click on the type of service they purchased, and book their time with me that suits their schedule the best. I get an automatic notification that someone has booked time with me PLUS it puts the appointment right into my schedule with their contact details.
4. Client gets an automatic e-mail from Calendly with details about their session with me, the option to add it automatically to their online calendar, and a link that I've customized with the intake forms they need to complete for our session (to be returned to me at least 48 hours in advance) plus all the directions on how to do it.
5. Client clicks on document link, which goes to the Google Docs intake document. They can either make a copy and complete it right in their own Google Docs account OR download it to Microsoft Word and complete it on their own computer. Client then either shares Google Docs completed questionnaire link with me OR attaches their completed Microsoft Word questionnaire file to an e-mail to me. I get an e-mail with either a notification that someone shared a link with me OR with their intake questionnaire attached to the e-mail.
6. I can get working on whatever I need to work on before our session, and we're both prepared for our time together.
NOTE: an additional service that I'm not using yet is for client contracts. I do use client contracts with my 6-month one-on-one health clients (and will for future long-term biz coaching clients, too), and I hope you do as well. It's a pain to get the client to have to print the contract out, sign it, scan it, and send it back to you. There are online services you can use for this, like Adobe Document Cloud eSign services, for $14.99 U.S. per month. If your clients are mainly local, don't worry about this as they can pick it up or you can deliver it, but if you're serving clients all over the world, this is something that will make your digital life easier.
This flow works so effortlessly that it's freed up hours of my week to design more beautiful pictures for social media, create new programs, or to read inspiring books that keep me in a positive, abundant mindset. These are three things that I previously never had time for, but are what excite me the most in my business. I love making or reading pretty things. Having time open on my schedule for these types of activities has completely changed how much joy I get from my biz, and how grateful I feel for this beautiful life that I created for myself.
Who would have thought that some simple, and mostly free, online systems could completely change my life for the better, with less daily anxiety and more graceful abundance? I certainly never did.
I am completely in love with my business these days, and it's no joke that it's because of these online systems! So go ahead and try them out, because every single one of them has an option to try them free for 30 days.
I wanna know: what online systems do you use in your biz, and how do they make your life easier? Are you stoked to try any of the ones I listed above?