Jobs for the Christmas holiday!

Yes you did read this correctly; I am going to talk about doing some work over Christmas – but let me explain: I love the Christmas holidays and in fact the week before Christmas is one of my favourite times of year – the last minute present buying, always a trip to London to catch a show and see the decorations, wrapping, cooking and even more wrapping and cooking. But by the time we get to the 28th December I am starting to feel a bit bored! (Remember I am the person whose nightmare summer holiday is a beach, a book and nothing to do!)

But what to do – no one wants to talk to me about advertising then! However this is a great time to sit down at the PC and have a proper look at some new systems that could really help you run your business more efficiently. Now that doesn’t sound very exciting I know but three key areas of my business are on cloud based systems and they have made my day to day working is so much easier:

1. Bookkeeping / Accounting

2. E-mail system for bulk e-mails like this

3. CRM package (CRM = Customer Relationship Management)

Of course finding the right system for you and your business takes time which is why the Christmas break can be a great time to do your research. Just sign up for a trial account and have a proper go at using the software. When trialling software here are two key criteria to consider:

Does it do the job? Think about all the tasks that you do now that you need the software to replicate and try them out. Sometimes you may need to think laterally and think about the result you want to achieve rather than the actual method you use currently. Remember to check out the help function – how easy is it to find answers to your questions and test out any live chat support.

Does the system work the way you intuitively think and work yourself? I have recently changed my cloud based accounts package as the system I was using underwent an “upgrade”. The new version worked in a completely different way to the original version and most critically, to the way my mind works, so I simply moved to a different cloud based system.

One other point to mention is that although it is tempting to go for the “free” option that the software company offers, the best value is often the first paid for level – you get better support and you don’t get their logo stamped all over your documents.

I don’t have space to list all the advantages of using cloud based systems but just to highlight a few points:

Bookkeeping / Accounts

At the risk of stating the obvious being able to e-mail invoices and statements with one click saves so much time, but for me it is more about the occasional queries that can get so complicated, especially if you are trying to explain to your accountant/ bookkeeper what has happened. They can have their own log in so you can just say have a look at this customer account – and they can sort it… and from their office too!

E-mailing System

These just make sending bulk e-mails e.g. newsletters to your customers so much simpler and you can set up and manage different mailing lists very easily.

CRM Package

If you have ever worked in a big corporate you will probably be running screaming from the room at the mention of a CRM package – they have a tendency to take on a life of their own there. But this is not what I am taking about.

The package I run is simple to use, does not have lots of unnecessary functionality and it has made running my business so much easier. At its most basic level I create records for customers, recording all the usual info on people and contact data and saving e-mails to that specific customer’s record – having everything all in one place is a great time saver. You can also create “tasks” for jobs you need to remember to do simply by going into a customer’s record and noting the “task”, along with the date it needs to be done; then an e-mail pops into your in-box with the reminder on the specified date. It definitely beats yellow sticky notes or epic to-do lists! Of course you can go on to undertake all sorts of complex data analysis using a CRM package and that’s great … if you have the time, but  even using the most basic level of functionality can really help you run your business more efficiently which can save you time and hassle!

So if you do get a few spare hours over the holidays why not have a look at some systems which might make your life easier.

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