3 ways to increase the success of your small business ...

... and keep you from pulling your hair out!

(Because, you know… it’s not a good look!)

We’ve all got struggles, mine is wearing multiple hats as a small business.  I am the owner, designer, secretary, front desk person, accounts department, marketing, contract specialist, and IT.  Many hats!  While I am actively working to build a team and distribute some of those hats over the next year, here are steps that I have taken to help me combat this challenge and feeling overwhelmed, ensuring I spend less time “pushing paper” and more time spent where I should!

Daily Planner & journal

So… before I started this, I felt like I worked my tail off every day, working over 10 hours each day and felt and I didn’t accomplish anything!  I had a million more things to do and not enough hours to do them!  It was wearing down my mental resolve for sure.  I started writing lists on sticky notes and yellow pads but it still felt unproductive and disorderly.  I had seen ads running around about planners and journals and did a deep dive.

I’m quite particular about my planners, I’m not going to lie.  If I cannot see how the planner is laid out graphically on the inside, I will never buy it.  If there is an extreme excess of things I need to fill out or complete each and every day, I will never buy it.

Here is what I needed my planner to do – 

  1. Be simple, but not just a glorified notepad.
  2. Allow me to easily track daily and weekly deadlines.
  3. Allow me to track my schedule.
  4. Have a space for reflection or notes… but not several pages of it.
  5. Be esthetically pleasing and easy to follow.
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There are so, so many planners, all doing different things  – the three I’m highlighting below are the ones I believed fit the most closely to my goals and objectives!  I ended up buying the Full Focus Planner BOLD and am definitely happy with my purchase!  I also applied for the subscription, so a new planner will show up automatically to my home each quarter!

automated client portal (and invoicing!)

This was absolutely critical for me.  I needed to setup this process (and quickly!) when I began my business.  There are so many websites, subscriptions and software to choose from… it took me several weeks and free trials to find the system I preferred.  As my business is client based, ultimately HoneyBook was the online platform I went with!  Some of the highlights as to why I chose this software over the others – 

  1. Each project of mine has it’s own portal that the owner and any other team member (contractor, realtor, etc) can access.  This allows me to track and record all of our contracts, invoices, e-mails, files and drawings sent.  All in one place!
  2. Thankfully, HoneyBook had some generic templates for various documents including contracts and invoices.  This was so incredibly helpful for me when I started.  I work so much better when I have an example that I can review and modify, instead of starting at an empty page and creating each document type by scratch.  I would note that their templates are more geared to design consultants who provide a service up and through a specific date (wedding planner, photographer, etc) but can easily be modified for those with an ongoing or phased project, as reflected primarily in architecture and interior design.
  3. Once I complete the proposal and contract, HoneyBook sends out my invoices and e-mail reminders AUTOMATICALLY.  As someone who can lose track of time easily, this was critical.
  4. You can track your time per task per client.  This let’s me see quickly if I’m on track with the time I estimated for my proposals, allowing my fees to be fine-tuned with each and every client.  I also will be able to see if the schedule or time spent is sliding in any way.
  5. My clients can pay for my services with any type of card (bank account or credit card, etc).  They have the option to make one-time payments or have it withdrawn automatically.  Very easy and straightforward! … and I never see their payment information!

I also appreciated the free trial!  I don’t care how nice and easy to use they say it is, I am a hands-on person that needs to just dive in!

automated social media posts

Oh, how this can be time consuming if you don’t automate!

At the beginning of each month, I take one morning and stack my social media posts for the month (or more).  I schedule inspiration, quotes, client highlights, advertisements and other content through my Tailwind account to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.  Tailwind is an official partner of both Pinterest and Instagram and offers a complete suite of marketing tools including Smart Scheduling, Analytics & Monitoring, Content Discovery, Promotion, and more.

I do, however, need to use other websites and software to complete this task.  So far, I have not found a one-stop-shop for this! 


The other sites I used to complete this – 

Canva for graphics, videos, etc. They have a very large graphics library and an easy design software.  While I could easily make my own graphics and standards using my Adobe Suite (Photoshop, etc) I find that time is of the essence, reserving those software for my client renderings, etc.  Canva does have a Content Planner, but it does not allow me to schedule to Instagram automatically.

Keyword.io for keyword research based on the platform you use.

Jessie Ellis

Jessie Ellis

Wife, friend and dog mom with 18+ years of education and 12+ years as a commercial design professional. Always inquisitive, creative and empathetic; trying to live each day with intention.

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