You may or may not know that all of our courses come with access to a cohort-specific private Facebook Group where we offer ongoing support and mentorship for our students. What you may not know is that we also have a public Facebook Group called Strategy & Support for Doulas in Business where we also offer community, support and mentorship (and sometimes free trainings!) to doulas and wellness advocates from all over the world! In all of our groups, we’ve started to see an increase in questions surrounding software, technology and organizational tools. The most common questions are:
What site builder should I use?
What project management tool is best for planning out my week/month/year?
How do I track invoices?
How do clients schedule consults with me?
So, naturally, I thought to myself, I should write about this.
Before you jump in and invest time or money with new programs and tools, take a moment and see if you really need one. If you decide you do need one, this will help you decide what one to get!
There are so many apps and sites out there that COULD be great for your business. I say ‘could’ because not every situation requires extra tools. I can liken this to birth: health care providers have a whole host of tools that can be used during a labour, but do they always need to be? Some may even cause more harm than good if used. Sound familiar? Well, we can apply the same principle to your business.
How will you know if you need a tool and how do you know if it is the right one?
What is the problem?
Well, let’s start with the problem that you are having. This may be that you don’t have a website yet or that you are drowning in your email inbox or that you cannot figure out how to track your invoices and payments with clients. In this case, we are going to use the example of not having a website.
What is the goal?
We cannot start looking for a solution until you know the goal that you want to have! When we are looking at building a website, there are so many needs that exceed just having people find you on the web. You may want to build an online course in a year, or create an SEO plan, or integrate a plugin that you have designed, or monetize your blog, or create a directory for your niche. Each one of those goals would mean that there are certain tools and software that is better than others.
Do the research!
There are several site building options and you want to make sure that the option you select will be able to fix your problem and accommodate your goals. In this case you have the big players like Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, Weebly or WordPress. There are several smaller ones too, but you get the idea. Go through and make a pros and cons list. Here is where you can make a great informed decision (see what I did there… more birth stuff). Familiar with a weighted decision matrix? If you aren’t, don’t panic! I will show you what it is and how it works. Here is a blank one:
This may seem overwhelming but it is a GREAT tool once you get the hang of it. So, how the heck do you use this??
You put your options across the top. With the example of website builders, you would have Wix, WordPress, etc in those boxes. Then you make a list of your goals. This can be items such as ‘setting up my product or services store’ or ‘easy for me to edit’ or ‘integrates with all plugins’ or ‘scalable as my business grows’ or ‘flexibility in design’. Then you give each of those a number (like 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5). Some can have the same weight if they are equally important. I find ‘easy for me to edit’ and ‘integrates with all plugins’ equally important with a 4. I should mention that the higher the number, the more important the item is; so 5 is MOST important and 1 is LEAST important.
Then you score your options. For example, Wix is hard to transfer your site to a new web builder at a later date and that may not be scalable for your business, so it would get a low score on that front. You continue down your criteria with an assessment of your options. Then you do some simple math and get the option with the best score. Don’t forget: you can also add to the options, ‘Nothing’ or ‘Create a new business process’.
This model can be applied to any of the decisions that you may have for your business. You can use it when you are hiring people, selecting accounting software, or shopping for a Childbirth Ed Certification.
Ok, I appreciate the weighted decision matrix is an analog tool, but it is great for selecting an option if you need to purchase something (or not purchase it!) or figure out whether or not to implement a new business process.
There are some other tips when you are thinking about tech and your business. You need to make sure the tool will get you to your goal. For example, if you find you are drowning in your email, then check out Superhuman. It is a smart, sexy email platform that offers email triage by A.I. It can undo send options, provide canned responses which saves SO much time, make connections to your social channels and so much more. It is amazing. AND it is not necessary to buy and take the time to learn if that will not solve your problems and get you to your goal solution. Pro tip about inboxes and email: don’t forget, your inbox is a list of other people’s priorities. Prioritize you and your business first.
An easier fix to a full inbox may not be a new tech tool but rather utilizing your autoresponder by offering links to common pages that answer most questions people have about your business in the body of the email or letting them know you may need up to 5 business days to respond.
For those of you that are not solopreneurs, i.e. you have business partners or staff, here is a critical note about tech tools, or any tools and processes with your business. No tool or business process will work if it is not FULLY adopted by everyone. Full stop. Over the years, the #bebobabes have tried many pieces of software and we are drawn back to our Google Drive and email. It works for us MOST of the time and we know it and it is affordable. Many of the tools we invest in don’t really get us to the goal and we don’t all utilize them effectively which renders them useless to the team.
So, you may not actually need to invest in a tech tool however if you do, use the matrix to help you decide what one you need. Make sure that everyone who will be using your tool or process adopts it fully, or it will not work out for you and your business.
Have a favourite tech tool? Share it below and let us know the problem it solves for you in your business!
Bianca Sprague is a birth doula, lactation educator, childbirth educator and business consultant. She and her partner, Alana, are the moms to their 11 year old daughter, Gray. Bianca is the CEO and co-founder of bebo mia inc. and Baby & Me Fitness.
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