Going It Alone – Part 5: Technology and Software

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Note: This is the fifth in a six part series about business essentials that beauty and bodywork professionals who are independent contractors or who run a business need to know. The series, “Going It Alone,” runs every two weeks. The first installment dealt with motivation, the second installment discussed taxes and record keeping, the third installment involved finances, and the fourth was about forming your business.

Note #2: This blog post will discuss certain apps and software that have the potential to make your business and personal life easier. We mention these apps and software with the understanding that they are simply used as examples and that BBI does not in any way endorse them. There are many different apps to choose from and the reader should explore more to see which app and/or software is right for them and their business.

As a beauty or bodyworker, you probably want to spend as much time as possible helping your clients look and feel their best. But you are also a small business owner, so you need to deal with everything that comes from this aspect of your life. This is one reason why we have been working on the “Going It Alone” series – to give you some ideas of how to make your business life a little bit easier so you can focus on what you do best.

In this the fifth installment of the “Going It Alone” series, we want to give you some ideas for technology and apps/software that can make both your professional and your personal life a lot easier.

Technology

The technology world is continually changing. There are many amazing tools, gadgets, devices, and thingamajigs that are available that you can benefit from. In fact, there are so many tools to choose from that naming and discussing each one would turn into a blog series on its own. So, for the sake of time, we’re going to only mention one piece of technology that every business owner (including massage therapists, cosmetologists, estheticians, and all other beauty and bodyworkers) needs – a smartphone.

Smartphones allow people to not only make and answer phone calls, but also to read and write emails, surf the Web, use apps to make life easier (more on that later), schedule appointments, organize life in general, and do many other things that just are not possible without a smartphone.

There are many different smartphones for you to choose from, each of which has their own advantages and disadvantages, but the bottom line is this: If you do not have a smartphone, your competitors have a competitive advantage over you.

And before you think that you are going to have to shell out $300 or more for a good smartphone, think again. For example, you can purchase a brand new “outdated” (two or three generations back) iPhone for as low as $0.01. Yep, one penny. If you are more of an Android user, you can also purchase earlier versions of those smartphones for the same price. These “outdated” models may not have the brand new feature that everyone is excited about, but it will still do everything you need it to do to help you run your business.

The only real drawback with smartphones is that you have to go through a carrier. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and other carriers are going to make you sign up for a 2-year contract in order to use the phone to its full functionality. Do your homework and go with a carrier that is going to give you the best plan, and you should be able to get a good deal.

Now, of course there are other technology tools you can – and should – use if you can. Tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and even the newest gadget the smartwatch are all technology  that you can benefit from.

Apps/Software

One of the best reasons to have a smartphone is the apps that go along with it. There are apps for almost everything you need, including apps for your business needs, apps to help you learn more about your profession, and even apps that can benefit your personal life and hobbies.

To make this section easier to read (and write), we’re going to break this section up into apps or software that can help you with scheduling and/or organizing your life, apps that can help you with finances (both personal and business), and then some miscellaneous apps that can help you with other aspects of your life.

Schedule/Organization

One of the most important things you can do to help you be more productive is to schedule your time. Sure, you can simply buy a calendar and write down important dates you need to remember, but there is a much better way.

Apps and computer software such as Clear, Wunderlist, Rescue Time, and Any.Do do many things that a paper calendar can’t, including allowing you to schedule your day down to the minute so you can be as productive as possible.

Here’s an example of how these apps or software can help you. Say you have 30 clients coming in the next week, a project you want to do for your business (with certain tasks you need to complete that have different due dates), you are attending two conferences in the coming weeks, and you have your anniversary and a child’s birthday to prepare for as well.

With the right apps you can not only plug in the important dates in your phone, but also set reminders so you won’t forget about an important personal or business date that is coming up. In the above example You could take the 30 clients you have and create a task list that will allow you to schedule your time as wisely as possible and you can set goals to ensure that the project tasks get done on time. Once you have completed a task you can check it off and then see how your week (or day, month, etc.) is going. And doing all of that takes a fraction of the time that it would take if you tried to do the same thing using a regular paper calendar (if it’s even possible at all).

Finances

As we discussed in the third blog post in the “Going It Alone” series, keeping track of your finances is extremely important. If you aren’t keeping track of expenses and revenue, you could find that your business (and possibly even your own personal savings account) has run out of money.

One of the biggest issues when it comes to dealing with finances is that it is just too boring. For some people, looking at numbers for too long can lead to sleepiness, irritability, and even numbermysitisis poisoning where people can die (ok, we made that last one up). But apps and software make dealing with your business finances quick and easy.

Another great feature is that most of the apps or software allow you to have more than one account listed, so you can also keep track of your personal finances as well. It also makes reconciling your monthly bank statement a quick process.

There are many different apps or software to choose from, including Quickbooks and Quicken. Go do some exploring and see which is right for you and your business.

Miscellaneous

This category is the most problematic because there are literally thousands of apps that you could find useful for your business. And of course it would be impossible to list all of them (or even a fraction of them), so we’re going to just list a few apps that you might find useful, each of them having a different purpose. The following are apps that may or may not apply to you, depending on your business circumstances.

Travel: When you are traveling to help clients or to attend conferences you are going to want an app that helps you get where you’re going without a lot of hassle. Tripit and Roadtrippers are apps that make traveling a lot easier.

Contacts: As a massage therapist, cosmetologist, or any other beauty or bodyworker, you are going to meet a lot of people, including customers, vendors, suppliers, other professionals, and many other people. Now, keeping track of these people and their contact information is easy with apps like Addapt that allow you to store your contacts in one place.

Apps for Your Profession: Sure, apps and software cannot replace the actual work you do but you can use apps to make your professional life a little easier. Like playing music while working? Try Pandora. Are you a massage therapist who would like an easier way to keep track of clients? Try Massage Therapist Notebook from the apple store. There are literally hundreds of thousands of apps you can choose from to help you with all aspects of your life.

Technology and apps can help your business in many different ways other than what we listed here. If you’re a massage, hair styling, skin, or any other bodywork professional who uses technology or apps for your business, we’d love for you to comment below. Also, if you think we missed an app or software that you love, please comment.

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