I want to be a resource for you to start and run your small business. Below you will find resources for different aspects of your business. Most of which we use in the running of our business. If we do not have personal experience with them, we will let you know. Some of them do have an affiliate link that helps pay for the operation production of The Chaise Lounge, so I appreciate you supporting them, but know we would not recommend them if we did not feel they were a great value to you, the interior designer. If you do use one of the resources, please let us know what your experience is. If we ever have someone listed here that does not give you great service, I want to know.
The biggest problem anyone has running a small business is time. I started working with VA Staffer this summer, and it has been awesome. I was always wanting to try a virtual assistant ( or VA), but did not know what I would have them do. On top of that, I was under the impression that you had to hire one full time. VA Staffer lets you buy blocks of time (that do not expire) and use up the time as you need it. You could buy $100 at a time, $200, $500, etc. Then, use it whenever you need the help. The more you buy, you can receive discounts ranging between $6 and $9 (I think). Email Jeff (he goes by J), and let him know we sent you, and he will give you two hours FREE to try them out…NO RISK. I tried them on a small project and have not looked back. It will free you up. Now I have them basically run all my website stuff, show notes, and misc. marketing activities: list building, eBook creation, research…and there is so much more. Try them out. Visit them at VAStaffer.com.
Every small business needs a phone system. You should not be using just a cell phone. I searched for a while for a good VoIP (voice over internet protocol) system, tried several, and finally found a company that is awesome to work with, is super flexible, and totally expandable. I have been using Ring Central for about 2 years. My office manager is in Chicago, my production manager is out in the field, and I am either at my desk, podcasting, or in customers’ homes. Ring Central has allowed us to present a very professional image without breaking the bank. And you can try them out without buying any equipment. I will say, we have two handsets now and like having them, but started out with none, just using our cell phones. They can get you a custom 1(800) number as well. We have loved using this company. Great functionality. Great customer support.
Graphic design! We had George Ryan from Hatchwise.com on the show, and both Johnny and Nick have used Hatchwise for several design projects with great results. We don’t have a discount code for you, but please use this link, as it helps them know we sent you to them. It does help us in a small way to pay to bring you this amazing podcast each week. Even without that, I would still tell you to use them, as they are the best design contest out there…and yes I have tried several of them. It will be less expensive, and you will get better results. Please let us know if you do use them, and we will give you and your new design a plug and a link!! BONUS. Seriously though, try them out the next time you need to design a logo, a shirt, a business card, or even a flyer. You will love the result.
You need a picture formatted, resized, you need to create an ad for Facebook, a new header, a Twitter profile pic… the list goes on. I use two different resources for this depending on what I need. First Canva is a great little, mostly FREE site that I use almost daily. When I created our iTunes cover art, I used Canva. The image of the girl was one of their stock pics that I bought for $1. Not bad. I buy images for different things every now and again. $1 each time you create a new image with it. Very easy to use.
For more technical stuff, I use Swiftly. ‘Simple design fixes done fast’ is their tagline I believe. For between $15 and $19, you can have them do simple little changes to graphic work you have. Let’s say you need to have a png transparent backfile of your logo. They can create it. This is actually what I use them the most for. But you could have them do a small change to your business card prior to printing, or Photoshop an image of you, etc. They are a great little resource and I do not use them as often, but when I need something done, and cannot do it myself, this is a great place to go, and they really do get it done fast. Usually in an hour.
How do you manage all your contacts, invoices, furniture selections, fabric selections, vendors, and finances? You can do it all in one place with Design Manager. Design Manager is your first and only stop as an interior designer if you are serious about running a successful design business. After more than 30 years of developing software specifically for designers, they have the experience to give you the time-saving features that you need. Design Manager’s cloud-based project management and accounting tools are easy to use for designers, bookkeepers, and accountants. Put an end to vendor mistakes and client confusion with our standardized design flow. They will even give you a FULL ACCESS pass for 30 days to test drive the system.