Category Archives: Business Basics

Business Basics | How To Track Business Receipts

So this is one of those not so glorious of tasks of running a business that keeps your ass out of trouble when you get that call from the IRS!! It also makes life a WHOLE lot easier when tax time rolls around. I won’t say that filing your taxes will be any more fun because it won’t, but at least you won’t sitting start at the pile of paper for a week before even trying to attempt to get that part ready for tax season.

So I deal with my receipts in two ways: online and paper.

Online Receipts

So when an online receipt is mailed to me I… 1) of course open it up (make sure that it says what purchased and has the correct amount) 2) pull up the print screen 3) save the file as a PDF and 4) put it in my Dropbox folder called “Expenses”. Additionally, I have a different folder for each year, so when the times comes that I can let the receipts go I can just delete the whole folder. Now you can call your folder receipts, money spent, whatever you wish! Really it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you know where to find it!!

Now I will say at one point in life… I did just have all of my receipts saved in a folder in Gmail and it wasn’t bad until maybe that one receipt just wouldn’t pull up for some reason. Also although I say I will never delete an email, if I am moving too fast I end up deleting the email and then I have to search through my trash folder and well yeah it’s too much. Saving as a PDF in a Dropbox folder, just makes life a lot easier.

I prefer to organize my receipts as I go so that I can remember exactly what the receipt corresponds to and I don’t have to rack my brain trying to remember what happened earlier in the week or earlier in the month (if you have a duty day once a month. More on duty days in an upcoming post!)

So I label my receipts by the year, month and date first. Why? Because that way, all of the receipts get organized in chrolonigical order automatically. Example… if I made a purchase on April 2, 2017, I would start the title of the PDF receipt with “2017.04.02”. Once I have written that, I type in a description of the transaction. The description for the online receipt is less critical since the receipt probably has a description already on it. I might write something like this if I purchased a linen to use for a wedding: 2017.04.2 CV Linen Sequin Linen for Estate Table Decor. As you can see, in the description, I used the formula “who, what, why”. Who? CV Linen, What? Sequin Linen, Why? Estate Table Decor.

Paper Receipts

So for paper receipts, these are even more important to get in order because there is only one record of it and you’ve got it. If you are anything like me they are just stuffed in your wallet and at some point in life you decide to look back through them. For me, most of these receipts are restaurant and craft store receipts because I’ve been at a client meeting or purchased some decor items for a wedding. Why we need to keep these: well the IRS requires us to write down who was at the lunch and what business was discussed/what the business purchase was. Sadly, it’s not enough to just have a receipt. Go ahead and curse yourself because I know I sure did!

Well I don’t do so great with writing that information on the receipt because well it gets lost and destroyed in my purse, so I had to find a solution where I could digitize this information so it couldn’t be lost. Plus I am a techie girl and love all things digital. I also needed an app where I was able to mark receipts as business or personal, not because I keep track of all my personal receipts, but because sometimes I use my personal card for business or accident or pay or a business expense with personal cash. I have to be able to keep account of those receipts with our business receipts so that my business can reimburse me for it at the end of the month. So after going through tons of apps, I finally settled on one that works.

Expensify… I only use this app for receipts. There are other things you can track as well, but I don’t need it for all that. Plus the app is what… FREE!!

Here is a step-by-step guide on how I use it:

Create an Expense Report

When you open the app, you will see five icons at the bottom, click on “My Reports” just after the camera button and click on the plus sign in the upper right corner to create a new report. The expense report you create every month will put all of your receipts in one place for you, so you want to do this at the start of each month OR if you think you will forget just go ahead and create a report for each month. When you provide details on your receipt, there is an option that ask which report you want to save it to. I call my reports 2017-01 ADE Receipts. It’s just the year/month and then my company initials. Once you have created you report, you are ready to start adding receipts! (Time to clean out your wallet)

Side Note: Click settings (the blue person button in left corner) and uncheck SmartScan or just let the trial version run out (it cost money to use this feature and we trying to save. You don’t really need it.)

Add Receipts To Your Report

At the bottom of the app, you will see the green camera button. Use this button to take picture of your receipt. Once you take the picture, select the picture to open it and input the receipt information: march, total, date, comment, category, report, billable and reimbursable.

I am going to talk about the comment, category and reimbursable options since everything else is self-explanatory. For comments, just make sure to give a quick, but detailed description about the receipt. Example: You met up for coffee with a wedding client for their initial consult meeting. This covers who was there and what the purpose of the business was. You want to cover those two points for each receipt.

Online Categories to Set

Before getting started you will want to configure some options so you don’t have to change them with every receipt you upload. The options are categories and reimbursable. To do this, you will have to log into your Expensify account online, click the small blue button in the upper right corner, select personal settings and then categories on the side bar. You will want to delete all the categories already there and just have a personal and business category. Next you want to click on Expense Rules on the left hand side and do the following:

1. In the merchant box, just put a period. This will make the rule apply to all of your transactions.
2. Category = Business
3. Reimbursable = Non-Reimbursable
4. Billable = Non-Billable
Then when you upload your receipts, you won’t have to change those except on the rare occasions, which I will explain shortly. Once you have done all that, just click “Save” and you’re good to go!

Now that you have all this setup, at the end of the month you can send yourself a report that’ll have ALL of your paper business receipts in one place. You just have to send yourself the report. You do that by clicking “My Reports” (the icon that looks like a sheet of paper), select “Open” on the report you want to send. Once there, select “Submit” in the top right corner. The next screen will ask you where you to email the report and if you want to send as a PDF. You will have to slide the button to right, for the report to send as a PDF. Then once that has been turned on… client submit again and BOOM… easy peasy!

Now if you use your personal card or cash for business on accident, it’s super simple with Expensify to know how much you should be reimbursed. If you do use personal money by mistake when you upload the receipt, in the category section select “Personal” instead of “Business” and then slide the button to the right for “Reimbursable”.

And that’s it! I hope that this helps you get your receipts in order as much as it has gotten my life together!!

Behind the Veil Styled Shoot in Charleston, SC

Business Basics | Tracking Your Mileage

If you are like me, at one point you had a small notepad and pen sitting in your drink holder. When it was time to head out for the day before going anywhere, you would pick up your pad and pen and record your starting mileage. Then crossed your fingers that you recorded your ending mileage at the end of day. But what if you went to a business meeting and then headed out to lunch with friends and then headed headed to venue walk-through. How many times did you just write on your pad and did you record the mileage reading from your last stop. Because you can’t claim that personal trip you just took. Or do you find yourself at the computer using Google Maps to estimate how many miles were driven for the day. Makes your head hurt a little right. Well friends, I am introducing you to some good good today! Say hello to…

MILEIQ

Business Tools: How To tRack Your Mileage

This is an app that can be downloaded to Android and iPhones. The beauty of this app is that once you get it all setup it automatically tracks your mileage. Say what? Yes, it is always working and you just don’t realize it. Essentially, it does most of the work for you. It really is genius. It knows where you are go and tracks your mileage around town. How does it do it? Hell if I know, but it’s working TRUST ME!! About 15 minutes after your drive is done, if you open your MileIQ app, a map will pop up showing you where you started and where you ended for each individual drive – even if they were in the same errands trip. And the only thing you have to do is at the end of the day open the app and classify the trips as personal or business. If it was personal drive, you just swipe to the left and if business swap to the right. Mile IQ saves all of the data for you in the cloud until you need it. If it was a business trip, you just type a comment about what you were doing, as from what I have been told the IRS requires that you state in writing why your trip was a business trip. Your comment about the trip doesn’t need to be crazy long, just write out the what + who + where.

At the end of each month, MILE IQ will email you a report in either Excel or PDF form with a list of your personal and business drives dated, time-stamped with all of your comments, the number of miles – and here’s the best part – the value of the drives all totaled up for the month. Cue to confetti! No math involved!! So at the end of the year, all you have to do is hand your year-end mileage report to your CPA and you are done! Collect all those tax deductions.

A word of caution though: make sure you swipe your drives every night or whenever you’re just sitting around killing time. (This should not be a monthly duty task lol!) If you want until the end of the month, you WILL forget some of the places you went, and then you’ll be searching through your calendar trying to remember.

So with everyone creating their plans for to get better organized… add this one to your list. Download MileIQ and have one additional piece of your business under control. No, I haven’t forgotten the most important question… how much does it cost? Well you won’t have to give up your first born for it. The cost if paid monthly is $5.99 (or one cocktail) and WELL worth it! Because, if there’s one thing I am learning abut being a small business owner, time is money and there’s a limited amount of it, so anything that saves me time I am interested in!

Business Tools: How To tRack Your Mileage

Slay With Systems | Getting Started with Evernote for Wedding Planners

Get Organized with Evernote

So today is first post in the Slay Your Systems Series!

Today we are talking all about Evernote. If you follow the blog, you may already know that I sing Evernote’s praises! I talked all about it HERE. Well today, we are starting at the beginning of how to get started with Evernote.

So a little background… I literally use Evernote for every aspect of my life and it is truly becoming my second brain. I save notes, receipts, business cards, reading lists, things I want to purchase for the business, EVERYTHING in Evernote. The beauty of Evernote is that there are thousands of uses for it and you can customize it however you want in order to make it work for you. The downside is that you can do so much that it can be overwhelming when first starting out on how to get it all in order.

If you make the commitment to start using Evernote daily, it will help you save time and get organized in your wedding planning business (and digital life). Now getting started with Evernote is going to take some extra work on the front-end, but if you put in some time I think you will see how awesome a tool this can be.

COMMIT

With most things in life, it does require commitment to see the fruits of your labor. So with that I say give this system a chance to work. Are you willing to do some real work in the beginning to see the benefits at the end?

DOWNLOAD

The first step to getting started with Evernote is to download and install Evernote on your computer. There is a web app, but it is not nearly as robust and to get the full experience of Evernote, you need to have the desktop app and use it primarily. Additionally, there are just some features that won’t work on the web version of Evernote!

You will also want to download the Evernote app onto your phone and tablet. I love having it phone as it replaces having to write on small pieces of paper while out when a crazy idea comes to mind. You can use the app to create notes on the go, add reminders, create voice memos and check your to-do lists.

UPGRADE TO PREMIUM

If you are just starting your business and watching your coins, a free Evernote account is a great place to start. BUT, if you are diving into this head first and going all out I would HIGHLY suggest going premium. The cost is $69.99/year and it’s one of the best investments I made in my business (you can write this off as well). Here’s why Premium is the way to go:

  • Free accounts only allow you to sync across 2 accounts, Premium UNLIMITED!
  • Annotated PDFs
  • Foward emails into Evernote (in an upcoming posts you will learn why this is great)
  • Scan and digitize business cards (makes handling business cards so easy)
  • Turn notes into a presentation
  • With premium accounts, the technology is smart enough to search within PDFs. So if you keep a receipts folder and stick PDF copies of your receipts, Evernote can search the PDF as if it were text.

NEXT STEPS

Now that you are commited to getting started with Evernote, I have some homework for you! Your tasks are to:

  1. Commit to using Evernote
  2. Download the app to at least 2 of your devices
  3. Consider trying premium for one month

This is the first post in the Slay Your Systems with Evernote series.

Check back in two weeks where I will be chatting about important terminology and how I use notebooks and tags in your workflow.

Business Basics | Slay Your Systems & Get Organized in the New Year

Organizing Your Business in the New Year

So for the past couple of months, I have been really been digging into my systems in an effort to create a better client experience for ADE Brides! This meant me accessing ALL of the systems I am currently using and determining if I was using them to their greatest ability and were there any I could just let go! (Side note: I am a systems junkie, so I will work through systems CONSTANTLY to make to better.) The thing is if I am always working on my systems, then I can’t focus on other aspects of my business. So moving into 2017, I wanted to review what I had, tighten up some areas and then let it run. For any system, it works as long as you work it!

In talking with some vendor friends, I have found that I LOVE chatting to them about their systems and actions they can incorporate to help with its efficiency. I thought hey why don’t I just write out what I learn and share with other entrepreneurs to save them a little headache and make major gains in their business. So I will be starting a series on “Slaying Your Systems”! Hopefully you will find the information helpful on getting your business backend together! If you ever have any questions, be sure to post them as trying to figure out how to create a system that works for your business gets my blood running!

~Jevettra

Business Basics | Using Evernote for Business Organization

EVERNOTE… IF YOU DON’T KNOW, NOW YOU KNOW!! This program is ONE of my business lifesavers that keeps me sane and organized. I literally use it for every aspect of my life, but today I will be talking about how I use it to organize my business. Think of it as your second brain. You can save notes, clip things from the web and organize information. The beauty of Evernote is that there are thousands of uses for it and you can customize it however you want in order to make it work for you. The downside is that you can do so much that it can be overwhelming when first starting out on how to get it all in order.
Using Evernote for Business Organization

~ SO WHAT IS IT? ~ 
Evernote is a multi-platform (meaning you can use it on your phone, computer, iPad, etc and it syncs across all of these devices) application designed to organize everything from notes, images, text and presentations.

~ EVERNOTE PRICING ~ 
The Basic Service of Evernote is Free 99!! When I first started with Evernote, I had the free version, but have since upgraded to the Premium Version ($49.99/year), as you can turn notes into presentations, scan and digitize business cards, annotate attached PDFs to name a few. I love receiving business cards, but they were really starting to pile up and keeping them organized was becoming a headache. Now I can just flip through them virtually and find exactly what I am looking for!! Also being able to annotate on PDFs…. yaaassss! So now if a client has questions about a service or the contract, I can just annotate onto the PDF instead of writing the email saying look at page 3, section blah blah blah. The client can now just scan the PDF and all of your notes are right there.

~ THE BASICS OF EVERNOTE ~ 
Basically Evernote is on fancy online notebook! What you start with in Evernote are…

NOTES – These are the actual files you add or write in Evernote. You can have as many of these as you need. Think of notes as a page in a notebook (a page that can be as LONG as you need it to be). Notes can hold documents, files, text and images. Whatever you need to access or store goes into a note. You can add tags to every note that you write.  Tagging allows you to find notes A LOT faster than going through notebooks or notes!! And I highly suggest tagging EVERY note that you write. It will save your sanity later. Notes can then be put into…

NOTEBOOKS – Notebooks hold your notes together. You can add as many notes as you need into one notebook. Things that fall into the same topics or categories usually make good notebooks. For example, I have notebooks for blogging ideas, blogging posts in progress, blog post completed, marketing, financials, creative action plan, planning clients, and on and on and on!! I have a TON of Notebooks. Then Notebooks can be put into…

STACKS – Stacks hold notebooks together (I look at them as master categories). Stacks can be made by dragging one notebook on top of another and adding additional notebooks as needed, but you cannot add individual notes to a stack. I have stacks for Blogging, Business Management, Canned Responses, Planning Clients.

~ SETTING UP A SYSTEM ~ 
Whether or not you love Evernote will pretty much depend on how well your system is setup. Everyone has a different way of organizing their thoughts and ideas. I wanted to share my set-up to give you an idea of one option.

Before you start saving any files, you will want to get some basic notebooks setup. Because having just a stack of notes that you will have to scroll through is… NO BUENO! Setting up some notebooks will help get you organized right away and have a place to put things you want to save. You can change the name of a notebook after it’s created so don’t get too caught up on having the pretty category/title for every notebook. As a wedding planner, I have the following stacks for my business:

  • To File: This is my catch-all for notes on the go and things I need to file later.
  • Working On: A running list of tasks that I am working on lands here.
  • ADE Blogging: I write all of my blog post in Evernote.
  • ADE Business Management: This stack holds a TON of notebooks that are all related to my business.
  • ADE Canned Responses: Because although you can store canned responses in Gmail, I much prefer to just have them all here.
  • ADE Creatives: So service guides I receive from other creative professionals get filed here.
  • ADE Planning Clients: Each one of my clients get a notebook for me to store notes on the go. I actually scan in forms I have completed with my client’s into Evernote, instead of saving the form in a folder. So my consultation forms, Wedding Day Prep forms (until I can find a go online form builder) I still fill out by hand and then scan into Evernote. This way I don’t lose the form and can easily refer back to without having to carry around folders.

In the image below you can see that I have TONS of notebooks and within the notebooks, I have TONS of notes. Let me reiterate, tag ALL of your notes, so you can easily search for what you are looking for.

Using Evernote for Business Organization
The next bonus of Evernote is their Web Clipper. This is a Chrome add-on makes life a little easier. It allows you to save or share as an article, simplified article, full page, bookmark or screenshot. You can also use the markup tools to highlight parts or make notes.
Using Evernote for Business Organization
If you haven’t given Evernote a try yet, I definitely would. Using this program has helped me in being more organized and more efficient in my day-to-day activities. One of the biggest things I use Evernote for is blogging!! Between Evernote and Trello, I think I finally have my blogging life in order.
~ TAKE ACTION ~ 

Set-up an Evernote account (if you don’t already have one.) Create a few your notebooks and stacks and then start collecting your ideas and research for your website, product, service, blogging, etc.

Do you have any Evernote tips that you love? Share them below.

Business Basics: Optimizing Your Time and Client Experience Through Workflows

So you receive a client inquiry through email – what’s your next step? Are you going to call or email them back? Are you providing them with any information? Do you setup a consultation immediately or ask a few more questions? When you start working with the client, do you find yourself second guessing if you have completed a task or pinch yourself because you wish you had done one action before another? Do you ever feel like you are forgetting to do something with a client, but can’t quite put your finger on what you did (but you know it would be great because you did it with your last client and they loved it). Yeah, you need a workflow.

Wedding Planner in South Carolina, Avila Dawn Events

Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with just trying to answer these questions?! Well don’t panic. Take a deep breath and go grab a pen and some pretty paper because you are about to do a brain dump.

Before we get started though, you probably want to know… what is a workflow and why do I need one? A workflow is a chronological series of actions you complete to get an action done. Workflows allow you to evaluate how efficient your process is and to identify areas that you can strengthen to create an even greater client experience. Utilizing workflows allows you to save time, stress less, and keep your business running smoothly.

I am sure you are like how is a workflow going to help my business. Have you ever gone through a program that was just seamless. You received everything on time, how you proceed through the program really flowed and they were thorough on the information presented. That is what a workflow does for your business. When I first started (about two years ago), I was flying by the seat of my pants on what tasks I needed to complete with my clients. Let’s be real, using a wedding day timeline as your guide to helping someone else plan their wedding, just doesn’t work. There are lots of back end things that you need to do in order to get your client to the tasks that they have in front of them.

My wedding planning workflow is broken down into 6 sections: Inquiry, Consultation, Proposal, New Client On-boarding, Planning and Services Rendered. Through Heather Crabtree’s Streamline with Systems course I was able to really delve into my client experience and create a thorough workflow from when a client contacts me to when I am archiving their planning notes. In creating workflows, you find areas where you can create responses and/or templates for actions you complete time and time again. Benefit to you is that it allows you to spend more time working on the items you enjoy doing, like working with your client. You don’t have to sit and write the same inquiry email 100 times (template that thing)!!  When you constantly use a process this allows you to really evaluate how it is working and if it’s not going all that well. And if you find it’s not quite working for your business, you tweek it or through it out!

So for every process that your company has, WRITE IT DOWN!! On the first round, just write out of what steps you take with every client. When you have time, go back through and thoroughly write out how you complete each step and/or the timeframe associated with each step.

Workflows keep you CONSISTENT!  By creating a workflow are able to work with your client more efficiently creating more time for you and a creating a greater experience for your client. At the end of the day, we want to work smarter, not harder.  A perk of creating a workflow is if you were ever to expand or weren’t able to complete something for whatever reason, someone else would be able to set in and be able to provide the same level of service that you normally provide.

Reasons to Have a Workflow

  • Allows for someone to take over if you are ever sick and need someone to take over.
  • If you are every busy and/or overwhelmed, you can check your workflow to ensure you don’t miss important steps.
  • Writing your workflow allows you to find holes and flaws in your system
  • Using the same process makes your brand more consistent and reliable and customers LOVE that!!

Workflows You Can Write Out

  •  Blog Post Workflow
  • Social Media Scheduling
  • Email Checking + Organizing
  • Client Onboarding
  • Services (what steps you take for each client you work with)
  • Product (what do you do/create to create a product)
  • Bookkeeping
  • Workshop/Webinar

So in writing this post, I found that I have lots to discuss regarding workflows… so later this month, I will specifically tell you all the tools and systems I use to keep my life and my client’s planning process in order!!

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