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Where would I be without all of the smart folks who have gone before me? Where would I be without the brave ones who’ve made their mistakes both publicly and privately, and who have lived to tell the tale? I’d be lost in a sea of subscription apps trying to manage my business the hard way.

So, where am I going with this?

I’ll back up and start by sharing that I build websites and design stuff for a living and have been doing it for over 20 years. I don’t often share about my business directly when I’m talking to new people (I’d much rather listen to what others have to say and learn from them). But sometimes, it’s good to be more open and share too. So here it goes:

As a “creative” person, I didn’t think much about business systems when I first started my design and web company. Client on-boarding, workflows, automation – these terms were foreign to me. Over the years I read a lot, listened to an insane amount of podcasts and used trial and error to build what pretty much required about 4+ paid subscription apps to manage. Here’s what my process looked like:

  • New client reaches out to me through email or phone (always unscheduled)
  • We’d chat for a few, I’d take some notes and promise to send a proposal/estimate soon.
  • I would stop everything else I was working on to spend the next few days writing the proposal and laying it out via my InDesign template to make it look pretty.
  • After drafting the perfect proposal, I’d convert this proposal to a PDF and upload to Adobe eSign. Sometimes clients still preferred to fax the contract or print, sign, and snail mail it back to me.
  • Then I used Freshbooks to accept the deposit, manage payments, and track project time.
  • To make things even crazier, I was also in the process of building my very own client portal with a custom meshing together of a WordPress database and Dropbox.

My system worked, but it wasn’t the smartest way to do things. It drained valuable time and energy because every single step of my old system required me to stop the real work of creating and doing what I enjoyed doing. I spent more time managing my business subscription apps than actually growing my business.

That all changed when I found Dubsado!

I learned about Dubsado through another designer who’d used it for sending proposals. Since it was free without a time limit, I decided to test it out for an upcoming project proposal. I’m not going to lie – setting it up was almost like having a second job. But I love how the Dubsado team is always there to help, their tutorials and videos are easy to understand, and the users’ Facebook Group is very active and supportive.

I took a few months to convert all of my proposals, contracts, forms and questionnaires into the Dubsado platform, and after about 6 months of juggling multiple apps I fully downsized to two – Dubsado and Acuity Scheduling. (Dubsado recently released a scheduling feature, so once that’s in place for me I’ll be able to cancel my Acuity account too!)

Now I no longer cringe when an organization reaches out to me about a new project. I no longer have to stop EVERYTHING to build a proposal or send an estimate because I’ve already done the work up front in creating my master templates. And it makes it easier for my clients too because they can do everything in one neat client portal – accept contracts, make payments, view delivered files, review agreements, reference project documents and more. It’s truly a game changer for me as a solo entrepreneur.

If you’re curious about Dubsado and want to give it a try, here’s a sign up link that will get you 20% off your first month if you decide to upgrade to a paid account. (I’ll also earn a free month so it’s a win-win for both of us!)

You can either click the link to sign up, or sign up from their main site with my code ‘panoramicweb’ to get 20% off.

Once you’ve tried it out, please let me know how it changes how you manage your own business. Enjoy!

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