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Small business management can be quite a challenge for solopreneurs.

But right now I’m doing a little happy dance in my living room (with a glass of red in hand I confess).

After months, nay years, in the digital wilderness I think I have finally found the perfect client and project management tool.

What can I say, I lead a very sheltered life these days.

After trying Asana (really awesome for teamwork), Basecamp (not my thing), Insightly (pretty good), Smartsheet (great for event planning), Podio (geeky, loved it), Teamwork, and Trello (beyond awesome), I was still looking for something more to manage the daily flow of my small business.

As well as a to-do list, I needed a tool to

  • create recurring workflows,
  • keep a record of client conversations,
  • track bookkeeping,
  • handle lead management,
  • create proposals,
  • send out contracts,
  • track time spent on projects, and more, so much more!

Until now, I had been using a mish-mash of programs all vaguely suited to small business management, but the system could not be automated to my liking.

Enter 17Hats, the Swiss army knife of solo business management. It’s not perfect, but it is the closest I have found to answering my business management needs.

It aims to take care of everything you could possibly need as a solopreneur.

Once you have created a client, and an associated project, you have the option to add elements as needed. See below:

managing business with 17Hats

17Hats collates all these options in one system:

  1. Contact management – so I can keep all my client details in one spot.
  2. Phone Log – keep notes of phonecalls or even short meetings.
  3. Notes.
  4. Workflows – enables you to set up a step-by-step flow for a project. You can pre-select specific dates or specific actions to dictate when the next step gets implemented. They can be made into templates which you can then use on another project, yay!
  5. Time tracking – saves me having another clock on my Chrome toolbar.
  6. Templates – timesavers to get my small business management system on track!
  7. Questionnaires – the data stays within the system, no need to import or transfer anything.
  8. Lead generation –  forms & lead management.
  9. Auto-responder – either point them to a url or send an email with an attachment.
  10. Quotes (looking at using Contract instead to create Proposal templates).
  11. Contracts, which clients can ‘sign’ online – again, using templates.
  12. Email (these get linked to each specific client). Not sure yet whether I will use this extensively or stay within Gmail.
  13. Calendar (syncs with Google calendar).
  14. ToDo Lists.
  15. Invoicing.
  16. Bookkeeping.
  17. Accept online payments via Stripe or Paypal.

So far I’m using the first 11 tools in the list. For now I’ll stay with my Google calendar. And I already use Momentum for my daily to-do: I tend to find to-do lists on their own too restrictive, if anything they stress me out! Whereas the project-based workflows in 17Hats are a lot more comprehensive.

For invoicing and bookkeeping I will stick with my current system (Saasu), mainly because the bookkeeping functions in 17Hats don’t offer an export function, nor is there currently an option for my accountant to log in unless I give him my full access.

JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT: I’ve just implemented a Lead generation tab on our Facebook page, not so much for business leads, but just because I could! Now, when you click the Contact tab, you have the option to answer a few questions and receive a free mini e-book.

The app is not yet perfect but the team is constantly improving 17Hats, and actually use live customer feedback to decide what to fast track. Both Android and iOS mobile apps are in the works.

17Hats only offer a 14-day trial, which I think is too short. But after playing with it for the last 3 days, I know it is close enough to what I need. With a prod from my business mentor, I decided this year it was time to expand, and before I can do this I need systems and more systems!

I’m getting all these features for about A$20 a month, as I just signed up for 1 year. With 17Hats (referral link) I’m one happy little geek!

Hi, I’m Cath MacAdam. Ever wish you could use the skills you already have to do something you are passionate about, something that will create positive change? I get to do this every day when I help micro businesses and non-profits to create and action affordable, effective marketing campaigns. I love learning, and sharing this with others (my colleague tells me I’m a geek… I think she means it as a compliment?). In my ‘spare’ time I do pro-bono marketing for a couple of non-profit groups. I love connecting people in my community, as together we can do so much more!

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