Are you struggling with staying on top of everything you need to do to run your private practice efficiently? Perhaps you know you could be using technology and apps to help make your counselling business more productive but you’re not sure where to start?

There are so many apps and new software on the market today that it can be hard to know what to use or which ones are the best for your business.

Well in this podcast, we speak to technology guru Helen Crozier, who is a technology coach for small business owners.

She’s on the cutting edge of all the latest technology and software developments that can help your therapy business save time and cut costs.

In this interview she shares:

  • The biggest struggles she sees small business owners dealing with in regards to productivity
  • Her top apps and technology that she recommends every small business should consider using
  • For the more advanced techies,  other apps or technology that can help with productivity
  • Whether the ‘paperless office’ is achievable
  • Good apps and technology to help you move towards a paperless office
  • Tips for those that consider themselves technophobic or scared about using new software

Links and Resources Mentioned in this episode:

About Helen Crozier:

Helen Crozier Sydney technology coachHelen Crozier is a former Business Analyst and self-taught Technology Coach. She has had a strong relationship with technology for over 25 years and prides herself on being more clued up on digital than her adult children. Her business Keyboard Karma provides shortcuts to abundance and wellbeing through a mixture of face-to-face/phone and online education. Helen also writes a blog and weekly newsletter. Contact Helen on telephone +612 805-0553, web www.helencrozier.com, twitter @helencrozier, LinkedIn Helen Crozier, facebook KeyboardKarma or subscribe to her Newsletter 

 

Summary:

1. How did you come to be interested in working with small business owners?

After leaving the corporate world in 1991 to have children I completely taught myself everything I could learn about the internet and personal computers.

I had already been exposed in IBM to their major productivity tools such as email and online databases so I was keen to learn how to provide that productivity to the smaller business that couldn’t afford a massive mainframe computer.

I’m a very keen researcher and I guess I just became almost obsessed with finding out what could not only make our businesses more successful but lives richer by using technology well.

I then realised once I began consulting to small businesses that they really struggled with the whole idea of technology. They were too busy running their businesses to take time to stop and learn how to be less busy by becoming more efficient.

2. What are the biggest struggles you see small business owners dealing with in regards to productivity?

The struggles I see are often to do with a feeling of overwhelm. There almost seems to be a resistance to change the way they work because first of all they sometimes have a fear of technology. We will talk about the fear a little later but

Another cause of the overwhelm is because of all the issues we have to keep track of with a business.

Chaos seems to reign in the areas of too much email, falling behind in communication with current or future clients, managing research and documents, marketing and book-keeping.

Another huge issue I see is that while we are owning more convenient and portable technology such as smartphones and tablets a lot of businesses don’t have their emails, calendars, to do lists and files in sync across everything.

All of these problem areas can be fixed very easily and affordably with various online solutions so it really is important to learn about these and move forward.

3. What are your top apps and technology that you recommend every small business should consider using?

The absolute first system I would recommend is either Google Apps or Office 365.

I would prefer Google Apps because that is what I am used to but there are a number of people who won’t leave behind their attachment to Microsoft Office Outlook and if that is the case Office365 will do the same thing in a slightly different way.

What these two apps do is solve the synchronisation problem I mentioned earlier.

Once this system is set up by an IT person (and I can refer you to people who do this) you won’t know yourself.

All emails, calendars, and contacts will be the same across any device that you use once you have added the google apps account.

You save an enormous amount of time and reduce stress by not looking at emails again even though you have deleted them on your phone.

Another bonus is being able to look at your calendar on your phone and know if you are free to see a client, enter that appointment and then know that it updates your calendar everywhere more or less instantaneously.

After set up which is roughly $200-250 there is an annual fee of $50US per year.

For this you are getting the equivalent of Microsoft Exchange Server which is used by corporates.

I see it as a bargain.

Secondly I think it’s important to have a handle on your database.

Your database is like gold but it is very easy for that pile of gold to become covered in dust and not quite so valuable.

Some people have their client details in their address book on their computer and or phone and that’s fine but it’s not a very coherent way of bringing in revenue.

I’ve been using an online customer relationship management tool called Nimble for several years and I find it extremely helpful.

Once your database is inside Nimble it enables you to add notes about your client, look at past appointment dates, categorise them and keep up to date with their latest updates on social networks such as linked in, google plus or Facebook.

One of the best features is having a reminder system built in to it.

You can choose whether to be reminded to contact the person weekly, quarterly or whenever you choose.

You can also see all of your correspondence with the person when you are viewing their contact card and contact them in whatever way is most appropriate for example if they have sent you an email you can reply by email, if they have sent you a linked in message clicking reply will send them a linked in message back.

It’s a great way to strengthen relationships with prospects and industry contacts or alliance partners.

There is a free version of nimble but I recommend the premium version which costs only $15US per month.

Thirdly I think it’s really important to have a place to put all your tasks and upcoming projects.

Having your to do’s on paper is fine but having a digital version makes it easier because you can keep a better perspective on what needs to be done.

A good digital task system will be quick and simple to use, one that synchronises across all devices like your email and calendar and allow for recurring tasks plus reminders.

I am using an app called Todoist – again there is a free version but the premium is $29/year.

One of the great features of the premium version is being able to create a task from an email.

Clinton you sent me the questions for this interview by email and I converted it to a task with a reminder.

When I opened the task on todoist there was an envelope – clicking on the envelope opened up your email which I had filed out of my inbox because I knew it would be easy to locate this way.

It’s super important to not try to remember everything that we have to do as a small business and keep it in our head.

Using a good digital task system will protect your sanity.

4. For the more advanced techies, what other apps or technology would you recommend to help with productivity?

Firstly, Evernote is brilliant and I see that you are a user of that Clinton?

I’ve used Evernote for 6 years and I’m so excited that it continues to grow from strength to strength.

Can you believe it has 75 million users?

So what is Evernote?

It’s a piece of software or app that consists of notes, notebooks and notebook stacks.

A note can be anything though.

It can be text that you type in, a photo that you take on your phone, a pdf document that you’ve found useful, a clipping of a webpage, a snapshot of a business card or flyer, a photo of a sticky note or even a voice memo via a recording.

I also have a special pen called a Livescribe which sends my handwritten notes into evernote.

Once you set up the software on all of your devices you can access these notes on any of them, organise the notes into notebooks and even share them with other people.

This software has enormous capability especially for those working with clients and/or doing a lot of research.

Evernote is very smart because it has optical text recognition which means if you search for the word ‘dictionary’ it will search through all notes including images and find every note that has that word on it.

So if you remembered that you saved a photo of an advertisement about a special dictionary it will find it.

A lot of businesses are using Evernote to set up client notebooks and store notes in there from meetings.

Having the audio is great too.

If you are too tired to type everything up just hit record and an audio file will be attached to the note and available on everything.

I could talk for a day about Evernote but suffice to say it’s a great tool to get organised with as long as you remember to keep using it.

I have over 4000 notes in mine and am amazed at what I find in there. It’s like my own personal google!

Again we do have a premium version but I’d recommend premium at US$45 per year.

Secondly…. I know a lot of people get behind in their taxes because of bookkeeping.

I strongly recommend using an online accounting program such as Saasu or Xero.

These modern apps are really quite enjoyable to use and make it much faster to get invoices out or pay expenses.

Because they are more enjoyable to use than the older software such as MYOB clients using these programs are more likely to be current with their book keeping and when it comes to tax time all they need to do is give a login to their accountant.

Thirdly I recommend having an online place to store and share documents. A lot of people use Dropbox but in fact there is a more superior product with higher storage called Box. Box gives you 10gb free compared to dropbox’s 2gb.

Uploading the documents that you are working on or share frequently with people is a far more efficient way than emailing files.

5. Do you believe the ‘paperless office’ is achievable?

I do. I read a lot of stories about people who are achieving that on the Evernote website.

6. What are some good apps or technology to help you move towards a paperless office?

Without a doubt Evernote can help achieve this along with the apps that turn your phone or iPad into a scanner such as Genius Scan or prizmo.

Prizmo actually can turn image text into proper text – it’s a very clever app and can be used on mac or iPhone.

There is a great app called Shoeboxed which works well with these online accounting programs.

It is available in Australia and what you do is gather all your paper receipts and dockets and post them in a prepaid envelope so that someone else does the data entry.

If you are cash-strapped this is way cheaper than having a bookkeeper and the data is sent over to your online accounting program.

I’ve been working at an office about 3 days a week for the past couple of years. I made the decision not to install a printer and my office is so tidy!!

It turns out that most of the time I never needed to print stuff out – think of all the trees I saved!

7. If you’re technophobic or scared about using new tech, what tips can you give such a person?

I get really upset when I hear small business owners calling themselves techno dummies or dinosaurs.

I know I will have my work cut out for me if I hear any of that sort of language.

Technology is just a tool that we can all learn to use.

It truly is like driving a car.

When I first moved to Sydney I was usually in a panic at the thought of driving in the big city traffic.

Now I do it automatically.

After a while even the most tenacious computer or smartphone user can become like that too.

When I work with people who show signs of such fear I am very gentle with them and take things slowly.

When they start to see progress is being made the fear usually disappears.

It’s not a rational fear … I promise you!

8. Tell us about your services and upcoming workshops

Currently I’m not doing public workshops – I am doing them on demand. So if I find a group of people that could use training then I set up a customised one just for them.

I use nimble for establishing a group of people with common interests and then offer them a training program best suited to their ability.

I find that doing a mixture of face to face or telephone work accompanied by very regular follow up and providing online access to knowledge about the work we cover produces the best results.

9. How can people contact you?

My website is helencrozier.com. where you will find a contact, my telephone number as well as a blog. I’d also love you to sign up to my weekly Keyboard Karma Newsletter which keeps you informed about new technology developments and services that I offer.

Listen to the audio above,  listen on SoundCloud, or subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

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  • Kezia Rohde

    It’s only 2 years after this podcast episode, but so glad I found it! Thank you, Helen. You saved me a great deal of time 🙂