Updated: Feb 2
As a small business owner, I have spent hours upon hours trying to find the most efficient, reasonably priced, and simple ways to run my herbal business. I have compiled my very favorite tools into an easy to browse list below. If you are just starting out and looking for some solutions, or a seasoned business owner looking for some new ways to do things, I hope this list can help you!
I searched far and wide trying to determine the best software for my unique business situation. I looked into Quickbooks and after a free trial realized that it was nowhere near right for me. I needed something to track inventory and expenses, create invoices, save my customers and vendors, create revenue reports, connect to paypal, track my wholesale customers, and track lot numbers. I honestly didn’t think that anything existed that would cover all those bases, and then I found Craftybase. This allows me to input every single tea recipe (and I have SO MANY!) and every single lot number of every single herb I purchase, and it accurately tracks my inventory and tells me which herbs went where, and when I need to purchase more herbs.
It does take a lot of time to input this information into your account when you are first getting set up, but once you do the leg work, it’s a well oiled machine. I can't tell you how much I love this, and I am going to love it more come tax time! This would be great for any small business with a lot of moving parts. And, its really affordable.
Shipping Label Printer
Rollo Printer My whole business depends on efficient shipping and it has been the cause of my biggest headaches. One of the things I wanted to improve immediately was the packing and label printing process. Packing has been covered really well thanks to the USPS who provides all my shipping boxes for free, and delivers them right to my door, and picks up all of my packages for shipment for free on the day of my choosing. But, the shipping label took a little longer to square away.
I, again, spent hours looking at every shipping label printer on Amazon, Office Depot, and Best Buy and just couldn’t find anything that fit all my categories. I wanted something reasonably priced, something that didn’t use ink that I would need to change, something super compact so it wouldn’t take up much space, something that didn’t have crazy expensive labels, and something not extremely complicated. Rollo was mentioned in a small business Facebook group I am a part of and after a few minutes of research, it sounded perfect. I ordered it and received it just a few days later. And it did not disappoint! I had it set up in less than ten minutes, and had printing labels down to an art another ten minutes after that. The fact that it doesn’t use ink is a huge plus, and if you want cheaper labels, you can purchase some knock off’s on Amazon. You can also purchase the printer from Amazon as well, but I opted to purchase directly from the company.
One thing to think about when purchasing this printer - it is NOT wireless. So, if you have a newer MacBook like I do, you will need a USB adapter so that you can hook this printer up when you need to print. This does create a tiny hassle as opposed to wireless, but in my option, it is completely worth it.
Client Management Software
One of my big goals going into 2021 was to digitalize my intake forms and find a way to streamline my client intake process as well as find an easy way to track my client notes and formulations. So, I tried out a couple of client management software options, and after just a week with Practice Better, I am hooked. Not only does it allow me to create custom intake and liability forms, it also creates a client portal where my clients can view their custom protocols, schedule appointments, and communicate with me (and it is HIPAA compliant!). No more PDF's being sent via email, and asking clients to print, fill out, and scan back from to me. No more creating client protocols from scratch from Word, converting to PDF, and emailing them. What sold me was the customizable protocol templates. I often recommend similar things to clients based on common health concerns/goals, and I was able to save all of my recommendations that I commonly send out, and I can easily attach them to each client protocol instead of typing them all up each time I see a new client. I love LOVE it. It's going to save me so much time!
If you are looking for any type of bottle for your products, I highly recommend Packaging Options Direct. The best part about them, besides the extremely competitive pricing, is that they offer free shipping, which I wasn’t able to find with any other bottling company. They also have fantastic customer service. I did have a few items break in transit with one of my orders and they sent a free replacement just days later.
When I was first starting out, I tried out SO MANY different types of bags, but none of them were quite right. I wanted windows so that my product could be seen, I wanted them to be a certain size, and I wanted them to be COMPOSTABLE! Which was very hard to find. I then saw another herbalist share about this bag, and I was sold. They are a bit more expensive than purchasing bags on Amazon, but not by much, and you’ll probably feel better not supporting Amazon anyway, right? They occasionally offer 10% off their products too, and the give great bulk purchase discounts. (Sign up for their newsletter to hear when they are offering a sale).
I print all of my own labels for my products, which means I go through a LOT of ink. In the beginning, this was one of my biggest expenses, but then I found out about the HP Instant Ink program. With this, you pay a monthly fee and get to print a certain number of pages a month, and they send you all the ink you need for free - you just pay the monthly fee. I am on the $11.99 a month plan and I get 300 pages a month, and I get to roll over 900 pages. So, if there is a month I print less, it rolls over instead of losing it. They automatically send ink whenever I need it, and I get to mail back in my used cartridges to be recycled, it is a win-win! You do have to have an HP instant ink compatible printer for this to work, but most of their printers made in the past 3ish or so years should be compatible. Check their website to be sure.
I love Mail Chimp. It integrates with my website provider (Wix) and makes keeping track of my newsletter subscribers soo easy. I just have a free account and so far it’s really all I need!
I did a lot of research before I started my website. I considered Etsy but wanted more control over my products and wanted to provide more information about me and my other offerings beyond what Etsy can do. I tried several free trials elsewhere (squarespace and weebly), and found wix to be, far and away, the best option. It was super easy to build my website, create my store, set up online appointment scheduling for my clients, and even has a mobile app (I haven’t utilized this a whole lot, but it seems awesome!). It allows me to create really cool social posts, keeps track of customers, has an easy blog writing process, and even has the option of being a place to create and send your newsletter (I opted for Mailchip because it was free and found it to be easier). After trying it for a couple of months on their monthly rate, I signed up for a yearly plan and saved a lot doing it that way.
Pirate Ship has been one of my very favorite discoveries. It is super easy to use and it is totally free!!!! It is so easy to estimate shipping costs, create batch shipping labels, and print labels. This pairs perfectly with the Rollo printer as well (rollo has a shipping service on their website, but I much prefer pirate ship!).
I hope this list has been helpful and that it gave you some new ideas on efficient ways to run your business. If you have any questions about any of these things, please let me know! If you have other favorite small business tools, I would love to hear about them! Post them in the comments or send me an email.
I will soon be offering a one-on-one mentorship program to help new and budding herbalists who would like to start or grow an herbal business, or start a clinical practice and would like support around that. If this is something you are interested in, please fill out my contact form so that I can send further information once this becomes available.
*This post includes affiliate links. I only recommend products/classes that I have personal experience with and that I stand behind. Thank you for your support!*