I'm a HUGE fan of doing my paperwork on the computer. I'm also a HUGE fan of trying to stay organized while making my life easier. Since I have been in business, I have realized that there are a few really really icky things that come with being your own boss.
#1 - Telling people something that they don't want to hear. Whether it's that their horse is in trouble, or that their check bounced, there's no easy way to say things some times. This is the part I hate the most. Oddly enough, telling someone that I won't sell them a horse doesn't bother me at all! It's the people with good intentions that have bad things happen... being the bearer of that bad news just kills me.
And #2 - the non-horsey parts of the job. I despise writing a business plan, filing receipts and taxes, and lets not even talk about data entry! Although, I have learned that if I just put on my big girl panties and DO it, then keeping up with it is SO much easier.
So, on that note, I thought I'd share a few things I've found recently. First.... horse management software that is FREE!
This program is amazing. You can use it online for free, and have full access to all the nifty stuff, or you can purchase a desktop version that doesn't require the internet to use. For me, using the online version is actually preferred, because I can update everything from a phone. Yes, this also means that I am upgrading my phone to be in this century. But, there's nothing that annoys me as much as trying to remember who I just dewormed, and making sure that I record it once I'm in the house. Even worse, is when someone asks me when the horse's coggins expires, or when it had something done, and I have to stand there like an idiot with my mouth hanging open because my computer is on the other side of the property! Rendaivu solves that.
Soon I'll be able to simply open the webpage on my phone, click on the horse, and check its records. I'll be able to shove a tube in a horse's mouth, grab my phone and record the horse's deworming date. I'm thrilled with it so far (still only using it on my desktop) and I'm hoping that this will allow me to be in the barn for more hours at a time with out forgetting what I've actually done that day.
The next big and annoying paperwork problem I have, is remembering what day it is. Is it Monday or Friday? Is it the 1st or the 21st? Not really a big deal in the scheme of things, unless you're responsible for sending out... oh... invoices!
Now, I'm cheap. That's probably because I'm in the horse business and always broke, but none the less, I'm still cheap. I hate paying big bucks for something that I only need to use for one or two people. When it comes to invoicing, most of my clients prefer an emailed invoice. I tried a few things, and well... it didn't work like I planned. From having to remember the date, and ending up sending out invoices the day before they are due (not very nice on my part!) to wishing I could just get paid by debit card, and not have the hassle of getting the checks, depositing the checks, waiting for checks to clear, then sending the checks to the people that get the money (like for the sales of client horses). I had this idea of what I wanted, but again, the software I found was super pricey (like $500 and UP). It'd take me decades to recover the costs of that convience!
Paypal does wonders for that, and is well trusted. Easy enough.
email wizard that makes it easy! It works with Outlook Express (my preferred program). All I have to do is click the button, type in a few things like the paypal email address, the item being billed, and the mount due. It then makes a lovely template that includes an html clickable paypal button! Doesn't get much easier then that to make sure my clients can pay easily.
And lastly, what I really wanted was a way to schedule my emails so I could set them up on a convient day, and they would get sent out on the day I wanted. As an example, for clients whose payments are due on the 15th, it would be so nice to send a paypal invoice on the first, and a reminder again on the 14th. Downside... I can never remember the day, so never remember to actually SEND the invoices out.
Letter Me Later is the perfect and free solution! It's free, and it's pretty much "Heather Proof". I simply create the invoice email, send it to my lettermelater account, and tell it when I want it sent out. I can easily make the invoice repeating, I can edit it online, and I can set it up for as far in the future as I want to! Up to 30 messages can be created for free each month, and that's way more then I need at this time. Best of all, it works great. I can get a copy sent to myself, or I can have a proof sent to me a few days in advance.
So, using paypal, paypal's email wizard, and lettermelater, and I end up with nice looking invoices that get sent out on time, with out me having to wake up in a panic at 2am.
So if any of you out there are wishing you had a way to make your life just a little easier, even if you're not running a business, just wanting to keep track of your personal horses' records, or bill someone with out needing a small business degree and personal assistant, here's hoping one or more of these might help you.
And of course, if you know something that can help the rest of us horse people spend more time in the barn, and less at the desk, PLEASE feel free to share.
A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses
I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.