Charlotte Isaac sitting on the ground of her office space, playing with a dog. Core business tools

The core business tools every service-based business needs

The core business tools that’ll make ease your new normal

There’s never been a better time to lean on software to streamline your business. In 2021 there’s a tool (or ten) to tackle almost any problem your business throws at you, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the choice when you’re figuring out where to start. So here’s what I tell my students and friends: you only need 2-3 core business tools to run your service based business well.

Your first systems should help you manage your clients

While it’s tempting to choose a sexy piece of marketing software as your first system, it pays to build out your core business tools from the ground up.

As Paul Jervis said in Company of One, “Customer Happiness is the new marketing.”

I think we can all agree that keeping your clients happy is pretty important when it comes to maintaining (and growing!) your business. But here’s the thing they don’t tell you when you step out and make it business-Instagram-official: looking after clients can be hard work, and it only gets harder the more we grow.

The answer? Systems. Tools. Software. Whatever you want to call them, you don’t have to do it all on your own.

Dubsado is one of the core business tools I recommend to every service based business. In this image, it's on my laptop screen.

The 3 roles of your core business tools should fill

(And top recommendation for each job!)

1. Client management (Dubsado)

In my opinion, your client management system (or CRM) will become the most important tool in your business. At a minimum, it’ll be where you’ll track your leads and clients, and send proposals and invoices. And if set up well, it can also become the structure around which you automate your client processes — saving you a truckload of time every single week, and ensuring an amazing client experience. Win, win!

Dubsado is the CRM I consistently recommend (and use myself) for a whole suite of reasons. I dive into them in this blog post, but all you need to know for now is if it’s set up well, your client experience will be stellar.

2. Scheduling (Acuity or Dubsado)

Every business that schedules meetings with clients should be using a scheduling tool. You might not think it takes that much time to line up a meeting, and sometimes the stars align and it doesn’t. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this story: “I just had an awesome discovery call with my ideal client, and she paid her deposit right after the call! She told me that she still hasn’t even booked a time to talk to the other people she’s reached out to”.

We need to make it easy for people to buy what we’re selling. And, if we can put something in place that makes it easy for us AND our clients, then why wouldn’t we!

Acuity is fantastic for coaches and other business owners who have recurring appointments with their clients, though most of my students use (and love) the in-built Dubsado scheduler.

3. Project management (ClickUp)

Even if you’re a one-woman show, putting a project management system in before you actually need one is a good move. In addition to helping you manage your client work, it’s especially helpful for keeping you focused on the projects that will move your business forward. You know, the ones that you’ve been thinking about working on for a while!

Asana and Trello are the big two you’ll hear people talking about, but personally I love ClickUp.

When you’re choosing between project management tools, the key is to choose what feels right for you, or it’ll become just another thing you have to manage, rather than something to actually support you. (And we certainly don’t want one of your core business tools to be relegated to the digital-graveyard… each and every one of them should work hard for you!)

Ready to start systemising your biz?

If you’re tired of feeling like a train-wreck behind the scenes, putting these fundamental systems in place will help lift the busywork off your plate so you can finally start feeling like you’re in control.

Lucky for you, I’ve got something to help you get started! My free course, 7 Steps to Automation, has everything you need to make this a priority, without the overwhelm.

who's charlotte?


I like to drink my flat white while it’s hot—it’s the little things, right? You can enjoy your morning coffee too by creating systems that work for you. Client experience is my specialty and through automation with Dubsado, I help you find the freedom to actually enjoy your business.

Hi! I'm Charlotte!