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Ask A Doula: Paperless Doula Business

Q After forgetting my client’s folder at home when I went to a birth, I’ve decided I’m not going to do anything with paper any more. I want to be able to access everything from my phone or iPad anywhere I am. The problem is, I am overwhelmed with all the options! I am willing to spend some for the services, but I don’t know what is the best use of my money. Have you worked paperless? How did you do it?

A There are so many options out there! You can do all or part of your client work paperless. For now, it seems like client records are your biggest concern. That can be done paperless, but so can contract signing, handouts, invoicing your clients, and keeping track of the things you need to do for each client. You can choose an all in one solution or start with just the parts that are most pressing for you.

All in One Solutions would include things like Dubsado, 17 Hats or similar. These generally allow you to set up a standard workflow that you can duplicate for each client, and also daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks. A system like this could handle accounting, client records. and do invoicing and possible credit card processing all in one place. If you have a high volume doula business or agency, this might be a perfect solution, though it can be expensive.

A general organization system like Asana, Trello or Airtable can help you keep everything organized, but can’t quite do it all. I’ve successfully used both Trello and Asana to set up a framework/workflow for each client and ensure I don’t miss any steps. Trello is more basic, but I liked Asana better for myself.

Client records can be kept in a variety of ways. My favorite is on my iPad with a notetaking app. I’ve made pdf forms I can upload to the iPad and write on with a stylus. I can also add my client’s birth plan to their folder and annotate it for myself. Others have uploaded client birth plans and notes to Dropbox. or Google Drive.

Financial records can be done in a bookkeeping app like Freshbooks or Quickbooks. Invoicing can usually be done through whatever credit card processing you are using, or through an accounting app. Personally, I do all of my invoicing through Square and enter my expenses into a spreadsheet. I would love to have something more integrated but haven’t take the time to do that yet.

Tracking your mileage can be done with the Quickbooks app, or with a dedicated app like MileIQ or Stride.

Contract SigningHello Sign seems to be the clear favorite among those who responded. It has the security and backing to be legally binding as an eSignature and allows up to 3 signature requests/month for free. I’ve also used forms software like Machform and Ninja Forms. Some have even used Google Forms.

Handouts – you could have a password protected area of your web site just for clients, and share all your handouts there. Or you can have them all saved as pdf, and send clients just the relevant ones. I’ve done a combination. Resources are all on one password protected page and handouts are sent to the client on an as-needed basis to avoid overwhelming them.

Have you used and loved an option not listed? Please let me know!

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