Every Monday, we’re highlighting one of those users, their business, their app recommendations and more. Want to be featured? Send us a Tweet @MileIQ.
If you had to use one word to describe Suzi Pratt, you’d have to choose “busy.” Whether she’s hauling photography gear around Seattle for a photoshoot, cranking out blog posts or running her travel company, she never has a dull moment – and that’s the way she likes it.
Tell us about your business. What does a typical day look like for you?
On the surface, I’m branded as a self-employed freelance photographer who focuses on corporate events, architectural and food and restaurant photography. I perform this service for local and national brands of all sizes and industries. My entertainment and celebrity-based photo work is also represented by Getty Images. I also do a variety of other creative services on the side including social media marketing, public relations, content creation (ie. blogging) and guest relations for Gemini Connect, a travel company that I co-own and operate.
It’s a lot to manage, and as a result, there truly is no “typical” day. Some days are full of commuting to sites for on-location photo shoots (I’ve done as many as eight in one day). There are others when I’m holed up in my home office for 24 hours straight, glued to my laptop writing blogs or answering the mountain of emails that never seem to disappear.
How many miles do you drive in a typical week? Where do you drive as part of your job?
My home office is strategically located just 2 miles away from downtown Seattle, allowing me to walk pretty much everywhere I need to go. The only times I end up driving are when I have a mountain of photography gear I have to carry to a shoot, and that shoot is located far away. Also, my photography business is highly seasonal, so driving greatly varies. A busy week during high season can consist of driving 100+ miles a day, while a chill week during the winter slump will have little to no driving activity.
What’s changed since you started using MileIQ?
The miles I drive for work can add up really fast during a busy period, which can be a pain to reconcile later for business accounting. My old method was extremely manual, involving pivot tables and spreadsheets. Thus, MileIQ has been a godsend in terms of automatically detecting when I’m driving and tracking the entire journey. I spend significantly less time figuring out mymileage deduction thanks to MileIQ.
What other apps do you recommend to other small business owners?
I recently overhauled my workflow to incorporate more productivity-related apps. I use all of these apps on a near daily basis to manage my business, and highly recommend them:
- QuickBooks app for accounting and bookkeeping
- Sunrise Calendar to keep track of your appointments
- Asana and Evernote to manage details of complex projects
- IFTTT to connect and automate pieces of your workflow
- Hootsuite for social media management
- Todoist to manage daily tasks
- Toggl to keep track of how you’re using your time
- Spotify for their excellently curated playlists (the Focus channel is my favorite)
- MileIQ to automate mileage reconciliation
What’s the biggest challenge you face running your business, and how do you address it?
My biggest challenge is being a one-woman business and not having anyone else to offload tasks or responsibilities to. The quickest fix I’ve found so far is to use robots, automation and apps to ease some of these pain points. It’s true that it does take time to research and try out new apps to see how they fit with your business. I spent close to 2 months seeking and testing out business-related apps (listed above) before I found the right ones to actually integrate into my current workflow. Using Toggl to track my efficiency before and after this workflow change, I spend 23 percent less time on manual business-related tasks thanks to these apps.
What do you enjoy the most about the kind of work you do?
Freelancing can seem scary and undesirable due to the great unknown of not knowing if you’ll have enough business to get by. I’m probably in the minority to say this, but that great unknown is what thrills me about freelancing. I have no idea how much money I’ll make this year, or what kind of work I’ll be doing for whom, and that is incredibly exciting. There’s nothing that demotivates and bores me more than being constrained to a specific salary and job role with a predictable outcome. I tried that for several years in my early twenties and was quick to walk away from it.
What tip would you share with other business owners?
Do regular audits on yourself and your business and make sure every part is optimized for success. Yes, it takes time to do, but the payoff can be huge. Technology is changing so fast, and you never know what new tools have been invented recently with the main purpose of helping your business flourish. Keep your ear on the tech scene and be willing to try new apps, products, and services to see if they’ll help you and your business in some way. You might be surprised.