“My expensive business mistake”

Solo Episode

Show notes:

We’re back! This week, as a little taster for Season 3, coming out next week, I’m talking about the biggest, and most expensive mistake I have made to date in my business.

I fully admit – I got sucked into Instagram FOMO, and let my ego take control.

I’m sharing my reasons why I made the mistake, the reasons why it was the wrong decision for my business and my biggest 2 learnings from it. I want to normalise making mistakes and owning them – it’s part of our growth.

DISCLAIMER: I name a service I invested in, but I know that it has worked really well for other businesses, it just was not the right thing for me, my business and my client base.

For a full list of software that we actually use in my business and recommend see:





Hello. I’m Caroline Marshall, and welcome to Bump to Business Owner the podcast speaking to mums in business. You. I’ll be in conversation with some of the most inspiring women and mothers in enterprise about their journey, how they created their successful businesses alongside raising their children and what that looks like in work and family life.

Hello and welcome to Bump to Business Owner. I’m your host, Caroline Marshall, and today I’m recording a solo mini episode because I’ve shared this few times on social media and always had a huge response. This podcast is to share a mistake I made both financially and time-wise with my investment. I want to normalise and to share, but I do feel I need to share what the software was in order to do this. So I’ve had to have a bit of a think on how to do this. I just want to do a bit of a disclaimer on it. I also want to say this isn’t anything against the software. This isn’t against anyone who uses it in their business, and this isn’t against most importantly because it will be VA colleagues and friends. Some of them sell builds and do this for their clients.

So this isn’t about this, but also there may be people listening to this who have a completely opposite client base and service to that I do. So it may be really appropriate for them. There also might be people listening who sell to similar people like me or provide a similar bespoke source of service like Upsource does. So that’s why I want to share it because also what’s most important is not what I invested in, but the reasons I invested in it. So I think anyone can relate to this episode whether you are a service or a product business owner and reflect on investments you make in your business and the reasons behind them. And I’m really excited because quite shameful some of these Anyway, again, I’m going to start with why I think it’s important to share mistakes. My reasons are important to share, but also what I learned from this because just to let you know, when I first realised the investment I’d made and the reality of that, I wasn’t going to use it.

I was really angry at myself. I didn’t have loads of money to spend. I’m just throw away and I thought I’d made a wise investment. Turns out I hadn’t. Learnings, learnings, but this might be a really good investment for your business, but do your research. So I’m going to start with what the software was and it was Dubsado. Some people listening may have never heard of this. Some people listening will have heard of it. And like I said, I think it is a great software for the right business, the right people, though that was not my business. I’m also sharing this in reflection. So I invested in this software almost two years ago, so a lot could have changed. So that’s two years ago. At the time of recording almost, we are now in late 2023. This was early 2021. A lot could have changed with it already, especially with podcasts they last a long time.

So someone may listen to this and say it’s all a load of rubbish, not what Dubsado does. But like I said, it is more important what I’m sharing my learnings rather than the actual software. And also the person who helped me with it because the person who helped me set up Dubsado was fantastic. Highly recommend them. If there is anyone who wants to reach out to me, they actually want to bring Dubsado in their business. But I’m going to tell you why. So when I first started upsource, I had a really good level of knowledge of software that was out there from working as a VA with various tech startups and web print agency. I definitely had the ones I loved. They were Asana and One Password. I’m still slightly biassed towards those. I love them. I just think they work, they’re fantastic.

I do actually use Clickup rather than Asana. I’ve crossed over. But for I can share those reasons another time. So why did I go with Dubsado? A huge part of it was I found this online world on Instagram where everyone talked about automation and how amazing it was and how everyone should be doing it. And I just thought I’d had huge experience with processes, bringing in processes, bringing in software to run those processes. But we hadn’t hugely used automation and things like Zapier at the time. So I felt basically I got FOMO. I went on Instagram and I thought everyone has got all these new software. I’ve never heard of like Dubsado and clickup. And I was like, why don’t I know about these? So there’s probably a little bit of ego in there and I got sucked into the automation part. I was really like everyone knows what they’re doing with their businesses.

And so now I know that’s not the case and I knew that anyway, having worked with clients, you really need to pay attention to the online world in the sense that not everyone knows what they’re doing. Not everyone is automating everything and there is good reason for that, which I will share in a minute. But I felt like I should know all the tech and should do this and that. Everyone who kind of knew what they were doing, people I followed who I still hugely respect in business, knew about this thing called Dubsado that I didn’t. And I’d started playing with it first before I invested in it. You can do that on free or low cost plan. And I started playing with it and things and it just didn’t seem simple to me. And so there was a little bit of my ego in there.

I’d use things like Asana, Monday, HubSpot. I was like, why does Dubsado not feel easy to me? And I think so there was a lot in there that I felt I was doing this wrong and I hate to say a lot of ego and FOMO at play there. So that was basically why now, and this is on reflection. Obviously if I thought this was the case then I wouldn’t have invested in someone doing a whole Dubsado build for me. But also I guess I’m being hard on myself. I guess I really love a good client and VA onboarding offboarding experience. I love that side of it. I think it’s so important the first weeks and months in order to set up a great relationship with your client and va. So to be fair to me, I did think from Dubsado, from what I’ve been sold on Instagram by various people, I thought that was the way to do it.

And also say that really plays down the people part of onboarding and offboarding, which is huge in my opinion. Here are the reasons why I shouldn’t invest it in it. It’s not good for my service. I run a personal service. No proposal has been exactly the same that I send to a client and that is an issue with the proposals or at the time that might have changed. Now issues with the proposal template on ddo, it looks fantastic. I love the look of it. I still do. I think it’s still pretty sexy how you can click on the link and it just looks great. I mean you can do that outside of Dubsado with things like Zapier and automate that as well, especially if you are someone. So I think I’m just going to take a random example of when I booked a service with a photographer, a three hour session.

It was quick. It wasn’t even a three hour session, half an hour session with this photographer where you walk around. So she’s selling, considering other services this photographer probably sells in this service that I booked with her. It was very low value. Everyone got the same service and that’s what we were paying for and it was just a matter of different location. So actually she didn’t use Dubsado, she used Zapier and WordPress I think for her booking from what I could tell from my own experience of it and it worked really well. But she could use something like Dubsado where, and just to give an idea of the sort of services that I think Dubsado at this current time could work well for. In my opinion, I’m not an expert as you can tell. So I’m ready for people to come and tell me I’m wrong about stuff and I can do another podcast and they can come on it and tell me.

But on Dubsado, yeah, if you want to sell a low value or it might be high value but you really know what you’re selling and people really need that particular service and it’s all the same, which is fine as well. We all do that. Like power hours, I sell those. It was actually great for the few I booked through Dubsado, but the few power hours I sell and want to sell, it’s not worth having that software for. So my service is personal, no proposal is the same and it’s about relationship building. Sometimes it can take time to sell what I’m selling because we are all about selling retainers growing and we’ve got clients who’ve been working with us for three years. So it’s really beneficial that I have that contact with them at the sales stage in upsource and that I’m chatting with them having back and forth.

It’s not a tick, tick, tick automated solution. Some things definitely can be automated and we’re looking in, but it’s more stuff on our side creating folders for them. The admin side of it, there is a lot to be said still for talking a person and buying with a person. And even now I think what I’m talking about with Dubsado is very true of the AI world and the FOMO I’m seeing a lot of people get and feeling like they should know everything and feeling like all other businesses are using it, which they’re not. So this is another reason to talk about it. This is relevant whether it’s about Dubsado, software automation or AI right now, I also didn’t think, and this was my bug bear with this software and that might have changed now at the time if you’re listening to it. But things like, and this is where my attention to detail on the client’s side service comes in is that so when you scheduled something in ddo, so say I scheduled, I wanted to have a meeting with someone about their service, it would come up with my name.

If I were sending an invite to a client via Dubsado, it would show their name. And our clients are busy people. That’s who we sell to is very busy people. And also I like clients to feel important. So I want them to see Upsource. So they’re looking through their busy, busy calendar, they can see Upsource straight away and they know what that call is about. I don’t want ’em to see their name and be like, I don’t know what that is. I’m going to cancel it. And that is how people think. So that was a real bug bear and that showed that was little flags like that. And also it was not easy to reschedule message change from the other person’s perspective. Having used it myself with other people and being the client, it’s not easy to ask to change things or to find the link in the calendar.

So that was another bug about which shows that it wasn’t right for me just for how I put the client experience first. I spoke about this a lot with the person who built it actually. She kept trying to make things easier for me. And that was the issue with this as well was that I wanted everything to be easy for the client, even if it meant it took me two hours longer because that’s the sort of service we’re running where everything is just making their lives easier. And then we’ll work on making our lives easier over here. And that shows it was about who my clients are, who am I selling to. Also the goal is to sell to some big B2Bs. You can go back and forth on contract negotiations, contract edits, PO numbers, things like that with these sorts of clients.

And that is not Dubsado friendly. And I think that hugely if you are. So I’ve spoken to coaches who have clearly thought similar to me that they need Dubsado, but then I said to them, look, who are your clients? And it’s corporates and businesses, not one-on-one sessions. They may be doing a few of those, but they’re big money and who they really want to sell to are big corporates. So that’s probably not the best software for you that you may need a CRM or a task management software. Something you can personalise and start with the basic process and then go onto that. And then I’m going to say this is a big one here and it also might be relevant now, but at the time I was also working with lawyers on all our contracts, changing everything, becoming a limited company and I really like to be compliant with everything that’s part of the customer experience.

And we went through all our software, what was GDPR compliant and things, which was when we hit the nail in the head was that we didn’t want to use it because it wasn’t GDPR compliant and that didn’t look like they kept coming back and forth with things that were out of date and not as reassuring as other software companies who give you options that may make you pay more for them, but still give you options to host your data in the UK or Europe to be UK or EU GDPR compliant. And like I said, I don’t want to put that into scare anyone because that might not be the case now. And also other lawyers may say differently and it may be different to who you work with and what your contract’s put in, but that was just the advice Upsource was given by the lawyers we trusted at the time versus all the other software we use, which isn’t all made and sold in the UK, but they do sell in the UK and EU.

So think about that side. So like I said, I have some truly fantastic people in our network. We’ve also brought in builds of Dubsado for clients who it’s relevant for. We do offer that service. I have people in my network who are amazing at it, but I wanted to share with you my lesson because it shows I got sucked into Instagram, FOMO and invest in money in a software that wasn’t right for my business. So the lessons are do your research. Don’t get sucked into Instagram. TikTok, ask your network, ask other VAs, have you got a mentor? I’m saying VAs, but that’s my network. Have you got a mentor you can ask for Now I’ve got load of groups and I would honestly ask, what do people think about this? And there will people that come back that will be selling services like mine and there’ll be people that love it and sell bills for it.

And so do your research and who are your clients now and who do you want to sell to? So it may be you’re selling to people now that a certain software will be really good for, but long-term, who do you want to sell to and what does that process look? Will the process change? Maybe a big investment in a big software build is not right and you just start with a process and you build with that. Start with a process is my huge lesson from this and don’t get phomo. And so like I said, I can’t stress hard enough. This is just my learnings at the time. A whole load of things might have changed. I think the owners are doing a great job with what they’re doing with this software, but it’s just I had to share with you what the software was and why it wasn’t right for my business. That’s my learnings. Have you made a mistake in your business? Can you share that with me and our community? And I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts and if you’ve had a similar experience to know we are not alone in making costly mistakes. Thank you so much for listening today. Please follow me on Instagram at Bump to Business owner. We are also branching into TikTok Bump to Business owner and I’m on LinkedIn as Caroline Marshall.


Thank you so much for listening to Bump to Business Owner. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Please do rate, review, follow or subscribe wherever you’re listening. It really helps us to connect with more mums and business owners. You can DM me at Bump to Business Owner on Instagram and I’ll be back next week.