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What is the the Small Business Innovation Spotlight? A weekly newsletter featuring a real small business with a real problem. Have a solution? If you decide to build a solution for a featured small business problem, we’ll help you get in touch with the small business owner, and potentially feature you on apps.com and more.


Small Business Spotlight: Meet the Academy of Self Defense
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Tell us a little bit about your business.
The Academy of Self Defense (ASD) is the premier location in the South Bay for Krav Maga (Self Defense), Fitness, and Fighting Sports. With over 80+ Classes per week and unbeatable rates ASD is your one stop shop when it comes to your fitness needs.


How many different software solutions do you use to run your business?
We use a number of different software solutions to run our business.  The company uses an industry based software system called Mindbody. It tracks everything in the school (accounting, payments, payroll, and scheduling) and credit card processing.We use Constant Contact to send targeted messages to our clients and also use Wunderlist, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Facebook, and Adobe Master Suite.


[optinlocker]   How much time do you spend working online in the course of a typical business day? How do you use your time online?

A good chunk of my day is spent working online since Mindbody software is based online.  Everything is done using the Internet because accessing the database that holds all the information of our clients can only be accessed using the internet. Some of the business tasks that I engage in on a daily basis: daily reports, database maintenance, membership maintenance, inventory / pricing, social media management, third party lead generators, Constant Contact Marketing Emails.

Do you currently use any mobile apps to run your business? There are a few of Mobile Apps that are utilized on a daily basis to operate our business. The main app that is utilized is the Mindbody Express App—while it has it’s various limitations, it is a good tool to do visual check-ins after classes have started.  I would say that 99.9% of the time the only task that the app is used for is when administrative staff goes and does visual checks of members participating in class. Although, the Mindbody Express App can do other things— it’s not stable enough and the UI is not easy to use.   We also use a Kiosk App to allow our members sign themselves into class and Wunderlist which sends push notifications when enabled and alerts of tasks that need to be completed.

What features of your current small business software do you love? Mindbody is great in providing a tool to keep track of leads, clients, memberships, and overall completing day-to-day tasks that keep the business running.  While there are some obvious limitations to the software and some hiccups along the way, ultimately this software does save us time and money. If we didn’t have this software to manage our huge database of leads, clients, etc., I’m not sure how long it would take to complete certain tasks (ie; running reports, checking up on delinquent students, etc). We offer a range of different programs that each have different class types, and Mindbody helps us keep track of all of that. Mindbody also helps us keep track of belt/rank promotions (providing that members are properly signing into class).
What features of your current small business software do you hate? Is it well suited to your type of business? For the most part Mindbody is suited for our business. However, lately as Mindbody upgrades their software and coding to help improve their services, the execution isn’t always so smooth. Mindbody does not offer a solution for client check-ins that fit our business needs.  We have an average of 1K+ people coming to take classes each week.  And most of our members flood in at the top of the hour right when class starts. So it’s important that there is a software in place that can handle this influx.The user interface is also hard to work with and it’s lacking on customization options we’d like. When Mindbody upgraded some of their features, there seems to now be 2-3 places where you would go to accomplish tasks. There is also no way to access our database list without first conducting some sort of search. It would be nice to be able to manipulate the master list of all members by the fields we select.
What would be an ideal software solution for your business look like? It would be great if there was a software solution out there that offered all the things you needed in one place. A software that would make it so that you didn’t have to download 3rd party apps to make everything work seamlessly. For example, syncing our software with our social media, that would post class information, announcements, etc. and  if we could integrate our emails with staff logins. An ideal solution would allow for greater customization for areas which clients see, a mobile app that would be as powerful as the browser interface, enhanced user interface, and a software solution that is coupled with a department or a group of individuals that are tasked with managing your account.
How much, if anything, would you pay for this solution? How much would this solution be worth to you on a monthly or annual basis? It would really depend on what the solution would be actually replacing regarding existing services. For example, Basic Mind Body services which include full use of the software costs $125.00 per month. Credit card processing seems to always be on the extortionate side and runs between $1200-$1500 per month depending on actual sales volume. The cost of the Adobe online service is $100.00 per month. There are many other incidental costs and apps which total about $250.00 per month.There is also the factor that streamlining a business software package to replace many different programs in many different places would save time and labor costs.
Do you have any additional thoughts you would like to share? Is there anything about QuickBooks or any other small business software solutions that you would like to share? Solid financial management will enable a business owner to weather any storm. This is way QB Online is such a powerful business tool. In many cases the individual software solutions designed for specific industries are adequate to run the day to day operations. Their financial reporting abilities are extremely lacking.Their base of financial analysis is weighted down by industry formulas and statistics. In our industry it is all about numbers of students, retention formulas and ratios that quite often are meaningless. Financial reports such as Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows are alien concepts to many in the small business world. In the self defense and martial arts industry this is especially prevalent. Learn more about how you can solve small business problems!
Sara Sonnen Sara Sonnen
Sara is the Email Marketing Manager at Techstars. Previously, Sara was the Email Marketing Manager at UPGlobal before Techstars acquired the company in 2015. Sara graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism and Business Administration from Washington State University.