We run ourselves through the ringer as entrepreneurs. All of that hustle and grind can really start feeling like extra weight.
We’ve gotta respond to emails. We’ve got meetings to schedule and run. There’s proposals to submit and approve; inventory to restock; refunds to issue; and batches of invoices to send out.
It’s a marathon, but I need you to chill for the next 5-8 minutes and catch your breathe, because you’re killing yourself and your business trying to do all of the things.
You can’t do it all.
I know you want to. It’s tempting to want to handle every single document, approval, and contract from start to finish. If you don’t do it, who else will? This is your baby. You made the sacrifices. You had the vision.
But have you ever considered that doing less may make room for more?
Answering emails. Fielding orders. Sending invoices. Updating contact lists. Answering support calls. Making calls. Issuing refunds. Putting out fires. Keeping track of who’s paid their invoice and who hasn’t.
We all do these activities to some degree to run our businesses, but where do you find the time to:
- Direct your vision?
- Build a memorable brand and consistent customer experiences?
- Scale your business?
If you’re wondering if any of this is even still a possibility, it is. You can start finding that time again by automating, and in order to get started with automating, you need to identify your day-to-day business processes first.
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”
–Francine Jay, Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify
Automate? What’s That?
Automation is taking all that tedious busywork, and optimizing and systematizing those processes.
By the end of this post, you’ll find at least one of your processes that can be automated and optimized.
Processes: What They Should and Shouldn’t Be
Process is how something is handled in sequential order involving a series of activities to produce a desired and predictable outcome.
If you’re unsure or don’t know if you have any day-to-day processes that are mandatory for the running of your business, may I strongly advise you to take a minute to start writing what you think may be a process.
We do this because your processes:
- Shouldn’t vary from time to time
- Shouldn’t be a different experience for each customer
- Should be consistent in time and quality
Identifying Your Processes
Record Your Ways of Doing Things
Document them. Write them down. It doesn’t matter if you do this on the computer or with a pen and paper, just get them written. Note: I find when I remove myself from the computer, my thinking gets clearer because I’m not distracted by the temptation to do other things. Just a suggestion.
Some processes may include:
Some emails are standard. General inquiries, shipping questions, refunds, etc. If you’re hand typing each one of these, you need a process or protocol in place for each.
2) Client Onboarding
From the moment a potential client or customer visits your site, what is the process that takes them from that point to the end of the sale?
Are you setting expectations? Are you creating an experience the moment they visit your site (which needs to be optimized and designed to tailor to your target audience’s needs)?
Do they know how long it’ll take them to get their product?
Does it come in special packaging?
If you don’t know, you need a process, and can take your cue from Amazon because they do a phenomenal job at this.
They set our expectations before we get to Checkout.
In green text, we’re given estimated times of arrival; if we can the item optioned for One Day or Two Day shipping; if the item is out of stock (and if it is, when it will be back in), etc. We aren’t left wondering about these details. Amazon has met us at each step and touch point of the customer purchasing experience.
And not only do they give us all of this information up front, they’ve also managed to take the need of tracking packages out of our hands. They’ll now send text messages, emails, or Amazon app push notifications of where your package is every step of the way. You don’t even have to hassle with:
- Logging in
- Going to My Orders
- Finding the item
- Grabbing the tracking number
- Going to UPS, FedEx, or USPS and having to enter the tracking number to see where your package is at
They sat down, looked at this process, focused on the customer and their experience, and took the responsibility of tracking packages out of our hands and into theirs.
Are you still attaching invoices to email or typing each one out by hand? How are you keeping track of all of those? What’s the procedure for sending them? What’s the procedure for clients who don’t pay them?
Organizing and Refining Your Processes For Automation
Now that we’ve gotten these written down, categorize and organize them. You’ll start discovering you have more processes than you think. Note: As I wrote this, I even discovered some processes I didn’t realize I had. So I’m right there with you!
- Our Refund Process
- Issuing Refunds to New Customers
- Issuing Refunds to Existing Customers
- Protocol For Being Unable to Issue Refunds
- Our Shipping Process
- New Customer Login On Site
- Existing Customer Login On Site
- Packaging & Labeling
- Our Design Process
- New Client Inquiry Procedure
- Our No-Rates Up Front Policy & Protocol
- Client Discovery Procedure
Once you have these, some of them can now become policy. Then you have an opportunity to make guarantees and brand promises that further help build brand experiences and standards for your business.
It took me a few days, but what you eventually want to find each processes weaknesses. One of the best things about doing this is being able to find those non-essential steps that can eliminated, or being able to combine 2 steps and turn them into 1.
Only after you’ve done this can you determine what can be automated.
There are tens of hundreds of SaaS (Software as as Service) companies that will take these processes completely out of your hands and put them in theirs so you no longer have to manage them. But if you don’t know what needs managed, you can’t pass those responsibilities onto someone else.
What Shouldn’t Be Automated
Your vision or your voice.
Plain and simple.
This is your business. You can’t automate your vision. You have to be the captain at the helm of this ship. Automating gives you back the time and the freedom to manage your vision more efficiently and effectively so you can focus on scaling and growing your business.
How Do I Know This Is Right For My Business?
You can start automating today if:
- You want to spend more time on the things you’re good at. This was your vision. You worked hard to get to this point. Don’t get lost in the manusia of tasks you shouldn’t be doing anymore.
- You’re looking to take your business to the next level.
- You understand the potential automation can bring you.
- You have a real desire to spend more time marketing by building relationships and growing your business and brand instead of fussing with dozens of documents, typing the same emails several times, etc.
Who’s Automation Not For?
Automation will not be for you if:
- You just started your business and are finding your footing. You build process through trial and error. I didn’t start out using some of the software I do now. I had to learn that I needed it. I needed to see where I could delegate tasks to automation and what I needed to optimize to make my life easier.
- You haven’t identified your target market. Knowing your target audience means knowing what they want and knowing what they need. Again, Amazon has done a phenomenal job at this. They’ve identified the purchasing pipeline of the consumer and know where we need them to step in. Not knowing your target audience and trying to automate can cause you to invest time, resources and money into the wrong thing. My services will identify your target audience so you can begin to set yourself up for automation and get clarity on your processes.
- You have cash flow issues. Some of the bigger, better, more beneficial and feature packed software come with the higher price point. I’m all about investing in your business, but there’s only so much investing you can do with a limited budget.
But if you are an entrepreneur who meets the requirements to start automating, but just have a cash flow issue, I’ve got 5 tools you can get started with today that’ll cost you no more than $6 a month.
My 5 Automation Tools That Boost Your Productivity For Only $6/mo
I’m not balling out, but I’m also not holding my business and brand back because I don’t have the cash flow to support the $29/mo, $39/mo, and $49/mo software and tools. I invest no more than $6 a month using the 5 tools below that have streamlined, refined, automated, and organized 5 of my biggest processes.
And you can get a list of my tools for free following the steps below.
If you’d like more clarity and direction with automating and processes, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org