Raise your hand if you don’t have a clue what automation is? I bet a few of you virtually raised that right hand slowly up into the air, #amiright? That’s TOTALLY OKAY because I had no idea what the term automations meant when I launched my first business, or how it could change my life!
To put it simply, it’s really just a task that you do frequently that you can have a system or technology set up to do for you without you having to consistently do the work. This will ultimately save you time, energy and money. You want to automate tasks that you do often, or tasks that are time-consuming and easy to do without a high likelihood of error.
Technology is an amazing benefit that has totally transformed the way we work. Now, if only I could automate my laundry and dinner, life would be great 😉 Joking aside, automation has really helped to free up time in my business, so I am sharing with you my top 5 tips for implementing automation in your business:
- Pick the easy, small things to automate first. What is something small that you could automate first? Maybe this is your social media content, or booking appointments with you, or customer service emails, reminding customers about an item they left in their shopping cart, or a welcome sequence in your email newsletter. Start with ONE thing, and don’t overwhelm yourself trying to set up all your automations at once (unless you want to hire an OBM to do it for you). Start with the ONE thing that you do most frequently, or seems to take the most time out of your business and see how that goes and what else could even work with that system/automation.
- Research and get recommendations for the right tools. The right tools are critical for setting up automations. The last thing you want to do is spend time setting up your automations in one program and then turn around and the next month you’re switching platforms. This defeats the purpose of saving you time and creating efficiencies if you’re constantly reinventing the wheel. Ask your peers, or a mentor, or an online group what tools they’re using for something you want to automate in your business. You’re likely not the first person to have done it, and we can always learn from others.Then, once you get their recommendations, make sure you research the different options. Do some free trials just to get into the backend of the software and make sure it makes sense to you. Watch some YouTube videos. This is a long-term investment in your business.
- Use tools that talk to each other.There’s a lot of systems that use integrations so that the two systems can talk to each other and collect and share data. For example, let’s look at the scheduling tool Acuity. Acuity gives your potential clients the ability to schedule calls directly through your website. This eliminates the need for them to email you to find a time to book a call and the back and forth/time wasted and potentially interest lost. So the two tools talking to each other in this instance are your web platform (such as Squarespace or WordPress) and Acuity. Then, once the person books a call, you can set it up to where they receive an email to fill out a pre-call form, it will email them a confirmation for them to add the appointment to their calendar (will automatically add to yours as well) and include a “zoom” meeting link automatically, and you can even ask them if they want to join your email list (I use MailChimp currently) when booking the appointment ALL THROUGH ACUITY.There’s even more things that Acuity can do such as sync multiple calendars, accept payment, connect with your accounting software, CRM and more. It’s a pretty fabulous tool if you ask me! But the point is, having softwares that talk to each other create a better experience for your potential clients and create efficiencies in your business.
- Create an ExperienceWhat I love about automations is the ability to personalize the experience so much for your client or potential client. You want to set these systems up well so that even if the (potential) client realizes it’s automated, what you’re giving them or the experience they have is positive. For example, when someone signs up for your email newsletter via your website, create a welcome flow. Give them a series of 3-5 emails over the course of a week to a month that you’re consistently delivering them great content. This will help to build that know, like and trust factor I always talk about. You want them to feel included, valued and engaged with you and your brand.Once they sign up for your list, immediately send them a message thanking them and maybe even include some sort of freebie (or maybe that’s what drove them to your list in the first place). Then, FOLLOW UP. Did you know that majority of sales happen in the follow up? Give them another place they can connect with you. Share your story with them to create connection. Remind them to complete or dive into the freebie you sent them. Give them an additional discount or offer for a product or service of yours. Follow up with them again offering something else that will be of value and keep you top-of-mind. BUT, I say all of this and then want to also remind you NOT to spam your audience. Make sure what you provide is valuable and starts to build that relationship.
- Review and Refine your ProcessesOnce you have your systems in place, take some time every month or two to make sure these systems are still working for you. Maybe you’ve added an additional service and need to update a process flow. Or maybe you’re finding that there’s one automation that you just don’t like or isn’t really benefiting your business. Also be thinking about how you can refine processes to work better for you and not just set these things up and then never look at them again. Make sure you know your goals and reasons for setting these systems up in the first place, and then you’ll be able to more effectively determine if these systems are working. Now remember, when you start your automation process, it may seem like a lot of work at first. Which it can be, so don’t be alarmed. The goal is that you’ll only have to set these things up once and it will save you time down the line. Also, don’t forget to TEST, test and then TEST AGAIN your automations and process flow. Put in a fake client or email and make sure all areas of your automations are working. This is how you can easily spot weak spots, mistakes or other issues that you solve for before your clients take the burden of doing that for you.
Some other systems that I didn’t mention that I love for automations include Dubsado for creating forms, contracts, invoices (I use it to onboard all my new clients), Zapier for connecting systems that don’t easily integrate together as it has the ability to work with many many systems, Planoly or Later.com for social content scheduling, Asana for project management (less of an automation, but helps with overall organization) and recently I’ve dabbled in WebinarJam for a client and really love this platform if you’re looking to host consistent webinars.
What do you want to automate in your business? How will that give you more time to focus ON growing your business or working with your clients vs. working IN your business?