If books like “The 4 Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss, or “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey have taught us anything, it’s that automation is the key to growing a successful business. Simply put, your time is extremely limited, and you should do everything you can to eliminate or automate the repetitive tasks which you do most…
And whilst such books have to be taken with a pinch of salt (unfortunately no business can be set-up when putting in just 4 hours a week), the lessons about automating wherever possible is 24 carat-gold advice.
However this is often easier said than done; what exactly is ‘automation’ anyway? And how can it be used for your business? Surely it’s just for internet or IT businesses right? Well read on to find exactly how you can improve your business through automating your most-used processes, saving you literally a whole day’s worth of time each and every week…
What will you do with your extra free time?!
What is ‘automation’?
Automation is the act of setting up a process to eliminate human activity from a system.
Huh? Simply put automation is a way of saving you doing repetitive tasks over and over again. Many businesses use automation to carry out those types of tasks which take up loads of time, are really important, but essentially are fairly simple.
It’s all about efficiency, and it’s not a new idea, even from the industrial revolution systems were set up (on the factory line) to carry out repetitive tasks to eliminate expensive man-power from the production process.
However, when you run a small business, it’s less about eliminating workers, and more about eliminating wasted time... specifically your time. How long do you spend writing and chasing invoices? What about posting on Social Media and keeping your content fresh? Chances are you are not entirely sure how much of your day is taken up with these mundane, but essential, tasks… however the truth may well scare you.
So what can you do about it?
How can I automate my business?
Would you like an extra day each week? Unanimously the answer will be YES! We’ve picked 3 different areas that are some of the most common things which small business owners spend their time on, and our suggestions for automating them to take out some of the time and effort involved.
1 - Automate your Social Media
Social Media has become an unbelievable tool for advertising your business, building your profile and getting more customers… unfortunately it’s also an amazing tool for wasting a lot of time and money for not much return!
The key to good social media really is to be social and to constantly talk, share and be involved with the conversation online… but this is a full-time job. However if you’re not able to dedicate such man power to this effort, then it’s still well worthwhile being ‘active’ on social media, and a number of free resources can help you keep on top of things.
Focussing on the free social media scheduling tools (at least for small teams), Hootsuite and Buffer often win the popularity contest – where effectively you can take an hour at the start of each week to schedule your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, and then go about business as normal as the system posts throughout the week.
One often noted drawback here is that you still need to ‘manage’ the system – as in every Monday you have to sit down and plan a weeks’ worth of posts, which are sent once and disappear. For businesses which have a big supply of evergreen posts (which can be shared again and again), a platform such as Social Jukebox may be more useful – here all relevant posts and tweets can be added to a big list, which is then automatically randomised and sent out over time – with the bottom line being that unlike the previous 2 platforms, these posts are never deleted, they simply go back in to the ‘jukebox’ to be randomly chosen again. Load it up once, and let it take care of the day to day forever more, so you can concentrate on the one-off posts and social interaction side of things!
Pretty cool eh?
2 - Automate your Charges
Oh my. If you have been in business even as long as a month or so you will have already witnessed the absolute pain which is chasing invoices or payment. Honestly it’s an area where all businesses seem to struggle… Either a customer has genuinely misplaced an invoice and will pay soon soon, or they’re a complete little toe-rag who seems to have been put on this earth to make your life a misery, outstanding invoices and uncollected payments is one of the biggest time wastes for many businesses.
Automating payment can save you literally hours a week, and a number of headaches and hard conversations too! It’s not just phone companies or online streaming services which should take monthly payments automatically, any business which charges a repeated standard fee can (and should) set up automatic payments.
It is to tackle this exact problem that we created Subscribie. We wanted to save businesses the time and stress it takes to chase such payments, whilst simultaneously making it much easier for their customers to pay them promptly and hassle free themselves!
From the diverse range of businesses we already help (including Scout Groups, Tree Cutters, Dog Walkers, Building Maintenance workers and even a Dentist!) it’s clear what a headache chasing repeated payments can be!
3 - Automate Almost Anything
Ok, if you’ve got this far and have just automated the majority of your social media and all of your payments, you probably have saved yourself around 5 – 6 hours a week. Enough time to start learning to do some pretty cool things!
So you’ve mastered the basics, and got a taste for automating your boring tasks of the week. Why stop there? Let’s take this up to ninja level and start doing some more interesting automated tasks. And I mean really interesting – like having the porch light automatically turn on when your pizza is about to be delivered… Yup it’s possible!
There are a few brilliant platforms which allow you to create your own unique pathways of automation, including If This Then That and Zapier. These platforms effectively allow you to set a reaction to a certain event – for example if you get an email from an important client, you can set this to automatically send you a text message and add a time in your calendar to give them a call. The point of this is that it is so customisable it could literally be anything! With the linking of further ‘smart devices’ you can really go wild; set the kettle to automatically boil when you are 5 minutes from home, or get out of boring situations by setting your phone to ring automatically play when a meeting runs over time… the possibilities are endless!
Ok, so a few of the latter examples are a little silly, however hopefully now you’ve got a taste for automation you have a little more time on your hands. And what better way to spend it than by having a little fun!
If you want to take the first step and automate your business payments, check out Subscribie and see how we can help you: https://subscriptionwebsitebuilder.co.uk/