Automation is good, as long as you know exactly where to put the machine.
When you’re running a small business, every minute is valuable. You have a lot on your plate and only so many hours in a day to get it done.
Automation simplifies your business by automatically doing tasks you or an employee would otherwise have to do manually. Just look at your inbox for automation examples.
It’s the birthday coupon from a restaurant. The reminder from a webshop that you added a product to your shopping cart but never clicked “buy.” The link to the gift you received for opting into a list. The password you forgot and requested resetting. The email that brought you to this page…
They’re all automated.
You can save a lot of time by automating some of your routine activities and:
Save you and your team time to focus on more valuable work;
Eliminate human errors;
Allow you to make decisions based on hard data instead of guessing and gut feeling.
If you’re not automating – you’re wasting your time…
Here are 10 things you should – and can – automate in your business:
1. Lead and Contact Management
Dealing with leads and contacts manually can be a hassle. Consider replacing complicated spreadsheet with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. This usually will include sign-up forms, list segmentation, personalized autoresponder email/sequence and more…
2. Follow Up with New Connections
Whenever you meet a new contact (conference, networking event, in your store, on your website) – get their email address. Start communicating with your new contacts immediately by using an automation software to send a personalized template email.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing has an incredible return on investment (ROI). But sending professional, personalized emails to all your contacts on a regular basis is more than you have time for. Email marketing automation software (like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign) makes it easier by sending automated welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, birthday and anniversary emails, newsletters and so much more.
4. Sales Funnel
An automated sales funnel (like LeadPages or ClickFunnels) is just a sales funnel with added automation to help keep things moving smoothly. Automated funnels can be time-based (e.g. every xx days send an email) or behavior-based (e.g. when a person clicked a specific link – deliver a specific email).
5. Welcome a New Client
A sale is only the beginning of your relationship with a client. Set up your software so that a purchase triggers a series of welcome emails (thank them, introduce your company, offer an extra gift, answer frequently asked questions…) to make a great first impression.
6. Customer Support
I’m sure you care about your clients and are committed to offering the best support possible. But it’s not easy for a small business. Automation (like HubSpot or Groove) can help with ticket assignment (making sure you know as much as possible, before returning to the client), chatbots (can save you tons of time with the easier/simpler issues), smart frequently asked questions (based on keywords or tags in the client’s ticket).
7. Collecting Clients Feedback
As your client base grows, it gets harder and harder to reach out to each client and request personalized feedback. The customer isn’t happy? Find out (automatically) what went wrong or what you could have done differently. Does the client love your product or service? Ask them for a testimonial (automatically).
8. Social Media Scheduling and Management
Scheduling tools (like SocialPilot, Hootsuit or Buffer) allow you to manage your social media presence across different platforms, maintain a personal connection with your audience, and stay organized. Share a product update across your social networks and update your clients about special events automatically.
9. Contact Requests
When someone submits an inquiry on your website, what happens? To help save time and ensure every inquiry gets addressed right away, automate this initial email. This automated email can be as simple as a “Thank you for reaching out. We will be in touch soon.” Simple touches like this go a long way in building initial trust with the contact.
10. Appointment Scheduling and Reminders
With automation software (like Calendly or 10to8), prospects and clients can schedule an appointment at the time that works for them, and that’s free on your calendar. They can then receive a series of emails/text messages: an appointment confirmation, followed by reminders in the days or hours prior to the appointment. If they cancel, the software will automatically notify you so you can follow up and reschedule.
Now It’s YOUR Turn
For five minutes… come up with as many ideas as you can… what could YOU or should you automate in your business?
Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.
Live fully, stay awesome,
Top Commenters – last 30 Days
Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.
Live fully, stay awesome,
Day 1: Here are 10 ideas on WHY I should automate and my choice of 2-3 most important ones;
1. Tasks performed by humans are often more expensive for sure if I have to do them.
2. Automated tasks can be or should be faster than human tasks.
3. Automation can be 24/7 instead of humans that are mostly available 8/5.
4. Automation should be done on easy tasks that free up time that can be better spend in payed and more complex tasks.
5. Automating will give an competitive advantage in respect to those that do not automate.
6. Automation is developed by people that spent a lot of time structuring the processes that can be automated so this means that the automated tasks are in itself smarter/streamlined.
7. Once automated it does not need (a lot of) attention can may lead to less stress.
8. The investment in automation is once (except for some updating and maintenance) but the rewards will be continuously, so has a very high ROI.
9. If delegated work gets automated you will not run into a problem if the person or organisation you delegated to is no longer available, reliable or on holiday.
10. Prices of automated work are less volatile then prices of delegated work.
Wat kan ik automatiseren bij het opstarten van mijn bedrijf?
* ontwerpen van mijn website en zorgen dat het onderhoud automatisch gaat;
* automatische antwoorden op mails;
* boodschap op antwoordapparaat zodat mensen een bericht kunnen achterlaten;
* reminders in agenda zetten voor komende jaren voor verlengingen, trainingen, voor benodigde beroepsverenigingen en lidmaatschappen;
* reminders voor het plaatsen van nieuwsbrieven, blogs ...
* maken van een onlinetraining zodat ik bepaalde zaken niet steeds opnieuw hoef te vertellen;
* automatische herinneringen voor betalingen aan èn door mij;
* goede software voor administratie, planning en financiën;
* optie voor zelf inplannen van afspraken op mijn website door cliënten;
* jaarplanning doorplannen in agenda door de jaren heen, zodat cruciale data vanzelf oppoppen;
En welke optie kies ik deze week?
* reminders in agenda zetten voor komende jaren voor verlengingen van benodigde beroepsverenigingen en lidmaatschappen; en voor bijhouden benodigde trainingen om bevoegd te blijven;
1.Scheduling new clients with Calendly
2. Rescheduling current client with calendly
3. Email marketing with tips
4. Follow up mails propects
5. Goodbey mails
6. Email marketing old clients
7. Youtube uploads
8. FB posts
9. Retargeting prospects (calendly)
10. Linked in Ads
Automate quotes, invoices, purchase orders.
Automate review emails
Automated discount emails
Use csv if you are dealing with products
Data studio for automated data reports
One of my biggest time stealers when I started my business: the invoicing and collection process. I am very happy we have fully automated via woocommerce and mollie. Money in the bank and no manual invoicing/bad debt collections.
There is so much mentioned...good stuff.
I have a few things automated and am aware that in the future I will use more automated processes. I already automated:
1. Sales Funnel.
3. When purchasing from my website the payments.
4. LastPass for my passwords.
Bookkeeping, especially with subscriptions it is a wonderful tool. As already said I also have a job. Once a year we send out the invoices for the subscriptions (6000 +) which is automated from collecting the various items, making a pdf invoice, mail it to the client and import it in the bookkeeping program.
Had no idea there are also programs for posting social media. Will keep that in mind.
Indeed, a calendar for making appointments. For meetings with several people we use Datumprikker (pick a date) and when everyone has filled it in we easily get the date and time most of us are available.
And two more... I forgot... my marketing posts (I used MeetEdgar for years, no I changed to sociomonials, way cheaper and it also uploads to G business).
Planning consultations through my calendar. It saves me and the customer a lot of planning time. They can choose in my calendar when do would like to have the appointment
I use Alfred for the same texts I use over and over (and even for hex codes of my colour companies, like DDp (Dementia Doctor pink), DDb (Dementia Doctor Blue), SBo (Salsa Brisa orange) etc). Also for addresses, ID numbers etc.
Automated welcome emails.
One tab to open all the pages I need when I do my marketing (safari has a simular tab function now).
Ohh brilliant! The color codes! Always a hassle. Didn’t think of that one. Thanks.
What we do for the moment qua automation:
- we (my VA) use recurposting for planning on Linkedin
- Last Pass for passwords
- Autorespond for mails, freebee's & funnels, groups, inscriptions, invoices, ..
I'd love to have a look again at my funnels to update them.
Looking forward to all your ideas!
When I hear the word 'automation' I immediately think of the chatbot that doesn't understand me or the requests for reviews I get from stupid sites like 123.inkt.nl. I think it's very important to give your automation a personal touch, otherwise clients get irritated and it will work against you. But I think everyone agrees with me on this point.
I always thought automation is something for big companies, but reading the list above makes me realize there are many processes in my company I can automate. Which will save me lots of time and money.
A friend and colleague of mine is smart & lazy (when it comes in this combination, it's a talent). She has all kinds of apps on her phone that save her time. It's all within reach for everyone!
Here's some ideas I'd like to bring in for today:
1. Choose a bookkeeping program that works a lot with automation. It will improve your life.
2. Use project management tools like Ms Projects - This is for complex projects with different parameters and specific tasks for more than one team members. It's not my idea, my husband is a project manager. But I will definitely start using it when my projects become more complex.
3. When you're a maker and a designer, digitalize your designs and objects as much as you can - Use CAD programs, it will make communication with suppliers much easier. You can adjust your design anytime anywhere. Store is digitally, you can look everything up easily and you don't need a physical storage anymore.
4. Something I would love to use, but I don't know if there's a program for it: A classification system for tagging files in your computer.
Ohh indeed I think my bookkeeping system is the automation that I’m the most happy with! For my other company I do a lot of international sales and it’s a nightmare to all figure it out myself or super expensive to delegate and I’m sooooo happy with the system! My Time spent on my bookkeeping went from 1 day a month to 1 hour a month. Super happy with it!
Just curious, what system do you use? For your international stuff?
I use Jortt. It’s fantastic, unless you have an accountant with a different system, because it seems that it’s not integrating well. But I’m doing it all myself (it’s so easy) so I’m totally happy with them. I told them at one point that they managed to make book keeping nice for me! I love it that I have dashboards with easy information that is also giving me everything I need for my taxes. Since I have them I never struggle to be on time.
Aha, sounds good! Never heard of Jortt, though. But it sounds worth checking/trying 🙂
I use Jortt as well for my new company, pretty cheap and really well organised. I still pay a lot for my other companies for an accountant.
About: A classification system for tagging files in your computer: I suppose that Evernote is doing that. I don't use it myself, but I hear others who are very enthousiastic about it
OK thanks! I'll check it out
Such a great idea's @Ine and yes! I know the feeling.
Actually I even think I hate "automation" as it means a "robot" taking over my "human" side of the business as I love that side, a little too much 🙂
Thanks for your great tips.
Just for your information: I am using Moneybird, a quit a time, and I could recommend them as well as a Book Keeping program. I do also use Plug & Pay for all of my Online Automations so that it will send the invoices immediately to the clients PLUS all of the "thank-you" emails plus de right links if they buy any online academy or program. It works like charme, they also have a "30 day" free trial link, let me know if you ever want to test them out ok?
Sales funnel absolutely! I have after all my give aways a timed offer so whenever you download something that people can buy.
The one I like the most: the “order bump”. It’s an upsell that people can select by simply clicking a box and they get it. It’s like the gas station where they ask you if you’d like to have the snack offer.
Automate your notifications! Whenever you sell something or someone registers for your free thing send yourself a message and give it a “ping”.
Automate connections. Whenever I post on YouTube it’s automatically posted on my Facebook page. Whenever someone fills in a test I get their details.
Use TextExpander or similar. It’s a piece of software that I use to put in precreated text messages, and whenever I need it I simply use a code and it will add the whole message (or just a word- if I put in Nisandeh Neta it will automatically make it into Nisandeh:)) costs 20 euro a year and is worth every penny.
Use an app for your passwords. First of all it’s encrypted so a lot more safe than having a word doc or even worse- save all your passwords in chrome! And you can use it to fill in your passwords without having to remind them. It will also create complex passwords for you since you don’t have to remember them anyway.
I love 'automate your notifications' and 'TextExpander' ! Thank you 🙂
Great, that idea of TextExpander. I read about it, but not yet implemented.
The app for passwords: I love Last-Pass!
How do you automatically let something on youtube be posted on facebook?
I'm still looking how I can do a live on linkedin, youtube, facebook in the same time. Somebody experience?
And Gerdy, about TextExpander: can you give more examples how you use it? I'm afraid I won't use it properly, as I don't seem to have ideas for it...
I use zapier for posting YouTube videos. For going live on different platforms at once: StreamYard! I think it costs 15 euro a month but it’s worth it if you do that. It also gives you tons of options to create intros, logos, menus and play videos or share presentations or even have guests.
Presentations is not their strongest point. I had another app for that but came back to streamyard in the end.
Regarding TextExpander: it’s a bit of a hassle to find the right codes, it needs to be with combinations of letters that you won’t use any other way. But usually that will work.
I have preset texts for:
* inviting someone to connect
* standard answer for someone who is asking me questions that feel too personal or I’m not sure about their intentions on Instagram
* all the hashtags I use
* my standard zoom links
* my mail addresses
* my URLs
* YouTube description
* sending preparation
Etc etc etc
It also works on your phone- it’s a different keyboard.
yes yes yes @Gerdy! great tips and strategies! Whooho!
I never heard of textExpander. Cool! I will test it tomorrow, cool!
I love all the "order" Notifications, especially when MOLLIE gives your this "Celebration Confetti" whenever a sales has been done 🙂 I even make Screenshots and share it with all whole team to celebrate!
Just a quick question as I didn't get what you wrote here:
"Automate connections. Whenever I post on YouTube it’s automatically posted on my Facebook page. Whenever someone fills in a test I get their details."
What did you mean by your last sentence? Which test? Where? On youtube? or Your facebook?
(Sorry, as a promoter, now I am being a controller...:) Forgive me please!)
To be honest, for a long time I thought that automating my business will mean losing the "human touch”.
It felt as if I am distancing myself from my clients. For a long time I had the "story" (excuse) in my head that I'm a small business and I know my clients on a personal level and I didn't want to lose that touch.
However, once I realised that I can still maintain the personal touch AND automate some of my procedures and save time I came to the conclusion that it's all a matter of communication, which is my expertise and I felt better about doing it. I started to automate many of the activities I had:
3. Social media posting
4. CRM - sounds like a disease so I gave it a name - my own SIRI
However, reading Nisandeh's list I realised I should do more here are things I can improve on automating:
1. Client feedback
2. Sales funnel - would have ti learn and think how to do that one in my special business...
Thanks for the challenge!
Great idea to give names to the corporate letter soup. This way automation programs like CRM become your friend AND the friend of your clients!
I always love your honest confessions @Bina! Amazing how you understand the power of it and yet are truly inspiring by sharing your results anyway. Love it and have missed it in these couple of weeks. Thank YOU!