By Gaby Moss – Snackable Marketing Co.
Ever feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done for your business?
Trying to show up and manually tend to every aspect of your business can get overwhelming, especially when you’re a solopreneur or don’t yet have the capital to hire employees.
If you’re looking to take the next step in scaling your business (especially in the digital age) the key is automation. More specifically, automating your business processes.
But what are business processes?
Business processes are activities and tasks that are repeated to create, sell, or market a product or service.
Numerous business processes occur every day, and the key to an effective and profitable business is ensuring those processes are running efficiently and automatically.
Small business owners and solopreneurs are often in charge of facilitating multiple business processes which can lead to burnout, fatigue, and mistakes. Streamlining and automating business processes ensures the customers (and you, the business owner) have a frictionless experience.
Keep reading to get a deeper understanding of why and how to automate this aspect of your business.
Why Automate Business Processes?
There are a few reasons to automate business processes, such as:
It saves time
According to research firm Gleanster, almost 80% of top-performing companies have used marketing automation for more than 2 years. All this means is that they let the machines do the repetitive and mundane work, and with time, it’s proving to be successful. These companies are sticking with automation because they understand the value they get from its service.
Automation saves time because the need to manually operate specific functions of your business goes out the door.
The key to growing a business is to set it up in a way that it can run without manual input. The more tasks and that you delegate to technology, the less work you have to do. This means you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of the business.
This is super important to help you as an entrepreneur maintain balance and have the energy for larger tasks.
Decreases decision fatigue and burnout
Automating business processes decreases the number of decisions your brain has to make each day. The more decisions you have to make, the faster you burn out or get fatigued.
Decision fatigue occurs when you’re low on mental energy which happens when you’ve devoted a lot of your brainpower to active thought.
Business moguls like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, and Albert Einstein are known to wear the same style outfit every day as a solution to this problem. Cutting down on the number of decisions they make in their personal lives translates to a less mentally busy environment at work because their brains haven’t had to do much thinking beforehand.
To further illustrate this concept, consider your physical body. If you had to run 20 sprints, the amount of energy and poise you have in the beginning will be drastically different by the time you start your 20th sprint.
This is the same in business.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs wear many hats. All decisions can easily rest on a single person’s shoulders, which makes it very easy to get mentally tired or burn out from the number of tasks that require attention and careful consideration.
Less time making decisions on trivial things means more brainpower for important things. And it’s not just about cutting downtime for business decisions, it’s also about making sure your business and brand have a streamlined voice.
Frictionless customer experience
Automatic processes also ensure your customers have the same experience.
Knowing this, you can measure and tweak each process to make sure it is operating efficiently and serving your customers at the highest level. Failing to automate certain processes can result in customers slipping through the cracks, or worse, having a bad experience with your company.
It’s important to remember that without customers you wouldn’t have a running business, so make sure to dedicate appropriate time and resources to ensure your customers experience the same level of service. Down the line, this will also help you troubleshoot and make changes to improve the customer experience.
This is great because less time will be spent handling easily-solvable issues, and more time will be devoted to developing your business.
Now that you have a better understanding of why you should automate certain aspects of your business, let’s take a look at how to get the ball rolling.
Automate These 5 Business Processes
Let’s take a closer look at the 5 business processes you should be automating in your small business.
1. Social media content scheduling
If content marketing is a part of your marketing strategy and you’re trying to consistently show up on social media, then it’s imperative to automate tasks like scheduling, publishing, and reposting content.
Tailor Brands offers a social media scheduling tool right within their database as well as pre-branded graphics, saving you even more time and money.
You can utilize this feature instead of paying for a scheduling platform or a Canva account.
If you’re on different social networks, it’s important to use scheduling platforms that merge well with each network.
If you’re on newer platforms like TikTok that don’t have scheduling options at this point, you can batch-create videos and save them in your drafts until you’re ready to publish them.
2. Email marketing/abandoned cart
Believe it not, email marketing is a highly effective method of converting customers. However, it requires more than sending one-off emails whenever you have something to sell.
Implement soap-opera-type emails that check-in with your customers consistently and aren’t asking for a sale. If you’re consistently delivering value and adding to their lives without asking for anything in return, they are more likely to listen to you and be interested in what you have to offer.
Feeling a little hesitant about what to send? Check out reallygoodemails.com to get inspiration from past email campaigns numerous companies have deployed effectively.
Automating abandoned cart emails is also an effective way to convert customers that are unsure about purchasing from you.
Since it’s difficult and time-consuming to manually follow up with every potential customer, this is a good way to catch customers that would have potentially fallen through the cracks.
Make sure to invest time in creating an automated email flow that will speak to your brand and customer, and don’t be afraid to look back at your email for examples from brands you love.
3. Shipping and fulfillment
This tip is more for product sellers, but it’s still worth noting.
There will come a point where the amount of time you spend filling and shipping orders is costing you more money than if you outsourced it to a third party. If your business has grown enough to where outsourcing your shipping and fulfillment makes financial sense, then do it.
Many services can help you with this process. It’s important to compare them and choose the option that best fits your business goals.
4. Customer / Client onboarding processes
If you run a service-based business or your product is highly personalized and you retain customer information, consider automating your onboarding process. Also, if you find yourself copying and pasting the same messages, automate this by using a CRM (customer relationship management) system and creating a workflow sequence.
Workflow sequences are automated tasks that are carried out by your CRM system based on triggers. For example, if your onboarding process consists of sending paperwork to sign, asking for credit card information, and scheduling a session, create a workflow sequence that automatically sends the information as the client completes each step.
There are hundreds of CRM systems to choose from to manage your customers. It’s important to choose the CRM system that best meets the needs of your business.
Some popular systems are Hubspot, Honeybook, Keap, Salesforce, and Zoho.
If you work with clients individually, then choosing a system like Honeybook that allows you to automate onboarding processes like questionnaires, invoices, proposals, and emails may be a better option for you.
These platforms sometimes come with built-in templates so you don’t have to start everything from scratch.
5. Asking for referrals and testimonials
Testimonials and referrals are a key part of the success of every business; they lower acquisition costs and strengthen your relationship with existing customers who champion your brand.
Take advantage of these opportunities by sending automatic questionnaires soliciting testimonials and feedback immediately after a customer has purchased from your business.
A great way to do this is to combine the order confirmation page with a review page. Tell your customer “thank you for your purchase” and ask them to rate you on a scale of 5 stars or to leave a few words about why they chose your product.
As a follow-up, when the item or service is delivered, you can prompt them again (via an automated email) to ask for a review after they’ve had a chance to use the product.
And, you can automate your referral program by allowing customers to benefit from sharing your products/services with friends and family.
Give your customers the incentive of points or a small discount if they refer a friend. You can also offer these small motivators for the person that’s being referred.
There’s an endless list of how to incentivize a referral program, so pick what works best with your brand.
The most important thing to remember when you’re automating any business process is that you’re probably going to have to invest money.
Yes, it may cost you $45 per month for a system that automates emails, but you’ll easily make that money back in the customers you retain and the experience you deliver that attracts new customers.
Automating business processes saves time, money, and your sanity, and allows you to reinvest that saved time and money into growing your business.
Start with these 5 tips and see how much easier it’ll be to manage your time and business. After a little bit of time with these, take the plunge, be creative, and automate some more!