5 KEY STRATEGIES TO AUTOMATE YOUR BUSINESS
Every entrepreneur wants to create a profitable business. But instead of working on their businesses, most end up working in their businesses with a go-all-out, hands-on approach. When it comes to growth and scale, this hands-on approach won’t work. What entrepreneurs need is a way to leverage, and a way to scale. They are always looking for a sustainable way to grow smart
Automation is the answer to every entrepreneur’s dream. Businesses face severe competition and a roller coaster ride on the path to success. It helps when a few processes pass through automatically without the involvement of business owners at every juncture.
Simply put, automation helps you remain competitive. Have you noticed why some companies seem to consistently grow and scale? They maybe in the same industry as you. High chances are they have invested heavily in systems and automation across all key areas of their business, which has provided them time and leverage to focus on their business than in their business.
We recommend building a Business Growth Strategy around what it is you’re trying to achieve over set time frames e.g. 1, 3 and 5 years. Then you can plan out and automate the easiest processes first, with your Growth Strategy front of mind.
Building a culture within the company that embraces “growth” by automating your time killing processes, and then focusing on one process at a time.But why automation, you ask?While every business has vital, but time-consuming tasks that require completion, not all those tasks are income-producing. If time is money, you need all that time you can get.Automation gets you just that.Are there steps you can take to get there quick? How do you automate, streamline, and grow your business with automation? What technology is available that can help me achieve this?
Strategy 1. USE CLOUD BASED TECHNOLOGY
First, computer applications today are not what they were in the early 90s (Desktop or server based). Today, the most productive applications run on the cloud (They are online instead of installed locally on your computer).
There are a few important benefits of cloud-based computing, including;
- You never need to worry about backing up your files again (Cloud based apps do all of this for you, keeping backups in 2 or even 5 separate locations online in the case of Google Apps)
- You can access your files anywhere that has an internet connection (Which is great if you like to work from home a few days per week, or travel for business). Most cloud-based apps also have a dedicated mobile version of their app.
- Cloud based apps are generally much easier to use, saving you time and headaches.
- Cloud based apps offer a greater level of security that desktop apps (Despite what most people think) if setup correctly.
- Cloud based apps are a lot more cost effective when compared with desktop variations, but more importantly when we look at total cost of ownership (TCO), which includes things like time efficiencies, taking backups, administration etc.
- But most importantly, cloud-based apps allow you to connect to other apps via something called an API or (Application Program Interface). All this really means is cloud based apps can talk to each other, share data even if your computer is turned off. This by far is the biggest benefit to your organisation, allowing you to automate workflows and business processes whilst you sleep. Imagine replacing 1 full time staff member with automation for a fraction of the cost. What would this do to your business profitability and scalability?
Some of the most common cloud-based apps that our customers use include Xero (for accounting), Google Apps (For email, Wikipedia & Documents), Pipedrive (Customer Relationship Management), Trello (Project Management), Qwilr (Quote Builder) and Zendesk (Customer Support) to name just a few.
The key takeaway here is to recognise that cloud computing has changed the way businesses can and should operate if they want to stay competitive. Most importantly, your business can achieve huge incremental gains in productivity, transparency, and growth if your technology stack is reviewed as a whole and not just in isolation within certain functions of your business. So, whilst implementing some of the above tools can give you some great benefits, we advocate and specialise in reviewing your entire business operations as a whole for maximum benefit.
Strategy 2. ESTABLISH PERFORMANCE METRICS & REAL TIME REPORTING
Most business owners do a fantastic job at their chosen craft/trade, which is one reason for getting into business in the first place. Running the business however requires a whole different skillset, a skill that requires some big picture thinking as well as attention to the detail. The challenge for most business owners however, is:
1. Knowing what their key business drivers are
2. Knowing which levers to pull to affect the key business metrics
3. Then getting visibility of these key metrics “real-time” to make smarter decisions that lead to increased profitability.
Numbers are important. For all that effort you put in and money you spend, you need to see how your results are playing out.
Now you don’t need to spend any additional time than you do currently. In fact, you can automate aggregating all your pertinent data or metrics using a centralized dashboard with cloud-based apps like Cyfe or Klipfolio, to save time accessing this data.
Create custom widgets as you need, monitor everything you need, build custom data sources as you want, customize reporting as you deem fit, and thrive with real-time reports.
These apps are all-in-one dashboards that monitor numbers across business functions and other tools — including social media, support, infrastructure, sales, marketing, finance, accounting, and a lot more. If there’s a metric you need visibility of, it will be shown in the dashboard(s) you create. Of course, to do this, you will need cloud-based apps to power most of your business operations as mentioned above.
Strategy 3. SETUP LEAD NURTURING & SALES FUNNELS
Nothing works as well as lead nurturing does. We’re not just talking about the old school email marketing here either. We’re talking email, SMS, print media and voice messaging. Lead nurturing done right is a committed workhorse that makes your success its focus. It’s evergreen and allows super-fast scalability.
There are tools like OntraPort and Infusionsoft, as well as many other popular and more nimble service providers such as Active Campaign, ClickFunnels to give you everything you need to automate your lead nurturing and sales funnels.
Send automated RSS-to-Email campaigns, push trigger-based messages to your website visitors, follow-up with an SMS, send a birthday card to potential customers and much, much more. You can use lead nurturing for educating customers, building credibility, staying top of mind, automating some of the touch points with existing customers and a lot more.
If your business is still doing sales and marketing the old fashion way, then lead nurturing and sales funnels alone is one of our top recommendations exponential growth.
Strategy 4. CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT, SUPPORT & FEEDBACK
Customer service, when everything else is equal, could be a great differentiating factor from your competition. But not when you do it like everyone else does.Your customers are no longer comparing you to your competitors (however unsophisticated they may be) your customers are now comparing you to world leaders like Apple, Uber and Amazon. So, if you only want mediocre growth then stay on-par with your competitors. Otherwise, like all our clients, you’ll want to be 5-10 steps ahead.
You must figure out a way to automate your customer engagement and support to a large extent. For instance, creating communities to foster user-generated content, building FAQ databases and a knowledge base could be your first steps.
Solutions like FreshDesk, Zendesk, Groove HQ, and UserVoice can all help you streamline, automate, and systemize your customer support processes.Now more than ever business owners need to have automated Customer Feedback systems in place to ensure your staff, tradesman, contractors etc are doing an outstanding job and delivering exceptional customer service. As a business owner you simple can not be across everyone and ever job, and if you have not process for measuring this you’re at risk of having unhappy clients and getting poor online reviews.
Did you know?
- 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
- Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses
- 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked – with 74% having been asked for their feedback
*Statistics from BrightLocal, consumer review survey 2017
What to do? After customers make a purchase or have your service completed, email them a customer satisfaction survey or simply ask for feedback on their experience, we highly recommend using NPS (Net Promoter Score) as a solution to measure your company’s customer services excellence.
Strategy 5. ROADMAP YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK
The above 4 points are some examples of great tactics any organisation can and should employ to gain massive traction and start to hyper grow their business. However, unless you have a solid plan on how to tackle your greatest challenges, with proven solutions, you will be setting yourself up for frustration, disappointment and most likely failure.
Roadmapping is a proven approach that we use to help businesses uncover their biggest challenges, then systematically walk through proven solutions for each one of them before tying it all together with a strategic plan that will help businesses grow exponentially.Roadmapping is not limited to any one area of the business, it incorporates every aspect of business growth and profitability, breaking it down into actionable chunks.
Some of the areas Roadmapping should address across all areas of the business include:
- People and culture
- Business processes
- Systems and technology
- Sales strategy
- Business performance metrics and drivers
- Lead generation strategy and tactics
- Conversion rates
- Potential new markets and new revenue opportunities
Just as importantly, Roadmapping uncovers potential opportunities for government funding (In Australia) to help your business innovate and grow exponentially.
Greg Gillies helps business owners scale their companies profitably. He is an expert at mapping out growth Strategies for companies and then building a sales and marketing machine that delivers against the Strategy, all while making things super simple to understand.
If you’re interested in scaling your own business more profitably by automating your sales and marketing processes, then definitely reach out and request a free strategy session today.