by Jenna Kutcher
If you’ve tuned into this podcast before, you know I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of automating your business. Whenever I’m creating something new, whether it’s a course, product, or service, the first thing I ask myself is “How can I automate this so it will be less work in the future?”
We can often overlook some of the smaller tasks in our business when it comes to automation, but in reality, these are the things we are doing over and over every single day. Let’s look at a few ways you can add automation in your business today. Start small and maybe you’ll get the automation bug like I did. Trust me — it will change your business and life.
Where to Start
Before I dive into how we use automation in my own business I want you to start thinking about a few things. Ask yourself:
- What are the tasks that you are doing repeatedly?
- What things do you find tedious in the work you do day to day?
- What things are time consuming in your business?
- Are there things that require multiple people to handle in order to complete them?
- Are there things you’re doing over and over that not only need to be automated, but also outsourced to someone else?
Eliminate (Automate) Email
Okay, okay… It might be a dream to say we can completely eliminate email from our businesses but my team has grown so much over the last year and I’m proud to say we do not do any of the necessary communication to collaborate on projects via email. While this isn’t true “automation” in the sense that it doesn’t require any extra work once it is set up, I am talking about this as a tip for automation because I believe the workflows we’ve created really allow us to get the answers we need more quickly and skip unnecessary extra steps. That is really what automation is all about. This is such a time saver and no one wants to be stuck in their inbox all day. Here are a few ways we’ve eliminated emails from our daily workflow:
Slack: I love this site so much it’s a sponsor of this podcast! Think of AOL from your high school or college days but for work. You can see who’s on working and chat, send files and start group chats. Instead of sending an email and waiting for a response, you can communicate as a team efficiently in real time.
Front: This is a new email management system we’ve recently started using and we absolutely love it. In the past an email would come in and if my team needed clarification, we’d forward the email and have a side conversation within the email thread which just got so messy. With Front we can assign emails to specific team members and have side chats and comment about the specific email separately. It’s just an overall cleaner system.
Canned emails: This is another feature we love in Front, but if you use Gmail or another service you can likely set up canned emails. I know you’ve likely got canned emails set up for the bigger responses, but I’d challenge you to take this a level deeper and anytime you are writing a response that might come up again simply make it a canned response. Even if you use it just a few times the time savings will add up. If you ever outsource this piece of your business you’ll be able to have a bank of communications to start from.
Google Docs: You better believe if we’re planning something new, there’s a Google Doc to go along with it. What I love is that we can tag each other and comment within the doc directly, saving us from having to email for approvals or feedback.
Automate Social Media
Posting consistently to social media can be really time consuming. It requires us to stop in the middle of what we are doing to post a few times a day, disrupting our flow of whatever else we’re working on. Instead, think about batch working your social media, meaning, writing a lot of the content at once and scheduling it for later. Here’s a few ways we do this in my own business:
Tailwind: We love Tailwind to automate our Pinning efforts and we currently have 300 pins in our queue to be pinned at a future date! We are still in there each week adding fresh content, but for the most part, it has allowed us to consistently pin each day without having to login daily to do so.
Meet Edgar: This is the site we use to schedule our Facebook posts and the cool part is you can create a “bank” of material that it will rotate through automatically. I also love how you can pre-schedule content for your private Facebook groups. It allows us to consistently check in on the group and ask for recent wins or any areas they are needing help with and then my team can go in and manually respond to specific comments. Check out episode 50 with Meet Edgar’s CEO for more info.
Automate Your Client Experience
When we think about automation in email marketing, the first things that come to mind are automating your welcome series or freebie delivery. But what about emails that would enhance your client experience? Schedule out all those birthday and anniversary emails or gifts now so you can batch work it and let it ride throughout the year.
Find a great client management system (I love Honeybook) that will allow you to easily organize, track and nurture leads and customers. With many of these systems you can set triggers based on an action taken.
So for example, in my wedding automation, at the 3, 6 and 9 month marks we check in with advice for the wedding planning process, send surveys for them to complete, and reminder emails for invoices and so much more. Not having someone on my team go through this manually for every client saves hours and hours and guarantees a consistent and thorough client experience.
Automate Task Management
There are a bunch of great sites out there to help organize your projects and tasks for yourself or as a team. Caitlyn uses Trello and Danielle and Steph like Asana. It’s not something that I’ve jumped on the bandwagon just because I think my role is really more big picture visionary vs. task oriented. But when my sister Kate first came on (and now Kylie), we created workflows in Trello that had step-by-step checklists and video tutorials that she could easily refer back to.
Even if you’re not creating this for a new employee, tasks that involve a lot of steps it can be nice to write out a system to follow. It takes the guesswork out of it and makes you much more efficient at completing it. I also like to look for the things we do over and over again and see if there are any opportunities to shortcut or simplify to save time the next time. Seeing them written out in Trello has helped us identify these areas.
Automating our scheduling capabilities has been such a huge time saver. Going back and forth trying to schedule podcast episodes was really time consuming! If you schedule a lot of appointments in your business Calendly will absolutely change this process for you. I also love using this to show my schedule for interviews for other podcasts.
Ready for the next level?
Consider automating your email marketing efforts. When someone signs up for my newsletter or for a freebie, they are automatically placed in a funnel which will serve them up a welcome sequence and 6 months of content automatically without any additional effort on my part. This is something we set up once and let it ride knowing any new subscriber is well taken care of.
Also, remember that automation and outsourcing can go hand in hand. While there are processes in your business that require an actual person in order for them to be completed, outsourcing to someone else is still a form of automation for you. Examples of this in my own business include:
Accounting: I don’t know what I’d do without my local accounting team. From monthly statements to paying taxes, this is a huge piece of the business that I don’t have to worry about and it runs with minimal feedback and review from me.
Delinquent payments: We have a team that automatically reaches out to any course students that are behind on payments. We’ve had a lot of success in following up and getting those accounts current.
By outsourcing these tasks, I do not have to think about how and when they are done. Everyone knows the job they need to do and from my perspective, it just runs on it’s own. Automation and outsourcing are the keys to living more and working less while building a business that impacts and serves your audience at the same time.
Automation can be your best friend. I often find myself wondering how I can automate my life… like actually, is there a way to have coffee delivered to me in bed daily? The truth is, your time is your currency and when you can focus on freeing up your time so you serve your business where only you can serve it, you WILL be more profitable, more creative, and more inspired. Trust me friends, this is just the beginning of the world of automation. I promise once you get some of these things implemented, you’ll wonder how your business ever ran without it!