When I first started my wedding photography business, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was fresh out of high school, incredibly bored, and I yearned for a good business idea. After months of research, I learned that the wedding industry — and the arts — were both billion-dollar industries. Enter: wedding photography (and the pursuit of a photojournalism degree).
But apart from my many lemonade stands and door-to-door sales experience, I knew I was bound to hit a few roadblocks. So, off I went into the unknown. Into a sea of bridezillas, endless nights of editing behind a bright screen, and back-to-back meetings. My hours of operation? 9 am to 5 am. Yep, I worked 20 hours a day for nearly a year.
I didn’t delegate or automate. I had no idea what work-life balance even looked like. And my health paid the price for it. The story’s not all bad, though. I managed to run my photography business for ten years and learned a thing or two … or 20.
The number one thing I learned? As a business owner, you CAN’T afford to skip out on business automation. Let’s look at five ways to automate your business from the beginning to help you grow leaps and bounds faster.
1. Automating your business means you don’t have to be a jack-of-all-trades
When you first started thinking about creating a business, you probably didn't imagine you'd have to do everything yourself.
But most business owners agree it’s difficult to know what tasks to focus on when you’re first starting out. Marketing emails need to go out. Products need to be purchased. And that stack of inventory won’t count itself.
But focusing on a multitude of tasks outside your expertise isn’t the best use of your time. If you start an accounting firm and find yourself managing things like payroll, accounting, onboarding, and business development, you’re not making the most of your time.
If you open a content production company and find yourself managing operations, accounts, marketing, and training, you’re not making the best use of your time. Automating your business means you don’t have to do everything yourself. It means you’re making your time work for you instead of against you. It means you get to focus on what you do best — and delegate the rest to helpful employees.
Being a jack-of-all-trades is no longer a praise-worthy title. Instead, being a jack-of-all-trades puts you at risk for:
- Dropping the ball since you have too many responsibilities
- Having lower quality output since you’re not specializing in a core niche
- Micro-managing tasks, projects, and/or people
- Not having the time to expand your expertise in a core niche
2. Automating your business helps you make the most out of your resources
All of the resources in the world won’t make your business as seamless as automation can. When you learn how to make resources work for you, you create a time-saving ecosystem. Here’s how automating your business helps you make the most out of your resources.
Software programs have never been better suited for business owners than they are today.
Instead of manually typing, assigning, checking, and scheduling tasks, you can automate tasks to go to the right people every time. To enable AI automation and train a high-performance model, you'll need an advanced annotation tool to label your pre-collected data.
Instead of manually scrolling through your calendar to find time to meet with a new client, you can automate your calendar so clients can schedule meetings with you in just a few clicks — no back and forth emails required.
From organizing metrics to assigning tasks and updating project statuses, using automation helps you make the most of your software.
Managing employees, freelancers, and assistants is a job in and of itself. From keeping up with invoices and time stamps to managing benefits and time off, human resource (HR) tasks are a major time suck.
Instead of manually handling payroll, employee benefits, and time off, you can automate countless HR tasks with a PEO company. These PEO companies also manage interviewing, onboarding, training, and other HR duties so you can spend that time growing your business.
Implementing a contract management software into HR processes will also ease the work of the HR department. It allows to simplify and speed up the process by reducing paper use and keeping your business contracts and processing data in one easily accessible place.
- Run, analyze, and send detailed reports
- Update, restart, and download plugins as needed
- Warn you when something’s phishy (a little cybersecurity humor for ya)
- Open and work for employees, no matter where they are in the world
By automating sales tasks with sales enablement platforms, you gain access to:
- Complete customer profiles, including insights and engagement strategies
- Contact management systems that let you trace deals from start to finish
- Multiple sales campaigns that run on autopilot
- Automated sales workflows, lead forecasting, and territory management
Customer service processes
Even the best, fastest, and most accommodating customer support team can sometimes run into time management issues. From helping customers with lengthy issues to dealing with an influx of new callers, automating customer service is crucial to saving time.
One of the easiest ways businesses are saving time with customer service processes is by using chatbots. For instance, Track-Pod (a route planner app) has a chatbot it uses for two purposes:
- Offering live customer support
- Booking meetings and demos
You can use chatbots that handle all aspects of customer service for you, or you can use chatbots that work with your live agents. To decide which one’s best for your business, consider experimenting with both before deciding.
3. Automating your business means having more time to focus on business development
Going to networking mixers, meeting industry experts online, and building partnerships takes time and nurturing.
Automating your business means being able to dedicate more time to business development without sacrificing other working parts of your business. The key? Being strategic about how you manage your business development time.
For instance, if you’re in the software industry, it may not make sense to go to a weekly networking lunch for restaurant professionals. Or, if you’re finding that you’re spending too much time in the car, you may need to increase your digital networking time and decrease in-person networking.
4. Automating your business helps you improve future marketing campaigns
Automating your business also helps you improve future marketing campaigns.
You have more time to analyze A/B tests, focus group results, and marketing analytics. There’s also more time to figure out how to do things the right way. You can even automate data research to easily comb through feedback forms, polls, and surveys in real-time.
Additionally, you can filter user behaviors with the help of a marketing automation platform by choosing your paying customers, new leads, and customers who have made a purchase or not. This way, you can segment your audience and quickly choose your next customer base list to deliver your marketing campaign and boost its effectiveness.
In other words, when you take a step back from manual processes, you’ll see your marketing efforts in a new light. It’s possible to see what’s working and what’s not — along with how and where you can improve. This wealth of information helps support your future campaigns in a way nothing else can.
5. Automating your business supports a healthy work-life balance
This may be the last point, but it’s probably the most important one: automating your business supports a healthy work-life balance.
Remember those 20 hour days I was working and the toll they took on my health? Having a healthy work-life balance is no longer considered a nice-to-have but rather a necessity for wellness.
Work exhaustion is no longer something worth bragging about. Yes, the business world used to glorify overworking, but more businesses today consider that a thing of the past.
From news guru Ariana Huffington preaching about good sleep to business coach Marie Forleo advocating for stress management, modern-day entrepreneurs aren’t shy about promoting the positives of a work-life balance.
In other words, health equals wealth. Yes, money is wealth, too. But what good is money if we’re not healthy enough to enjoy it?
When we’re in good health, we can run our businesses with ease, hug our kids at a decent hour, take much-needed vacations, and have the type of lifestyles we truly crave.
No business owner can afford to skip out on business automation. From being able to focus on what you’re good at to making the most of your resources to supporting a healthy work-life balance, automating your business from the beginning helps you grow exponentially faster.
About the author:
Ioana Wilkinson is a freelance content writer and SEO strategist for B2B and B2C brands specializing in Business, Digital Marketing, SaaS, Tech, and Mental Health. Born in Transylvania, raised in Texas, and transplanted to Barcelona, Ioana’s next move is taking her to sunny Mexico.
What would you like to know and what would be the best way to share this information to you? What is the best tips & tricks, what workaround do you use? We'd really appreciate your insight on these ones to make our integrations better, more productive and much more efficient. Comments, tweets are always welcome.