Business Automation Template: Develop Your Automation Blueprint in 60 Seconds
Congratulations! Your business is a success . . .
. . . is it what you imagined?
How much time do you spend on revenue-generating projects vs putting out fires?
Are you able to relax when you go on vacation?
Do you even go on vacation?
It's time to change all that — by creating systems that automate your business. Eliminate emergencies and errors, scale yourself to get more done, and generate opportunities far beyond your imagination.
That’s what the Business Automation Template will do for you: help you develop and optimize a no-fail business automation strategy, no matter what size your business.
As a solopreneur with a full-time virtual assistant, I run Socialmediaonlineclasses.com as a lean brand. I need to be ruthlessly efficient with my time, and over the last two years I focused on turning SMOC into a well-oiled machine.
Frankly, it was U-G-L-Y at the beginning. There are no shortage of automation apps promising to make your life easier and your business run smoother. However, in reality, figuring out how to get those tools to work with your exact business setup can be a nightmare.
I spent far more time than I could afford with their technical support departments, and I even wrote about it in my goal-setting spreadsheet:
Fortunately, I'm making the process far smoother for you. I've turned my step-by-step process for developing the perfect business automation strategy into a template you can use to do the same (click on a link below to jump to that section):
1. WHAT CAN YOU AUTOMATE?
What if you have no idea where to start with business automation? No worries. The easiest way to get started is to identify those projects, tasks and processes that:
One of the first tasks I automated when I independently published my book was shipping. I don't like it, we have a one-person post office in our town, we don't get mail delivery to our home/office so I couldn't schedule a pickup, and I wanted to focus on marketing.
So I figured out a way to automate shipping That freed me up to market my book. Result? From unknown to Amazon's top 10 list, two sold-out printings, and a Best Book of 2010 award.
What else do I automate? Here's a partial list:
It takes me a long time to do my accounting: it's the most boring task in the world to me, and if left to my own devices I would put it off. I have a terrific accountant (who I've been with for 26 years!), but to make sure I get my books to her in top shape, I automate my accounting process:
I post every hour on Twitter, but that certainly doesn't mean I'm ON Twitter 24 hours a day. Instead, I schedule those tweets so I can focus on other projects:
2. WHAT SHOULDN'T YOU AUTOMATE?
Some projects are so mission-critical that automating them has the potential to destroy your operation. While it may be tempting to systemize these, don't do it.
What are they?
You can, however, systemize the moving parts that contribute to these projects. For example, you can automatically generate the financial reports you need to review each month, save answers to frequently-asked customer service questions, and develop templates for your content:
Finally, I don't buy the often-heard complaint: "I'm the only one in my business who can do __________."
If you can do it, you can teach someone else to do it. It may not be simple, but it is necessary if you want to take your business to the next level.
3. HOW TO START AUTOMATING YOUR BUSINESS
When I decided it was time to systemize much of what I did at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, the first order of business was to identify how many of my projects were recurring.
I looked at my to-do list in Evernote from the previous year, and identified everything that I did more than once:
4. GET AN AUTOMATION BLUEPRINT
Now that you know which projects & tasks you want to systemize, how do you actually do it?
Learn from someone who's done it before. Learn what tools to use, how to avoid automation disasters (like your partner getting 100 notification emails in an afternoon), and let them experience the mistakes and frustration of figuring it all out.
You save time and don't experience the headaches of having to figure it all out yourself.
In February of this year, SuperSunday Bootcamp attendees got this infographic and a three-hour webinar on how to automate their businesses, with everything laid out so they could start systemizing immediately:
5. SCHEDULE AN AUTOMATION TIMELINE
Realize that automating your business is a major long-term project, best accomplished in stages. I've spent two years experimenting, developing, and perfecting systems for SMOC, and here are my recommendations:
6. DOCUMENT & MEASURE YOUR AUTOMATED PROJECTS
Neither of these are sexy, but if you want to grow a business that lasts, they're essential.
One of the biggest headaches SMOC clients have is when they enter a new position and the previous person didn't document anything.
Logins and passwords are missing, Facebook and Twitter are connected but they don't know how, someone else owns the Facebook account and they need to be added as an admin, and the list continues.
Don't let this happen to your business.
My favorite way of documenting & training our team is using our own wiki. While that sounds complicated to do, I've actually automated much of it.
Every time I create a new business system, it gets added to the wiki automatically, as shown in the image below. This is the SMOC wiki, created in Trello. The Automated Workflows list is automatically generated, and makes it easy for us to train a new team member or figure out where to go to modify an automation:
Finally, you need to measure the impact your automations have on your business. One of the greatest impacts this entire process has had on me is the almost zen-like feeling I have when something goes wrong, either in life or in my business.
I know I can handle it. Family emergency? I can give it all of my attention, because my business can run smoothly without me.
Team member leaves or needs an extended time away? No problem! You can hire someone temporarily and they can learn your processes easily.
I've also been able to focus on larger projects I find more satisfying and ultimately generate more revenue.
While some of the above benefits are quality-of-life factors, you do need to measure the effect business automation has had on your business.
How? There's no magic tool that will do this for you. Instead, you need to identify: