As a small business owner who is active online I bet you’ve heard about One-to-One Marketing, the Era of the Customer or the Advent of Social Media Marketing. Everywhere you turn another expert is telling you to start a dialogue with your customers. There’s only one problem.How in the world are you going to have the time to talk to 50 warm prospects, close two hot prospects and deliver your usual awesome product or service to all your existing clients? There are only so many hours in a day.
I confess I’m a huge fan of science fiction — aren’t most numbers geeks? And at times my fevered brain imagines a world where I could clone myself. Then I could talk with 100 warm prospects, close 10 hot leads and still deliver stellar service to my clients. Unfortunately, cloning is not in the cards, except for sheep and a few dogs. What is a small business owner to do?
Carefully Applied Automation Can Drive Small Business Profit Growth
By following a few key guidelines when implementing automation you can boost your bottom line.
Deciding What to Automate to Drive Profit
While it might be tempting to say “Everything!” that simply isn’t practical. The key is to identify the low hanging fruit. Not only will it be easy to find, it will be easy to implement. Some examples include standard follow-ups, payment reminders, and scheduling.
Once you’ve come up with a list of potential activities to automate, answer these questions.
- Is this an activity you perform frequently? If you only do something once every two weeks, and the activity only takes five minutes, then the time savings aren’t compelling.
- Is this a simple activity? Twenty-step processes that involve five decisions are not good candidates for automation.
- Is there a solution available? If you need to build a solution from scratch, or perform extensive customization this is not a good candidate right now.
Selecting the Automation Tools Best for Your Business
Your business is unique and so are the needs of your business. Just because a solution is perfect for an associate of yours doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a fit for you. So ask yourself:
- Do the time savings outweigh the cost of the tool? For example, if a solution would cost you $1,000 a month, but would only save you one hour a month, it does not make sense to automate that task.
- Will the solution enhance or detract from your client relationships? Do you often get the same questions asked by prospects? Perhaps you have a standard follow-up series of emails that you ability to add in personal information such as the person’s name or the name of their business. Be sure the solution you select for automation has the capability to produce the effect of personalization.
- Is it so easy a caveman could do it? The whole point of automating is to save time, so an overly complicated solution is counterproductive.
The Turtle Wins the Automation Race
I’m sure you’re anxious to jump in and get this done. Think of all the time you’ll have! I get it. It’s not practical, however, to expect everything to get down right now. Even automation takes an initial time investment.
Set aside even 10 minutes each day to work on your automation. At first it will feel like you’re standing still. But don’t get discouraged. In a month or two you will be feeling and seeing the effects.
What do you automate in your business today? Will you consider automating additional activities?
To read more small business finance articles by Nicole Fende and other experts, visit the blog at Small Business Finance Forum.
Nicole Fende is The Numbers Whisperer™ and President of Small Business Finance Forum. As a credentialed actuary with experience as a Chief Financial Officer, Investment Banker, and successful entrepreneur, Fende helps her clients reach their profit goals and learn how to effectively and enjoyably run the financial side of their business. In her book, How to be a Finance Rock Star, Nicole shares the same strategies she uses for her profit coaching clients to help them reach multi-platinum profits.