When Confluence Business Solutions was created eight years ago, I was an employee one day and a “small business owner” the next. I had aspirations to start a business…but not yet…then it happened and when confronted with the opportunity to actually do the thing, I took it. In my last few roles as an employee, I had fallen in love with marketing automation and found I had a knack for it. So, when it came time to launch my business, one of the first things I invested in was automation. Without a single client that wasn’t related to me, I had the feeling that regardless of what I could afford financially, I didn’t want to have to play catch up when I started to see momentum in the business.
When it comes to our clients, nearly everyone we partner with started out similarly, with a dream or talent and no plan on how to actually make it happen. They start their business and get to work on finding clients or delivering services. As a result, most of them are in a state of crisis when they findtheir way to working with us. They are overwhelmed and frustrated. They have made a personal discovery that the stuff they spend most of their time doing is not what they signed up for. They’re consumed with back office tasks that do not bring them joy and their service delivery suffers as a result.
In the early days of these baby business owners, money is usually tight and the focus was to cut costs wherever possible, usually at the expense of their sanity. This leads to the most common questions that come up when we get on a strategy call; Is my business ready for automation? How do I know my business is ready for automation?
Here are a few tell tale signs to look for when trying to decide if you’re ready to automate your business:
You repeatedly do the same tasks over and over again, or simply forget – This is likely the biggest suck from your business that you may not even notice initially. See when you’re not well versed in all the things automation can do, you will sit down and resolve to just do the work like send out invoices or a follow up email to that person you met at a networking event.
Challenge: look at the things you’re doing every day that are skill-less work, such as data collection, email follow up, collecting payments, setting appointments, reminders etc.. All these things can be automated, freeing you up to focus on things that do require skill and your special talents.
You’re not sure where to divide your time – No matter how hard you work, there’s not enough time in the day and when you return, there’s so much to do and you have no idea where to start. This can feel really discouraging and is totally avoidable! When you live with no business process or processes that are not working in joint efforts for your business success it makes it next to impossible for you to know where your time and energy is best spent. Automation tools allow you to collect valuable information on your prospects that you can then use to identify where to focus first.
Challenge: Look at your current task management process and answer the following question. Does it help you identify how to spend your time as it relates to making money in your business, closing sales, product/service delivery?
Your’re Losing Money due to money leaks in the business – For some this is the difference between business life and death. When you have no automation in your business and your business is growing; every single part of the customer journey from nurture to sale to delivery and wowing your customer is on you, and you can’t possibly do all these things perfectly all the time. As a result, you are likely getting fewer sales because you simply ran out of time to follow up with every prospective customer, or failed to have a great system for inviting new purchases, referrals and testimonials. With automation, you not only plug the leaks in your dam, but you reinforce the dam with solutions that get you out of these processes, ensuring a quality, consistent experience for every buyer at the right time.
Challenge: Audit your own business or better yet, have an accountabili-buddy do it. Are you doing everything you can to follow up with every prospect/customer?
There’s Paper in Your Business – This is one of my favorites! Paperwork as a 1-step process is risky in that it can get lost, damaged or destroyed. As a 2-step process companies have customers fill out paperwork and then it has to be manually entered into a computer for safekeeping by someone. We absolutely love helping clients replace paper in their business. For some clients it’s a welcomed relief and a really easy win for them. For others, it can be hard to let go of the paper, but when they build out their paperforms and processes online and automate it, they celebrate how much they love not having to collect it, track it, store it, or re-enter it.
Challenge: Lose the paper!
You have no way of tracking your data – When all your information is spread across notebooks, spreadsheets and post-it notes, it can be very difficult to understand what’s working and what’s not. What’s the most cost effective way to convert a client? What’s your lead generation statistics look like? How does this month compare to last month? How much money are you bringing in next month and how much do you expect to bring in 3 months from now? If you have no way of tracking this information, making future projections with any accuracy is not possible. Automation tools give you more than time back. They provide real-time as well as historical, irrefutable feedback about what’s happening in your business.
Challenge: Set some goals for the remainder of this year with quantifiable data such as numbers, lead sources, etc.. Ask yourself, can you do it?
Before I sign off, I think it’s worth mentioning that if you’re clear on what you’re doing and have the growth mindset of investing in automation from the inception of your business, I would always recommend doing it sooner rather than later. It’s always easier to build and create when you have the time, space and freedom to do so than it is to be playing the game of catch up with the reputation of your business at stake. The signs I have mentioned are all very important as they are all indicators that your business is suffering.
So, if you’re reading this blog and the voice in your head is saying something like, this doesn’t resonate with me, then that’s great! However, if you anticipate that growth will likely result in these things and you want to get ahead of the game, then I always recommend taking the path that gives you the freedom to build capacity in your business as quickly and efficiently as possible. And do your best to build a mindset that things like automation are not luxuries in your business, but necessities that are essential to profitability and growth.
Over the last several months, we have been hard at work building an automation solution that suits businesses at every stage, because we believe you can harness the power of automation, even if the only person you’re marketing to is your mom.