How to use automation & avoid a tech headache!

How to use automation & avoid a tech headache!

As a virtual assistant, it’s my mission to help small business owners with admin and business tasks, freeing up their time for more important things. Regardless of whether you are in the position to outsource to a VA or not, you can also help save your own time by using automation. 

One thing I often talk about is the importance of documenting your processes and utilising systems to help you work more productively. By doing this you will be able to identify which tasks you are doing repetitively and consequently which ones you may be able to automate. 

Below I include several things you should automate today (if you’re not already!). Or if you need some help getting any automation set up, please get in touch as I can help you with that. 

Calendar/Appointment Management

Don’t waste time going backwards and forwards by email trying to set up appointments. Use a tool such as calendly or acuity to automate bookings. 

You can connect it to your outlook or google calendar so that availability is shown in real-time. It is also possible to connect to your Zoom account so that a meeting is automatically set up. When someone books an appointment with you they will receive a link with the confirmation details, the Zoom link and the meeting will be booked right into your calendar. Without you having to do a single thing! 

Email Marketing

Using email is an incredibly powerful marketing method. If you just need to send out regular emails to your audience, sign up for something like Mailerlite. If you need more advanced segmentation or CRM facilities, sign up for something like Active Campaign. 

By adding a subscription form to your website or using a landing page to collect new subscribers, contacts will be added automatically to your email subscriber list.

Most platforms will allow you to set up an automated welcome series. For example, when someone signs up they will receive an email welcoming them. Then you can schedule further emails over the next few days. 

When it’s time to send an email to your list, you will be able to create an email template customised to your brand. You then select the subscribers you want to send the email to and schedule the email to go out at the optimum time. 

Check out my post 4 steps to set up email marketing, if you need some further help. 

How to set up automation

Invoicing

You’ve done the work, now it’s time to be paid for it. But you don’t want to spend too much time creating an invoice and sending it. Let alone chasing up late payment and then having to record it once it has been paid. 

The solution. Automate it of course! There are several invoicing and accounting software options available to small businesses including Quickbooks, Xero, and Zoho Books. The majority you will need to pay a small amount for. But I think being on top of your finances is priceless! You will be able to automate the sending of invoices, reminder emails, and then once it is paid it will be recorded on your accounts sheet. 

Social Media

I think many small business owners find creating and posting Social Media a bit of a chore! There are a few ways to make the process more bearable though. 

First create a content creation strategy and plan. This will detail what content you need to create and when you are going to write it. Secondly use a scheduler. You can have all your posts ready to be scheduled at the optimum time, rather than posting on the fly. There are many options to choose from including Later, Hootsuite and the Creator Studio within Facebook itself (which allows posting to Facebook and Instagram, including stories).  

Task management

The list of things to do running your own business is pretty exhausting. The to do list just keeps growing. It takes up a lot of brain space to try and remember what needs to be done and when. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to do, I’d recommend doing a massive brain dump. Get it all out of your head. Then use task management software such as Trello or Asana to store all your to-dos. As well as being able to create templates for repetitive tasks you need to complete, you can also set up reminders and set tasks to repeat. This saves so much time not having to write the same tasks on the to-do list every week.

Using task management software is also beneficial if you plan to outsource. You can share to-do lists or tasks with other people such as a VA, Website designer or Social Media Manager.

All in one CRM system

Depending upon what stage your business is at and how many clients and leads you have, it might be worth investing in a Customer Record Management software such as Dubsado. 

A CRM basically allows you to handle a large part of your business all in one place. For example, someone completes a contact me form on your website. This gets added to the CRM as a new lead, which you can then follow up on. That lead decides they would like to speak to you further. They book a discovery call via the CRM system, which triggers an email to them with some pre-chat questions. After the discovery call, you edit the new proposal master template in the CRM system and send it to the new potential client. They confirm they would like to work with you. You send a contract, an invoice, and any other parts of the workflow are all automated within the CRM system. Think of all the manual tasks you will no longer need to do and how much time you will save! 

Anything else – there is a Zap for that! 

Sometimes you can’t do everything within one piece of software. You might want to or need to use a few. You may then need to copy some details from one system to another. There is a way however to remove that manual task through Zapier. 

Zapier is a very neat option that allows you to connect two bits of software together. For example, if you receive many email attachments that need to be saved within a Google Drive folder, you can create a “Zap” (the name given to the automated process) to have them saved automatically. There are so many zaps available, I think you can pretty much automate everything with Zapier! And the best bit – you don’t need to do any coding yourself, just follow the simple online instructions. 

I hope this has given you some ideas of things you can automate. If you want to learn more about other tools I use in my business to be more productive (and save even more time!), download my productivity tool guide here. Or if you would like to talk about how you can use automation in your business, please book a free consultation call with me below:

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