I’m often asked, “Leo, what is small business automation?"
And you know, I think that is a great question. You know what would be an even better question that what is small business automation? A better question would be, What Is Small Business Automation, NOT? You know, I like this question even better because it automatically makes me use the left side of my brain more than my right. So, in general it gives me a headache right away, you know…
No, but seriously; when someone makes us think of what an object is NOT, or what an idea is NOT, we immediately engage a different part of our brains that allow us to see things more logically, therefore most other non-sense that might creep up when we otherwise give our opinion, is stripped down to factual commentary when we try to pinpoint in our minds what something is not.
What’s my point? The B.S. is mostly all removed from our public comments when someone asks you what small business automation is NOT. I don’t know how you would answer this question, but I would answer it like this; small business automation is NOT: 1. cheap, 2. It's not easy, and 3. It’s certainly not for everyone.
So, let’s start with #1: it’s not cheap. Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t pay for these capabilities. It’s all depending on your budget and what automation capabilities do you really need for your business right now or in the planned future. There are a couple of big automation software brands out there that would charge you anywhere from $200 up to 3 and even $400+ to use their robust automation platforms. That’s ok. There are also a handful of less robust automation companies producing software solutions to help business owners and they typically charge anywhere between $29 up to $150 for access to their platforms.
In general in the lower price ranges you’ll find more of the tactical and functionally-compartmentalized software solutions. Here is, for example, where you'd find companies that help you automate your document signing process online, and others that do things like automatically posting updates to your social media channels, etc. You get the point. Bottom line: There are solutions galore out there. For sure there’s no shortage of software to help you automate your business processes.
The key is to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and say these exact words to yourself.. Say, Self! what do I really really really need to automate in my business right now? Well, if you don’t know the answer to that, I do. And I’m going to tell you in this very next point :-)
So, point #2: it’s not easy to automate things. And it is the truth my friends. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but I didn’t know how painful it was to automate until I started doing it myself. It is a very time-consuming endeavor to do it right, and do it right the first time as to eliminate rework; one of the costliest things you could ever have in your business…rework: avoid it at all cost by doing your best at resisting the urge to take shortcuts in implementing your automation efforts and setting things up right from the beginning.
By definition, automation is the control of automatic machines and by machines I mean systems. So in essence, automation is the control of automatic systems. By this definition, we can assume that we can automate any system, whether it is productive or unproductive. Whether it is efficient or wasteful. Or whether it makes us money or not. We can literally automate any process. SO in essence you could throw good money after bad by automating faulty processes in your business.
The best way to summarize this point is with this clunky but beautiful phrase by Anthony Robbins: If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.
In other words, Don’t automate junk. This is where I see the most bizarro stuff in small business, right here… in the implementation of automation. Is it easy to automate processes in your business? It depends. Before you start spending money on software and other tools, spend the time to eliminate what’s wasteful first, then optimize it, then test it, then automate it.
So what should you automate? First of all, you don’t need software to automate anything. Process is process is process. I will never advocate for software to fix deep rooted strategic problems because it won’t. It might create a temporary relief, but the truth will always rear its ugly head at point or another. In my previous life as a fighter pilot, having an autopilot button in the cockpit would not solve for me if I didn’t know how to fly the plane, for example.
The autopilot was a tool that assisted me in keeping control of the aircraft, but it only worked because I knew how to engage it to assist me in flying the plane. Get it? Ok, horse beaten … So what do we automate? I promise I’d tell you what you need to do here. However, we’re not going to dive deep in the subject in this episode because it’s a very extensive topic, but for now I’ll say to think about automation in the areas of traffic generation, lead capture, and following up with your prospects and customers.
There are a bigillion other functions you could automate in your small business, but I find that these 3: traffic generation, lead capture, and following up are usually laggards in the TLC department from small business owners. In the coming weeks we will dive deeper and go very specifically into these subjects so you’ll understand them better and learn how to make better decisions with your money and with automating these functions. Again for now, just remember traffic generation, lead capture, and following up with your prospects and customers are areas worthy of your consideration for automation.
Why? because they are repetitive tasks and they are responsible for bringing in fresh blood into your business, while keeping up with the established customer base for repeat purchases and referrals. In essence, these functions are responsible for increasing the lifetime value of one customer when done correctly.
The last point, point #3 is that automation is not for everyone. I’m probably the last person that should be saying this to you since evergreen automation is one of the pillars of our Intentional Business Design methodology here at Reach Millions Online™, but I have to be honest. Again, I really don’t want you to throw good money after bad and we’ve been somewhat brainwashed in certain niches to believe that you need to pay exorbitant amounts of money for automation when in reality is a fact that for most of those people people spending all that money on expensive software only use about 10% of the platform’s functionality. True fact. And this is perfectly smart people doing this to themselves.
My point? Again, go back to that mirror and say to yourself, Self, what do I really really really need to automate in my business that will bring in more revenue, cut waste, and bring you peace of mind. I leave that with you … We will definitely readdress this issue very very soon. I have a feeling that the comments will be long and distinguished on this one.
5 essential steps to follow anytime you want to scale your business online.