The Afro Coach Operations Agency

5 Tips to Automate Your Small Business for Growth

(5-Minute Read)

 

When done right, automation can be an incredible asset to giving you more space, focus, and peace of mind in your business; but can be a lot to handle when there are so many ways to approach it!

Automation can be such a big topic — especially when you are a service provider or coach in the online space. From funnels to workflows to robust software, automation can be a lot!

The last thing we want is to have you automate everything, only to not have them give you the results you are looking for. Or worse, feeling the need to over automate and feeling more restricted than anything.

We’ll be covering the best tips to automating your online business, so you can avoid getting caught in the automation overwhelm trap!

Throughout this article I’ll be breaking down:

When You Should Automate in Your Small Business
5 Tips to Automating in Your Small Business
BEST Processes to Automate in Your Creative Small Business


Disclaimer: Now I’m not going to go too in-depth on what automation is since we’ve covered that previously. But if you aren’t sure or need a refresher don’t freak out!

Go check my other article on “How to know when to automate or delegate your small business” Then come back here when you’re done!

WHEN YOU SHOULD AUTOMATE IN YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

Automation is a great option for small teams and solopreneurs looking to take some tasks off their plate, and you:


A. Have tasks that are repetitive and don’t require much problem solving
B. Know the task isn’t so sophisticated to need a human

The key to automation is making sure the process is as simplified as possible so the automation can be performed as seamlessly as possible. For example, I would never automate my content creation, because it requires my express input (making it complicated). 

However, I would automate the scheduling of my content, because posting 2x a week at specific times is something simple that I do not need to manually do.



 

5 TIPS TO AUTOMATING IN YOUR CREATIVE SMALL BUSINESS

TIP 1: Identify repeatable tasks

The best place to start automating for your business are tasks that need to be done repeatably. I currently live in Australia, which is way outside the timezone of most of my client base, but there are certain tasks that need to get done on their time that I simply can’t do because I’m asleep.


These repetitive tasks that are crucial to the client experience and/or the admin of your business are prime real estate for automating. 


Think asking for testimonial requests, sending schedulers, or moving priority emails to your inbox to respond to.

 

TIP 2: Simplify your process

Number one thing I tell clients? You can’t automate complicated. Before you automate anything, you want to make sure the steps are as plain as possible. Think of it as an equation: X + Y = Z (never thought I’d bring up algebra ever, but here we are). 


What are the inputs that equal the desired outputs? Making this clear makes automation so much easier. 


TIP 3: Map out the steps

Like a recipe, automation works best when you know what steps it takes to get to the finished results! Can you imagine having all these ingredients you bought from the store, only to spend hours trying to figure out how to put them together to make that dish you like? No Bueno.


While automating is attractive, if there is no clear direction on how the automation will work, things get real confusing, real quick. 

 

As part of the C.E.O framework, for CLARITY we focus on mapping out the exact workflow that make your business run. So an example, if you are wanting to automate sending out your onboarding packet after an invoice is paid.

A simple workflow we’d map out is:
Step 1: Send invoice to the client email address

Step 2: After the invoice is paid, have onboarding welcome email sent with packet attached

Step 3: Have a client calendar sent 1 hour later, to schedule the first call. 

 

Then we’d start to look at alternative scenarios that could occur during this process. 

  • What if someone doesn’t pay their invoice on time, and they need to be sent a reminder? 

  • What if someone needs to cancel their meeting and reschedule? 

  • What if they opted in for an upgrade?

These are ALL possibilities we would want mapped out prior to touching any automation software — trust me it will make life way easier. 

Check out a workflow mapping of my onboarding process for Pimp My Business (granted, a little more comprehensive than the example below)!

If you need support on how to do this for your business by the way, check out my services!

TIP 4: Choose the best software to suit YOUR needs

Ah, software. When there are so many different options available, how do you know which is supposed to be the best fit for the processes you want automated?

The best rule of thumb is to check if the current software you’re using has the automation capabilities you’re looking for. 

 

For example, I was already using Dubsado for my invoicing and lead magnets, but it has powerful workflow automation tools that allow me to handle both the onboarding workflows from above, along with other client experience-related automation.

If you don’t have these types of software already, I would suggest looking at all the functions you need in order to run the automation you’re looking for, and see which software best suits those needs. 

Another tip: All-in-one software like Clickfunnels or Kajabi can look REALLY attractive here, as they have a lot of robust automation and tools housed all in one place, HOWEVER —

Just because they are all housed in one place, doesn’t mean they will justify the costs. Many online businesses don’t need that many functions right now and can end up paying thousands a year for a tool they only use 25% of. 

 

Inside of the Pimp My Biz VIP Intensive, we don’t focus on software or any other resources until after we’ve covered your workflows, but once we do we look at the overall tech stack that will best serve your needs, and will serve you best in the long run!

TIP 5: Audit regularly for performance

Just because something is automated, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved on! Creating some performance indicators for your automation will help you determine how well it’s running when you go back to check on it.

  • Could there be a better way to set up the automation to increase client satisfaction?

  • A secondary automation to help this one with retention? 

Set a time to audit your automation and make sure it’s running as efficiently as you need it to! You learn a lot once you step back from something and come back to it. 


If you need help with different ways to audit, I have a blog covering 5 areas to audit in your business quarterly that would be a great start.

 

BEST PROCESSES TO AUTOMATE

The best to automate are along with the client experience and administrative tasks. Here are some examples from clients I’ve worked with across multiple industries in the online space. 

Keep in mind this will largely depend on your current business goals, your capacity, and where you’re looking to make space. 

  1. Onboarding

  2. Validating leads who inquire about your services

  3. Asking for testimonials immediately after offboarding a client

  4. Scheduling client sessions

  5. Sending immediate follow ups on leads and past clients for higher conversion rates

Take these tips and prepare to have fire automation that makes running your service-based business a little easier to manage! 

 

And if you’re thinking, “Meh, I don’t think automation is the way to go right now,” think delegation may be what you need instead! I got you covered. I’ll be dropping an article on delegating in a couple of days on how to delegate in your online business.

 

Now for those of you who are wondering what tasks you should automate, or where to even begin systemizing your business, I made you something.

A free guide on how to audit your coaching, consulting, or service provider biz — and it’s how I audit all my clients’ businesses prior to working with them!

 

 

I’m Elisabeth—
I live in Melbourne, Australia, but I’m from the States (Washingtonian through and through). I’m a cat-mom, wifey, and in love with a good workflow; it gives me that warm, fuzzy, Christmastime feeling. My goal is to help hard-working service providers stop having to choose between creativity and productivity to build a successful, sustainable business.

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