As business owners and solopreneurs, our greatest asset is definitely our time. There was never enough of it when we were working fulltime, so we had the brilliant idea of becoming our own bosses. Oh it will be glorious! We’ll sleep in, work in our pajamas and never fight the morning commute again. Sure, being the boss is amazingly freeing, but it’s also a reality check.
When I first started freelancing, I realized that I was trading working 40 hours per week for someone else for working 60 hours for myself. Oh, and I was making less money. This is to be expected in the beginning, but it can’t go on forever. The greatest change I made was automating as much as I could.
Automation is simply setting up strategic processes to keep you from having to physically do every task of your business every time. This is crucial for all business owners, but especially in the beginning when hiring out help may not be an option yet.
Write down everything you do
When you’re ready to automate your business, start by blocking out a couple hours one morning to write down every single task you do for your business. Include every tiny thing, even if it only takes a minute. Those little minute tasks can take over your entire day.
Next, cross out the tasks that you love or that only you can do. This may include writing the copy for your website and products or client coaching. Now comes the fun part. Look for the tasks that you don’t enjoy or that are the same every time. For example, every week you post to Facebook or Pinterest. It only takes a moment, but it’s the perfect place to start.
Fortunately in our digital age, automation is quick, easy and oftentimes free. Start by scheduling out your social media posts. Services like Buffer and Hootsuite allow you to schedule multiple platforms at once. Tailwind and Boardbooster are ahhhmazing for optimizing your Pinterest boards. Even Facebook will allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time on your business page.
Set aside some time each week or month to schedule all your posts. Look ahead for holidays and other seasonal promotions you’d like to feature.
If you work with individual clients, you know how important timely invoices are. As your business grows, it can be difficult to remember to send them out, and it can be especially tricky trying to follow-up with clients who don’t pay on time. Setting up accounting software like Quickbooks will allow you to automatically send an invoice as soon as the work is complete. It will also send reminder emails if the invoice is not paid.
When it comes to connecting with your audience, email is king. Many of us (myself included) focus so strongly on building our email list, but then don’t nurture our subscribers as much as we could. Scheduling your newsletters and sales emails ahead of time will ensure that your audience will still hear from you, even if you take some time off or are overwhelmed with client work.
If you’re new to the email newsletter, start with a free account like MailChimp. You can always move up from there. The important step is connecting with your readers and future customers.
At the beginning of your business, any email coming in is exciting. Yay they found me online! However, as your business and online presence grow, so will the number of emails coming in. And they get less fun.
Setting up some automated responses can save you tons of time and mental energy. Start by thinking about the most common emails you receive, such as what are your rates or can I pick your brain. Then write your responses down and keep them handy as you work through your emails. You still may need to tweak the responses before you send them, but having the bulk of the writing done will allow you to respond faster and have more time to focus your energy on growing your biz.
Setting up automatic bank transfers doesn’t necessarily fit into business automation, but it will result in you saving some of that hard-earned money! I love automatic transfers, because I don’t have to think about them. As soon as I am paid, a set amount of money is transferred from my checking to savings account. This allows me to set aside freelancing money for taxes, as well as savings. By removing that money as soon as it comes in, you won’t even miss it. As freelancers and solopreneurs, we never know when that slow month is coming, so keeping a little financial padding will keep you and your business strong.
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