Welcome back and thank you for reading my last two posts!
This is post # 3 in my four-part series on Time Management. This week's post is about automation, delegation, and outsourcing.
As we get busier and our days get longer, we have to think of new strategies that will give us the best bang for our buck and allow us to have more time to use efficiently.
When we are doing specific tasks repeatedly, it becomes overly time-consuming. Automation will remove the extra steps so our time and energy can be better spent elsewhere. Tasks that we can automate are: client onboarding, follow-ups, newsletters, frequently asked questions, and informational emails. A rule of thumb is to not automate your customer service. Always have a standard operating procedure in place and physically talk to your clients, through either an employee or yourself. Nothing upsets a client more than having to talk to an automated system.
Keep track of the information your clients are asking you about, this is a good way to collect information for your frequently asked questions section.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching different ways to automate specific tasks, just to keep myself from having to enter the same data three or four times in different programs. I'm going to share with you a couple of these strategies. Something I use a lot of is Google, I use it because I can share information across different google apps. Zapier is another handy tool, it is an integration platform that allows connecting different platforms together. We can pull information from Gmail and place it into another app like Honeybook or 17Hats and place a copy of a document into Dropbox.
Using a dedicated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software for small businesses like Honeybook or 17Hats, allows us to do client management. We can create pipelines so we can make sure we are getting all the steps, when dealing with clients. They have everything from contracts and signatures, invoicing and reminders, and online calendars. If you are selling products online, a good program to use is ClickFunnels, they allow you to have everything in one place without actually having to create a website, they are all about duplication.
Automating our social media marketing is one area that having pre-planned content and schedules, works to our advantage. We spend a specific amount of time working on everything and then it posts automatically, that way we are not scrambling when we are too busy to get things out on time. Loomly or HootSuite works great for social media.
I am lumping these two together because they can be the same thing. If you are a Solopreneur you can start with outsourcing and as you grow and hire employees, you can move to delegating.
In the last blog post, we created our task priority list and rated each task. When we make the decision to outsource or hire, we can use this priority list and task rating to find people, who not only are good at these tasks, but also enjoy them. If you already have employees find out what they enjoy and if it aligns with one of the tasks, assign it to them. Employees work better when they are doing something they enjoy and make them happy.
Last but not least my favorite topic! Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant!! When a small business owner gets really busy, but is not quite ready to hire employees, outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant is an awesome alternative. VA’s will go in and deal with tasks the business owner does not enjoy, are not skilled to do, have no time to complete, or tasks that are urgent and need to be completed immediately. We will do them to your specifications and in a timely manner. Virtual Assistants save you time and money in the long run. Here is an example of a financial breakdown.
Photographer has a $200/per hour package and you work a 12 hour day 6 days a week = 72 hour week
5 hours of taking photos.
1 hour consulting clients
3 hours doing other work for your clients (part of the $200/per hour package)
1 hour on social media
2 hours in the office (billing, bookkeeping, emailing, ect.)
Only 5 of those hours are billable and the other 7 are just part of doing business.
5 hours x $200= $1000 x 6 days a week = $6000 = 30 hours a week(of the 72)
7 hours x $0 = $0 x 6 days a week = $0 = 42 hours a week (of the 72) this is non paying work.
And you have no time for a life and you miss events.
Now with a VA
The photographer works 8 hours 5 days a week = 40 hours a week.
7 hours x $214.29 = 1500 x 5 days a week = $7500 = 35 hours (of the 40) This is what you love!
1 hour consulting clients x $0 x 5 days a week = $0 = 5 hours a week (of the 40) this is non paying work.
Virtual Assistants work for a total of 5 hours per day x 5 days = 25 hours a week
5 hours x $60 = $300 x 5 = $1500 a week = 25 hours
Virtual Assistants -$1500
You increase your hourly price by $14.29, you go from 5 to 7 hours taking pictures and end up making the same income but working 32 hours less! What are you going to do with all that time?
Now you get to spend your time and energy on your business where you want. You get to grow and do those activities that you truly enjoy. Feel free to ask your virtual assistant about their experience and education. Just a reminder a virtual assistant works with many clients at once and organization is a key skill for them. Lead time and the more details you can give them the better.
Feel free to break up the work and hire multiple virtual assistants or you can hire an Online Business Manager. They will do all your back-office work and will organize all the virtual work for you. The other value of hiring a Virtual Assistant is if you do not have any work for them right now you just let them know, unless you have them on retainer(wink). You save money by paying for only the time that you use a VA.
These three-time saving strategies are a large part of time management and growing as a business. I have just touched on these topics but there is so much more to them. We became entrepreneurs and business owners to have more time, income and to have some sort of impact in people's lives. Don't burn yourself out trying to do everything and be everyone. Set up a strategy and enjoy your life.