How to Automate Your Business in Five Easy Steps
Yes, the title is a bit facetious; anyone whose been in business for any period of time knows that nothing is easy! But I will try to simplify it so that you can see the way through the trees out of the forest to focus on the single goal of business automation.
Why Automate Your Business?
You might know that “Automate Your Business” is the name of our monthly e-newsletter because we believe that this is a big deal. This is important! This is, in fact, the single most important activity which you as a business owner need to undertake!
Why is automating your business important?
Because once you have an automated system in place to RUN your business, then you can optimize that system to start MAKING MONEY in your business. In his book, “Making Money is Killing Your Business“, author Chuck Blakeman explains that most business owners spend their lives working IN their business, and can never take a vacation, or be gone for any protracted period of time, or their business will fall apart. Do you ever feel like that? Do you feel like you HAVE TO be there to keep “spinning the plates”, or “keep the gears rolling”? If you feel that way, according to Chuck Blakeman, it is because you do not have a SYSTEM for your business.
Why do I keep capitalizing SYSTEM?
Because SYSTEM is an acronym which stands for:
So, Five Steps to Automate Your Business (& how software can help make it happen):
1st – Create Processes for everything.
By “Processes” we are referring to checklists, how to’s, guides, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s), and procedure manuals. Before you can build an automated SYSTEM, you need to have a list of procedures for all major activities in your business. This would include things like on-boarding of new clients, invoicing & accounts receivable, manufacturing processes, handling of customer complaints, basically everything that is important for business success needs to be written down and put into a checklist.
2nd — Lock in that SYSTEM with software.
Once you have all of theses processes, you need to lock them into your company software processes. Just having a procedure manual is no longer good enough. A manual sitting on a shelf does not help your company to automate. In order to Automate Your Business, you need to make sure that your software supports and enforces your procedures.
For example, if there is a certain workflow that needs to be followed when you on-board a new client, then build that into your software, so that your employees cannot go on to step two until they have completed step one.
3rd — Store all critical data in that SYSTEM.
Studies have been made about how much time people waste just looking for documents and records. Is it stored in a filing cabinet? Or on the bosses laptop? Or is it in the company DropBox? Pick somewhere and then stick to it. Custom software for your company which has built in document management is the best place to store it all, because then it is central to everyone.
4th — Train Employees to all use the same SYSTEM.
I have had conversations with companies about their workflow, and have discovered how very often each employee does it differently. No one has trained them to do it the same way. How do you train new employees with this system? And what kind of a consistent customer experience are you providing if each employee has their own way of working?
If you have SYSTEM software, then every employee using that software, is going to do it the exact same way. This improves performance, and satisfaction for both customers, and other employees who have to work together.
5th — Develop Dashboards which keep an eye on the system.
You as the boss need to know your numbers. If you build SYSTEM software, then you can build into it the top three to five metrics which you must keep an eye on to keep your company afloat. This will help you to respond more rapidly to concerning trends, and also help you to sleep better at night,
So there you have it. Five Steps to Automate Your Business. These are critical to building a successful business. They will also increase your business value when it is time to sell, because you have established procedures built into your business software. If you put these five steps into place, you will have a more successful and thriving business. You will also have a SYSTEM which will allow you to actually go on vacation and know that things are being handled properly and consistently while you are away.