Business

  • How to effortlessly automate your online business

    how to automate and simplify your online business

    Introduction

    Ok, so you’ve figured out that if you keep going at the pace you are going, burnout and exhaustion from your side hustle is just around the corner.

    At this point, you are looking around for answers on how to do get things done faster in your business (or how to eliminate some tasks completely). The technology and systems to make this happen might feel a bit overwhelming for you.

    Before we go through the steps on how to automate your online business without tech expertise, I would like to explain why you should be investing the time to do it in the first place.

    Why you should automate your online business

    One of the best investments you can make is automating your online business. Actually, if you want to increase your revenue, you have got to increase the time that you spend on revenue-generating activities. Automation becomes key in freeing up your time from non-revenue but necessary tasks in your business.

    The time you save along the way is so much more worthwhile than the upfront time & (sometimes) financial resources needed to automate your business.

    The sooner you start to build a system and automation strategy for your business, the easier it is to scale it up for massive growth (without scaling up your time spend on it).

    If you are running your side hustle without a team, the overwhelm is sure to get to you at some point. Especially when you can’t keep up with the pace of the growth of your business.

    Furthermore, building a side hustle alongside a corporate job and motherhood significantly cuts down your availability for your business. Automation and systemizing your business is a necessity when you are building a team in your business

    Before you start throwing your hard-earned money at the hottest tools and software in town, here are a few mistakes to avoid:

    Going straight for the tools before you organize and put systems in your business

    You need to cover some groundwork so that the automation is layered onto your business once you have the right systems and organization in place.

    Thinking that automation is the magic bullet to your overwhelm

    Automating your online business is just a part of the solution, not the entire solution

    Paying for software or tools that you don’t need at the current stage of your business

    Only buy or subscribe to a new tool if you have noticed a gap in your systems which the tool can fill.

    Bonus tip: always subscribe to the trial version before plunging in a year’s worth of subscription fees. Since you aren’t sure if you really need the tool.

    Window shopping and spending days deciding between different tools, and not taking action

    The most important aspect of automation is how you use its features and functionalities, and what you put into the tool.

    While I would always suggest that you choose tools that are widely used, I would also recommend that you don’t spend too much time window shopping on the minute differences between your options.

    Hopping from one tool to the next

    This is also known as the fear of missing out. There will always be a new application on the block so, focus on the applications that you have. Only jump ship if you have noticed a gap or absence of specific functionality that you need.

    Remember that moving from one tool to another will not only cost you the lost subscription fees but also the lost time and resources spent trying to learn and input your data into the tool.

    Overwhelming yourself with too many software systems or tools at the same time

    I get that automating your business might be one of the most exciting things happening right now for you, but trying to do it all at once will only lead to more overwhelm and frustration.

    The best way to avoid these mistakes is by going through the 4A method every time you want to automate an aspect of your business.

    How to automate your online business using the 4-A Method

    1. Audit your business

    What tasks are the most time-consuming?

    What do you do in your business that you don’t enjoy doing?

    Which tasks would you like to reduce the time you spend on them (or eliminate them completely)?

    These are such important questions to ask yourself as you set your business goals because the whole point of automating your business is to create efficiency and bring back the excitement that you once had before you started getting overwhelmed and overworked.

    2. Align your tasks to processes

    Ok, automation done right is not all fun and tech. There is a step that is often overlooked, and that’s the process documentation (also known as Standard Of Operating Procedures)

    It isn’t as complicated as it looks. All you need to do is write down the steps that you take before you consider a task as complete. You can read more about this here.

    Start with the most important tasks, then go to the most time-consuming tasks. An easy way of doing this is having a notebook next to you when you start doing a certain task and taking note of each and every step until completion.

    You probably know most of the steps to your daily or weekly repetitive tasks. But it’s interesting how much else you can pick up when you document your tasks as you complete them.

    3. Assess what can be automated

    I would suggest that you go through each process at a time, and circle the tasks which you don’t like or are repetitive.

    You will need to do some research or hire an online business manager. Even better, hire a coach like me, who specializes in helping mompreneurs create time savings in their businesses.

    You can always make Google your friend in this research phase, but be sure to do enough research, especially as the cost of automation goes up.

    4. Automate!

    Here’s the fun part, choosing your applications and tools for your online business. If you want to know how to automate your online business, please go through all the steps above before you start window shopping for tools and applications.

    Here are a few tips to help you choose the right tools to automate your online business:

    Start by automating the most obvious tasks or processes from your assessment.

    Typical processes include:

    • Social content strategy and system
    • Invoicing and Payments
    • Project/ Task Management
    • Business file organization

    Choose a tool that is widely used

    Widely used tools are also updated and bug-fixed regularly to give the users a seamless customer experience. The owners of these tools also provide great customer support. If you get stuck or need help figuring something out, you can always contact their customer support before you hire someone to help you out. One of my favourite tools is Asana, and they provide free customer support even for their free version!

    Available tech-tutorials for beginners

    I love software providers who also give crash courses or tutorials on how to make the most of their applications. You will learn so many more functionalities than if you just dig in and try to figure out everything alone

    Focus on automating one aspect of your business every month

    This also means that you don’t need to make a lump sum investment in getting the tools you need, at once.

    Focusing on one process or system at a time will help you reduce the overwhelm of trying to learn everything at once especially if tech is a bit intimidating for you.

    You could take your time to learn the new tool, go through the functionalities and options. Ensure to make the most of your trial version before making the final decision to use the tool to automate your online business.

    Outsource the automation process

    If the entire automation process still scares you (which is absolutely ok), then get help!

    Get help automating your processes so that you can focus on the more important revenue-generating tasks (because your business should not take a pause due to the ongoing automation exercise).

    Fiverr.com is one of my go-to websites for outsourcing or getting help on short-term tasks. They have amazing freelancers who can help set up your systems at a low cost.

    Pro tip: I would suggest that you make sure they explain everything they have done and that you take notes. This way you can troubleshoot and learn from what they have done so that you don’t have to hire someone for every small change or update you need to your systems. 

    In conclusion, 

    Automating your online business is one of the best things you can do to set yourself free from the overwhelm and burnout that I see so many women go through before their business has even hit the ground.

    What areas of your business do you think would benefit the most from automation?

    How to effortlessly automate online business using 4-A method.

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  • How to stay focused on your business goals

    How to stay focused on your business goals and achieve them

    Setting goals is an exciting activity,  as it lets you think of how you can reach those stretch targets that you have set for yourself, way beyond what you think you are capable of achieving. The mistake I often see entrepreneurs making is that they don’t spend enough time thinking about the game plan in achieving these goals, and how to maintain focus. A game plan ensures that you stay focused on your business goals consistently.

    It’s so easy to get sidetracked as a business owner with all the shiny objects and tactics that are flung at us daily; a goal plan helps you to stay focused on what’s really important and aligned with your long-term vision. 

    Other common mistakes to avoid in goal setting and planning:

    Setting too many goals

    When you set too many goals, it becomes difficult to stay focused on a few key actions that will drive the biggest impact in your business. You may have heard of the 80/20 rule which simply states that: 20% of your daily actions are responsible for 80% of the results in your life. 

    You can apply this rule to business too. Instead of trying to do everything in your business, set one or two goals that you know will contribute to the 80% result at the end of the day.

    No clear game plan

    Setting goals is the easy part. Creating an action plan with timelines, milestones, reviews and mini-actions is the hard part. Before you start working on your goals, first set a clear game plan that is realistic and actionable, and stay committed to that action plan.

    Setting goals based on what other people are doing

    As a solopreneur, it is so easy to get distracted by what other people are doing. Especially the people you look up to. The truth is, the goals that they have set are totally irrelevant to where you are in your life and business right now.

    Don’t use other people’s goals as an anchor for what you should be doing. Instead, evaluate where you want to be in your business in the next 5 years and work backwards. 

    Mini tip: Think of the person you want to be and the lifestyle you want to have, and then set goals that are aligned with this. 

    Overestimating their short-term potential

    It is so easy to overestimate what you achieve in the short-term. This leads to goals that are completely unrealistic. And when you don’t achieve them, you could easily get into a downward spiral of no confidence in yourself or your business. Instead, overestimate what you can achieve in the long-term and then set goals that you know you can achieve in the next 3 months. 

    Mini tip: You can use the “good-better-best” framework to set realistic short-term goals. Your “good” target represents what you can realistically achieve in the next 3 months. And your “better” target represents what you can achieve as a stretch. Your “best” target represents what is totally out of your reach and what would be AMAZING if you actually hit that target.

    How to set your goals

    Be intentional

    My best tip for being intentional, is making time to work on your goals every single day even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. You can make a lot of progress if you set aside time and do this consistently.

    Be specific

    The more specific you are, the less mental space you will need to try and figure out what exactly you are working towards. I like to use the SMART goals framework. It is widely used in setting goals in the corporate and business world.

    When you are specific, this leaves very little room in veering off focus and getting derailed by shiny objects. For example, if I want to grow my business, 

    A non-specific goal is: Grow my business

    A specific goal: Grow revenues to $10,000 this quarter by focusing on marketing Product X through my social media channels

    The more specific you are, the easier it will be to create an action plan. An action plan will help you break down your goal into smaller, actionable steps.

    Prioritize your goals

    The fewer goals you have, the easier it will be to remain focused on achieving your business. I personally believe that one goal for each area of your life is enough to focus on for 90 days. If it’s a long-term goal, you can add another goal, but try to keep it at 2 goals at most. 

    How to maintain focus on your goals

    Time-block your calendar

    The main reason why people don’t make progress in their goals is that they do not take action on a consistent basis. Time blocking is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you take action on the things that are most important to you.

    Stop multitasking

    When you are trying to work on multiple goals and projects at the same time, your brain loses momentum. This also causes mental blocks that can end up slowing you down.

    Studies have also shown that switching between multiple tasks has a negative impact on your overall productivity and cognitive skills.

    Instead of trying to do many things at once, focus on the goal that will get you the biggest impact. Then go all-in on an action plan that supports your goal. When you are working on your goal, remember to schedule time in your calendar to work on it. Remove all distractions and focus on the task at hand.

    Use sprints to work out your action plan

    Using short time spans creates a sense of urgency in your mind. This ensures that you don’t drop the ball in taking action consistently to make progress towards your goal. I like working in 2-4 week sprints on a specific activity that I know will help me in making progress in achieving my goal.

    Focus on the action, not the result

    If you want to stay focused on your business goals, I would highly encourage you to change your mindset about achieving your goals. Instead of focusing on the outcome, focus on the action that will get you closer to the outcome. For example, if you want to make $10,000 in sales over the next quarter, instead of focusing on the $10,000 revenue, focus on the actions that you know will lead you to this result. These actions could include:

    • Creating sales funnels to increase your sales per customer
    • Creating a new product or service 
    • Being consistent with your social media strategy

    The more you focus on the actions, the less anxiety and overwhelm you will create for yourself, and the more likely you are to achieve your goal.

    You do not have control over how many sales you will make. But you do have control over how many potential customers you reach through your marketing and sales strategies. In that case, direct your focus towards the things that are in your control in your business.

    Here are a few other tips to help you stay focused on your business goals:

    • Remind yourself of your goals everyday
    • Record daily affirmation on your goals
    • Get an accountability partner
    • Review your progress on a weekly basis, and pivot as needed
    • Develop habits that support your ability to work on your goals often

    How do you stay focused and motivated on your business goals? Drop your comments below.

    How to stay focused on your business goals and achieve them

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  • How to effortlessly create a balanced scorecard for business

    A business scorecard objectives are to measure the true health of your business and progress in your strategic goals. The balanced scorecard for business helps monitor four key perspectives that make up the primary focus areas of the business scorecard. 

    The balanced scorecard for business helps create a systemized way of assessing the performance of your business and keeps the consistency in doing so. This is the only way you can assess the progress you are making from one period of time to the next.

    Let’s have a look at each of these criteria below.

    Financial

    The financial perspective is arguably one of the most popular focus areas for business owners. Much as this is a critical aspect of your business, it is a function of decisions made before seeing the results through the financial outcomes of your business. If you are solving your customer’s problems in the most efficient way possible and you are constantly learning new ways to grow your business, then the financials will definitely show for it.

    What are your current financial goals, and what projects or activities are you focusing on to reach your target? The answer to this question will form the first part of the balanced scorecard for your business.

    As you go along, you will also need to start looking at your financials and start making decisions based on the numbers. You can always get someone to help you make sense of the numbers. However, don’t make decisions on projects or focus areas if you haven’t looked at the financials.

    Customer

    Without the customer, your business is a hobby. Your customer’s needs, desires, pain points, fears, worries should always be at the center of your business.

    You could track the number of new and repeat customers on a monthly basis. Track their level of satisfaction through surveys as a means of evaluating how well you are performing in this area. How well are your products and services serving customers in a way that meets their deepest desires? Who are your ideal customers and how are their buying behaviours changing? These are all questions that you want to keep asking yourself as part of the balanced scorecard process.

    The easiest way to get your customer KPIs on track is to detail out who exactly your customer is, and get as much feedback as possible whenever they use your products or services. Big corporations use Net Promoter Scores to get an objective view of how their customers view them. Similarly, you can engage your customers and use the feedback shared to refine your product.

    Processes

    The processes perspective of the business balanced scorecard focuses on how efficient and effective your business processes are. Are you doing things as efficiently as you can? Are you spending time on the 80% of activities that only give you 20% of revenue?

    Perfecting your processes is key in saving yourself time and money. One of the easiest ways of doing this is setting up systems in your business to make your processes as efficient as possible.

    Think about the systems you can implement today, with as much simplicity as possible, so that you can save time on those repetitive tasks that you know you have to do, but don’t necessarily directly contribute to your bottom line.

    The quickest way to get your processes in check is to start by writing down all your standard operating procedures. Once you have documented them, it’s so much easier to track what’s working and what isn’t. It also makes a significant difference when you give new team members your SOP Manual so that they know how things should be done in your business without you having to explain the same thing over and over again.

    Learning & Development (L&D)

    Especially in the online business world, where many people tend to think that they can get away with google search and youtube to grow their business, it is important to place a target on your learning and development. If you want to grow, there will always be skills and experiences that you can learn from more experienced people. The L&D perspective captures your business’s learning needs and the approach to tracking progress, budgets required, and impact.

    If you are a solopreneur, you need to continuously improve your knowledge and skills. The learning could be in the form of trainings, mentorship programs, workshops, new courses etc. Keep a budget aside for this, and start seeing it as an investment in growing your business.


    Free GUIDE: Plan & Organize your business in a Day!

    In Conclusion,

    Take some time to map out your goals for each of the 4 areas of the balanced scorecard for your business. Each goal should be linked to an activity or project within your business, even if it’s the same activity across more than one scorecard area.

    Remember to track your progress, review what’s going well and what isn’t and refine your products and processes along the way.

    Check out my Plan your business in a day guide here!

    A gudie for mompreneurs on how to effortlessly create a balanced scorecard for your business.

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  • 9 Financial key performance indicators that you should be tracking to grow your new business

    9 financial key performance indicators you should be tracking as a new business owner.

    I get it, you are just new in this business, and as a busy mom, reviewing the finances every now and again is not the most exciting thing that you do in your business. In fact, many people avoid looking at important financial key performance indicators for their business, because they are afraid of the reality that these indicators will show about their business.

    The tough news is that you are going to have to learn how to use numbers to grow your business and make key decisions. So this post series is for you if you are still trying to figure out the what, why, and how to use financial numbers to make better business decisions.

    Financial key performance indicators are simple ratios or percentages or actual figures that businesses use to measure their financial health. If you are not monitoring your finances closely, as I mentioned in this post, you could end up making decisions that not only hurt your business in the long run, but also don’t make sense.

    Here are my top 9 financial key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can start tracking today in your business!

    1. Profit margin:

    The profit margin helps to compare the performance of your business to the past, and to other competitors who post their financial performance regularly. Having a targeted margin will help in assessing how attractive potential new services and products are, as you should be able to calculate an expected profit margin for each product if you know how much expenses and revenue you expect from it.

    Profit Margin = Profit / Total Income

    2. Expense margin:

    This determines how much of your income you are using to pay for expenses. A higher expense margin means that you are using a lot of sales revenue to run your business. Generally, your expense margin should not change significantly over the year unless your business model has changed. Keep an eye over your expense margin, so that you are not overspending in your business.

    Expense margin = Expenses/ Total Income

    3. Cash on hand:

    This determines how much cash you have at any given time. You should have enough cash to pay for 6-12 months of overall expenses.

    Cash on hand = Available cash to business (Cash + Petty cash + Bank current accounts)

    4. Burn rate:

    This determines how fast a company uses its money to cover its expenses. It is usually interpreted in months, as an indicator of how long a company can continue running if there were no sales or income coming into the business.

    Burn rate (in months) = Cash/ Monthly expenses

    5. Return on equity

    This determines how much you have earned from the investment you have made in the business. This rate is usually very low or even negative in the first 3-5 years of a business.

    Return on Equity = Profit / Equity

    6. Working capital

    Working capital measures the amount of capital that a business uses to continue running its daily activities. The higher this amount, the more upfront financing will be required to operate the business. Working capital is usually calculated by considering the company’s current assets and liabilities. A ratio above 1 generally indicates that the business is in a good position.

    Working Capital = Current Assets / Current Liabilities

    9 financial key performance indicators you should be tracking as a new business owner

    7. Conversion rate

    This determines how many people eventually buy your product or service after seeing your promotion or visiting your website. In online businesses, anything between 3 and 5% is a fairly good conversion rate.

    Conversion rate = Number of buyers/ Number of visitors on page

    8. Revenue per customer

    This is an important financial key performance indicator because it tells you how much revenue you make for each customer. It gives an average figure of the shopping basket size, every time a customer buys from you. You can use this ratio to determine how many new customers you need to target using your marketing efforts, in order to meet your sales targets.

    Revenue per customer = Monthly total sales / Number of customers

    9. Cost of customer acquisition

    Cost of customer acquisition measures how much it costs in marketing to attract and get one customer to buy from you. If you use Facebook Ads, it provides a summary of the cost per conversion, another way of saying what the customer acquisition costs are.

    Cost of customer acquisition = Total marketing spend/ Number of customers

    Found this helpful? Don’t forget to share with your goalfriends using the social media share icons below. You can also download my easy peasy income & expense tracker, and start keeping your business finances in order!

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  • 6 things you can do to make your new business more profitable

    6 ways to build a profitable business

    You want to become financially free to spend time doing the things you love with the people you love, right? So you thought the perfect way to do this, is to build a profitable business. But instead of working less, you are actually working harder, spending more time and not making much progress.

    In the process of it all, looking at your financials is not something you have the time for…. Believe it or not, this is a big reason why a lot of businesses are just not profitable. Business owners don’t realize that the sales they are making just get swallowed up by all the expenses + the taxman!

    Building a profitable business that makes money (because that’s the only way to financial freedom) takes time and an intentional understanding of what is working and what isn’t. Your financial data will tell you a lot about what you might need to change to become more profitable. It’s also important to remember that the performance of your business in no way indicates how good or bad of a person you are, and many businesses are unprofitable in their first few years of operations. Think Uber, Tesla, etc – these innovative companies have been around for a while but not yet making enough sales to cover their expenses…

    That being said, here are a few things that you can do to get your business on the right track:

    1. Set and track your financial goals

    • Where do you see your business in the next 5 years? 
    • Set a goal and break it down into a short-term goal for the next 12 months
    • Break the goal down further into a monthly goal that is easier to achieve
    • What does this monthly goal mean for your everyday? Break your monthly goal further down into smaller, daily actionable steps that you can take to reach it.

    2. Focus on 3 revenue-generating items every day

    It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the “busyness” of being a business owner, and worse if you are the only one in your business.

    Using my time management techniques mentioned in this post, prioritise your to-do items and mark the 3 items on your list that generate the most revenue for your business.

    Getting these three items done on a daily basis will not only make you feel like a champion (because you are a champion!). But will also get you closer to building a profitable business and a strong foundation for your business to truly thrive.

    3. Which products or services are bringing in the most revenue?

    Can you guess what Tesla, Apple and Facebook all have in common? They have all mastered just ONE product and made a killing from it. I know you want to grow multiple revenue streams, but before you start creating a hundred and one products to sell, first specialise on the 1 or 2 products that bring you the most sales, and make them so amazing that your customers want to sing your praises about how great your products/services are, from the rooftops.

    4. Take time to reflect on what is working and what isn’t

    By now, you should be tracking your income and expenses on a regular basis. Keeping track of your financials goes a long way in helping build a profitable business so do it as often as possible. Go back and analyze the good months when you made profits:

    • Are there expenses that you didn’t have then that you now have? Do these expenses make sense? Can you do away with them until the sales in your business pick up again?
    • Are there any other actions you took in these months that contributed to the good performance?
    • How can you repeat these actions and apply them in your business today and consistently?

    5. One bird in the hand is better than two in the bush

    If English was your favourite subject back in high school, you have probably heard this phrase. You may be focusing so much on winning more customers that you forget to give the best customer experience to your existing customers.

    Focus on giving your existing customers the best experience and services ever, and allow their testimonials and feedback to sell your services even more. This will put even less pressure on you when it comes to marketing because social proof is one of the most powerful forms of marketing in this age.

    6 ways to build a profitable business

    6. Plan for huge expenses ahead of time

    Your business might be doing well in terms of sales, but one large unexpected expense could wipe out months of good performance. Plan for all your expenses ahead of time. Make sure you keep some cash aside for unforeseen expenses. Do what you can to run a tight ship (budget), and be in control of how you spend cash in your business.

    Want to find out more tips on how to build a profitable business, build your business the right way without experiencing overwhelm and burnout? Download this business basics cheat sheet and start receiving weekly tips from me to you!

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