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.
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.
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?