Think about it for a moment… are you saying these things to yourself or those around you? Is it time you stopped to think beyond today’s burning issues, and on to what benefits lie on the other side of investment into increasing profits or reducing labour-intensive processes and tasks within your business?
I used to be the same. I would be very aware that investing in some digital automation could save vital hours / days, or that taking some time out from working IN the business to work ON it could allow me to identify new ways of working that would benefit me in the long-term. BUT… did I do it? No, because I was “too busy”, or “couldn’t afford it”.
Let’s break down those two excuses….
I’m too busy to save time
Running a business is tough. Everyday you start with a pile of projects that you’re already late delivering, then a new avalanche of problems, fires, and challenges arrive in your inbox. Most of which are “urgent”. I get it. Trust me, I really do. I’ve been self employed for almost 20 years and I am still grappling with it now.
However, if you are going to grow your business, achieve your goals, and ultimately sell it or hand it down, then you have to GET OVER IT, and look past all the noise of “today”. Switch off your phone, close down your Email App, close your Social Media tabs, and take a full dedicated day to work on your business. The mid to long-term benefits of doing this will pay you back 1oo-fold. There will *always* be noise and “urgent” stuff, and if you take out just one day and ignore it all, the World will not end. Nobody will die (unless you are actually a medical professional, in which case please don’t read my blogs and get back to work!).
If you are too busy to save time in the future, then you are holding yourself back and you’ll never move on. So open your calendar right now, pick a day next month and block it out to work on your business.
Use your day to:
- Identify tasks that could be delegated to other team members or outsourced to a 3rd party
- Identify processes in your business that could be streamlined or automated
- Look at where your time is spent on a typical day / week / month and consider whether it’s the best use of your valuable time. Come up with a figure of what one of your days is worth, and apply a real cost to the things you are spending (or wasting) your time on. EG – If you consider your day to be worth £2,000 and you go for a “random coffee” with a new connection in another town, then that’s just cost you £1,000 and you need to be confident you’ll see a return.
- Look at your customer processes – are they consistent, could they be fully or partly automated, are they efficient? Could they be re-worked to create an awesome customer experience?
I can’t afford to save money
This one is hilarious. When you think about it. Very often you will absolutely *know* that with a bit of an investment, you could get to a place where you can elevate your business in terms of revenue, profit, or reduced costs. But, you look at what’s in the bank, and you panic and do nothing. So you stand still, and struggle on.
Cash is king. Of course it is. And you can only run out of it once, as my very wise Dad once told me (Thanks Dad!). However, cash is also relatively easy to come by when you are in business, and as long as you are investing it in something that will bring a return, it’s a no brainer, right?
Maybe you can free up some cash by following the advice in section 1, above, maybe you can temporarily increase your overdraft, maybe you could raise your fees to increase your profits, maybe you could take some funding or investment. The important thing is, when you *know* (or are at least 85% certain) that you can achieve a new level in your business on the other side of an investment, then you have to go for it.
There is one thing that you can be fairly certain on getting an ROI from:
- Automation – In every situation that I have delivered an Automation solution (either for myself, or for clients), there has been a very clear return on that investment. Whether it’s by saving cost on out-sourced services, saving your own valuable time, or by increasing profits by streamlining processes, there is nearly always a return to be made from investing in Automation in your business. One of my clients grew their business by 500% in the 12 months after I’d automated 80% of their processes with digital / web technology. That is significant growth in 1 year!
Here are a couple of “low hanging fruits” that you can pick on when looking for things to automate in your business:
- Your customer on-boarding process. When you win a new customer, there are certain admin and communications tasks to be done. Set them up on your accounts system, check their credit references, add them (or update their status) to your CRM system, advise them on information they need, or actions they need to take etc to get the ball rolling. ALL or most of these things can be automated using web technology, and you may be surprised at just how cost-effective it is to create such a system.
- Your internal project setup/management process. Every time you start a new project or service for a client, there are tasks and processes that you are repeating each time. Of course, some bits of those will be tailored, but a large majority can be automated, and perhaps even automatically triggered by the on-boarding process we looked at above.
Automation doesn’t have to mean building an all-singing, all-dancing “system” to run your business (although this is entirely achievable and sometimes dramatically changes the fortunes of some businesses). Often automating a process such as the ones highlighted above can be achieved for under £5k, and can deliver way above that in terms of returned time and money.
So STOP. THINK. Is it time you invested your time and money into the future health and growth of your business, and yourself?