At our Virtual Assistant company, most of the people that come to us are those who are spending too much time working in their business. Entrepreneurs become a victim of their own success. Over and over again, we hear, “If I could only clone myself!”
For most businesses, hiring an in-house staff isn’t always a viable option – due to cost, space and the like. But with the use of Virtual Assistants, you can do more or the same with fewer employees.
Until 5 or 6 years ago, the luxury of putting your business on autopilot by using a larger staff was only available to the most well-capitalized businesses with big budgets. Now, with a much smaller financial investments, small businesses can leverage automation in powerful ways. Additionally, the technology for managing this process is becoming more user-friendly.
So what are small businesses automating to save time and gain efficiencies? Here are 6 things that your business probably isn’t automating – but should.
- Figure out where you’re spending your time: You can’t improve upon what you don’t measure. Take a simple Word doc or notepad, and write out your day-to-day activities for a week. This will give you a heat map of where the biggest chunks of your time are being spent. Look back at the activities that you’re spending your time on, and allocate the ones to yourself that you enjoy doing and that you excel at. You’ll find that a number of them aren’t in your genius zone – of what you’re best at – and that is what you should look at delegating. Your measurements, from step 1, are a baseline for what you decide to spend your time on.
- Automate the repeatables: Onboarding clients is something that’s easily put on autopilot, because it is generally a repeatable system. For example, once a new client comes in, have your VA manage sending out their agreement, following up for a signature, filing it electronically, sending your onboarding packet, getting their initial intake information, getting them started with your systems and processes and accept their first payment.. You can call to introduce yourself and welcome them to your client family. What used to be a 2 hour process for you, can now be shortened into a 20 minute meeting.
- Get a hold on email: Services like Sanebox and Boomerang being heralded as a lifesaver for overwhelmed users of Google’s Gmail system. They help sort emails into folders, remind you when someone hasn’t replied and you need to follow up, and allow you to schedule emails to send out later, helping to automate the processes.
- Automate all lead follow up: Studies by SalesForce have proved that 70% of people buy between sales contact #5 and #12. Yet, most businesses stop following up after attempt #3, essentially prepping prospects to buy from someone else. Remember, prospects buy when they are ready to buy; not when you are ready for them to buy. Automating your lead campaigns via a combination of software and your VA team can ensure that you follow up the right number of times with every lead that comes through the door, through a series of e-mail and phone communications set out on a pre-determined schedule.
- Collections: Systems like FreshBooks will streamline your collections process. For example, 5 days after an invoice is due, an e-mail can be triggered alterting the client that their bill is past due. They can get progressively
- Workflow: At Virtual Assist USA, we use a program called Teamwork PM to manage our projects and tasks. It’s a cutting-edge software that allows us to bundle commonly repeated tasks, and automatically puts them on our to-do list. It’s an efficient way to automate our workflow that we can easily serve our client base.
By utilizing the latest in delegation and automation tools, small businesses can act and market like a much bigger business, but they can do it on a small business budget and without adding a bunch of staff.