Wikipedia says efficiency is “the (often measurable) ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, efforts, money, and time in doing something or in producing a desired result.” Does that define your days as an entrepreneur? More than likely it does not. I was recently quoted in an article on Entrepreneur.com about millionaire entrepreneurs who sleep in. They asked how I could sleep in and still get so much done. My answer was simple, “With systems and a great team you can sleep in and know things are being taken care of.”
How do you create a stress-free business? You put the right systems in place including lots of automation. Shopping carts and membership sites automate your sales and content delivery. Email autoresponders automate relationship building. And calendar apps automate your schedule, putting an end to the frustrating back and forth of setting appointments.
Not only does automation save you time, but it helps ensure quality and consistency as well. Just imagine how confusing it would be to your customers if you didn’t have a shopping cart, but instead sent them an invoice for every purchase, and each invoice was a different cost.
Now these might seem like silly, over-the-top examples, but this is why automation tools exist—to keep everything running smoothly and as expected.
Can you automate everything? No. But you can implement this same level of efficiency and consistency by creating systems and workflows.
Efficiency Tip #1: Document Everything
What would happen if your project manager or executive VA were no longer able to work? Could you easily (and quickly) train someone else to take over? For too many small business owners, the answer to that question is a definitive NO.
When all the instructions for completing a task reside only in one person’s head, you’ve set yourself up for catastrophe. Sure, in the event that someone becomes ill or wins the lottery, you would probably recover, but how long would that take?
Rather than risk struggling with logins and procedures, make it a point to document every task in your business, from how you manage your email to how a new product is launched. That way, if your best VA decides to elope with her Prince Charming, another team member can step in and cover for her.
Efficiency Tip #2: Seek Out More Efficient Systems
Just because grandma always kneaded her bread by hand doesn’t mean that’s still the best way to do things today. (And my grandma's bread was the best!) Now that new stand mixer takes all the work out of bread making, while still keeping the flavor in.
Where can you make your business more efficient, while still keeping the personality and brand your clients love and trust?
- A hosted help desk solution with “canned responses” to the most common questions. Click a button and answer in seconds instead of typing out a 3-paragraph response.
- Document templates ensure everything is formatted in a way that matches your brand, and will save you hours on every worksheet, resource guide, and even sales pages and blog posts.
- Duplicate your repeatable projects inside your project management system, change the dates and key details, and instead of spending 30 minutes assigning tasks to your team, you’ll spend 30 seconds.
It might also be time to upgrade your tools, if what you’re using is no longer as efficient as it could be. For example, if your autoresponder can’t move customers from one email funnel to another based on their behavior, you’re missing out on sales. Consider upgrading to Active Campaign, Ontraport or even Infusionsoft to make your sales process more automated.
Take a look at your business and the tasks you and your team perform every day. Where can you be more efficient? What tools would help you maximize your time? Making changes in these areas will add hours to your day, and greatly reduce your overwhelm and stress levels as well.