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One of the biggest questions I receive from mompreneurs looking to scale their business is “How can I build my business when I can’t afford a team to help me?”. While I now have a (very) small team, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, in my two years of being an entrepreneur, I’ve only had help for about six months. And in those six months, I’ve only outsourced around 10-15 hours of work a month.
I understand that it can seem difficult to do everything yourself when you’re building, and managing, a business all on your own. And to top it off, you won’t always have the funds to pay other people to help you. So what do you do instead? You use automation tools. By using automation, I was able to start earning more money in less time. Here’s how and why I use automation tools to help me grow and scale my business.
Frees Up Your Time
One of the best ways to free up extra time in your business is to use automation tools. In any business, there will be those small, mundane, and repetitive tasks that you’d rather not do. For me, those tasks are typically social media or scheduling related. It’s not that I don’t like connecting with people, it’s that I don’t have time to do it 24/7. I have a family and a household to take care of. I can’t always be on social media thanking people for following me or immediately responding to people who booked a strategy session.
So instead, I use automation tools to do those steps for me. That way, my audience and potential clients know I truly appreciate them, and I don’t have to sacrifice quality family time or sleep. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Allows You To Outsource The Little Things
When you use automation tools, you’re able to outsource those little tasks that you’d otherwise pay someone for. Now, I’m not against hiring a contractor. I love being able to help someone start their own entrepreneurship journey. However, at one point, I couldn’t afford anyone. And when I could afford someone, I didn’t even know where to start in the hiring process! So instead, by using automation, I was able to outsource those little tasks that I needed help keeping up with.
As a solopreneur, you’re typically wearing so many different hats at one time. From bookkeeping to social media to email marketing, you do it all. So instead of worry about those little things that you can’t seem to stay on top of, use automation tools. That way, your business can run like a well-oiled machine, and you don’t have to remember all of the tiny details that would otherwise get overlooked or forgotten about.
Helps You Uplevel Your One-Person Business
This may seem blunt, but no one cares if you’re doing this on your own. Customers and clients don’t want to hear excuses as to why you missed a call or couldn’t deliver a product. Business is business after all, and people love convenience and availability. People love someone that shows up and gets things done in a timely fashion. They also love someone that they can depend on.
And that’s where automation comes in. When you use automation tools, you’re upleveling your business. Not only are you helping yourself out, but you’re helping those that use your services and purchase your products. For example, I make it easy for my clients, and potential clients, to schedule calls with me.
My process starts with a quick application, and from there I review and reach out to them about whether or not we are a good fit. If we are, they’re given my scheduling calendar, and they choose a date and time that works best for them. Then, they get their questionnaire and contract, and our call is added to my schedule and theirs. The process takes me a grand total of 15 minutes. That time is used to review if the potential client and I are a fit or not. However, my clients have been so happy at the fact that I don’t waste time or energy. And they love that everything is so quick and painless for them to work with me. That’s the beauty of automation!
When you automate tasks like your social media or email marketing, you’re able to take a step back in your business but continue to build visibility. In today’s society, it’s all about what you’re putting out into the world. People love a good Instagram feed, and sites like Pinterest and Twitter are huge when it comes to building your website’s traffic and converting your audience into loyal customers. We’re even told that social media marketing is everything because it can help you grow your online business!
By using automation tools, you can build your visibility while spending less time on social media. Not only can automation tools help you post to your social media profiles, but it can also help you stay in front of your audience without you putting in the extra effort. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be engaging with your audience, because you should be. But when you use automation tools, you’re allowing yourself the freedom to take a break from your phone and computer without the fear of losing your brand recognition.
Ways To Automate
See? You don’t need a team to help you build your business, especially if you’re just starting out! While a team can be helpful in scaling your business even further, automation tools can help you fill in the gaps in your business until you’re ready to take on that responsibility. Here are some of my favorite automation tools that helped me scale my small online business and that I still use today.
Zapier is the ultimate automation tool to help you organize your processes and help you get rid of those repetitive tasks on your to-do list. I use it to help me automate tasks like saying “hey” to new Twitter followers, alerting me when someone has reposted my content so I can thank them, and connecting all of my appointments and random tasks to Asana and Slack. Plus, Zapier is completely free for up to 5 “zaps” (their word for automation tasks), and plans start at $20/month if you need more than that.
While I don’t use IFTTT (if this, then that) as much as I use Zapier, I love them for one very specific reason, which is posting my Instagram photos to Twitter. Now, Zapier can do this too, but IFTTT also posts my caption, which is a big deal for me. It’s also great for automating other social media tasks, but that feature alone is beneficial for me and my business.
Planoly is a social media automation tool for Instagram, and I loved it so much that I actually upgraded to a paid plan just so I could take advantage of the extra features. With their free option, you can plan up to 30 images a month on Instagram, and add in your captions and hashtags as well. You can even save hashtags that you use frequently so you can add them to each photo you schedule.
The paid plan offers a few more features, like planning out videos and gifs, scheduling more than 30 photos at a time, more in-depth analytics, and even planning Instagram Stories. Planoly has been instrumental in boosting my Instagram game, and it makes posting super easy!
MailerLite is an email marketing platform, and it’s special for a few different reasons. For one, you get automation tools that you see in the big name companies such as InfusionSoft and ConvertKit. For two, you can organize your email funnels easily and effectively.
For example, you can set up what they call a “workflow” to send out a specific set of emails, and then based on your subscriber’s actions, your workflow will then funnel them into a new workflow. So, say you send out a welcome series to all new subscribers (if you don’t, you should, and here’s why). At the end of the welcome series, you give them a code to get a discount on one of your products. For those that use the code, you can then funnel them into a new workflow. How cool is that?
The best thing I love about MailerLite is that it does all of this, for FREE, up to 1,000 subscribers. Having an email list is important. However, when you’re just starting out with email marketing, the last thing you need to worry about is paying for a system that isn’t generating any revenue for you. MailerLite gives you the tools that other companies charge you for, for free. And you can’t beat that.
SmarterQueue is my social media automation tool of choice. If you’ve ever used MeetEdgar, its set up is similar, but it’s a whole heck of a lot cheaper. I really like that SmarterQueue gives you the option to build a custom plan that fits your needs and budget.
With SmarterQueue, I’m able to automate my Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. I can set up various libraries that organize my content. I then set up my schedule to post during the best times of the day for optimal audience exposure. SmarterQueue also recycles my posts for me. That means I don’t have to constantly schedule the same content over and over again.
Once I finished the initial setup process, I didn’t really have to touch SmarterQueue again! The only time I go into it is when I’m adding new content, like a new blog post or offering that I have. I love it! (Want a free month of SmarterQueue? Click here.)
Remember how I told you that I have a scheduling system that allows me to book calls with ease? Well, say hello to Calendly. Calendly is by far my favorite scheduling system, and for a few good reasons. For one, you can sign up for Calendly absolutely free. Again, you’ve got to love free when you’re first starting out in your business. Once you’re ready to upgrade, plans start out at $15/mo.
Calendly allows me to connect to a payment system for the calls I charge for (like my strategy sessions), lets me send out a questionnaire and contract automatically, and even sends out email and text reminders so my clients don’t miss our call. It’s a powerful little scheduling tool, and it takes the guesswork out of when everyone is available and what I need to go over.
Calendly has been a huge timesaver in my service-based business, and I can’t remember what my business was like before I started using it (but I guarantee you, it was most likely a hot mess).
Last but not least, Tailwind is another automation tool that I use in my business. If you aren’t familiar with it, Tailwind is a tool that allows you to schedule pins on Pinterest and have them post at specific times of the day. And recently, they’ve added a feature that helps you “loop” your pins and repost them automatically, without having to reschedule them each time.
Tailwind is one of the biggest reasons my blog and Pinterest grew so quickly! It posts content consistently and even lets me schedule all of my content months in advance. I also get to connect with some pretty awesome content creators, so it’s a huge win in my book.
So there you have it, how to use automation tools, and why you should! You don’t have to shell out the big bucks to start scaling your business, you just have to be smart about where you spend your time and automate the rest. Automation makes it so much easier to be a one-woman business!