Automate Your Business

The four keys to automation are to eliminate, batch, systematize, and delegate.  

Eliminate.  While eliminate may seem obvious and simple, as we're simply saying, “Don’t do that which you don’t need to do,” most small businesses suffer from the dual issues of being understaffed and under capitalized. In other words, they don’t have enough people or money to really focus on making their systems work. So their companies become a huge hodgepodge of “whatever works for the person doing it,” which, of course, is never the same from person to person. This often leads to the quality control issues and the blame game. Needless to say it’s not efficient.

To eliminate failing systems, we first need to identify everything that drains the businesses time and money. Knowing how to read financial statements would be supremely helpful here. Barring that, follow a systematic approach of reviewing every system, asset, person, debt, and everything else about your company. Ask yourself one question, “Is this helping or hurting me?” If it’s helping, keep it. If it’s hurting, dump it. If it isn’t hurting and it’s free, dump it anyway because it’s a distraction. Once you’re done with this process, which should take no more than 30 days, move on to the next step.

Batch. With your previously bloated systems streamlined, look for things that go together. Maybe six of your processes could all be done on Tuesday morning, instead of scattered throughout the week. Maybe all of your administration work could be handled by a fabulous part time admin who only wants to work one day per week, instead of scattering the brain of a multitasking full time person five days per week. Maybe client calls are 30% more effective on Tuesday and Wednesday in your industry, so you’d move all of your client calls to those two days. The goal here isn’t to make the changes just yet, but to imagine how you could make them.

Systematize. With your batching ideas in mind, and your streamlined processes, try to reimagine how you would change how your processes, and how they would work if you were forced to cut your time in half. Or even by three quarters. What would you do?

Delegate. Still here? Let’s make this harder. Now that you assumed your staff would work 50% or 75% less, let’s put you in the same boat. Imagine that you would die if you worked more than 10 hours per week. How does that change your scope, the way you handle, approach and do everything? Obviously, your first step would be to delegate. But how? And what? And to whom?

(Acknowledgment. Some of the concepts for this section are based on Tim Ferriss and his book, The Four Hour Work Week.)