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Get Lazy With Automation: Inside secrets to increasing your production and profitability by 300-500%.

 

The following blog post is a brief excerpt from my upcoming book “Creative Innovation” due out in the early fall of 2011. This book will be published in a variety of versions including Amazon Kindle, Epub, PDF and soft cover. The focus on the book? Outlining 20+ years of marketing experience and innovative approaches to small business. All 100% based on real case studies and client examples. Hope you enjoy! For a table of contents listing, check out http://www.eldoren.com/creativeinnovationtoc.html

Get  Lazy With Automation: Inside secrets to increasing your production and profitability by 300-500%.

automation-leverageOver the past few years, my favorite two words when it came to small business was “leverage” and “automation”. The whole idea of spending a dollar and leveraging that into $20-$50 dollars was exciting. With the concept of “automation” in my business, I was able to make this leverage actually happen and return many times my return on my investment of dollars or time.

My goal in this chapter is to show you methods that worked for me.

The whole concept of automation hit me hard 15 years ago when I learned we were only blessed with 24 hrs in a day. Call me crazy but it took that long in my life to see I had limitations.  I lived the entrepreneurial dream like many that I could build my small business and do everything myself. I would make money “while I slept”. The reality was quite a bit different. But  let’s start with what automation is.

I started my computer businesses as coder, designer, marketing manager, CEO, customer services, accounts payable clerk and about another 19 positions. I needed a way to focus on making more money, lowering my stress and trying to focus 100% on what I was super good at.  I read a lot of books, took courses, and begged for advice from my Dad (an accomplished time management expert).

The secret for me lay in a few areas. Computers and technology was the first step. I made a point of looking at how I could program specific tasks that could run while I was working on other projects. So early on I priced out computers and purchased a couple of extra. My wife thought I was crazy. Back then, that was a $2000+ investment per computer. But I had learned how to leverage these and make them pay big dividends. In fact for every $1000 I spent, I could recover those costs in less than 1-2 months. This topic alone, about investment in technology will be covered in another post!

At the same time, I was getting hundreds of emails on a daily basis. A good 75% were emails I had to review and answer. Clients and prospective clients needed quotes, information on my logo design services, interest in my articles on going online and many other topics. It could easily take me 6-8 hrs just to answer emails. So in the interest of automation, I started creating auto-responders in my email program. In fact, my hosting package (the same I use for all my current clients) included free auto-responders! It was SIMPLE. I would simply create an email address (ex; coolstuff@eldoren.com) and then program it to send out information to my new and existing clients. At the same time I would receive and email advising me that someone (the name and email was sent to me) had requested information on “cool stuff” from my company.

time-is-moneyAt this point, I realized that simply automating my email handling and processing daily, saved me valuable time. The biggest benefit for the email automation tools was that it appeared to many that I was IMMEDIATELY responding to their needs. Once they had read what I had to offer, I would provide them with contact information to follow up with me.  I was also able to cross sell them and educate them on my many other services.

The other big advantage to using the auto-responders was the fact it pre-qualified many new clients. For example if I provided them information on my logo design packages or webhosting options, they were given rough estimates of costs. If I was way out of the ball park, I didn’t hear back from them. As horrible as that sounds, sometimes focusing on the folks that value what I do and what I charge was more important. I simply couldn’t satisfy everyone.

Having automated my email as well as automating my office operation using multiple computers, I could start to see myself saving time. And especially once I cranked up the computers.

Over the years, family and friends wondered aloud, “How is having 3 computers running save you money?” I explained, it was really quite simple. I listed all my daily activities that I did on my computer and looked for solutions that might save me time.  

Here is an example of just a few items I automated that helped me out:

  • I run daily, weekly, monthly reports for clients using Google Web Analytics. These reports provide me and my clients regular information on their websites and also provide me with trending information on activity on their website. These trends help me identify certain pages that generate sales or inquiries for clients. This was particularly critical for E-Commerce web sites. By automating this process, I had reports for clients scripted to run at specific times without slowing my main computer down.
  • Updating websites with new information and content can be very slow at times due to large files sizes and specialized content ( movies, flash presentations, hosted video etc). Again, while working on email and consulting work, I automated all my uploading tasks so that one computer was solely dedicated to ensuring my clients sites were current. In fact, many nights these changes occurred while I slept.
  • Gathering news and following online information, blogs, announcements, news articles and more can be very time consuming. For me it was 100 times easier if I could find and use tools that went out while I slept or worked on other projects and gather all this information for me and then assemble into single page reviews that I could look at.  I was now able to review the equivalent of 100-150 newspapers a day in less than 15-20 mins using FREE tools found online. I only read what was applicable to me or my clients. This saved me hundreds of hours in a year. And insured that I was always in the know on how my clients were being reported on, online.In the past 2 years, I have increased my INFORMATION INTAKE by about 50 times as I monitor e-zines, newsletters, hundreds of blogs and new alerts. The big advantage is my productivity increased significantly.

    A good example is I can monitor all newspapers, magazines, blogs, facebook, twitter for mention of my clients names, trademarks, discussions etc around the globe. What is that worth to a client? What is that worth to me!

  • Most days I found I put in a solid 10-12 hrs a day and managed to stay on top of a lot of my work. But I worked in one time zone and 12 hours a day represented only 50% of a full 24 hrs a day. Knowing there are physical limits to how many hours one could work in an average workday, I looked at ways to automate certain programming work. Using a combination of leverage and outsourcing, I found ways to get work produced and automatically uploaded 24 hrs a day. I picked two time zones ( one 7 hrs ahead of me and one 7 hours before I started work) and located individuals who could produce subcontracted work and then submit to me automatically online. ( Note: in the full book I explain how I also increased the profit level as well as ROI on the project work)

The above are just a few techniques that I developed and started to use. It’s important to remember  some key points:

  1. Automation and streamlining your business processes and tasks can save you TIME, MONEY and PEACE OF MIND.  By creating methods like those above, you can easily squeeze 30-40 hrs of work into a typical 8 hour day.
  2. Automation can apply to pretty much ANY business. Obviously I am in the web developing / computer consulting business. But it’s fair to say, we all deal with time constraints, way more email than we can handle and loads of mundane tasks that make us little money.

save-money-by-automatingIn my new book, CREATIVE INNOVATION, I provide many more real life examples on how to automate your business. I include the actual tools that I use (with links to them online), actual working examples and what you can expect to save in terms of time and money. This one chapter on Automation will easily pay for the cost of the book coming out (priced around $12.95 to $19.95 depending on the format of the book.

Have a great prosperous day!

Gordon

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July 7th, 2011

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One Response to “Get Lazy With Automation: Inside secrets to increasing your production and profitability by 300-500%.”


  1. Judy Kucharuk says:

    Really enoying the blog Gord – great information!






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