Are you a fan or does the word make you instantly assume it’s going to be hard and techy? I find people are generally divided on this one.
Either way, if you are a mother and a business owner (which I’m guessing you are) then you need to make friends with automation.
Automation is the mother business owner’s best friend.
Because there are so many amazing, often cheap, sometimes even free, tools out there that can save you time. And saving TIME is critical for us, right? Because we want to be spending that time in our zone of genius, doing the work that lights us up or with our kids (or you know, doing yoga or having a massage), don’t we?
I’m all about setting up your business in the SMARTEST possible way.
What do I mean by that?
Well, by laying solid foundations and then layering up from there.
Getting first things done first.
By creating processes and systems in your business that mean that your business supports YOU, not the other way around. And that means you are in the best state possible to scale your business up when you want to.
If you haven’t given any thought to the processes you have in your business, the chances are everything is a bit slapdash.
The chances are you’re wasting valuable time.
But the good news is, I’m about to give 5 ways you could start using automation to help get parts of your business on autopilot, working without you.
Note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a small commission if you sign up for the product or service. But be aware that I ONLY provide affiliate links for products/services that I use myself and recommend.
1. Email Automation a.k.a. THE FUNNEL
Oh my days there is a lot of talk about funnels on the internet. Can’t seem to move without bumping into someone telling you they the key to creating a KILLER FUNNEL.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a funnel.
But they also seem to be shrouded in mystery and a suggestion that they are somehow difficult to create.
If you don’t yet have a funnel in your business and you feel like you should (you’re right btw, you should) but you have been resisting the idea or telling yourself it’s going to be hard or tricky then fear no more, my love.
I’m going to break it down.
A funnel is quite simply:
Some method of collecting people’s email addresses
A series of emails that builds a relationship with them
Offering them something they might like to purchase
Literally, that is IT.
Ok there are variations on that theme, but that, in a nutshell, is what a funnel is.
Why do YOU need a funnel?
To bring potential clients into your “sphere” and start building relationships with them. Even if you don’t do step 3 at this point, you can create a freebie of some kind (a checklist, ebook, video training), something that your ideal client will find valuable, then set up an automated email sequence which sends them emails over a series of a few days/weeks so they start to get to know you better and you can provide them with more value.
The automated email series is nurturing that lead for you, warming them up for you, leading them to whatever is the next step with you.
I am in the middle of setting up a second funnel, but the one which is live currently includes:
1. A freebie (a very helpful checklist for helping you attract the right social media followers). Here’s the enticing opt-in graphic:
2. Once someone has signed up, I have an email set up to automatically deliver the checklist to her. Then over the coming days/weeks, I have a series of 7 emails set up in which I…
Provide further value
Start introducing her to who I am and the work I do
Offer a discount on an inexpensive but value-packed training bundle (the Identify & Attract Your Social Media Tribe Challenge - that's the link to the discounted version if you want a shortcut!) designed to help her start using social media to really attract and then convert a tribe of ideal clients to paying clients
Invite her to join my facebook group, Self Made Mothers
Invite her to take me up on the offer of a free coaching call
Amongst other things.
Can you see how this automated email sequence allows me to provide lots of value over time and build a relationship with the ladies that opt-in to my freebie?
And if seven emails sound like hard work to set up, start with just two. Just add one into the automated sequence when you get inspired/make some time.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS:
I use Convertkit for my email platform. I know many are drawn to MailChimp as it is free initially but as your list grows it becomes more expensive and MailChimp is harder to use I believe (I’ve used it a lot to help clients so I have hands-on experience) and less sophisticated in what it can do.
It’s also a pain to transfer over from MailChimp to Convertkit (but do-able!) so I suggest finding an email platform that will grow with your business, rather than starting with one, quickly outgrowing it and having to migrate.
2. Social Media Scheduling
Social media can be SUCH a time drain, can’t it?
If you haven’t already, read this post I wrote: The busy Mama's guide to social media scheduling for success.
Using a social media scheduler can automate your social media posts so that you can create your content in a batch session, schedule it all to post over the following days/week so you can sit back and relax (or you know, carry on with family + biz life) happy that your posting stays consistent.
And you KNOW I’ve talked about the importance of consistency before!
It might seem difficult at first to get into a habit of sitting down and getting your scheduling done for the week in one sitting but once you start doing that, the rest of your week will feel less cluttered. It also prevents context switching which puts unnecessary load on your brain power.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS:
Facebook - I used to use Buffer but now I just use Facebook’s own scheduling as I’ve heard it is more algorithm-friendly.
Instagram - I use Planoly as I love being able to plan how my grid is going to look and their hashtag manager saves a lot of time. I’ve also managed to get along just fine with their free plan, hurrah.
Pinterest - if you are serious about using Pinterest to drive traffic to your website/blog/shop (and really, you should be it is SUPER effective IF you know exactly how to use it strategically) then you will 100% need a scheduler as it would be impossible to keep up with the optimal pinning schedule and get anything else done! I use Tailwind as it is really easy to use (FYI if you’re paying for Tailwind you could use it for other social media platforms too).
3. Automated Calendar Management
Do you have meetings or appointments with prospective or existing clients? Do you to and fro on what time/day is the best to meet?
STOP wasting your time!
Get yourself some software that will take the hassle out of this for you.
The majority of my business involves 1:1 coaching calls with clients. Imagine how much time I would waste if I was responsible for:
Finding a time/day that suits us both
Rescheduling when something last minute comes up for them
Complete. Time. Drain.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS:
There are a few different options out there, but I use Acuity for my appointment scheduling and LOVE IT as it allows me to set working hours for different appointment types (i.e. people can only book Discovery Calls with me on certain days and times etc); it syncs directly with my Google calendar so I don’t have to keep two things up to date (if I add things to my Google calendar, it automatically blocks out that time in my Acuity schedule meaning I never get double booked).
This way my clients are responsible for booking/rescheduling their own appointments. They simply use their link, see what availability I have and book a time that suits them.
Extra time saving: not only all this, but I use intake questionnaires on some of my appointment types to get the information I need up front from clients to help us make the most of our call together. Particularly useful as for Discovery Calls as it means I don’t get on a call at all with a prospective client if their answers lead me to believe we wouldn’t be a good fit for working together and/or they aren’t ready to get the most out of coaching.
4. Getting Paid
I have a rule and generally encourage my clients to enforce the same:
I don’t work until I’ve been paid.
Of course this isn’t always possible for all business types. But if you aren’t getting paid up front, have you really thought about if this would be possible? I’d encourage you to really question that.
Getting paid up front means I never spend ANY time sending invoices or chasing down payments.
When clients sign up to work with me, they pay in advance.
Regardless of getting paid upfront or after delivery, I’d also urge you to think about your Path to Purchase. How many steps are there between a potential client/customer finding out about your products/services and actually paying you for them?
Make that process as short and as streamlined as you possibly can. You will make more sales the easier your Path to Purchase is. You will save more time, the more automated it is.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS:
For my 1:1 coaching packages, my clients book and pay through Acuity (see above) which links to Stripe to take the payment. You can create monthly or other recurring payments as well as single lump sum payments so it means you can set your packages up and then just watch the money roll in without having to get involved!
For my online courses (such as Manifest Like A Mother ™) and my digital training bundles (such as my Identify & Attract Your Social Media Tribe Challenge) I use Samcart. I spent quite a lot of time researching shopping cart/payment gateway software and found Samcart to be reasonably priced and it is SUPER easy to set up, customise to use your brand colours etc and also integrates well with Convertkit and Stripe.
5. Get Organised
If you are making lists in notebooks, notes on post-its and scraps of paper, or even using some paper planner, then you could definitely take advantage of technology to streamline your activities (and declutter your brain!).
Often, when my private clients come to work with me, one of the things we work on is getting them organised and turn them and their business into a “well-oiled machine” as I like to say.
This means that they turn up to their working day knowing EXACTLY what their focus and priority are for the day. They keep track of all the aspects of their business. They can delegate easily while still keeping high-level control. And most importantly, it means they can become CONSISTENT.
And in case you haven’t heard me banging on about this before… consistency is one of the crucial keys to success. Consistency will help you gain momentum in your business. And momentum leads to more clients, more money.
Not only that, but getting organised really helps you mentally. If you feel like you are juggling one too many balls, spinning one too many plates, your brain becomes overwhelmed trying to keep up with all that information, all those to-do items. You get worried you’re going to forget something or miss something. You use up all-important brain power just trying to keep it all in there.
Better to have a way to get organised to get it out of your head to free your brain up to receive creativity and inspiration.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS:
I personally LOVE Trello to keep organised. I have a general Tasks Board where I keep track of the day-to-day tasks, the to-do lists, the ongoing projects etc. I also have space in there just to brain dump as and when things come to me.
I also have a Marketing Planner board which helps me to organise my content so I can create once and repurpose many times (see this post to find out about repurposing your content).
And lastly, I have a Big Picture board where I do all of my strategic planning, a high-level view of what I want to do and when over the next 3-6 months.
The great thing about Trello is that, not only can you get by just fine on the free version, but you can sync it with your google calendar so that if you set a due date for a task (or “card” in Trello) it is instantly added to your calendar so you don’t forget. The other convenient thing is that I have the Trello app on my phone so that if I am out and have a small pocket of time, I can knock something off my to-do list and don’t have to curse myself that I left my notebook/paper planner at home.
Trello has a TON of other functionality and can do some really quite cool automation things, integrating with a myriad of other apps, far too many than this blog post will allow me to discuss but go and check it out and have a play!
Well, that is it, a whistle-stop tour of 5 ways that you could be using automation NOW to save time in your business.
We’re mothers and business owners, we don’t have time to waste, right?!
If you’re feeling like you want your business to start working for YOU, rather than the other way around, so that you can feel financially supported by your business AND still get to be the present, great kind of mother you want to be, then let’s chat.
Because helping you to propel your business forward without the sacrifice or overwhelm is my jam.
Click on the button below to book in a call at a time that suits you (using my automated process, hurrah!) and we can chat about what you are struggling with in your business right now and how I might help.