Most entrepreneurs start their businesses to gain some sort of freedom. Perhaps that’s the freedom to choose your own schedule, be your own boss, and so on. In any case, you don’t want to lose your valuable time to tedious administrative tasks.
Unfortunately, that tends to come with the territory. Instead of spending your energy on growing your business, you’re bogged down with emails, files, and so on.
It’s what we call working “in” your business rather than “on” it. To achieve true freedom as an entrepreneur, you must avoid that trap. Find ways to streamline your processes and, whenever possible, get them done for you!
We tend to throw around the word “process” in entrepreneurial circles, referring to everything from operations to sales. But it’s actually quite simple: a process is a reliable and sustainable way of getting something done. It’s something that anyone in your business can easily implement and repeat.
Processes are vital to your freedom. If you’re constantly trying to get tasks done without a clear process, you’ll be wasting valuable time and energy. It’s reinventing the wheel — having to overcome different hurdles each time to achieve the same thing.
But if you can go about your day with the confidence that everything will get done, you’ve already freed up your mental energy. And rather than spending time on tedious, time-consuming tasks, you can enjoy a lighter, more productive schedule.
All that said, a good process is anything but intuitive. As entrepreneurs, we tend to feel ownership of our ideas. We love getting things done. And so it can be tempting to try to do it all ourselves.
Or, we get seduced by fancy tools and technologies. We try to build a highly sophisticated process when often, simpler is better.
However, the most common pitfall for entrepreneurs is trying to refine a process that’s imperfect. Now, you’ll never have a perfect process. You’ll always be striving for perfection. But you also mustn’t solidify a clunky, cluttered part of your business just in the name of “process.”
The biggest time-sinks for any business are administrative tasks: email, phone calls, scheduling, etc. These pop up in everything from hiring to marketing to sales. The more your business grows, the more these tasks tend to pile up.
Your top priority for your business should be creating sustainable revenue streams. The whole of running a business is to turn a profit, right? That’s essential to gaining your entrepreneurial freedom.
Streamlining your lead generation and conversion is the most important process you need. If you can be confident that you have leads coming in and a reliable way to make sales, the rest is much easier. You shouldn’t have to worry about who’s going to answer that phone call or when you’re going to follow up with a lead.
So, creating dependable lead generation and sales processes are incredibly helpful. These allow you to predictably bring in revenue. Without that, it’s hard to stop working “in” your business and start focusing on its growth!
Then, develop a process for your people. The two actually go hand-in-hand. A good team tends to create good processes and vice versa.
As with your sales pipeline, the more predictable your people process, the better. Who’s responsible for which tasks? How does everyone stay in the loop? Confusion leads to frustration that ultimately sucks up more of everyone’s time.
And of course, all these processes should be as simple as possible. Trust me: no one will stick to a process that has dozens of steps and hundreds of variables.
That’s where automation software and other fun tools come in.
As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t need to be done by a human, let a robot do it. If it doesn’t need to be done at all, cross it off the list.
There are hundreds of automation options out there, some of which are likely overkill. I prefer automation that takes care of those tedious tasks. Yes, you could delegate those to other people, but what if a bot could do them instead?
For example, many business owners use marketing automation to nurture leads. If someone signs up for your mailing list, they receive a series of pre-written emails to warm them up. That saves you the tedium of entering their address into your database, drafting a welcome email, and so on.
Automation can also be used to send abandoned-cart reminders, follow up on past purchases, reach out for testimonials, and all sorts of repetitive yet critical tasks.
If you are in a position where you must do things manually, make it easy on yourself! Use keystrokes or macro programs to easily repeat complex actions. There are also programs to auto-expand frequently used text or quickly draft common emails.
Imagine zipping through your daily admin tasks in half the time — or less. Being able to quickly replicate your work and fire off messages is a major time-saver.
Again, don’t get too hung up on building your fancy toolkit. Focus on the tools that will best serve your needs. Your goal should be to get more hours back in your day, not spend them fighting with new software.
A series of simple processes will build a sustainable system for your business. By reliably performing your high-value tasks (or helping your team do theirs) and cutting out the tedious ones, you’ll make room for growth.
Aim to reduce your frustrations and free up your time; these are both vital to your entrepreneurial freedom. And once you’ve gained that freedom and clarity, you’ll be able to start perfecting those processes. That’s how you create momentum in your business and ultimately achieve your goals.
This article is inspired by an episode of the Simplifying Entrepreneurship Podcast in which I interview Tom Antion, an automation expert and the creator of ScrewtheCommute.com. The full interview is available on Youtube below: