Esther, a friend of mine is a Solopreneur.
The thing is though, her business is starting to take off.
Good for her I hear you say!
The problem is that she is stressed.
I mean some people get stressed because their business is not taking off, Esther is the complete opposite!
Here is why…
She is now trying to figure out how she can scale her business, while not compromising on her values of extraordinary service she provides to her clients.
Esther said to me that she has trouble keeping up to date with emails, with orders, with questions from prospects through to long term established clients…
All these things that are part of a growing business.
When we sat down together, I asked her to walk me through her business model and the first question I asked is what is her overall vision for the business.
Its huge and will touch the lives of many people.
I then introduced a word that she was less familiar with.
I said “Esther, what you need to do next is scale your business”.
“Ross, I know that and I thought about outsourcing but not sure how to go about it”
Well outsourcing is just one way to scale your business and it is a key one, but there are actually four things you need to do and I call these the Four Pillars Of Scale…
Now this first Pillar Of Scale, when you have this in place, you’re actually putting the stability or the certainty in your business to be able to grow from, to later scale up.
You’re building a strong foundation here.
Now when you don’t have it in place, there is likelihood that there will be instability in your business as it starts to grow.
You may not notice that initially, but your business needs to be built on a strong foundation from day one.
What I’m ultimately referring to, is the importance of structure in your business.
Structure is about putting the foundation in your business sooner, rather than later to grow from
So having established the right structure now for your business, the next Pillar Of Scale, when you do this, you will be able to put in the agility to scale your business into the future as you grow – and grow efficiently.
Now when you don’t do this, the opportunity for you to grow will become more challenging, more difficult, because you may be spending additional costs or even under-spending, but not be able to provide the types of services to your targeted customers required.
What I’m talking about and what Esther had in mind, is the ability to outsource areas of your business so you can scale but also manage your costs.
Do what you do best and outsource the rest
After structuring your business to build in the foundations for strength and now learning about outsourcing to scale, the third Pillar Of Scale, when you learn this, this will give you further flexibility to run your business wherever and whenever you want.
When you don’t do this, it’s possible your business won’t have the flexibility to be able to evolve as the environment, technology and other impacts come into the marketplace.
What I’m talking about is the importance to automate, or automation.
Automate to eliminate
The fourth Pillar Of Scale is so critical and really sorts the average business, the mediocre from the excellent, the magnificent.
Do you want to have a business that is the leader of your niche, market or industry?
I am convinced that if you implement this fourth Pillar Of Scale, your business will be set up for the future and will continually be on the leading edge in the niche that you choose to be in.
What I am referring to re-innovate or reinvent.
As Anthony Robbins once said…
If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten
Learn more in the training webinar here…
Have you ever purchased from that well-known Swedish home furnishes store?
I mean the whole experience is something isn’t it!
From collecting the catalogue with note paper and pencil and then proceeding through all the show cases that meander for kilometres.
Some of these stores are so big that there are several stops along the way to take a break.
It’s actually like Disneyland!
It also shows how far we have come from our hunter and gatherer ancestors!
The real adventure starts however once you make your purchases (yes always plural) and head home and attempt to transform those flat packs into something that resembled what originally caught your attention!
Do you read the instructions first or do you just dive in and have a go at it?
Well automating your business is a little bit like this.
We see all the bright shiny objects, the apps, the software as a service and we can see all the great testimonials and case studies from other businesses, so surely it will be perfect for our business wont it!.
Well until you have to implement it into your business!
You see as much as we seek standardisation, there is always something bespoke required.
That is why I’ve now come to realise from countless conversations with my clients, that not many businesses actually know what the critical criteria is or should be, when it comes to selecting the right automation tools and platforms for their specific business.
You see, many entrepreneurs and businesses rush into buying and implementing a particular tool-set as a result of prior experience, misconceptions, bias and literally a lack of knowledge of what is available in the market today and what would be a more strategic fit, which ultimately leads to poor decision making, financial inefficiency or just pure waste.
There is also another group of entrepreneurs and businesses that keep putting off making decisions because they are waiting for the perfect tool to do everything!
However, in reality there is no one perfect tool, so this “non-decision” is also wasting valuable resources due to the lost productivity gains achievable when delaying the implementation of the right tools.
The name of the game therefore, is to implement the right tools that are scalable, while cost effective and are compatible to be integrated into your broader business ecosystem, whether that be with other application tool sets, or with other users such as customers, suppliers or outsourced service providers providing the ultimate seamless experience.
Identifying the right tools to increase your business’ productivity can be challenging!
Technology nowadays provides us with a lot of programs and applications to work with. Choosing which one is best would entail careful selection to maximise the potential of your business and to ensure that it is worth your money. Automation and productivity tools should be able to save you time, money and provide additional capabilities.
Automation and productivity go hand in hand.
They are different, but one cannot live without the other. Think of automation and productivity as cause and effect. Automation is your cause; productivity is the effect.
If you were like me when I first started using social media for my business, I was overwhelmed as to where to start as there are so many platforms, but also underwhelmed in the effort it was taking me to write and post them.
I had to figure out fast, how I can automate it, while making it easy and not compromise on my message
What if you could write just 5 x “500 to 800 word” articles each week – that is approximately one page, on an area or topic you know well and then with those 5 articles, post versions of them in a way where you can actually turn them into 157 posts?
Do you think, that amount of activity could possibly start to get the market’s attention that you are a serious player?
Could it start to generate interest, traffic and action for your business?
Well most definitely and you can do it in a way that does not overwhelm.
Trust me, I have done this and you can learn to do it to. Also, once you get into the rhythm, it is relatively easy to maintain.
Let’s look at the maths of when you write 5 articles per week and posting them or versions of them, across some of the major social media platforms…
- 5 articles on LinkedIn in blog
- 5 articles shared to Facebook
- 5 articles shared to Twitter
- 5 articles shared to Website blog
- 5 re-purposed articles made into quote cards shared on Pinterest
- 5 quote cards shared to Facebook
- 5 re-purposed articles made into videos shared on YouTube
- 5 videos shared via Google+
- 5 videos shared via Twitter
Once you have been writing 5 articles per week, then what you can do to ramp up your efforts by re-posting your older articles from the last 2 to 3 weeks, but you do this so it is fully automated…
- Hootsuite scheduled 7 days per week x 4 times per day on Google+
- Hootsuite scheduled 7 days per week x 4 times per day on Facebook
- Hootsuite scheduled 7 days per week x 4 times per day on LinkedIn
- Hootsuite scheduled 7 days per week x 4 times per day on Twitter
Total Posts In Week = 157
Of course you need to be organised, have a broad strategy and then a plan to execute, but having these alone will not necessarily make it easy.
You need to start looking at how you can automate it all – this is what is going to give you the real time saving leverage
Firstly, many social medial platforms make sharing easy.
For instance, when you post an article on the LinkedIn blogging platform Pulse, when you are ready to publish, it asks if you also want to share it to Facebook and Twitter.
For Pinterest, the default sharing platform is Facebook.
Once you upload videos to YouTube you can automatically have Google+ and Twitter alerted as well.
So by being very astute, you can multiply one single effort 3X!
Is that a good thing to do?
However, the real multiplier effect is with using a social media management tool.
I pay something like AUD 16 per month, for Hootsuite and what I get is a way to pre-schedule posts across multiple platforms at multiple times. As you can see by the number, I am getting 112 additional posts for one “sit down” activity and when the articles are scheduled to post, well I could be anywhere!
So do not become despondent in your social media efforts – its not about working hard, it is about working smarter and automation is key.
“Automation Set To Affect Highly Skilled Occupations”
That’s not my headline. That’s the headline of an article in the December 2015 – January 2016 Company Director Magazine published by the Australian Institute of Company Directors and on page 16 mind you!
The same article paraphrases a McKinsey study which I quote:
“Artificial Intelligence and advanced robotics will have a more profound effect on the global workforce than is widely realised”
Why I am bringing this up, is that it is not that AI, robotics and automation is anything new. What is new, is that it is now being reported more in main stream publications and media channels.
You see manufacturing and logistics (think Amazon) have been pursuing the concept of automation ever since the days of Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford, progressing through to TQM and of course Six Sigma. You could say in the pursuit of greater and greater efficiencies. Its just that today there are better tools and this is now encroaching more and more into the service sector at a rapid pace. Nothing is sacred anymore.
Even in a recent edition of my daily newspaper, there was an article about Robo Advisors for wealth management…
“Robo advisers are designed to take market share from humans who aren’t adding any value to customers” – Ian Dunbar
The other group or industry, that has been embracing automation is of course the digital marketers. But not just large companies. Small micro businesses are implementing automation into their online businesses with profound impact. For my own businesses, I have implemented automation extensively and will continue to do so as new capabilities become available, I also teach my clients to do the same.
Regardless of whether you are a large corporate, or a startup or a small micro online business, today, right now, you need to be implementing automation into your business if you haven’t already. Note also, I did not say “consider implementing”. The fact is that if you do not develop a strategy and then implement these disruptive technologies, you will be left behind.
So hopefully I have provided some context or rationale around “why” you should implement automation, the next step is of course the “what” followed by the “how” and then lastly the “who” or the vendor etc.
The only caveat I give you is that you need to keep peeking over the back of your shoulder to be on the look out for some disruptive entrant into your market place, because before you know it that market entrant could become a behemoth in a very short time.
Finally, whether robotics and automation can be used to train our fury friends to use our note pads for information rather than a meal, that will be another question for another time!
“The digitization of work and the dramatic metastasis of what used to be called automation are driving two massive changes: the outsourcing of jobs from industrial economies and the “robosourcing” of jobs from human beings to mechanized processes, computer programs, robots of all sizes, and still rudimentary artificial intelligence.” – From ‘The Future’ by Al Gore
I don’t know about you, but it seems that hardly a day goes by without some mention of automation and robotics in the main stream media.
Is this the beginning of the end?
Well may be, but I like to ask this question instead…
Is this the beginning and the end?
What do I mean?
I think we are at the “beginning” of a new age in which the previous years of technology breakthroughs have been just laying the foundations for today.
Pick any industry or aspect of our daily lives where technology has not had an impact?
Now of course we may not always be aware and if we are, we may not necessarily agree, but we have to recognise the incredible benefits that have come as a result of this technology.
Yes, on the other side there is an “end”.
Jobs will be replaced or just disappear. So it is understandable that for many, this continued change in our lives is threatening, particularly now that many of the creations of science fiction authors appear to be coming to life! Where this is heading is anyone’s guess and if you watched a recent British – American production on TV called Humans, you may have your justified concerns.
Now I am not old, well at least I do not think I am, but I accept I am an age now, where I have more life experiences to draw on than perhaps those a little younger. For example, I vaguely remember as a young boy going to a shop in my town where we bought ice by the block. Not plastic bags from a 7 Eleven store either. This was a specific shop that made and sold only ice and as kids my brother and sisters use to marvel at seeing this big block of ice come out of a machine and slide down a ramp. Then of course once we took it home, we had to cut it up! Interestingly if you go to the town where I grew up today, the original building is still there – only that they now sell surfing gear!
So what happened? Well of course technology evolved and new products and services and ways of delivery replaced that.
Am I sentimental? Yes, but I do not miss it!
Did that business of selling ice that way disappear? Well of course, but new ones came in its place.
This has been the story of civilisation – continually evolving and adapting. This is also the point I am trying to get across ins that we must keep evolving and adapting.
Automation and robotics are an incredible opportunity for business today as they are equally a threat. New ways will continually be explored, breaking paradigms along the way.
Who would have thought that today there is a sensible dialogue taking place about driverless cars? For example, just last September, the state government of South Australia, introduced legislation to permit on-road trials of driverless cars. During that time also, there was some negative stories of which one news paper was asking the question that if there is an accident, then who is at fault – the passenger or the driverless car? Mind you, for many years I have been taking driverless train rides at international airports in Asia!
The question therefore for you is this…
In terms of automation and robotics, what are the areas that will “begin” – your opportunities and what are the areas that will “end”- your threats? Because it is my view that these are the questions you need to be asking your self today. Otherwise you may be wondering why people are not coming to buy your large blocks of ice anymore!
Finally lets leave the last word to the Terminator in The Rise Of The Machines…