Do you want to save time during your work day? Do you wish you had an extra 18 hours to accomplish everything on your to do list? Most people would answer, “Heck yeah!” to those questions because a coach’s to do list is never really finished, especially if you don’t have any support staff. Automating certain tasks, like social media, is one way to gain some time back in your day but that task still requires you to interact with your followers.

Social media schedulers, such as HootSuite and Buffer, are convenient and budget-friendly. Simply log in, schedule which posts should publish on which platform, and hit the save button. Voila. Done.

Some platforms, like Meet Edgar, are more powerful because they continue to share your evergreen social media posts into the future, thus saving you even more time from creating and scheduling. This all sounds wonderful and who doesn’t want to have more free time but do these platforms eliminate the ‘social’ from social media?

The answer to that is: only if you allow it. Using schedulers is a wonderful thing and is a task that a savvy virtual assistant can take over. But you still need to be aware of what’s happening in your social media world. If followers are asking for your opinion, you need to be there in a timely fashion giving your opinion. If customers are asking specific questions about a product or course, you need to be on the ball answering those questions; otherwise you’ll be getting refund requests because your customers feel neglected.

Also, be active in your social media world in terms of connecting with others online. Yes, it’s wonderful when people in your tribe find you but you should put in equal effort to connect with your ideal customer. Passive marketing (or hope marketing, as I’ve heard it called) puts too much power into the hands of your ideal audience. Don’t wait and hope that they find you; make them want to CHOOSE you. Show them how you can help solve their problems. To do this successfully, you need to have a personal presence online instead of allowing a social media manager or third-party scheduler to be in charge.

Who doesn’t love automation? Shopping carts and membership sites automate your sales and content delivery. Email autoresponders automate relationship building. And calendar apps automate your schedule, putting an end to the frustrating back and forth of setting appointments.

Not only does automation save you time, but it helps ensure quality and consistency as well. Just imagine how confusing it would be to your customers if you didn’t have a shopping cart, but instead sent them an invoice for every purchase, and each invoice was a different cost. Or what if your 16-week group coaching course sometimes arrived by email, and sometimes in your Facebook group, and sometimes not at all?

Now these might seem like silly, over-the-top examples, but this is why automation tools exist—to keep everything running smoothly and as expected.

Can you automate everything? No. But you can implement this same level of efficiency and consistency by creating systems and workflows.

Document Everything

What would happen if your project manager or executive VA were no longer able to work? Could you easily (and quickly) train someone else to take over? For too many small business owners, the answer to that question is a definitive NO.

When all the instructions for completing a task reside only in one person’s head, you’ve set yourself up for catastrophe. Sure, in the event that someone becomes ill or wins the lottery, you would probably recover, but how long would that take?

Rather than risk struggling with logins and procedures, make it a point to document every task in your business, from how you manage your email to how a new product is launched. That way, if your best VA decides to elope with her Prince Charming, another team member can step in and cover for her.

Seek Out More Efficient Systems

Just because grandma always kneaded her bread by hand doesn’t mean that’s still the best way to do things today. Now that new stand mixer takes all the work out of bread making, while still keeping the flavor in.

Where can you make your business more efficient, while still keeping the personality and brand your clients love and trust?

Consider:

  • A hosted help desk solution with “canned responses” to the most common questions. Click a button and answer in seconds instead of typing out a 3-paragraph response.
  • Document templates ensure everything is formatted in a way that matches your brand, and will save you hours on every worksheet, resource guide, and even sales pages and blog posts.
  • Duplicate your repeatable projects inside your project management system, change the dates and key details, and instead of spending 30 minutes assigning tasks to your team, you’ll spend 30 seconds.

It might also be time to upgrade your tools, if what you’re using is no longer as efficient as it could be. For example, if your autoresponder can’t move customers from one email funnel to another based on their behavior, you’re missing out on sales. Consider upgrading to Active Campaign, Ontraport or even Infusionsoft to make your sales process more automated.

Take a look at your business and the tasks you and your team perform every day. Where can you be more efficient? What tools would help you maximize your time? Making changes in these areas will add hours to your day, and greatly reduce your overwhelm and stress levels as well.

It’s inevitable. As a small business owner, you will wear many, many hats.

Marketing manager.

Bookkeeper.

Content developer.

Coach.

Technical support staff.

But while this type of task juggling is to be expected, you have to be aware that not all of your hats are created equal. Marketing outweighs bookkeeping, for example, because without marketing, there will be no cash to manage.

Not only that, but you have to consider how much time you’re spending in each area as well. If you spend all day tweaking the design on your website and put off sending an email to your list, what have you gained?

Sure, you might have a prettier website, but you lost an opportunity to drive traffic to your offer.

In an ideal world, you’d simply put on your CEO hat and delegate the rest, but here in the real world, we don’t always have that option. Instead, we have to work smarter, and take care how we’re spending our time.

Prioritize Your Daily Tasks

We all have different skills and sweet spots when it comes to the tasks we want and need to do. You might love customer support and hate bookkeeping, while someone else enjoys the numbers game and doesn’t like dealing with the help desk. But regardless of your personal preferences, one thing is certain: money-making tasks should be at the very top of your to-do list.

That might mean product creation, email marketing, client outreach, webinar development, or something entirely different. Identify those money-making tasks in your business and be sure to prioritize them every single day.

Know the Difference Between Important and Urgent

In his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey recommends prioritizing tasks based on a time-management grid. Every task is assigned to a quadrant of the grid, based on whether it is urgent, important, both, or neither.

Once you know where a task falls on the grid, you’ll immediately know what you should be working on. For example, marketing and planning are important but not urgent. A ringing phone is urgent, but not important. The sales page for your new program, which is launching tomorrow, is both urgent AND important.

So before you prioritize your daily to-do list, think about where each of your tasks falls in the quadrant, and schedule them accordingly.

Will you always be working on the best task for right now? Probably not. Nor will you always use your time as wisely as you could. But by making a conscious effort to organize and prioritize your days, you’ll find it’s a lot less stressful and overwhelming to manage your small business.

I get it. Youu2019re a solopreneur.

Youu2019re proud of the fact that youu2019ve bootstrapped your business from the ground up, tackling every task that comes your way. You built your first website, dove in and learned how to edit and upload videos to YouTube, figured out how to format your email newsletter, and even wrestled your shopping cart into submission.

But that feeling of pride that comes from doing the work yourself comes with a price. Too many small business owners are working too many hours, suffering from burnout and frustrationu2014not because theyu2019re not good at what they do, but simply because theyu2019re unwilling to truly invest in their business.

Theyu2019re letting a scarcity mindset prevent them from taking the stepsu2014and making the investmentsu2014that will have a massive impact on their business. And maybe you are, too.

1. Outsourcing

By far the biggest objection to outsourcing youu2019ll hear is u201cI canu2019t afford it.u201d Perhaps youu2019ve heardu2014or even said it. But the fact is, if youu2019re a serious business owner, you canu2019t afford not to outsource.

The time you free up by not doing those mundane, everyday tasks is time youu2019ll spend more profitably, by:

  • Creating new coaching programs.
  • Upping your content marketing game.
  • Recording video and audio content.
  • Connecting with your audience through email and blogging.
  • Working with clients either one on one or in a group setting.
  • Or just enjoying your life!

Outsourcing should never be looked at as an expense. In fact, if youu2019re not getting a return on your outsourcing investment, take a hard look at what youu2019re outsourcing and to whom, because there is likely plenty of room for improvement.

2. Automation

Most online business owners start out using low-cost tools with limited features. For example, you might be using PayPal exclusively for product sales, and manually adding buyers to your mailing list each time you receive a payment. While thatu2019s an acceptable solution when time is easier to come by than money, youu2019ll quickly outgrow it. The problem is, too many entrepreneurs fail to recognize the benefits of true automation.

Not only is trying to u201cmake dou201d with a pieced-together system costing you sales, but it costs actual dollars, too. You (or your VA) will spend extra time simply getting it all to work, rather than letting the tools do the heavy lifting.

Recognize when itu2019s time to uplevel your marketing tools to include true funnel automation, and watch your income increase dramatically!

3. Coaching

It is possible to build your business solely on your own. You can pay attention to what others are doing and reverse engineer their systems. You can read books and blogs and maybe invest in a few carefully chosen training programs.

But there will come a time when your growth will flat line, and youu2019ll struggle to reach that next level. Thatu2019s when itu2019s time to invest in coaching. And yes, even coaches have (and need) coaches. A coach can help you see past your own blind spots, work through the blocks that are holding you back, and build a business you loveu2014on your own terms.

Donu2019t be afraid to invest in your business. Wise investments such as coaching, automation, and outsourcing will pay for themselves many times over.

Is Your Social Media Plan Working For You?

Ah, social media. It’s everybody’s favorite way to interact with others around the world and to market their products and services. Some people reach the elevated status of Social Media Darling while others are posting day in and day out without any nibbles whatsoever.

What’s the difference between the Darling and the Wannabe? Most importantly, the differences are in their social media planning and their ability to develop relationships. Even if we’re talking about selling the exact same product, how the Wannabe approaches the opportunity is often quite different than how the Darling approaches it.

Let’s break it down more:

The Social Media Darling cares about other people. She interacts with people every single day on social media by answering questions and replying to comments both on her own posts but also on other posts in her feed. She shares snippets of her life instead of bombarding her followers with product pitches. The Darling also knows, through trial and error, which platforms give her the most engaged audiences and this is where she spends her time.

The Wannabe also cares about people but she’s posting product photos on every single social media platform available, desperate to make a sale. She figures that people don’t buy the first time they hear about her product so she continues to post about the product. She doesn’t notice when people leave comments or doesn’t know how to respond back. She comments on only a select few posts and is spread too thin across all the different platforms.

How to Revise Your Social Media Plan

The beauty of owning your own business is the ability to do what you want. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about which social media platforms you should use so approach this methodically. If you’re posting random photos on Instagram and get a few likes here and there, is it really worth your time? If you post an article once a month on LinkedIn but have an inbox filled with unanswered invitations to network, should you continue to use this platform?

First, determine where your target market hangs out and learn how to use that platform. If you’re aiming to attract professional clients, then LinkedIn might be your ticket. If you’re looking for other solopreneurs or small business owners, check out Facebook. Want to market yourself locally? Alignable is a new platform to try. Can’t fit your thoughts into 144 characters? Then drop Twitter instead of stressing about it.

Second, remember to be social. You’re much more than your business so show that to your followers. Yes, share about your business because that’s your passion and a part of your life but share about your other passions. Trips and travels; favorite hobbies; favorite sports teams; favorite movies or television shows. Let people get to know the whole you, not just the business you.

Consistency is a key element in a business’ success. Of course, there are other important factors but consistency is what will create name recognition. Consistency is what will build your tribe so you can develop a trusting relationship. Consistency is what will showcase your expertise to new followers.

Here’s an example: You go out to dinner at your favorite restaurant and you fall in love with your entrée. A few weeks later you take a friend to the same restaurant, order the same meal, but it tastes different and you send it back to the kitchen. Their lack of consistency in how your meal was prepared will now leave doubt in your head about that particular dish and possibly about the whole restaurant in general.

Doubt in a customer’s mind generally means you have to rebuild that trust again to show that they should continue doing business with you. It’s not impossible to earn their trust again but you’re basically starting from square one. Just like when your weight loss efforts are halted during the holiday season and you have to lose those same 5 pounds multiple times. Working your business consistently and focusing on superb content and excellent customer service will help to keep your clients happy and trusting in you.

Have you ever had this occur: You opt-in to an email list that has great potential. You receive a few weekly emails and then nothing. Crickets. Then a month or two later you receive an email from that person again, making an offer to purchase their product. How does that lack of consistency make you feel? I’m guessing your first reaction would be, “Who the heck is this person?” Lack of consistency will cause you to forget who they are and why you signed up for their list in the first place. Lack of name recognition generally leads to, “I don’t know who you are so why would I give you my money?” Again, this business owner just made themselves a much harder task to win you over again.

Consistency with Your Brand Image

Have you noticed how many gurus there are, each proclaiming to have the answers to earning 6- or 7-figure incomes? If you tried implementing all of their different strategies, you’d be exhausted from keeping up with it all and your audience would be very confused about your overall message.

When it comes to branding, consistency and repetition will help develop name recognition. If you always wear clothes that match your website colors, people will make the connection. If your trademark is a purple stripe in your hair, don’t go changing it to fire engine red; your followers won’t recognize you! Be consistent with your brand image, colors, and message, both online and offline so you’re always recognized.