In the beginning stages of a business, there are a lot of hats that must be worn by one head. When you are solely responsible for every basic and complex function and deadline, life can quickly become overwhelming and chaotic. This can leave you stumbling over infinite to-do lists, splitting our attention in an effort to multitask, and losing time to redundant or tedious tasks. It is a right of passage to an extent, but there are ways to simplify your startup woes.
The initial stages of a business are expected to be a hands-on and a largely manual process. This is not always bad because these are the times when you gain invaluable experience. But there are plenty of things that you can put on cruise control so that you can reserve energy and time for other things that actually require your deliberate attention.
The successful entrepreneur sets up systems that can seamlessly take some items off of their plate so that they can direct their focus to other pressing necessities. They do this by setting up recurring systems that can manage themselves so you don’t have to.
These systems streamline your responsibilities, ensure consistency, work when you can’t, better plan frequency and track results and statistics, and check off your to-do list without you even having to apply an ounce of attention to the task at hand.
If you have clients in different time zones, automation can facilitate those relationships while you are sleeping.
Automation will be your best employee, maximizing your effectiveness and efficiency in ways that multitasking never could.
Let’s talk about to what and how to employ automation:
Cruise control content creation
You can set up schedulers to handle post deadlines for you. I usually plan out my editorial content one to three months in advance so that I don’t have to scramble to generate content at the last minute.
There are an assortment of apps and websites that can help take control of your social media promotion without you even having to open the website. I use Buffer, Later and Coschedule to help me stay on top of my social media.
My all time favorite is Coschedule because it is not only a social media scheduler, but also an editorial calendar. This allows me to manage my articles and my social media simultaneously.
I also love the convenience it offers, as I can access it from their website, the phone app, browser extension, and Wordpress plug in. This allows me to not only plan my social media but also easily control my posts and link corresponding social media from one platform. This has been such a key to building my social media profiles, as I am not naturally inclined to use social media. Planning posts of all kinds as well as recycling popular and evergreen posts completely integrated seamless.
Recycle evergreen content
Evergreen content is my favorite kind of content because it never stops working for you. Evergreen essentially means that the content is timeless. Even seasonal posts,with a bit of reworking, can be just as relevant this summer as they were last summer. Using the ‘requeue’ feature in Coschedule easily allows me to repost these types of pieces with little to no effort.
To further organize my evergreen content, I utilize tags on my editorial calendar so that I can easily filter recyclable content to assess which posts may be worth rescheduling for a future date.
Being able to refill my content without having to constantly generate new, quality content can portray an element of consistency and remove the pressure from my schedule when I may be juggling other responsibilities.
Templates are life’s shortcut. They are the easiest way to create habits and routines, which are the easiest way to ensure consistency. My page builder plugin has a template function that I can save and employ on similar posts. Whether it’s an article template for similar content, a morning template for a simplified way to start your day, or an outfit template that helps you expedite your morning routine, examine your recurrent processes for streamlining potential and implement templates on as many areas as possible.
Outsource what you can
Even if you don’t have a budget for hire just yet, there are multiple outlets in which you can cheaply outsource or barter tasks. You may be able to exchange your skills for someone else’s within your own immediate network.
I have several browser extensions that help maximize my workflow. The ones that I find most useful are Grammarly and Thesaurus. This helps me revise my work in real time, at least for grammar, so that when I’m actually revising my posts, I can focus solely on content.
I also fill in the gaps with IFTTT or Zapier, which can create productive sequences to alleviate multi-step tasks by creating links between apps that respond to recurring actions. For instance, I have a sequence on IFTTT that auto-posts my Instagram pictures to Pinterest. This saves me from the extra step of manually posting the same pictuer to Pinterest.
Crafting manual newsletters and follow ups for your subscribers could be an entire job all on its own, but with automation it doesn’t have to be. If I had to piece mail my newsletters, I can almost guarantee no one would receive a single email from me.
Most newsletter hosts have diverse automation sequences that you should take time getting familiar with. The most common is an RSS feed automation that will pull your most recent content within a delegated time-frame and push it to all of your subscribers. You can also create auto-responses that react to common interactions.
Depending upon the nature of your business, there are a multitude of options to choose from that can help your newsletter run on autopilot.
Now that you have all of your tools, download any phone or tablet apps so that you can keep your automation by your side at all times. I love being able to quickly monitor all of my sequences and systems from a quick glance when I’m on the go.
Set it and Forget it: Hiring Automation
After you have decided which tasks could benefit from automation, set aside a few days to set up all of the different sequences. This will be the most time consuming step of automation but as soon as you have these items delegated, you will be able refocus your time and energy to the manual elements on your to-do list.