In the spring, both Jennifer and I spoke to the Association of Wedding Professionals of Greater Washington DC about Sailing though Crisis and How to Steer your Business Through Personal Disaster. We both felt at the time that we had successfully managed to maintain our businesses despite suffering several personal set backs and dealing with difficult emotional situations. Being the go-getters that we are, we were determined to put things behind us, move forward and begin rebuilding our lives. Perhaps it was hubris or simply overly optimistic thinking but the past six months have been anything but easy for either one of us. What prompted this blog was a thought that I should revisit our presentation and take my own advice as I was having difficulty navigating this stretch of career and life.
One particular part of the presentation concentrated on my two favorite tasks: automation and delegation. I submit to you a few quotes from the author that inspired my passion for these topics.
“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined.” -Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek
“Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” -Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek
Giving up control of any aspect of your business is difficult but it is essential to your business' survival. More so when an emergency averts your attention even temporarily. If you are the sole person with final say over all creative, managerial and financial decisions, what will you do when you are called away from your business to handle the unexpected? Will your business cease all operations until your return? Is there someone to take over the reigns? Do you have systems in place so workflow doesn’t collapse?
Automating tasks can help free up time to work on other endeavors, such as marketing, sales or buisness planning, as well as allow you personal time to spend with family and friends. I have been thankful for the latter over the past several years and even today. Recovering from my own personal crisis has been an on going endeavor that has taken much longer than expected. Having the time to take care of my family as well as myself can be directly attributed to automating many crucial business tasks. Most of these tasks fall under the heading of Administration. There are many types of office management software or CRMs that can help you streamline. Some examples of helpful automated services are:
• Collection and distribution of inbound leads
• Auto responders and email templates
• Voicemail collection and call centers
• Social media and blogging apps such as Hootsuite or Buffer
• Website downloads of company info, sales PDFs or pricing sheets
• Automatic questionnaires for everything from pre-sales to final meetings
If a task can’t be easily automated as it requires more in depth or hands on attention, perhaps it can be delegated to another person on the team or outsourced. Expanding the role of employees, contractors and assistants can alleviate the duties you perform while empowering them to represent your company. It instills trust in the people who help run your business and gives them greater insight into the day to day maintenance of your company. There are also many businesses to which work may be outsourced if you are a sole proprietor or feel more comfortable with the anonymity of a third party. They can be more administrative in nature or perhaps specific to your particular industry such as editing, blogging or design. It may take some time to get these services in place but the research is worth the effort.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, sometimes I just need to take my own advice. After writing this piece I think I’m going to take a good look at what additional tasks I can let go of in order to help my business grow and give myself the time I need to heal and move forward.