Time – The single biggest constraint on your business growth.
How can you create more time? Not possible.
Can you divert time from non-productive uses to get more done? Definitely
Taking on an employee is rarely an option for most people who are self-employed. The nearest you get will be your partner answering the phone in most cases.
Investing in automation software is the answer. The most significant time sinks are marketing, answering emails, social media and generating content for your website. Most one-person businesses spend too little time on marketing, social media, content generation.
Marketing is the process you use to turn a contact into a customer. It is a long process, and email automation can help. You can set up an automated workflow in just one day, and doing so will help you to develop your relationship with anyone who signs up to receive your emails. Without automating this relationship development, it won’t happen because you won’t have the time.
Every email you send is part of your marketing. You must set up a website email address, so your email comes from Pat@yourcompany.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. You can use Outlook or Thunderbird (free) to read your website emails and to post emails from that address without the hassle of logging on to your site and then your Squirrel Mail login page.
There is much hype about social media, but email is still king when it comes to marketing your small business. Getting started with email marketing is as simple as copying a bit of HTML code into your website.
The screenshot above is part of an excellent infographic that compares the two channels’ effectiveness.
TL;DR version – email wins in everything except marketing budget percentage. Businesses direct most of their marketing spending to social media, even though it is less effective than email.
Forget the hype over social media – If you are trying to engage contacts email wins every time as the comparison below shows.
Email marketing is the place to spend your marketing budget, and you can do so without spending a fortune on advertising. And, if you sign up for a monthly contract with a company that specializes in email marketing such as GetResponse, you can even automate the process, so you are not taking on another time-consuming task.
Once you have a contact’s email address it, you just add it to your automated marketing workflow. You can schedule white papers, links to your blog posts and expert advice to go out to all your contacts. These will build your reputation as an expert and loyalty in your readers, so when they need the services you provide they won’t use Google, they’ll ring you.
If people use Google to find you, you need a blog. If you publish fresh posts once or twice a week, your blog will help you to get to the first page of search results because Google loves fresh content.
Writing might not be your forte. No matter, write anyway because future customers want to see the real person behind your business. If you cannot fit the writing in time-wise, you can outsource the blog post writing, but use just one freelancer, so that person gets to know you and the subject. Using one writer will also ensure a consistent style across all your posts.
Find a freelancer on Upwork.com or PeoplePerHour.com, but never take the lowest bid. One thing you need to watch for on any freelancing site is writers who outsource your work to cheaper writers. Another place to find good writers is MyBlogU.com.
You will need to pay a fair rate for the job. If a 1000-word post takes three hours to research and write you will need to pay more than $10 if you want to get something you can use.
You can ask a family member or virtual assistant to handle all your social media accounts, but if you use a social media automation service like Hootsuite, your employee will do more in less time, saving you much more than the subscription costs to the automation service.
Hootsuite has an added advantage over other social media automation programs in that it lets you monitor who is talking about you online, which will enable you to respond appropriately.
Nobody can create time. But you can get more creative work done in a day if you can set up the repetitive tasks, so they happen automatically. Investing in technology is one of the best ways to grow your business.
Automating marketing, content production and social media accounts will free up the hours you spend on these activities. You will also get more marketing, writing and social posting done than you would without the automation systems.
You win twice by using automation; more time to work strategically on your business and more work done in your business.