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It is very rewarding to be a Solo Entrepreneur running a successful small business, but it can eat your life. Eventually you may develop a desire to work fewer hours but maintain your income level. Sometimes illness or injury comes forcing you to make some long-term adaptations.
Automation is key for Solo Entrepreneurs who want to reduce the time they spend in their business without losing income. Automation provides excellent monitoring tools, so you always know what is happening. Automation is a no drama way to standardize and streamline the actual work. You can’t really stabilize a small business enough to spend less time in it without standardizing and streamlining.
This does mean using computers, and a type of software called Contact Management Software (CRM). Some people want to learn to use the software themselves to maintain their independence. Some people want to hire all or part of it done. Totally up to you.
Either way, if you want to get started on Automating your Business and Semi-Retiring, start where I start with clients. Work your way through the three steps below.
First Step: Mission, Goals, Values
Yes, write down the mission of your business in actual words. These words should not run more than two lines of type in any WORD document. Questions to ask yourself:
- What problem does your business solve?
- Why do you offer the products/services you offer?
Solo Entrepreneurs tend to pay a lot of attention to their elevator pitch but little attention to a mission statement. If there ever was a mission statement it possibly has not evolved as the work evolved over time. It is essential that you get the current mission of your business clear in your own mind. All other steps involved in automating so you can semi-retire depend on getting this one right.
Goals are the things that support the mission. Write your quarterly and/or yearly goals down under your mission.
Values define the difference between what a business owner will and will not do to reach a Goal and fulfill a Mission. Values bring quality to the mission statement. Add your values underneath your goals.
Ask a friend or colleague (or a spouse who works in the business also) to help you work out your Mission, Goals, Values. You may get some new insights.
Second Step: Good and Bad Prospects
Successful automation of any business requires crystal clear profiles of good and bad prospects. This is a more pragmatic way of thinking about your market. My clients really enjoy this activity – it is nostalgic and fun.
Sort the contacts you have worked with in the last year or so into Good and Bad Prospects. A robust profile is the most helpful later so for both good and bad prospects make a list of the following:
- What actions told you they were good prospects or bad prospects?
- What specific words or phrases do the good and bad prospects use that tip you off?
When you look back over mission, goals, and values and then good and bad prospect profiles, surprising insights often come.
Third Step: Products and Services
List your products and services. Do include products or services you give away as an incentive to attract prospects or upsell existing clients.
Questions to ask:
- Is there more than one version/more than one price for a given product or service? List each one separately.
- Is there a product or service you offered in the last few years but no longer offer? Why was it discontinued?
- How important is each of these products and services to your cash flow?
- Is there a product or service you want to discontinue but it is too important to your cash flow?
Subject Matter Experts who sell their expertise in the form of workshops or consulting projects should include each workshop variation a separate product. Each consulting package or topic should be considered separately as well.
Where Does This Leave You?
Many Solo Entrepreneurs find these three analytical steps revealing. Connections, and patterns they have not taken time to think about, emerge. This is all to the good.
The point is to recognize activity that burns time in the daily running of the business. Repetitive tasks, timewasters, supporting too many products or services, negative outcomes that come around too often, too much time spent on manual monitoring and tracking. Too many weekend hours and late nights. The value of standardizing and streamlining comes into focus.
Without that value there is no reason to move forward with automating your business because it will not help you spend less time while maintaining your income level.
If the value is coming into focus, Automate and Semi-Retire is for you.
In future posts I will talk about how you use all the knowledge and insights gained with these three steps to start Automating your business so you can Semi-Retire.
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Hi! I am Barbara Jones, owner and Chief Strategist at Small Business Automation. I write on topics related to automating a small business and adult/staff training. I am a Certified Keap Partner and Memberium Partner. I publish a weekly newsletter on Infusionsoft by Keap. If you would like to be on the newsletter mailing list, click here.