Why being lazy is good
If you look on any entrepreneurial or business-focused website these days, you will find innumerable articles about hustling, like 20 Quotes to Help Motivate You to Hustle Like Never Before, How to manage time with 10 tips that work, how to "survive" being an entrepreneur. These are all good tips, and it is true that if you don't work hard, you probably will never be a successful business owner. It takes a lot of time, determination and hard work to build a business.
But the reality is that there are only so many hours in a day. There is no way to do everything you need to do - there will always be something that got left on the table at the end of the day that you wish you could have accomplished, but has to wait until tomorrow. Research shows that working long hours can make you less productive, sick and unhappy. Missing out on sleep and missing out on time with friends and family just to try to get more done is no way to live.
So... what do you do?
Spend as little time as you can doing the "boring" parts of your business and get back that time. The old adage, "work smarter, not harder" is my business goal.
Make this vision your reality...
How can you do that? Spend less time doing the boring, repetitive tasks that it takes to run our business and more time focusing on the fun things. This is where automation comes in.
Automate your business
Think about your business and tasks that are required to operate. What are some of the things you, or your staff, do over and over and over? Entering sales totals from your point-of-sale system into your accounting system, or even just manually exporting to the accounting system? Manually entering purchases into the accounting system? Entering time worked into your payroll system? Reconciling your bank account with incoming merchant card payments? Creating engagement letters for clients? Writing out job task lists?
For each task, ask yourself these three questions:
1) Do these tasks add value to my business?
The answer should be "yes." If not, you would probably have already stopped doing them. But if the answer is, "no," then maybe you should consider if that task is worth doing at all.
2) Is this something I do repetitively?
These types of tasks are the ones best suited for automation. Automation forces you to either adhere to a pre-designed process (like opting for a point-of-sale and credit card payment system that connects directly to your accounting system), or to design your own process that can be easily replicated (like creating a task/job template). Creative tasks, like designing your next promotional campaign, are probably not automate-able, but the social media posts about that campaign are.
3) What are the tools I could use to help me automate this process?
This depends on the type of task that you want to automate, but there are tons of businesses streamlining tools out there, in the form of apps, services and more. We've picked a few of our favorites below:
If you are only going to pick one thing to do, the best thing you can do is pick an accounting system that other tools can connect to easily. My favorite is Xero. Xero has an add-on marketplace that boasts hundreds of apps, and continues to grow. What that means is, if you use Xero for your accounting system, you can connect just about anything and the data will flow freely between the two systems. That means, one point of data entry and the data is available no matter what system you are using at that moment. That means less time spent checking your systems to make sure they match, or doing duplicate entry somewhere. Picking the right accounting system can be the key that enables you to automate a whole bunch of other processes that you would not necessarily be able to do in an unconnected system, or one that forces you to manually update the data.
If you have a service-based business and you spend a lot of time on engagement letters, proposals, etc., you might check out Practice Ignition. They can help streamline and automate the lead to client process with digitally signed proposals to on-board clients, processing payments, automatically raising invoices and deploy workflow.
Looking to streamline your payroll/human resources process, check out Gusto. They can automate your payroll processes, including on-boarding new employees (takes less than 2 minutes for you to on-board a new employees and that includes signing any additional documents like employee handbooks, tax forms, I-9 completion, filing new hire paperwork and more).
Save time and Money
Each area of your business where you find room for automation can save you time and money and get you back to focusing on the fun areas of your business, like designing new products and services, and working with your customers and clients.