As we head into the Summer weeks of potential chaos, you might be in need of some ideas and help to make life a little easier. In fact, some of these ideas might be useful at any time of the year!
About 60% of all micro businesses are one person enterprises and using automations is a great way to increase your capacity and improve the way your business runs.
I've shared some of my favourite ways to simplify and automate but don't forget you can share your favourites int he Forum inside Member Hub or ask for help if you get stuck!
Email management - it really is ok to be 'out of office' as a micro business owner. In fact your customers will know that this will make you a better business. Don't be afraid to apply a proper out of office for a proper amount of time if you're taking a break. Don't promise that you'll reply within hours of your return either, just when you can. If it's your busiest time of the year, why not use your responder to manage expectations and relieve guilt? For example, you might find it easier to say you'll be replying to emails 3 times a week or direct urgent messages to more convenient places e.g. text. You'll find many folks will happily wait.
Update your messaging services - do you have an auto responder on your Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn? These can be super useful, not only as a way of managing expectations or your holiday dates but also to point your customers to somewhere useful on your customer journey. You could even use your messaging auto responder ask an FAQs list to help direct people to the right place for help.
Website announcements or pop ups - why not upgrade your website engagement by letting users know when you're away on holiday? This way they can enjoy all you have to offer but you're managing expectations about when you'll respond or send out orders. Better still....follow step 4 too....
Email sign up - yes, you want to signpost people to your email sign up whenever possible but you can be even more strategic. How about ensuring your sign up is in more places to automate how far your customer travel along your customer journey. Mailchimp, Mailerlite and other email marketing platforms will provide URLs, QR codes and HTML embedding codes for your sign up forms to make this easy to implement, perhaps even in your social media messaging responses.
Automated onboarding - once you've automated more places where users are signposted to signing up to your email, why not use automations to 'onboard' them more fully? This could be a series of 3-5 emails over a period of days or weeks that take customers through your services or products. For example, you could offer some top tips or free advice to build trust or possibly a discount code to encourage shopping. You could edit these seasonally to help you launch a new product or season. Plus, many email marketing and/or e-commerce systems will let you automate the 'empty basket' event i.e. your customer fills the basket but doesn't pay, so you send out an automation to gently prod/encourage them to complete the sale.
Use automated calendars or appointment booking systems - if you're offering a service or looking for new clients, how about setting up an automated 'discovery call' button for your website or your email signature which integrates an automatic booking system. It could be as simple as using Calendly with a few available 'slots' set aside each week for clients to book themselves in. Many websites offer this automatically too. This really saves time on email ping pong!
Line up your financials - Using an online bookkeeping system can be really worth the money for peace of mind alone. Many systems like Xero, Quickbooks and even Sage have handy apps like Dext, that let you simply take an image of your receipts so that they wing straight into your bookkeeping area. You can also set up recurring invoices, schedule invoices or drop by for a quick look at reports like your profit and loss for the month or year to date sales.
Social scheduling - this one is obvious in some ways but has caused headaches through the years. Tweetdeck is no longer free but you can schedule from the Twitter platform. Use Meta Suite to schedule out all your FB & Instagram or you can even schedule Instagram posts from your phone app. There's nothing like knowing that you're ahead for the week if you know you'll be swamped. Try too, scheduling emails and blogs in the same way.
Keep a quick eye on all your data - how about seeing a quick look at your email sign ups, website data and more all in one place. Try Google Data Studio which can bring together information from your analytics, Google or Facebook Ads and more. It will deliver a quick report every day or week to suit you.
Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) - this is almost too big to be a single point at the end of this list but bear with me! Your website will likely have a simple CRM system behind the scenes as will your payment provider so that you can check users on your site, sales through your shop etc. But consider bringing this together in one place so that you can automate thank you messages, prompting calls and more. Popular CRMs for micro businesses are Dubsado, Hubspot, or even Monday.