Spring Is Small Business Automation Season
I love the new energy that spring promises.
For me, it’s a time of expanding into new potentials and opportunities.
Personally, I like to set new health and nutrition goals and work toward implementing them into my daily routine.
Professionally, that means identifying growth categories while also considering where costs can be eliminated. In today’s business world, few areas contain more leverage for a business than their technology and automations, including increasing revenues and decreasing costs. This article covers a few key points to consider when thinking about where to invest in your technology, marketing, automation, and systems.
Your business technology can largely be broken into three categories:
1. Your Delivery Stack
This means anything related to delivering your unique product or service once a customer pays or “comes through your door.” These are items like your CRM (customer relationship manager), order management tools, profitability tracking, etc.
2. Your Marketing Stack
This is the technology, tools, and strategies related to how you generate leads and sales. Obviously moving your customers through some sort of funnel is ideal as it affords you laser-accurate acquisition and cost tracking so you know exactly what it takes to acquire a new lead or customer, and ideally, keep that pipeline producing consistently.
3. Your Internal Communication Stack
This is usually your email, Slack, project management tools, and the like to keep your team in sync. Small businesses struggle to become larger businesses because they underestimate the importance of this pillar. To some degree, this pillar includes HR and team training.
One thread connects all of these elements and that’s your team’s ability to use these tools proficiently in a way that all moves together as one unit. Easier said than done and here is the rub: By definition, your experts (related to your unique business) should be experts at what they do. Not necessarily identifying and coordinating all of your technology needs. This is specifically true for small, growth-oriented businesses that don’t have the resources or demands to justify a full-time technology person or team. The tech problem gets just a little harrier when you understand that classically trained, or self-described I.T. folks often know very little or have little experience in marketing technology. (Pillar/Stack 2 mentioned above) So, Kyle, now you’re telling me I need more than one technology expert on my team to stay relevant? Maybe. It depends on a few things as follows:
A big question arises at this point because it’s important to consider what you should insource vs. outsource.
If only it were as easy as finding the right “agency” that can solve all of these problems.
If only it were that simple. Most agencies are committed to keeping you as their customer, but the tech items we mentioned above are critical business functions, and maintaining a long-term dependency on external partners is not recommended. Agencies and outside experts can be a great way to identify and onboard proven processes and solutions, but someone inside your team should always ensure you hold the keys and legally have final rights and say over any assets being produced, or platforms being managed. A few things to consider (and include in your contract) with any agency you hire:
How long do you give them to produce desired outcomes?
How long until you fully “onboard” the work they are doing and what is that going to take?
A section in the agreement that declares who owns what and who keeps what should the agreement be terminated by either party.
The right agency or expert at the right time can be a tremendous advantage, but only if you frame and enter the agreement with clarity and sober expectations. Most of all, anyone you hope to attract whether it’s new customers or new talent for your success team, your vision trumps all. Here is a checklist to consider as you plan your next steps and engage outside help:
Consider your growth goals. Nothing is more powerful at attracting new customers, talent, and resources than a compelling vision. The size and scope of your goals will help you identify the appropriate talent and strategy needed to reach your goals. This is all driven by your ability to communicate a compelling vision.
Invest in your knowledge. Vetted expertise is cheaper to access than ever before. Sometimes you don’t need the expert as long as your staff can follow instructions and keep deadlines guided by said vetted/identified expert.
Identify the gaps in your current plan. Your tech can and should automate routine tasks, lower costs, and connect important parts of your business.
Actionable Conclusion: Goal setting is a magical process that puts the world to work for you. Make sure your goals are believable to you sufficient to where you start making exciting plans towards the outcomes you want.
If you aren’t excited about your outcomes, goals, or work, why not? There is too much living, loving, and laughing to do than to spend time doing work that doesn’t fulfill your deepest desires and aspirations. Sometimes it’s not just about what you are doing, but how you do it, and who you are doing it with. The best question I can leave you with is this: Are you making the money you want doing work you enjoy with people you care about? If the answer to any of those points is no, or not really, then it’s time to zoom out and consider where you may have compromised on your values and what steps you are prepared to make to realign with a “hell yes” paradigm. Because....why not!? Don’t believe the excuse-makers, the blamers, and the justifiers. Don’t live as they live, don’t talk how they talk. Don’t hang out where they hang out.
Ironically, the things that make for a great “hell yes” life are often easy to do, but they are also easy not to do. Especially if you grew up in a family or community who bought into stories of sickness, sadness, addiction, sacrifice, and all-around heaviness. You do not have to live that way, you can heal your life and you can make positive moves today.
Identify your wellness goals and seek to surround yourself with a work tribe that supports and shares your wellness priorities.