One of the biggest mistakes I see creative biz owners make is waiting way too long to bring automation tools into their businesses. Think about it: How many hours a week do you spend doing shit that has nothing to do with the shit you’re crazy good at? The shit that made you start your business in the first place? Automation tools can be your secret weapon if you choose the right ones for your business.
There are tons of business automation tools out there with different options, features, and operating styles. Let this blog be your guide to choosing which tools will work best for your business and which ones you can swipe left on.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click them and try out the automation tools, I’ll get paid millions of dollars and probably stop working entirely. (Not really, but I will get a little compensation.)
Automation Makes Life So. Much. Easier.
5,549,454 tasks need to happen to run a successfully functioning business (that’s my totally scientific estimate). The reality is, even if you’re growing your team and delegating as many of those tasks as you can, automation makes things so much easier for you to manage. Oh, and then there’s the part where it’s great for your business.
When you set up the right automation tools for your creative biz, you can:
- Cut down on errors: There’s no magic wand for 100% preventing mistakes or glitches (if you discover one, let me know, though!), but automation gets rid of the shit that can go wrong when you’re manually executing tasks. Think of all the ways things like copying and pasting spreadsheet data into a system can get jacked up.
- Save that money: Using the right automation tools helps you keep your hard-earned cash in your pockets. Automating tasks lets you keep your hiring to the people you need for non-robot work, like strategy and creativity. Plus, automating makes client and team onboarding happen waaaay faster, so you can start wowing clients with your products and services ASAP.
- Give customers *chef’s kiss* great experiences: Speaking of blowing your clients’ socks off, automation tools can be a gamechanger when it comes to client service processes. From onboarding and placing orders to answering their questions with automation tools, you can offer ultra-speedy client service that will make them oh-so-happy to work with you.
- Collaborate better with your team: Automating your internal processes helps you keep your team running on all cylinders. The right tools let you stay n’sync (sorry, not sorry) with your people on processes and productivity, share resources, and make sure the fantastic pros have everything they need to crush it.
Figure Out Which Automation Tools You Need
There’s an automation tool for just about everything it takes to run your business. But, there’s no one business automation tool to rule them all. So, the best thing you can do is figure out your automation priorities – the stuff you’d give up Netflix to have someone take off your plate – and get tools to take over your business tasks that can be automated.
Make yourself a nice little automation tool wish list. Start with the pain points in your business:
- Where do things get stuck or lost in the abyss?
- What slows you down from being the well-oiled productivity machine you want to be?
- What areas do you struggle with? You know, the tasks that make you want to rip your hair out. We all have them.
- Where are you spending time you’d rather spend in your zone of genius?
Figuring out your biggest needs will help you narrow in on the automation tools that might just change your life. Seriously!
How Tech-Savvy Are You? (Be Honest)
I know all of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s like to think we’ve got technology covered. We’ve figured out everything from floppy disks to iPhones, we can handle consumer-focused tech, right?
Ha! Not even. When you’re looking at which business automation tools will be best for you, you’ve got to have a pretty honest conversation with yourself about how tech-savvy you are. Some tools, like Capsule, keep things fairly simple so even your mom could get set up and run with them.
On the other hand, if you want badass built-out features, options, and integrations to really take your business tasks that can be automated by the reins, tools like Dubsado and ClickUp might be for you. The thing is, some powerhouse automation tools have a lot of bells and whistles to figure out. So, unless you’re game, you may find yourself paying someone every time you tweak something.
Choose Automation Tools That Won’t Hurt Your Head
Are you more likely to follow along with a YouTuber who shows you how to install that new garbage disposal, or to actually sit down with the instructions? I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.
Everyone works differently and our brains do better with different types of information. If you’re someone who likes visual options, where you have everything on display and can customize and color-code to your inner nerd heart’s content, a super visual program like HoneyBook (use my link for 20% off!) or Trello might make your brain really happy.
For folks who prefer a more basic and no-nonsense approach to managing their business, tools like Asana and Smartsheet with their simple lists might be more up your alley.
Stop What You’re Doing and Check Zapier
Are you a Zapier devotee and count on the magical mega-integrator to manage your tools and apps? If yes, it should be your first stop before you add any new programs or tools for automating tasks to the mix. (If not, 1. Where have you been? 2. You’ve gotta check it out.)
Zapier turns your web apps into one happy, task-automating family by setting up workflows called Zaps. You aren’t required to say “Zap!” every time you set up a workflow, but it’s really fun to.
Anyway, even though Zapier has more than 3,000 apps it can work with, not every app is easy to use with the platform. If you’re counting on your new tool to play nice with other apps and Zaps (that was fun to say, too, wasn’t it?), do some homework on how well it automates in Zapier.
Not All Automatic Workflows Are Created Equal
Workflows can be the yeast to your business’ kombucha when they’re done right. If you’re a fan of creating automatic workflows that let aspects of your business run itself, you need a tool that can build them correctly.
I use HelloBonsai, myself. It does the job and handles multiple currencies (clutch for me!), but if you need a reliable automated workflow, I’d hold off on trying until they’re done improving the current beta version. On the flip side, if conditional workflows are your jam, HoneyBook probably won’t be the right choice for you.
So, if automatic workflows are key to your automation tool selections, make sure you know what you need and what your workflow kryptonite could be.
Did reading this blog make you say, “omg, I’m drinking the automation Kool-Aid but have no friggin’ clue where to start?” I got you, boo. You can learn how my project management ninja skills will give you back hours and hours of your life right here.