What’s the oldest task on your to-do list? You know, the one you keep dragging into tomorrow’s column, and then next week, and then next month?
I’ve had some to-do’s follow me around for YEARS. Yep, it’s embarrassing but true. And of course, most of the time those to-do’s don’t take that long and aren’t even that difficult. One thing most of these forever to-do’s have in common? They are boring or tedious tasks that don’t light me up. Sound familiar?
If you are in reactive mode all day every day, putting out client fires and answering emails, those tedious tasks keep getting pushed down the list, until THEY are the “on-fire” tasks that you have to deal with.
It’s normal when starting an online business to do everything yourself (which is why being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone) – but once you’ve started gaining momentum (usually around the 6 figure mark) it’s time to look at how you can outsource and automate some of the work you are used to doing yourself.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve ALWAYS had a hard time letting go of tasks. When it comes to automation especially, I felt like how could a robot possibly do the task as well as I can?
What is Automation in Online Business?
Automation means using software and systems to complete tasks for you on autopilot. For example, you could set up an auto-reply to every email you receive letting people know when you’ll get back to them. Or, you could set up auto-reminders for your clients when an invoice is due.
These are tasks you might be doing manually right now, but with a little time on the front-end to set up they can be just *just as well* by software which frees you up to focus on the things ONLY you can do and robots cannot (for now, at least.)
Today I’m giving you a quick list of the kinds of things you can automate inside of your service-based online business:
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- Calendar Bookings
Let your clients pick the best time for them by using a software like Acuity or Calendly to schedule all appointments. Sync this software with your Google Calendar and use Zapier to automatically create a Zoom link for each booking. No more time zone confusion and back and forth emails.
- Enrollment Call Guide
Create a PDF that is automatically sent to any potential client who books an appointment with you. Explain how the call will be structured and recommend how they can prepare to make the most out of this call. You can also use this as an opportunity to share more case studies, testimonials and more about your story to give them more buy-in before they get on the call with you.
- Automatic Appointment Reminders
Create a series of email reminders inside of your booking software that will be automatically sent out to confirm an appointment, remind the client that the appointment is coming up and include the link for the call.
- Lead & Inquiries Follow-Up Messages
Use your CRM or lead management software to create workflows and tags that trigger an automated email series to follow up with leads who haven’t replied or booked a call.
- Contracts and Work Agreements
Create Contract templates for each of your services so that you only need to fill in the clients info before sending it off. Bonus points if you can link this to your lead generation system so that the info is added for you, instant contract!
- Invoices and Payment Plans
Create templates for the various types of invoices and payment plans you send out so that you can fill in the blank with the client info. I use Dubsado for this where you can save payment plan templates. So for example I could add a 50/50 payment plan to an invoice and it will automatically divide the payments into 2 parts and schedule them at the beginning and the end of the project. This way you aren’t configuring custom payment plans each time.
- Payment Reminders
Use your CRM or project management software to set up automatic payment reminders. Create templates to let them know when a payment is due in 5 days, on the day it is due and once it is past due. If you are doing this in Dubsado you can link the payment plan to the payment reminders so it automatically creates payment due dates and then sends out payment reminders on the correct dates.
- Email Received Auto-Reply
Set up an auto-reply for your email so that whenever anyone sends you an email, they receive a reply letting them know you received their message and when they can expect to hear back. You can also link to an FAQ page here or other resources to help them answer their question.
- Slack Availability
Since Slack is a messaging app, people often expect replies sooner than via email. Use the Slack “Status” feature to set your time zone and when you are available to reply to messages. Mine says “Current time zone: GMT+3 – Replying to messages within 48 hours Mon – Fri”
- Client Onboarding Info Packet
Create a PDF (or customizable Canva template) with all the info your client needs in order to get started after purchasing. Include links to any software they need to access, questionnaires for them to complete, a link to book a call, expectations for communication, deadlines, and feedback, FAQ’s and the next step in the process.
- Client Onboarding Emails
Use a CRM like Convertkit to create a series of emails to deliver information as your client needs to know. Perhaps you are dripping out content from a course, or you are doing a project in multiple phases. You can also include milestones to ask for feedback and testimonials via email. This is especially valuable to catch any possible negative experiences or feedback before you get too far along in the process of working together.
- Client Offboarding Info Packet
Create a PDF (or customizable Canva template) with everything your client needs to know to wrap the project or complete the program. This can also include next steps for continuing work together and any additional services you offer. Let the client know where they can find any deliverables and how to receive ongoing support.
- Client Offboarding Emails
Create an automated email series in your CRM so the client feels supported as you wrap up work together. Include any commonly asked questions and links to any additional resources. Build 3 month, 6 month and 12 month follow up emails into this series so that you stay top of mind.
- Program/Service FAQ Page
Make an FAQ page on your website for each one of your products, programs or services to automate your information delivery and increase conversions without having to answer so many questions 1:1 via email.
- Client Portal & FAQ Page
Create a client or customer portal where your clients can access their contracts and invoices, update their payment information, see any relevant files, deliverables or course materials and an FAQ section so that you don’t have to answer the same questions from clients over and over.
- Social Media Designs
Use Tailwind, Canva or Jasper to quickly create social media designs in the various sizes and formats. All you do is upload your branding, create one design, and click a button and they will generate the images optimized for pretty much every platform, it’s like magic! Robot magic.
- Project Management Templates
Use Trello, Asana or Clickup to manage your client projects and create a client management template that you can duplicate and reuse for each client. Include a dynamic schedule for deadlines where you can update the start date and all of the other dates are updated automatically.
- Team Training Resources
Every time you are completing a task that you plan to outsource, create a Loom video and/or a Google doc SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) documenting how to complete the task. Turn all of these resources into a mini-online course for any new team members to watch when you onboard them.
Business Automation is your secret weapon for taking the next step in your business so that you can get out of manual marketing and client delivery mode and start focusing on CEO tasks like scaling the business and building your brand reputation.
*Note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using one of the links at no extra cost for you. This supports the time I spend researching and developing trusted recommendations for you like this one, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend softwares, services and products that I myself have tried and use inside my own business.