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5 Steps to Automate your Service-based Online Business in 2023

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Have you been doing anything and everything inside your business, thinking you’re the only one who can really run things the right way? Or maybe you already know that your business could use some systems, but you aren’t quite sure what steps to take to automate your business?

If you’re getting frustrated because you keep hitting a ceiling or plateau in your service-based online business and revenue, it’s probably because you need to build a team and a scalable offer where you’re NOT the product.

The difference between being a business owner VS being owned by your business is in your ability to separate your core METHODOLOGY from your PERSONALITY.

Let’s break this down…

If your product is based around your personality—you’re limiting yourself to your energy and ability to produce content and deliver to your clients.

You can be the most amazing and transformational coach, business mentor, copywriter, web designer, nutritionist etc. but if you’re the ONLY person who can market and deliver the service for your business, you are going to stay stuck on a hamster wheel of marketing content creation and client delivery. 

If you’ve been running your online business for a while now, you’ve probably realized you only have so much time and energy in a day. 

Perhaps you have been jumping between these two modes inside your business: 

Marketing Mode: Creating content to market on social media so that you can get clients

Delivery Mode: Spending all of your time in client delivery 

…and then going right back to Marketing Mode once you need to get more clients. It’s an endless cycle of hustle where you feel like you are always behind and can never get ahead.

As much as we both know you LOVE your work, we also know you love LIVING your life outside of work.

NO ONE wants to be on coaching calls 5 hours a day and then spend the rest of the day creating content for Instagram and TikTok that will disappear or get buried by the algorithm in just 24 hours.

Even if you’re generating $100k+ in your online business, what’s the point if you don’t have the time, energy, or freedom to ACTUALLY enjoy the financial abundance you’ve created? 

If any of the following resonate with you, then you know you’re in serious need of some systems and automation inside of your online business: 

Are you…

  • Dancing between burning out and mentally/emotionally breaking down, constantly taking and explaining breaks from social media to your audience
  • Keeping up an overly involved morning routine you don’t even enjoy because you’ve been taught that your success relies solely on your mindset and energy
  • Feeling like a fraud online posting about your fabulous, embodied lifestyle when actually you haven’t showered in 3 days and you are working more than when you had a corporate job

Here is the truth that is not often shared when it comes to running a business online: Hustling 24/7 may get you an initial revenue bump, but it is not a sustainable way to grow and scale your online business in the long-term. 

The way to achieve this is through a business model that’s built upon having a core methodology that can be delivered through evergreen content and a team that is supporting you.

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Are you ready to take your service-based online business to the next level? Automation is the key to scaling your business and freeing up time to focus on the things that truly matter to you. You know that time is your most valuable asset, and automating your business can help you get the most out of it. 

Let me break it down for you. Here is the order of operations when it comes to setting up Automation Systems in your business.

  1. Start with your basic foundational systems for client onboarding and delivery
  2. Create a sustainable, repeating strategy to deliver your marketing
  3. Implement additional tiers of systems to automation information delivery inside of your business

REMEMBER: No amount of embodiment or mindset work will help you grow your biz if you don’t NAIL the basic foundational systems listed above.

A business without systems is like a tree without roots: no matter how tall and pretty you appear, there’s nothing to keep you anchored, so the first gust of wind that hits your business can knock your business tree right over! 

I don’t want you to be shaken by the entrepreneurial winds…systems can ground you, support you and keep you standing when you might not even feel like showing up.

Here are 5 steps to get your started automating your service-based online business:

Step 1: Identify the areas of your business that can be automated.

The first step to automating your business is to take inventory of the tasks that you do on a regular basis. These could be anything from scheduling appointments to sending out invoices to answering customer inquiries. Make a list of all the tasks that you do on a regular basis, and then start thinking about which ones could be automated.

One good way to get started here is to track all of your time in a spreadsheet for one full week. Then you can look back and see where you spent time on tasks that can be automated or delegated. Here are a few ideas for types of tasks that can be quickly automated: 

  • Social media DM and email communication → Send an automated reply with info on when they can expect a reply and links to FAQ’s
  • Repetitive Inbox questions → Create a page on your website for Frequently Asked Questions
  • Client Onboarding → Create a guide that explains everything they need to know about working together
  • Client Offboarding → Create a guide that explains next steps
  • Client Payment → Create Contract and Invoice templates that can be easily duplicated 
  • Marketing → Create automated email sequences to welcome people to your email list, to follow up on an abandoned cart product, and to sell your services after a webinar or other sales event.

Click here for an extensive list of tasks you can automate inside your online business.

Step 2: Choose the right tools for the job.

There are countless tools and software programs out there that can help you automate your business. It’s important to choose the right ones for your needs, so take the time to research and compare different options. Some popular options include scheduling software, email marketing platforms, and project management tools.

  • Calendar booking link: Calendly or Acuity
  • Contact / Application form to automate lead generation: I use and LOVE Dubsado for this 
  • Enrollment guide or email sequence to automate information delivery during the client onboarding process: I use ScaleUp and ConvertKit for this 
  • Contract Templates linked to your lead generation system: Dubsado is my tool of choice
  • Invoice and payment systems including subscription functionality for recurring payments: Stripe

Step 3: Set up the systems and processes that will have the most impact first.

Once you’ve identified the tasks that you want to automate and chosen the right tools for the job, it’s time to start setting up systems and processes. One way to prioritize what to set up first is to identify the system that will deliver the most impact for you. This is typically the system that will get you the most time back. 

You may want to strike a balance here between a system that is quick and easy to implement as well as a system that will save you lots of time. This might involve spending time upfront creating templates for emails, setting up automations in your email marketing platform, or creating a workflow for managing projects.

Remember that the best part about setting up systems and automations is that you only need to spend time setting things up ONCE and then they will continue running in the background of your business like a 24/7 digital employee. 

Step 4: Outsource and delegate to your team.

The word “team” can sound daunting, but this can be as simple as having 1 VA (virtual assistant) that you pay for 5 hours a week to take some time off of your plate. 

It may not seem like a lot at first, but imagine getting 5 hours of your week back. That 1 hour per day could mean you finish work at 4pm now instead of 5pm and you have time to try out those new dinner recipes that have been sitting in your bookmark folder, or go for a run outside before it gets dark and you’re stuck on the treadmill. 

If you have a team already, it’s important to make sure that they are trained on the new systems and processes that you put in place. This will help ensure that everything runs smoothly and that everyone is on the same page. The way to do this is to create SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedure) documentation for your team. 

This is another thing that can sound daunting at first, but SOP’s can be as simple as a list of links to loom videos showing how to complete a task. Or a folder with clearly labeled google doc’s that walk your team through each system. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complex, just clearly communicated to your team so that you can delegate.

Step 5: Implement an Evergreen Content marketing system.

Now that you have some breathing room in your business thanks to steps 1-4, it’s time to focus on how you can continue to generate leads, onboard clients and grow your revenue in a sustainable way. You don’t want to fill all of your extra time by spending even more time creating content for Instagram and TikTok that is just going to disappear. 

This is where you’ll want to consider how you can create content that builds your reputation over time. Evergreen content works by helping you improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that you can get found by people already searching for your content. Here are some examples of evergreen content: 

  • Blog Posts – (hint, hint: this blog post will generate leads and build my reputation on my website for years to come, rather than the Instagram post version which would only give my brand traction for 24 hours) 
  • YouTube Videos – Valuable video content will help you get found in Google Search results, build trust and reputation with your audience, and only needs to be created once in order to drive traffic to your website for years to come. 
  • Podcast Episodes – A great way to create value to your audience that can be delivered to them while they are on the go, building your brand trust and helping to make you omnipresent. Adding show notes and helpful links will also drive traffic to your website. 
  • Pinterest – Pinterest is a search engine like Google and YouTube. Content posted here builds traffic and authority over time and does not focus on a 24 hour algorithm the way Instagram, Facebook and TikTok does. This is a great platform to amplify content created on your blog, YouTube or Podcast. 
  • Email Marketing – Building your email list remains the most valuable thing you can do as an online business owner. This is a powerful asset you own and control where you can show up directly in your audiences inbox. 

Automation isn’t a one-time thing – it’s an ongoing process. Make sure to regularly review your systems and processes to see what’s working and what might need to be adjusted. This will help ensure that your automation efforts are as effective as possible.

By following these five steps, you can take your service-based online business to new heights. Automation will free up time for you to focus on the things that truly matter to you, and help you scale your business in a sustainable way. 

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