by Cindy Greenway
Multiple Streams Team
You’re a busy small business owner. You’re working hard to find more time in the day to build your business – create more products, build your database, generate more revenue but yet no matter how hard you try, you find yourself wasting time over and over again on tasks that are important but don’t necessarily help to generate more revenue.
So … what’s the answer? Simplify … automate …. Virtualize. Sound familiar?
In today’s virtual community, there is no excuse for not taking advantage of online tools that will simplify, automate and virtualize various tasks in your business. If you’re thinking “tell me where to start” … keep reading as I share 8 easy and affordable ways to automate in your business.
1. Online Calendar
Every day we have appointments – client appointments, special events, telephone meetings or even just time set aside to take care of “work”. By using an online calendar system, you can eliminate the manual and continuous scheduling and rescheduling of appointments. Start by creating a calendar that specifies “available” times – send the link to your clients and they can easily schedule their appointments into the system. No more playing email or phone tag to schedule a good time.
2. Virtual Fax
Gone are the days of the traditional stand alone fax machine that took up extra space on your desk. Virtual fax programs are one of the easiest programs to set up and many are available at no cost (up to a certain number of pages per month). A virtual fax program will provide you with a fax number and when an item is faxed to your number, you will receive it in your email inbox instead of a fax machine. You can also send faxes from your computer – just punch in the number, attach the file and it’s taken care of.
Effortless. Every day we have appointments – client appointments, special events, telephone meetings or even just time set aside to take care of “work”. By using an online calendar system, you can eliminate the manual and continuous scheduling and rescheduling of appointments. Start by creating a calendar that specifies “available” times – send the link to your clients and they can easily schedule their appointments into the system. No more playing email or phone tag to schedule a good time.
3. Organize Your Inbox
This isn’t a standard “virtualize” kind of tip but it can sure make your life easier. Most of us get more email than we’d like and it can be challenging to resist the temptation to read something as it comes in, even when we’re trying to focus on another project.
By setting up folders, rules and even using a color coding feature in your email program, you can have emails on a certain topic or sender forward to a specific folder within your program. So, rather than having all the emails in one big “box”, they will filter into the appropriate topic or sender folder that you can review when you’re focusing on that topic.
4. “Signature” Blocks
Do you receive the same question over and over again and you wish you had an easier way to pop the response into an email rather than retyping it? Most professional email programs offer a “signature” tool that allows you to create and save text that you can use over and over again. For example, if a commonly asked question is “what are your fees”, you can set up a signature file in your email program with the response to this question. When you need this response, select the “sig file” from a drop down menu and the text will pop into your email.
5. Automating Your Subscriber Opt-In
Have a professional sign up form on a website that links directly to your newsletter or database management program. By automating this process you are guaranteed to build your database, cut down on your email and also easily deliver your offer (report, ecourse etc.) to your subscriber.
6. Broadcast Management
Whether you send a regular newsletter or offer teleclasses, ecourses etc., you know how important it is to get the appropriate details out to your people in a timely fashion. By using a professional broadcast/autoresponder management program, you can set up a professional sign up box on your website and also set up professional looking correspondence to deliver at specific times. For example, if you want to send a reminder for an upcoming telelclass, by using a broadcast program, you can set the reminder up weeks in advance – select the group you want the broadcast to go to, select the date, enter your text and the program takes care of the rest. No need to make a note to yourself to send the information manually via your own email program.
7. Automated billing – Using a Professional Merchant Account
By using a merchant account to automate your billing process, you’re providing a convenient and effortless way for your clients/customers to send you payments. Imagine if you didn’t have to send an uncomfortable email reminder, wait for a check to arrive in the mail or go to the bank to deposit the funds? By using a merchant account, you can set up your client payments so they process automatically on specific dates, billed to a client’s credit card and automatically deposited to your bank account. Easy.
8. Get Help
You’re a professional in the area that you have chosen to work in so why spend valuable time on tasks that you are not proficient in? Want to set up that professional sign up form on your website or send out your newsletter more regularly but don’t know how? Get help. Virtual Assistants are the “dream come true” for small business owners that want a great “sidekick” to take care of various tasks so you can spend your time on other, more money generating tasks.
There’s a catch to working with a Virtual Assistant. Sure, they can help you with the day-to-day tasks like scheduling appointments but imagine what could happen if you thought of your Virtual Assistant as an investment … or a “profit center”. By sharing your goals and strategies with your Virtual Assistant and having them assist in revenue generating activities, you’re well on your way to developing a great partnership and experiencing business growth.
Cindy Greenway is a successful Virtual Manager who specializes in working with her clients to automate and build their online practice. As Co-Founder of the Multiple Streams Team, Cindy educates small business owners on the benefits of working with a Virtual Assistant, and matches those who require support with Virtual Assistants on the Team.
To learn more about how to make the very most of your investment in Virtual help, visit www.multiplestreamsteam.com and request the “How a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Increase Your Profits” report.