Set yourself up for success: Planning, automation and top tools
One of the best ways to boss your business is to set yourself up for success by planning well, automating what you can and using handy tools to help you operate efficiently. In this blog, I’m sharing my tried and tested top tips on how to work smarter, not harder, so that you can reap the rewards of having a few simple systems in place.
You’ve heard it before but planning really is the key to success as it saves you time, gives you direction and accountability. I’d highly recommend putting aside some time each month (and each quarter) to plan your:
- Goals - So you know what you’re aiming for and have tangible milestones to work towards,.and of course celebrate when you achieve them!
- PR, social and content – Start initially by looking at the big picture and map out your key dates, launches, events, that you have on throughout the year. Then break the activities into quarters with the top line things you plan to do. You can then go deeper by mapping out specific content for each month – such as your social posts, blogs, press releases, newsletters etc.
And voila…you’ve just created yourself a content plan for the year!
Why wouldn’t you want to automate as many processes as possible - it pretty much allows you to run parts of your business on autopilot!
When you automate your business, you not only save time, reduce errors and improve your efficiency - but you’re also being proactive. This is incredibly important if you are looking to grow and scale your business. The last thing you want is to be tied down in the day-to-day tasks that take up too much of your time.
Here are just a few things you can easily automate in your business:
- Social media scheduling - An absolute must for any business that relies on social media to reach their clients and customers. It is the most effective way to ensure that you are consistently showing up and frees up your brain to focus on other things.
Doing social media day-to-day is 100x harder than batch creating, planning and scheduling your content in one sitting. I highly recommend Later for Instagram, Facebook Creator Studio for Facebook and Buffer for LinkedIn and Twitter. And the best thing? All have fab free options which will more than suffice for your business’ needs.
- Emails – Do you constantly receive emails asking the same sort of questions about your service or product? Then why not have a series of standard template responses ready to go with key answers to your frequently asked questions that you can just tailor as appropriate.
If you want to be super organised with emails and you have something you want to share with your customers, did you know can also schedule them to go out at a certain time?
- Invoices - If you’re a product-led business, you’ll have a payment system set up on your website, but there’s no reason as a service-led business you can’t make payments easier too. If you invoice as part of your biz, look for a system to make this as easy as possible. I have been using Xero and it really is a game-changer. Once you’ve added a new client it couldn’t be simpler to send their invoice each month by using the copy function and making some tiny tweaks. Also, if you need to chase payments you can send a reminder or even set up automated follow-ups. Automation within a simple, time-saving system….yes please!
- Meetings and calls - By using a tool such as Acuity (there are many others, this is just the one I use) you don’t need to spend time going backwards and forwards with someone trying to arrange a time. Just make sure your availability is up to date and send the link for them to book a slot.
Make sure the booking system is connected to your calendar so it can automatically put appointments in your diary, a total time-saver! You can add another level of automation here too - some systems enable you to add on questionnaires to bookings, so new enquiries can fill out a form to give you some basic insight ahead of your meeting.
So last, but by no means least, are my top tools to help you plan and deliver your PR, particularly social media:
- #JournoRequest for Reactive PR - This is a great hashtag to follow on Twitter. Lots of journalists post requests for information on here so you can get in touch with them for anything relevant to you. It’s particularly good when you don’t have a huge amount of news to share but still want to look for ways to increase your brand awareness. Top tips: be quick and be relevant, have images ready to send and make sure you show why you should be chosen above anyone else who responds.
- Canva for content creation –This is a brilliant, simple graphic design tool. The free version has great functionality and will more than likely do everything you need it to. You can upload your own images, create social media tiles, banners, blog headers etc… even reports and booklets! It has hundreds of templates already pre-sized for the different platforms for you to use.
- Mail Chimp for newsletters and lead magnets - Building your email list and sharing your latest news on a monthly (or seasonal) basis is a brilliant way to engage with people who have already shown an interest in your business. These people are very important - make them feel special and you’ll encourage them to buy from you.
Just remember not to bombard them with your sales pitches. By treating them like a valued friend (e.g sharing behind the scenes insights, special offers and tips) you’ll create the ‘know, like and trust’ elements which are crucial in repeat custom. A great way to encourage sign-ups to your newsletter is to give people a discount code or a freebie when they join your mailing list, this is called a ‘lead magnet’.
- Learning through social resources - There are literally thousands of learning resources out there to increase your knowledge of social media and communications. With things changing all the time, it’s well worth ensuring you’re up to date and that your social media is working as hard as possible for you.
A few of resources I can recommend are:
- Social media today
- Hubspot blog
- Later blog
- Sprout social
- Social Media Examiner
And of course, we’re always investing in our own knowledge and growth so we can share our tips, tools and insight with you via our newsletter and on our blog. If you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter below, you’ll be the first to hear of any special offers, new launches and our adventures.