It Should Be Easy But It Isn’t: Automation (Part 1) 

April 10, 2024

The very concept of ‘automation’ evokes thoughts of simplicity, being easy and straightforward, and efficiency, right? 

Then you immediately figure out how you could be using automation to make your life as a small business owner easier, and suddenly the world all falls into place, and you sail off into the sunset on your piles of cash. Right? Right?! 

The reality is that the process of automation, or even knowing what you should be automating, sounds like It Should Be Easy…. But It Isn’t. 

It’s pretty likely that you’ve considered the idea of automation but haven’t ended up doing much more than just that after having skimmed a couple of articles and decided you don’t have the energy to figure all of that out right now. You might have thought that you don’t even know where to begin. Meanwhile, you keep hearing it crop up in conversations, so it’s probably important to figure out what it means for you eventually. 

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know 

Many small business owners feel that automation is just for big corporations, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Research from McKinsey showed that while small businesses are less likely to invest in automation than large ones, they have more success when they do. 

There is certainly no cookie cutter approach to business success. Every startup is unique with different sets of conditions, markets, and talents. However, there are core principles that are essential for success, such as tenacity, knowing your market, focusing on the customer and firefighting skills. None of which can happen effectively if you are busy wading through a lot of manual handling. 

Information Overload 

Among other challenges, launching a startup has been described as drinking from a firehose. Everyone today is inundated with more information they know what to do with. There are more tools, technologies, and social media platforms on the market than ever before. The head-spinning experience can leave one in a daze. 

Well, you’re here now. So let’s talk about it. 

Imagine you're running a small gardening service, where you and your team visit homes to take care of gardens. Between scheduling appointments, invoicing clients, and following up for feedback, you find yourself buried in paperwork instead of doing what you love—gardening. Automation is like having a digital helper that manages the background tasks so you can focus more on your clients' gardens. 

Competitive Edge - With automation, your small gardening service can compete with the big landscape companies. About 88% of small businesses found that automation lets them stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants in the industry. It's like having a secret formula that helps your business punch above its weight, allowing you to offer the personal touch of a small business with the efficiency of a large one. 

Efficiency and Scale - Automation helps your business run more smoothly. For example, instead of manually scheduling each client visit, an automated system can handle bookings online, send reminders to clients, and adjust the schedule based on weather delays. This efficiency means you can serve more clients or expand your services without getting bogged down by admin work. 

Simplification of Tasks - Consider the daily tasks that eat up your time, like sending out invoices, creating work schedules, or emailing clients about upcoming service dates. Automation acts like a diligent office manager, taking care of these tasks for you according to rules you've set. It's as if you've trained a robot to handle the admin side of your business, freeing you up to focus on the gardening itself. 

Data Analysis and Decision Making - Finally, automation tools can analyse the data from all aspects of your business. This could include which services are most in demand during different seasons, client feedback on specific services, or how effective your marketing efforts are. Instead of making decisions based on gut feelings, you have access to insights based on real data. This helps you adapt your services to meet market demands, identify opportunities for expanding your business, and enhance your profitability. 

In essence, automation in a service-based small business like gardening means less time spent on routine tasks and more time available for nurturing gardens and relationships with clients. It equips you with the tools to grow your business efficiently, make informed decisions based on data, and maintain that personal touch that sets your service apart. 

Stay tuned for Part 2...

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