Being your own boss, running the show, and calling the shots make solopreneurship sound so cool and satisfying. And it really is.
Ask your fellow employees what they aspire to become a few years from today and one of the most common answers will be to run their own small businesses.
The idea of owning a small business and creating something from hard work, determination, and grit to finally realizing your sweat equity is not a new trend.
In fact, there are probably more people who have taken the plunge to become self-employed and finally joining the solopreneur bandwagon today than a few years ago.
According to the 2020 State of Independence in America Report, 81 percent of full-time solopreneurs said that they were pursuing their solo careers by choice compared to 66 percent in 2021. This is despite being offered plum positions in already established companies.
By 2019, there were more than 41.8 million adults in America who were categorized as freelancers or solopreneurs. This group of people contributed a staggering $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, according to a whitepaper by brand strategy consultancy Spencer Brenneman, LLC.
But while solopreneurship seems like a growing trend, especially now that the global health crisis forced many organizations to either downsize their workforce or close shop altogether, running a small business single-handedly can, for the most part, be extremely stressful.
In the UK, for instance, 62 percent of solopreneurs said they felt stressed due to work. A report by Leapers also found out that 64 percent of freelancers said that stress, anxiety, and poor mental health had a negative impact on their ability to work, which ultimately affects their business.
Unlike in a big company, where you had one or two roles to play, as a solopreneur, you are pretty much responsible for every single task. From coming up with the business idea and conceptualizing it to marketing it, selling it, and balancing the books… it’s all on you!
It gets worse when your small business gets off to a great start and you now have a growing list of customers that are constantly demanding undivided attention, not to mention timely delivery of their orders.
That’s when it finally sinks in. You are way in over your head! You need more hands-on-deck but your bank account can’t quite sustain a payroll.
And even if you can afford to employ two or three other people to help you, you still don’t have the capacity to put together a decent recruitment advert, shortlist the applications, do the actual interviewing and train them.
The stress of juggling all these tasks can be a stumbling block for your small business, which is why you need to look elsewhere, in this case, technology, to fill in some of the glaring gaps and finally, get things happening as they should.
However, it’s not all gloom and doom for solopreneurs.
You can actually run a successful and efficient solo operation and still enjoy the perks of being a solopreneur. The only thing you need to do is automate tasks that seem to weigh you down.
Automation has been instrumental for enabling solopreneurs to run highly competitive businesses by allowing them to automate repetitive tasks such as email, social media, marketing, sales, operations, among others.
So, let’s jump right in and find out why automation is not just important but it’s now a must-have for solopreneurs. We shall also take a closer look at exactly what it has to offer and how you can get the best out of it and help your small business grow.
Why Do Solopreneurs Need Automation?
Automation is a super helpful solution meant to help businesses make the best of their time. As a solopreneur, you know better than anyone that time is money. Every second of the day, and most of your nights, should be spent performing tasks that help to pay the bills and most importantly, help the business grow.
If, for instance, you’re spending a good chunk of your time sending and responding to emails and at the same time creating social media posts and also scheduling them while some of your clients are waiting for their long-overdue orders to be dispatched, then something is absolutely wrong. You are basically not being efficient and it will not be long before you start losing customers.
But if you automate your time-consuming processes, you will have more time to attend to more urgent tasks while also focussing on ensuring that your customers are happy. Below is a list of benefits of automation for solopreneurs.
3 Top Benefits of Automation for Solopreneurs
Respond to Customer Queries Fast
Customers and prospects hate being kept waiting, especially in this digital age where almost everything now is being done online. Convenience and experience have now also become a key factor that affects every purchase decision and, guess what, your customers know it.
Throughout the buying journey, customers will ask questions about your company, products, or services before they commit to buying. If you don’t respond to these queries in time, you will most likely lose them.
A report by Forrester revealed that 53 percent of US online adults are more likely to abandon their online purchase if they do not get a quick response to their question. This is where automation lets you shine.
Chatbots are a great automation example that can help you boost your response time significantly and also help you save up to 30 percent in customer support costs.
AI-based business tools are increasingly becoming popular due to their effectiveness. According to HubSpot, more businesses are now warming up to the idea of using AI technology to complement some of their day-to-day operations.
Tracking Your Expenses
As a solopreneur, keeping tabs on your expenditures can be a daunting ongoing task with no end in sight. It’s a time-consuming task that is characterized by hours upon hours of finding receipts, credit card bills, petty cash vouchers not to mention trying to balance the numbers. And if you don’t do it, your business might start incurring huge losses and before you know it, you could be headed for bankruptcy.
OK, OK, maybe bankruptcy isn’t quite in sight. Yet. But do you really like spending hours trying to decipher financial reports?
Why not use expense automation to help you eliminate, once and for all, the pain of filing and processing your expense reports? And no, we are not talking about the good old Excel sheets. There are plenty of expense automation tools and apps that can get the job done so you don’t have to waste valuable time or make expensive errors. Just make sure the solution is easy to set up and is scalable because your business is bound to grow.
Repetition and time wastage together make the number one productivity killer. If you have to deal with repetitive, mundane tasks, you cannot be creative. If you are not productive, you will not be in a position to innovate. Your creativity will also suffer a great deal ultimately affecting your solo venture.
Thanks to technology, solopreneurs now have easily accessible and quite effective digital tools that can help them boost their productivity. Tools such as Trello, Slack, HootSuite, Microsoft Teams, among others should be a great start.
These are just some of the many benefits you can get when you finally automate tasks that are repetitive and bog you down. By adopting them you will now be able to work smarter and not harder.
The beauty about these automation solutions is that most of them are free and still very effective while others have affordable paid plans that fit most solopreneurs’ budgets.
How to Leverage Automation as a Solopreneur
Automation might sound too complicated for a solopreneur who has neither the capacity nor the expertise to set it up. But that’s not the case. As highlighted earlier, automation is a fairly straightforward process, especially for a solopreneur since most tools are easily accessible and affordable.
Also, you don’t have to automate every single task at once. It is recommended that you start small and build up as your business grows. The best place to start is to take a step back and critically examine all your business processes. This will help you to identify specific tasks that need automation – a good chunk of which fall in these three categories:
Data: Today’s marketing activities are data-driven. Digital campaigns rely on insights that come in the form of data. Automation, especially when combined with integration, is a super-effective way of synchronizing all your data from all platforms.
With an integration solution such as SyncApps, your data gathering and analysis processes will be streamlined, secure, and made easily accessible to you. SyncApps will help keep all your data seamlessly and bidirectionally integrated between all your key software saving you dozens of man-hours and resources.
Communication: You simply cannot build strong relationships with your customers without timely and relevant communication. This is where automated emails and email marketing come in handy.
By automating your email process, you are able to reach out to your target audience with tailor-made messages. Automation helps you to say the right things at the right time hence enhancing your lead generation and nurturing efforts dramatically. If you have a website, consider incorporating autoresponders to help you respond to your visitors’ queries. SyncApps integration solutions like Mailchimp for Salesforce can, for instance, help you to track the total number of subscribers to your newsletters as well as monitor the progress of your digital campaigns.
But it can get even better. Think about the time you spend on email marketing. If you don’t use integration yet, I can bet that a lot of that time is spent figuring out whom you should email what promotion.
With integration, all this is handled automatically, so all you have to do is type your email and hit send from your email marketing platform. Bidirectional integration powered by SyncApps ensures real-time data flows from one solution to the other.
When someone subscribes to your newsletter, you will see it in your CRM. Better yet, it will be automatically added to a certain list, depending on the landing page they hit subscribe on. When someone unsubscribes from your list, it will be visible in both your email marketing and your CRM platforms, so you don’t breach any data privacy laws.
Plus, your reporting will be taken to a whole new level. With combined insights from both platforms in a single dashboard, you will see at a glance who is ready to convert and who needs more nurturing, so you can easily send the right campaign at the right moment.
Say goodbye to nights spent in front of the computer and weekends reserved for data migration and mining. Claim your weekends and your balance back!
Processes: Activities such as onboarding, upselling, cross-selling are time-consuming and can be automated for optimal results. Instead of doing them the old fashion way, you should seriously consider automating them so that they can deliver real value.
Solopreneurs who want to succeed in their respective spaces need all the help they can get. Running a one-man show is hard.
The pressure to ensure processes are running smoothly and customers are happy is huge. Luckily, automation solutions can save solopreneurs the stress of having to manually execute each and every task. And if paired with the right integration solution, growth can be easily achieved.