Automate, Automate, Automate
Copyright 2004 Richard Grady
The key to running a successful and efficient online business is to automate as much of your work as possible:
Automate your order-taking process...
Automate your payment methods (credit card/Paypal etc)...
Automate as much of your delivery process as possible - eg. automatic printing of shipping labels and invoice/order details...
Automate your subscriber list sign-up...
Automate your 'help' and 'faq' systems - use email 'autoresponders' to answer common queries...
Automate EVERYTHING you possibly can...
If there isn't a software program available to do a certain task, get someone to write it - this is not as expensive as you might think. I recently hired a programmer to write a simple script to automate part of my credit card processing routine. It was a custom script and the cost was just $45.00! Check out sites such as like www.elance.com and www.scriptlance.com if you need help finding a programmer.
The more of your tasks that are dealt with automatically, the more time you will have.
And what should you be doing with that time?
Well, its up to you, but my advice is spend it developing new products and websites - it is much better to have 5 websites bringing in $500 a month each, than one site bringing in $2500. With more sites, your risk is spread so if for any reason sales dry up on one site, it is not the end of the world (however, if that is your only site, it may well be!)
How many other industries allow you to build a business and then leave 70% or even 90% of that business running on 'autopilot'?
I know what I am talking about - my online businesses bring in over six figures a year, yet I can deal with the maintenance of all of my sites in less than an hour a day and this is simply because most tasks are automated. The only time I need to 'get involved' in a transaction is if something goes wrong - and hey, it's a computer so this does happen from time to time :-)
Now, despite the above, I actually work anything from 10 - 15 hours a day, most days and 90% of that time is spent developing new products and websites.
Let me share a simple formula for online success with you:
1. Develop product
2. Develop website
3. Automate as much as possible
4. Market website/product
5. Maintain website and go back to step 1 and repeat
It takes time and it is hard work, but the rewards are excellent. The Internet is probably the only chance you will have to run multiple businesses at once and still be able to take huge chunks of time 'off' whenever you want.
Don't fall into the trap of starting to do the day to day tasks manually - you might be able to handle the workload with 100 visitors to your website each day, but when the hits start rising you will have problems. It is much easier to automate everything from the start than to try and implement systems on a website that is up and running (and generating several hours of work each day).
And of course, there is nothing like waking up in the morning to find that your website has generated sales while you were sleeping - this is a reality and happens everyday to millions of online entrepreneurs around the world - why not you?