Business Management

The life-changing magic of business automation: Simplify your work with this method

Caroline Burk

Updated: Mar 19, 2024 · 8 min read

Genie in a bottle typing on a laptop

We all remember early 2020’s biggest media trends — you may have been among the many who became obsessed with Tiger King, TikTok dances, baking sourdough, or (more productively) Marie Kondo’s tidying-up method.

Marie Kondo took the world by storm when Netflix released her series on decluttering and creating an organized life, based on her guide, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. “Does it spark joy?” might ring a bell, as it was the show’s catchphrase and an integral part of Kondo’s method.

Kondo inspired thousands around the world to organize their homes, but her six-step process can also be applied to streamlining your business.

We’ve repurposed Marie Kondo’s famous framework to show you how these rules for tidying could help you organize your processes, improve your small business automation strategy, calm the chaos for you and your team, and maybe even spark renewed joy for building your business.

Rule 1: Commit yourself to tidying up your business (a.k.a. automating it)

Marie Kondo makes it clear that the KonMari Method™ is not a quick fix. Rather, she describes it as a “chance to reset your entire life – but only if you commit to following its principles.”

Similarly, when you set out to improve your business automation strategy, it won’t happen overnight. This process will require an initial investment of time and effort as you work to set up a healthy automation engine.

Don’t get us wrong, just like Kondo’s method, these improvements will be worth it in the long run for you, your team and your customers. But make sure to stay committed to the process so you can see real, consistent results.

Rule 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle

What’s your ultimate goal in automating your business? Maybe you’re hoping to:

  • Save 10 or more hours per week (as reported by real Keap customers)
  • Provide your customers with a consistently outstanding experience
  • Move leads through your sales funnel and increase conversion rates
  • Go from chaos to freedom in your business and personal life

All of these benefits are possible when you implement business automation into your strategy, but it helps to narrow your goals down so you know exactly what you’re aiming for and can track your progress.

Many entrepreneurs simply want to escape the chaos of their business and experience freedom without sacrificing a personalized experience for their clients. If this is you, automation may be the answer. And the benefits of automation aren’t isolated to just the marketing and sales departments. If you’re dedicated to creating a thorough automation gameplan, the software and strategy can help alleviate chaos in every area of your business.

Man with glasses and book

Pro tip

Need some inspiration and strategic guidance on achieving better balance through automation? Clate Mask, CEO of Keap, managed to trade entrepreneurial chaos for growth, profit and freedom. He shares his roadmap in the second edition of Conquer the Chaos.

Rule 3: Discard ineffective processes

Before you can get to optimizing your automation efforts, you have to get some things out of the way. Similar to Marie Kondo’s approach, you have to finish discarding so you can start tidying (or in this case, automating).

Gather your team and audit your sales, marketing, operations and service processes. These are the areas you’ll automate later, but you and your team need to first decide which processes are working and which ones aren’t. This rule is particularly important because you don’t want to waste time automating outdated, useless processes. It’s easier and more efficient to simply remove those parts of your business and start with a clean slate.

Once you and your team have finished discarding, you can move through the rest of the rules confidently, knowing you’ll be automating things that actually benefit your business.

If the audit process seems daunting, start with these 10 marketing items every small business should evaluate.

Rule 4: Optimize by business automation category

In the past, when I’ve gotten the itch to organize, I’ve gone room by room. I rummage through my bedroom, and then move onto the living room, kitchen and so on. This is the way most people approach organization, but Kondo explains it’s not as effective as we may think. According to the KonMari Method™, lasting organization comes from tidying up by category (think tidying up all the books you own, not just the ones you keep in your office). We think this is also a good way to approach automating your business.

When you set out to automate your entire business, fight the urge to approach it by room. By this, we mean don’t set out to automate all your emails, texts, tasks or other items at once.

Instead, focus on each category of automation:

  • Marketing: Marketing automation enables you and your team to put your lead collection and relationship-building efforts on autopilot. Using it in conjunction with your small business CRM allows you to send more personalized communications based on the information you’ve collected about your contacts, which means every contact gets the right message at the right time.
  • Sales: Move leads through your sales pipeline by automating emails, texts and other follow-ups that will help convert them into customers. With sales automation, you can set up automatic appointment scheduling, invoice delivery and follow-up, shopping cart monitoring and more.
  • Service: Use service automation to create a seamless, consistent client experience by automating product delivery, customer onboarding, referral and review requests, subscription management, reminders and anything that can turn your clients into raving fans.
  • Operations: The power of automation applies to internal processes and tasks too. Make a plan to automate your employee onboarding and offboarding, returns and refunds, recruitment, internal surveys, staff reminders and task assignments. If you and your team routinely do it, chances are you can automate it!

Rule 5: Follow the right order

Even after you pick an automation category to start with, you might be wondering which specific processes or tasks should get your attention and time first.

Just like Marie Kondo, we recommend starting with the low-hanging fruit. These items will be the easiest to automate and simultaneously the ones with the greatest potential impact.

Uncover your business’s low-hanging automation fruit by picking a category and making a list of all the areas you’d like to automate within that category. From there, you will need to:

  1. Rank items by easy, medium or difficult: To assign these labels to each task, take into account how much time your team will have to spend on each item, potential obstacles, financial resources required and any other factors that may make an area more or less difficult for your team.
  2. Categorize by impact: Any item you plan to automate will have a degree of potential impact. Estimate the benefit each automation will have on your customers, your team and your finances. Then, mark the items as high, medium or low return based on your estimate.
  3. Create a final order of items: The final part of this process is to rank your items one last time before you start automating. Put them in hierarchical order, with the easiest, most impactful items at the top.

This list might seem like a barrier to diving right into automation, but it’s essential to start you on the right foot. Beginning with high-impact, easy tasks can kickstart your momentum and help you reach benefits earlier on. Then, as you and your team start to notice those benefits, you’ll be encouraged to keep going until you have a well-rounded, complete business automation plan.

Rule 6: Are your results sparking joy?

It’s not uncommon to hear people quote Marie’s mantra: “Does it spark joy?”

With this final rule, you’ll ask yourself and your team this question, but you won’t do it right away. Give yourself time to notice the results of the things you’ve automated, and then evaluate if they’re living up to your expectations and the goals you set earlier on.

When doing this joy evaluation process, take note of benefits in all areas — positive comments from your team, less time spent on repetitive tasks, happier customers and more sales. As Marie stresses, joy is subjective, so your benchmarks will depend on your business. That’s why it’s important to set clear expectations during rule two. We also recommend using an automation and small business CRM platform that has robust reporting capabilities so you can see all your data in one place and use it to track results.

One more thing before you get started…

Itching to get going on rule one? The perfect precursor to completing your business automation audit is to sign up for a free consultation with one of Keap’s small business automation experts. During your call, they’ll learn about your business so they can then send you a free, personalized Growth and Freedom Playbook, featuring the top three things your business needs to automate. It’s a great way to get your juices flowing so you can tackle these six rules with confidence and excitement.

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