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Make money while you sleep. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? It could be your reality with technology at the helm.
The First Pillar of Business Scaling is Automation. That is, using tech to manage recurring tasks within your business that don’t need a human touch. While many founders would argue that the former is the difficult part, it is, in my experience, the latter that needs help. Many founders believe that they must have their hands on the wheel 24/7, despite tech that is free and ready to take the helm of many tasks.
For example, the other day I had coffee with a friend I’ll call “M.” M had launched a webinar, but didn’t want to pay SamCart $49/mo to manage the checkout process on her website. Instead, her call to action was to email her directly in order to sign up.
That’s a whole lot of extra work for her when there are many free services that can do the simple task of taking money for you. We added one such tool to M’s website and, just like that, she could make sales in her sleep.
It’s time to do that for your own business.
Below I’ve put together a guide of the FREE (ie. no upfront cost) tech tools that will help you automate your business so you can generate leads, sell products, and make money in your sleep. This is an ever-growing list, so do check it regularly.
So let’s go!
Payments & Invoicing
Good payment and invoicing portals should be able to schedule and auto-send invoices and receive payments while you sleep. Even better if they will auto-draw from your clients at desired intervals and generate accountant-worthy reports.
Square has taken US small businesses by storm over the past decade. When I started my first business in 2012, Square had just emerged on the market. Since then, it seems one can’t go into a coffee shop without paying through a Square portal.
What makes Square so disruptive is their low fees (lower than PayPal) and easy to use interface. They have since added many products to their offerings, but if you need a checkout button for your website (for either one-time or subscription payments) Square can easily meet that challenge.
Stripe competes with Square on price, but not on usability. That is because Stripe is the big brother to Square. Stripe can take payments from banks and apps worldwide, making it the go-to for international businesses (like my own). Luckily, Stripe can also now generate a checkout button for your website for both one-time and subscription payments. Woo hoo!
I jumped on the Wave bandwagon in the very early days of its creation. Wave is free to small business owners who need a simple accounting tool to manage their revenue. It will generate balance sheets, profit and loss reports, and more — great for keeping your CPA happy.
What’s more, they offer a fantastic invoicing tool that allows you to send beautiful quotes, invoices, and receive payments. What I love about their system is that it both can handle subscriptions and recurring payments without your needing to spend any time on it after it is set up. Perfect for making money while you sleep!
Not ready to hire an assistant to manage your diary but tired of the back-and-forth in scheduling? There are several free apps that can handle this for you. Note that they must be able to integrate into your calendar so they don’t double book you!
I remember the week I added Calendly to my tech company. It felt like I’d hired an assistant! There was no more back and forth with clients trying to find the right time. I just sent a link and boom, my scheduled filled up.
Calendly is free for one calendar type, which is typically enough for a small business that is in the early stages of scaling. The next level is $15/mo, which may seem steep, but includes the ability to get paid for appointments, which is very nice indeed.
Good task management software should help you task your future self so you don’t have to hold all the items in your head. Imagine deadlines popping up on your computer or phone that you set weeks or even months ago, helping you to stay on track and seize opportunities.
The first task management software I used was Trello. It is a simple drag-and-drop system using cards and boards, almost like an old school newsroom plan. Move things around as needed, set deadlines, assign roles and tasks, and customize accordingly.
Today, I’ve graduated into Asana, which offers both traditional task lists and the drag-and-drop boards that Trello boasts. An added feature is the ability to zoom out and view tasks on a calendar layout so you know exactly what is coming up next.
One of my clients once said to me, “I have six teammates and I have no idea what they are doing with their time.” Eep! Use the below tools to track their activities so you have the full picture at a glance.
Need a simply app that can tell you what your team is spending their time on? I love Clockify because it’s free, integrates into Asana and Trello, and generates simple reports that help keep everyone accountable.
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
I’ve written extensively on CRMs in the past, but the most important features to look for are organization along a pipeline so you know which category and stage in your sales process your clients are in, as well as reminders so the technology tasks you (rather than the other way around).
Streak was the first CRM I ever used. I like it because it integrates seamlessly into Gmail and GSuite and allows one to organize contacts, keep notes on deals and progress, and reminds one to check in with a contact if they haven’t replied to recent messages. It’s free for a single user and up to 500 contacts, perfect for a growing small business.
Hubspot is a powerful marketing tool that provides a lot more than a simple CRM. It is a graduation from Streak in many ways, but what Streak has over Hubspot is the email integration and the ability to have multiple pipelines/categories for contacts on the free plan. I personally keep track of both my coaching clients and my anthropological work in my CRM, so Hubspot wasn’t the right fit in the early days of my work, despite its powerful offerings.
Social Media Management
Ever wonder what it would be like to post to social media in your sleep? I’ve gotchu.
If your primary market is on Instagram then you need Later. This app is optimized for managing Instagram, including beefy stats and analytics that Instagram itself doesn’t provide. You can schedule up to 28 posts per 10 posts per month for free. That’s plenty for a growing business!
This is the app I used when I launched my first business over a decade ago (gosh, it’s been a while!). It is free for two accounts and one user, and comes with some beefy stats as well.
Courses are a fantastic offering that codifies your knowledge so you can scale without increasing your time commitment per student. Many course platforms use a freemium model — free for the first few students. Here are my faves.
I like Thinkific because it makes course creation super easy. It’s free to use for your first course, making it a great platform to start flexing your course creation muscles and test your ideas.
I launched my first courses on Teachable. The platform offers all its features for free for the first 10 students. That made it easy to play around with and brainstorm on while I was still developing my own course plan.Facebook Linkedin Twitter Reddit Telegram Business Tips 23 Case Studies 4 Personal 8 Self Care 6
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