Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
When we coach our clients at Left Right Labs, we don’t teach them to do anything we aren’t doing ourselves. And let me tell you, we did a LOT in 2016.
You may have noticed we jumped from a two-person shop to a team of FIVE! We also completely changed our name, our business model and totally rebranded our business.
Looking back I can tell you it was not easy, but it was totally 100% worth it. And if we had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t trade any of the tools we used to get us to where we are now.
We are in control of our business in ways we thought were light years down the road. We’ve built a team, developed sales processes and we’re making things happen for ourselves and for our clients. We tripled our revenue in 2015 and then nearly doubled that in 2016.
Having been in the digital marketing space for over 10 years, I can honestly say that the last year has been life-changing for our business. We owe most of it to implementing what we learned from the following resources. We’ve been sharing these tips with clients during our coaching sessions and I wanted to compile a list to share with everyone.
So here are our top tips for getting your &@$&?! together in 2017. And yes, some of these are affiliate links. We won’t ever promote anything we don’t use ourselves.
Time management is a joke. You cannot control time and everyone has the same number of hours in the day. The only thing you can do is manage yourself. This is step number one and why we’re leading off with this recommendation first.
Our favorite book on this topic is Getting Things Done by David Allen. We read this as a team at Left Right Labs and then implemented the processes into our daily communications workflow. Our entire team knows how to manage tasks, projects and their calendars. We get $%^&*($& done.
Those two words say a lot and I wish I could just stop right there, but I won’t. Because some people still don’t get it. If you’re rolling your eyes right now, you’re one of them. We still miss the mark on this one.
Scheduling everything is not meant to turn you into a crazy Type A personality. The purpose is to keep you on track and help you stay focused on your priorities.
You’ve probably heard “If it’s not on the calendar, it won’t get done.” We found this one to be absolutely true. Google Calendar is our tool of choice, although just about any digital calendar will do. Just make sure it can accept meeting invites and share with others.
Start using this tip today. It’s an eye-opener.
Systematize Your Business
One of the biggest productivity boosts we had last year was setting up systems in our business. When your company starts to expand and you find yourself teaching and delegating, you’ve got to be able to communicate your workflow in a way that everyone understands. This ensures the task is done the same way every time with the same tools, the same templates and follows the same quality assurance checklist so nothing gets overlooked.
While we already had lots of checklists and processes written down, the book Work The System sparked major changes for us in this area. We empowered our team to write processes for their most common tasks and started eliminating bottlenecks in our productivity. Now, any of our team members can step in and do the exact same work without needing to ask questions. It has untangled communication loops and increased our efficiency tremendously.
Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Our coaching clients know we’re big fans of an online tool called Teamwork. It’s a project management application and we use it both for client projects and internal management.
Teamwork is our communications portal. It keeps everyone in the loop and and also allows us to share and comment on documents we upload to each project. Our clients can also see the progress we are making and we use the message board to keep everyone informed of the project status. Simple collaboration among 5 or more people is now a dream come true.
What makes our dream work? Teamwork.
We love Google Docs. We use Google Docs for just about everything we do. It houses checklists, financial formulas, processes, notes, quick links and so much more. Easily searchable, we can find and share anything we need in seconds.
Need to frequently copy and paste affiliate links? Create a Google Doc and bookmark it.
Need to remember exactly how to setup your Facebook ad? Create a Google Doc with all of your instructions, screenshots and links to your account.
It’s such a powerful resource. And it’s FREE!
Hire An App
When our clients get overwhelmed, they often start asking about hiring someone new. We say “STOP RIGHT THERE!” Hiring before you are ready is one of the most costly mistakes you can make in a business.
Before you hire anyone, make sure you have written out all of the processes that are overwhelming you. Hiring someone without having a specific process for them to follow will waste their time and your dollars.
Also make sure you are using your current tools to their fullest capacity. Will your accounting app generate a report and email it to you? Can you use additional tools to automate repetitive tasks? Could your Facebook Ads be managed easier with a tool like Ad Espresso? Do you spend a lot of time trying to book appointments with customers? Use a scheduling app like Calendly.
Don’t get me wrong, people are awesome, but you should leverage existing tools before adding to your labor costs. Also, before you hire, you should…
Know Your Numbers
I’m not gonna lie, this one hit us hard. One of the digital marketing mastermind groups we are in recommended the book Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits. Holy crap did we get a masterclass in creating a profitable business!
As the business owner, I’ve always had a handle on our finances and we’ve done pretty well for the most part. This book gave us formulas to make smart decisions on when to hire or make large purchases and revealed the numbers we should be looking at daily to gauge the health of our business.
I now get 3 daily reports emailed to me every morning so I always know exactly what’s happening. We also have a forecast set up so we can actually predict (pretty accurately) what’s going to happen in the next few months.
This book is probably the best tool in our toolbox at the moment. It’s not industry specific, so no matter what your business is or how big/small it is, get this book immediately and know your REAL numbers.
No really, get the book Traction right now. This system helped us structure our business in 2016. Going from a two-person team to five people creates a whole lot of problems you didn’t know you had.
By setting up the EOS system using the templates from Traction, we put together accountability charts, weekly meetings, daily check-ins and a complete system for setting goals and managing all the issues that creep up along the way. Our communication as a team became clearer and everyone knew exactly what their role was in the company. Game changer for us.
Automate Everything You Can
In 2016, we spent a lot of time helping clients automate their businesses. In some of our Mastermind circles, I’ve been dubbed the “Automation Queen”. I absolutely hate repetitive work, so I love setting up tools to do those tasks for me.
Ever wonder how I am able to respond quickly when you ask me for data about your website? It’s because I have recognized actions that I repeat frequently and turned them into macros. So what that means is… rather than clicking my mouse 52 times to open and login to your web site, and your Facebook page, and your Business Manager, and your Google Analytics, etc., I make about 2 clicks from a menu I built and poof – it loads everything on my screen and logs me in. The entire process executes in about a half a second.
You can use any keyboard shortcut or macro application to automate your workflow. Keyboard Maestro happens to be my personal favorite. I literally shave off a week per year of my time with this app.
Another great automation tool is Active Campaign. It’s more than just an email list tool. We use it to automate internal reminders, organize our sales funnels and more. Active Campaign is the #1 tool our clients used in 2016 to save time in their business.
Just Do It
This post was simply a list of the top tools and resources we used to triple our revenue and grow our business. Will it make your business run more efficiently and build your bottom line? Absolutely. But only if you take the time to implement.
Reading about these tools gains you nothing but knowledge. How you use that knowledge will determine how well you do in the next year.
Don’t wait! Pick the area that interests you the most and dive in.
Need a little extra help? Feel free to contact us and get ideas on how you can make 2017 your most productive year yet.
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