Can Your Business be Systematized?

Some online endeavors are highly labor-intensive, meaning they take up all of the owner’s time. Some entrepreneurs, however, aim to get everything up and running and then delegate many of the tasks to others. In fact, this is the way many traditional firms are run. Everything from law and accounting firms to construction companies are often begun by founders who later decide to step back from the day-to-day operations.

Part of every new entrepreneur’s plan should include goals about long-term behavior. Typical questions are: how much time will I be putting into this company if it really takes off? Will I be sub-contracting some of the key tasks to other professionals and experts? Could I conceivably put the whole thing on auto-pilot if need be, or do I want to be a hands-on owner and do most everything myself?

Understanding systemization is important for anyone who starts a business, especially online companies that can be run from on a remote basis.

What to do Yourself and What to Hire Out

Savvy Internet entrepreneurs realize that they need to market their goods and services in order to obtain new clients. When marketing duties begin to cut into the core tasks of the business, owners often look to automate, delegate and repurpose. These are perhaps the three most essential ways to “create time” in a world where time equals money.

Just about any online business can take advantage of automation. For tasks like customer follow-up, sales, social networking, delivery, and more, even the lowest-tech website can automate most of the common functions of a typical business. This is, in essence, a form of “delegating” work to the technical capabilities of a website.

For chores that do not call for an actual human being, this kind of delegation is called automation. It’s been around for decades but has come into its own in the computer age as so many tasks can now be automated.

Delegating a task to a human being, a form of subcontracting, is another common way that Internet business owners save time. Instead of hiring an employee, countless entrepreneurs simply hire out specific jobs to various other specialists, like freelance writers, web designers, customer service staffers, virtual assistants, marketers, accountants and others. Depending on the nature of the online business, an owner might need many or few “subcontractors.”

For example, it is quite common for physicians and dentists to maintain simple websites listing their services and fees, but to delegate jobs like advertising, customer service, billing and legal services. Doctors, especially, often tend to their core specialties (treating sick people) and let others hunt up business for them, manage websites and bill customers.

Other owners seek out the assistance of freelance writers who create content that is specific to their particular business niche. Active, successful sellers of products often publish hundreds of relevant articles on blogs each month. There’s no way one person could write all that material. That’s just one of the reasons that owners of freelance writing services can do so well; they sell their services to other online businesses that need well-written content in diverse areas of interest.

Besides automation and delegation, entrepreneurs sometimes look to “replication,” or repurposing, as another way to save time for more essential tasks. Traditional businesses have repurposes for as long as people can remember. Products get tweaked, rebuilt, broken down into component parts and resold. Marketing materials are particular candidates for replication.

It is common for web-based businesses to combine blog posts, for example, and create a “special report” for interested customers. Likewise, many an ebook has been broken down into its component parts and used as a series of related blog posts.

There’s really no end to the possibilities for Internet business owners who want to save time by repurposing, delegating and automating. Some websites seem to be on 100 percent auto-pilot, especially for companies that are primarily sales-oriented.

Once an adequate inventory level has been reached and a shopping cart is in place, there’s really no reason a sales business can’t become fully automated. When people use the term “auto-pilot,” they are usually referring to web-based companies that require minimal human oversight for day-to-day operation. Consider some of the large auction sites and book sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. From a customer’s perspective, most purchases are fully automated. Even if there’s a complaint of a refund needs to be issued, those tasks are handled by software, a “robot” in other words.

Business owners of all kinds should consider how much of their work they intend to automate and delegate. While not every type of enterprise will lend itself to full automation, many tasks like billing, shipping and email follow-up are easily automated, while many more can be delegated when the need arises.