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In the last 7 days my automated online business acquired 6 new clients on autopilot.
We produce animated videos and this is what our clients ordered:
3 x $850 (10% discount) = $2,465
1 x $3,040 + $485 recurring = $3,525 (for now)
2 x $850 = $1,700
1 x $850 = $850
1 x $850 = $850
1 x $1,215 = $1,215
Automated online business revenue for the week = $10,605
We have a 50% profit margin.
Admittedly a $10k week is far from impressive to a lot of people these days.. I have plenty of friends myself who sell much more than that every week..
Perhaps the more impressive thing, the thing that I’m here to write about today..
Is that I’ve spent about an hour of my time on this business for the whole month.
To me that’s an automated online business!
Our clients will be taken care of, and we will produce amazing videos for them.
I’ll never speak to the client or see their video, most likely.
Well there are many ways to do it, this isn’t a HOW YOU MUST DO IT article.. this is a “how I automated my online business” article!
Hanging out in the ANA Business Class lounge at Tokyo Narita Airport
Step #1 – THE OFFER
In the first few years I thought that having fewer clients paying me more money was the way to go.
I priced my service too high, and lost a lot of projects that would have been profitable because I had told myself “it will cost $X”.
Turns out the market decides the price for my service, not me.
Having seen a friend who runs a similar automated online business cut his prices drastically, I thought..
“If we were to provide a respectable service, at the lowest price possible.. what could that look like?”
The next day we slashed prices 65% and emailed everyone that had shown interest before.
We made a shitload of sales.
We found product-market fit by lowering our prices.
It’s important to note here that this front end offer doesn’t have to make you profitable, that comes later.
If you can spend money on advertising and acquire clients to take you up on your front end offer and break even, you are in good shape.
Because once you have a ridiculously attractive offer you can start to ask all your new clients “what else do you need?”
And let me tell you, finding other things to sell to your current clients is surprisingly easy.
Something as simple as skipping the line for $100 just immediately starts bringing in extra profit that requires VERY LITTLE changes in your business.
It’s getting people to buy the first time that’s hard.
So once we lowered our prices on the front end offer things became a lot more fun overnight, and this turned out to be the starting point for getting my business to the point where it is today.
Step #2 – STREAMLINED AUTOMATED PROCESS
The thing that I didn’t realize at the time was that there was actually a big benefit to having a high volume of clients and making less profit per project.
Especially when you think about automation and being able to remove yourself from the day-to-day operations.
If you acquire and deliver your service to 10 new clients every month it quickly becomes important to you to make things more effective and efficient as you have to do them 10 times per month.
If you’re only getting 1 high paying client every 2 or 3 months, you might see an opportunity to improve something in your process, but you know that you won’t have to deal with it for another 2-3 months, so you shelve it.
Let’s look at how I used to deal with new clients for a real life practical example:
First of all the whole sales process was manual.
Contact form on our website, phone calls, face to face meetings, proposals, signatures, and let’s say we got lucky enough that a proposal was accepted and signed.
Now we’d get on the phone, I’d ask the client a bunch of questions, write down the answers, and then I’d personally take that information and start writing a script for the client’s video.
I’d invite them to Basecamp, and get on another phone call to show them around Basecamp and how that works, and off we went.
Then of course I’d have to do more phone calls to discuss their feedback on the script, and make corrections etc.
I was only willing to put up with this because I didn’t have many clients (because my prices were too high).
How much time and energy do you think was left at the end of my day?
Fast forward to now:
We have what I call a Salesman Website. A website that can actually close sales for you.
We drive paid traffic to that website, and people buy stuff from us.. right there..
As soon as they place an order we give them a brief to fill out on the thank you page, we also email it to them because most people don’t fill it out right away.
For this reason we also set up some backend systems so that they get email reminders if they don’t fill out the brief.
Once they do fill out the brief it gets emailed to all our script writers.. Depending on availability the script writers will let our Project Manager know inside Slack if they are interested in writing a particular script, and then they get started on it.
By the time the PM officially starts the project with the client, their first draft is already finished, and there’s no Basecamp on-boarding phone calls anymore..
Why would there be? It’s 2017 and recording a video that shows them what they need to know, answers FAQs, is the easiest thing in the world.
This is how my attention is not needed in my automated online business, and I’m able to focus on other projects.
Before we move to the next section I want to touch on a concept I call Required Workload.
Required workload is the amount of work you need to maintain your business. The idea being that the more help you get from other people and systems, the less required workload you have.
Little required workload means your attention isn’t required that much to keep things moving, whereas you could, and probably should spend hours and hours trying to grow your automated online business.
As the business owner, the smaller your required workload, the better off your business will be.
It’s the idea of working in your business vs. working on your business.
Working in your business doesn’t make it grow, it simply maintains.
Working on your business makes it grow, and that’s where you should spend as much time as possible.
.. Which of course is only possible if you’ve been able to pass on your required workload to other people and software..
But there’s an important piece of the puzzle required to make all this work..
Also check out this post on the business tools I use to automate things.
Hosting a dinner for my team.
Step #3 – QUALITY PEOPLE
I’ve hired a lot of freelancers.
Many of them sucked.
A few of them were great. They’re still with me.
If I had crap people on my team I wouldn’t have an automated business because they’d all come to me with their problems.
Don’t get me wrong I still have to problem solve, but because I pay a little bit extra to get a higher calibre freelancer, they can solve most of their problems on their own.
That’s the key to my freedom.
In summary having an automated online business comes down to a few ingredients.
You need to sell something that people want to buy. The more attractive your offer, the more people will take it. Once people buy from you, find other things to sell them (major key).
You need to have a process for acquiring new sales, and for delivering your service. You need to improve on those processes and automate as much as possible.
If you truly want the freedom to let the business run on its own, you need quality people. See this post about hiring quality.
And although it’s a lot of work, it’s not rocket science at the end of the day.