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Business Built Freedom


Joshua is a late 80’s vintage and yet to mature. He is a living case study that you don’t stop at failure and more failures lead to success. The constant learning and listening have led Joshua to the position He is with the energizing approach towards business and relationships. After setting up 4 successful companies over 19 years he decided it was time to give some of his knowledge back. You are likely to catch him on the water on a sunny day with his family and friends or building something new and exciting at home on a rainy one.

Sep 17, 2019

Automation Is Life Live Episode

Joshua: So good morning, everyone, and thanks for having me. So today we're going to be talking about automation and how your business can be more automated and what automation means to everyone. So I'm going to go and ask, I guess everyone, what do you think automation is? What would you say automation is?

Learn more about automation at dorksdelivered.com.au

Audience member: Do something once and not have to do it again.

Joshua: Perfect. So removing repetition. That's a good answer. Is there anyone else that has any different understandings of what automation is?

Audience member: Stuff happens without you having to do it.

Joshua: That's very good. As long as it's being monitored for and you're told when it's not doing the things that it should be doing. So yeah, absolutely. Yep. That's another great example of automation. Any other answers?

Audience member: Taking care of certain processes, setting them and allowing them to happen.

Joshua: Yup. Yup. Absolutely. So automation is a very used buzzword at the moment around the place. And automation as I've written here, which was for Neil, but he's not here, oils just ain't oils and automations just ain't automations. I wrote that line just for him and he's not even here, jeez. Anyway. And the important thing is you need to automate as much in your business as you can, because if you don't, your competitors will. And automation is happening all the time and innovation and technology is happening all the time. And people think, "I'm scared of technology," but you go back only a few years ago, back 150 years. And refrigeration wasn't around. No one's scared of fridges now and no one's scared of microwaves now, no one's scared of a lot of things that we just take for granted.

All these things are automating processes within our own home. We're able to have things washed in a dishwasher instead of slaving over a sink. So all these little things speed up your process and there's just a lot of automation happening at the moment to speed up all your processes. Automation shouldn't stop at work, though. Automation should happen at home. And so ultimately you have more time to spend with your family and your friends, because we've only got that once on this earth and that's our time. Everything else should be able to be automated. Does everyone agree? Good. Because otherwise the next 23 minutes is going to be really boring. So that's good. Everyone agrees. So as I said earlier, my name's Joshua and I'm from Dorks Delivered and Business Efficiency Experts. I've got my business cards here. Don't actually have them in the box, but if you want to pass them around, that'd be awesome.

So Dorks Delivered does a lot of IT stuff, but a few years ago we found out that more and more businesses were getting us in to automate their processes, hence Business Efficiency Experts being born. So what we do is we try and automate and document... tell me if I talk too quickly as well. I naturally talk quite quickly, so, okay, cool. No worries. Pull me up on it. So yeah, so anyway, Business Efficiency Experts was born out of the need to have businesses automate their processes better. And that can be through removing repetition. That can be through better documentation processes and making sure you're doing a task once. Because you're doing it once and it can be repeated a hundred times or a thousand times, that's awesome if you're not doing it. Automation can be just documenting the processes down. So if you're... you said you had a problem with a staffing member leaving. You can make sure that the onboarding process is much faster.

You then are able to have them onboard and have them profitable in a significantly faster time. It can be removing or creating accountabilities and removing any sort of repetition. So anything that is going to speed up your processes in business is giving it elements of automation. And this goes for home as well. So my home, I'd have to say out of... you've seen my home. Garry's been... lucky enough? I don't know.

Audience member: Fortunate enough.

Joshua: Fortunate. That sounds good. My home's very automated. When I go to bed I can call out to Alexa, which normally when I say that it starts talking, but it's not doing that here, which is good. But I can call out to Alexa and turn off all the lights, shut the gates, lock the door, turn the sauna off, turn the turn the pond waterfall off or whatever else is happening around the place and make sure everything's locked down.

So very easy. You don't have to sort of be in the warm blanket reading a book and then have to have a fight over who's the one who gets out to turn the light off. So it removes arguments, automation removes arguments with your partner. So anyway, so in my spare time when I'm not doing stuff with Dorks Delivered and Business Efficiency Experts, I'm a columnist for My Entrepreneur Magazine. I've been featured on news.com.au, and soon to be published in every entrepreneur's guide, focus in on your marketing. As I said earlier, though, today I'm gonna be talking about automation and that's covered off heavily in our podcast, which is called Business Built Freedom.

So I started automating things 19 years ago and I didn't even realise at that stage that that's what I was doing. I was going through a process where I was earning only $6 to make these number plate bracket things. And it was taking me an hour and a half to make them. I got this task, and as a 12-year-old, now you know how old I am, as a 12-year-old, I was making these number plate brackets, an hour and a half for $6 so I was earning $4 an hour. Not very good money but more than every other 12-year-old that was out there. In hindsight and looking back, it was child labour, but I'd chosen to do it. So I guess it's okay. Now, these number plate brackets, I used Lego, and I don't know if you know Technic Lego and robotic Lego and stuff like that. I saved up some money and built a cit that allowed for me to automate the process of creating these number plate brackets. And as a 13-year-old I was creating 10 of them in an hour. So as a 13-year-old, I was earning $60 an hour from home in mum and dad's garage.

So that's more than what most 20-year-olds were earning and a lot of people were earning, as a 13-year-old. When I got to 14 and nine months, I registered my first ABN number. I then had it as a registered business, so it was legit. I then from there started to have my friends come over and work for me and work with me and had the rate increased to $10.60 per number per bracket. That meant that I was getting $106 per hour of work that was being done and then I was outsourcing that to other people to do it. Now, at that stage, I was just trying to make the process as quick as possible. I didn't really look at what I was doing as automation, but it was absolutely automation, and that's just where my love for automation has grown from there. So who here would say they're automating things in their business?

Yup. Cool. Awesome. And who here thinks that they could be doing more with their business in the way of automation that they're not? Everyone should have their hand up. There's always ways to improve. I've automated a lot of things right now, but we're talking... How I'm talking at the moment. This will come up and be on my podcast. It'll be edited down and go into my podcast, it'll be transcribed, and from the transcription that'll end up on my blog. That will then be posted through Facebook, Instagram. Not Instagram, sorry. Facebook. No, it will be Instagram. Facebook, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. So that's in a doing all my marketing for me, it goes through a search engine optimizer that puts in all the heading tags and everything else, so then I've got content that's going up on the web, and I'm doing that all while talking to you guys. Because my time is valuable and all your time is valuable.

How much would you say your time is worth per hour? I'm going to go around the room and I'm going to get Roger to grab your calculator out and you have to add all these up. Okay. Just quickly shoot.

Audience member: Yeah, it varies depending on whether I'm selling a house or whether I'm doing a...

Joshua: What would you like if you had to look at it, if you were sitting at home and you were told you needed to fix something or change a light bulb?

Audience member: You know, when I've sold a house and I've sold it within a week, I've earned a lot for two hours' work.

Joshua: But what would you say your time is worth? So if you were told that you're going to put a dollar figure on it, would you say your time is worth $5 an hour or $500 an hour?

Audience member: Oh, it would just plummet. $80 an hour.

Joshua: $80 an hour. Okay.

Audience member: $250.

Joshua: $250.

Audience member: $450.

Joshua: Okay. You adding this up real quick?

Roger: Yeah, I'm adding up.

Audience member: $250.

$250.

Joshua: $450.

Audience member: $380.

$550 at the moment.

Joshua: Okay, cool.

Audience member: $500.

Joshua: $500? Yeah.

Audience member: I have no idea. I'll go with $50.

$110.

$250.

Roger: Let's just say, ballpark, we're up to about three grand or so.

Joshua: Three grand or so. Okay. So roughly, and how many people do we have here? Five-ish, 20, 15? Okay, so we're talking about $150 an hour roughly, is what we have as a group accumulatively here. So every task that you do, whether it's at home mowing the lawn, or whether you're out and about shopping, you should be putting that number as whatever the number you've put in your head. So $5.50 is very competitive. That's going to be difficult. You need to have a dollar figure put on it, and not just for the time that you're spending, when you're earning money, but for the time that you're spending all the time. If you go and mow the lawn at home and it takes you two hours to mow the lawn, that's $10, $11 that you missed that on there.

And with the different numbers we're looking at here, even as the average of $150 per a per hour, that's $300 to mow the lawn. If you can get someone else to mow the lawn for $50 and they're using better equipment, faster equipment, that's time that you can be spending on your business or with your family. That's more valuable time. So my dad's an engineer and one of the things that I saw him doing was fixing a DVD player, a $25 DVD player. It took him two hours to fix. Now, that is absolutely stupid, but he was learning and seeing how it all works. So if there's a learning experience then it's a different story. And that comes down to, again, automating what you're doing. If you enjoy learning, then do the task. But don't continue to do the task if there's better time that you should be spending your money, or time... better things that you should be spending a time and money on. Does that make sense? Cool.

I know it sounds like I'm just saying the same sort of stuff in different ways, but that's cool. As long as we're all on the same page. So what would you say you'd like to be able to automate in your business? Everyone's sort of said that they had something that would like to automate or know that they're going to be doing something better. I'm going to go around the room and try and work out a way... or a business problem, maybe. Let's do it like a business problem. What's a business problem that you'd like to see removed? Roger, what would you-

Roger: I like your automated postings and so forth. I've got some automated postings. I'd like to polish those up and improve them. [inaudible 00:10:57] exploited them to their full-

Joshua: What ones are you using at the moment?

Roger: What do I use? I use IFTTT.

Joshua: Yep. That's really good.

Roger: Yeah, that's what I use more than anything. And I use SocialPilot.

Joshua: Cool. And how about you, Julian?

Julian: Julian, yeah. Yeah, I'd like to be able to take a business card and just scan it and then have it send all the emails and introductions.

Joshua: Do you have a business card?

Julian: Yep.

Joshua: Okay. So while I'm here... This is great. That's really, really good. Really good answer. So I'll send you an email while I'm doing this presentation. So I've just taken a photo, and I'll show you how to do that later. So yeah. Okay. And Sarah, would you like to automate?

Sarah: Well, I just recently automated it. When I go do hair and makeup for weddings, I kind of don't really have time. So now I just pretty much put it in a drop box, somebody then takes it from there and they post it up for me and now it's done. I don't have to worry about that. As my business is very visual, people want to be seeing work all the time. That was a big thing. So that's been a good thing that I've just recently done, so yeah.

Joshua: Cool.

Audience member: So what we do do or what we want to do?

Joshua: What would you like? What would you like to have automated? Or a business problem that you're trying to overcome?

Audience member: I suppose for me it's making sure that my numbers are competitive with the rest of the market. So it would be really cool if I didn't have to go and check every time I needed to do a quote. Automating that sort of process of finding out what everybody else is charging, it would be great if I could do that with automation.

Joshua: Is price a big deciding factor?

Audience member: I think it is for people.

Joshua: I know people look around a lot and you've got a lot of... like Vistaprint, very competitive. Not competitive probably in the quality of what you'd be doing versus what they're doing though. And so I strongly think everyone in business should not have price as a differentiator. You've got personalised service, localised service, fantastic face and you're able... Vistaprint have no face to their business. They just a cold business that are online and they're convenient and cheap, but that's not what-

Audience member: It's finding the balance.

Joshua: Absolutely. Yeah. And Willem?

Willem: More of a social media presence.

Joshua: Yep. Yep. Yep. So getting a better presence.

Willem: I was able to farm that out to my wife.

Joshua: Absolutely, causes less arguments. It comes up with blue screens of death when there's problems as opposed to arguments within the relationship.

Audience member: Did you say you want to automate your wife?

Joshua: Automate his wife! Do you have content at the moment that you could be putting up?

Willem: Being part of a worldwide organisation, there's always something happening somewhere in the world.

Joshua: Vetting your website with some of the videos and bits and pieces that go up and it looks good. So yeah. And Gary, how about yourself?

Gary: I'd like to start a revolution to have Google shut down. I need young, smart fellows like you to be able to go and come into the industry and put decent competition against them and stop them from destroying small businesses.

Joshua: Yeah. Well, I think between the big companies, Amazon, Facebook and Google, they're too big of a conglomerate. And Microsoft and Apple and everything else further from that. But the big three there that I already mentioned should be divided up and split up so that they're not owning the entities. I completely agree. I don't know what sort of militia we're going to have to put together to do to achieve this.

Audience member: It looks like it might be happening in Europe.

Joshua: Yeah? Yeah, I haven't haven't seen it, but... Yeah, it's a... Definitely. I agree with you. It's very difficult to do that the way... it's sort of like the devil. You have to just be with the devil. Now my rankings are going to go down for this social post. "What are you doing? You can't badmouth Google!"

Audience member: That's the problem, everyone thinks like that.

Joshua: Oh, you can.

Audience member: If a lot of people started standing up to it...

Joshua: It's just... So what sort of phone do you have?

Audience member: Samsung.

Joshua: Okay, so there's more than 200 touch points that Google gets from what you do every day through that phone. There's an experiment they did where they removed Google and Amazon from their life. They were unable to log into any of the other services such as Dropbox from the different ways and methods they using to proof it was a human or wasn't a human. They weren't able to use any Google maps. They weren't able to use anything else, so they started using Waze and then Waze was working but it cost a lot of money. A lot of the services that we use and take for granted are backed by Google, even if it's not the systems that we're using directly. And the problem is... Because they are selling our information off. That's how they're making money. Facebook makes $10 a month off of the data that we give to them. If we weren't marketed through anything on Facebook and the information wasn't sold, it would cost us $10 a month to use Facebook, and no one would use it because it wouldn't be worth it. So it's a balance. I think, yeah, the system should be changed, 100%. People should be very aware of how much data is actually being thrown around there about you. And Valerie?

Valerie: I'm helping people to understand that once some data is taken, it should then be what a software industry is built on, plus it's growing more on bugging people's Bank statements through their systems. But it's not a huge buy-in to that. So I think in terms of my own business automating, I guess my process is automating that hasn't been done.

Audience member: For me, it would be networks. Documents sending and receiving.

Joshua: It's big thing that annoys me in your industry, how much paper goes everywhere. And also, has anyone heard statement, "Don't marry me on the first date"? Has anyone heard that? You have people that jump in and they go, "Oh, hi, yes, I'm Josh Litt and I'd love to do some work with you." And just really, really selling themselves without building the relationship. I've dealt with a broker in the past and they... It was like, I said, "Oh, can you help me out? I'm a small business owner, and that that makes things of question mark on complication." And they sent me an eight-page thing I had to fill out. I'm like, "Ah, I'm not going to go with you."

Joshua: Well, have you seen some of the open banking stuff that's coming in in the start of July?

Audience member: Open banking?

Joshua: Open banking, so the bank statements and a lot of the information can be fed through APIs to different systems. Yeah. This bank statements, I think, dot com, or something like that, allows you to... that's really good for your industry.

Audience member: Probably a structured onboarding process video and having it easily accessible. Can you sign it off as well?

Joshua: Yep. Cool. Cool.

Joshua: Bob?

Bob: Probably the process of intakes, where the lawyers do a lot of writing. That can be digitised and then put back into our lead CRM system, development management system, so still when the client comes back, they don't have to redo it, it's actually from hand to digitised to CRM. Or it could be onboarding for a normal conversation as well. I've started a little bit, but I think it's culture change more than anything. I've looked at people with a Microsoft tablet.

Carrie: We're in a relationship with business, so I think we've just got to be a little bit careful. We've automated our, what? We've got electronic work papers. The ITO is making us automate things because things come through electronically now, so we're trying not to have the whole paper thing, etc. But what everyone else said, I guess, we could do with some work on our CRM. Because it's rubbish in rubbish out with a lot of this.

Joshua: Absolutely.

Audience member: It's a little bit awkward in our business because a lot of those people who are just looking for insurance, they don't want to fill in forms. But in terms of having a social media presence, that's probably what I'm interested in.

I would be firstly automating my data collection, so I'm still handwriting our analysis. It would be great to do it online so I'm not wasting paper. And the other thing that I want to automate ,gathering reviews. So when we've finished the process, we have a system where an email or an SMS, whatever, goes out with the link seeking reviews.

Joshua: Cool. Cool. Awesome. I'm going to try and go around the room really quickly to give everyone a quick answer as to how to automate this stuff a bit better.

Joshua: Okay. So your business, if you want to have your posts automated a bit better, you do know what RSS feeds are?

Roger: Yeah, I know RSS feeds.

Joshua: Being able to collaborate and join RSS feeds together. So what they do is that if you do updates on things on your website or updates anywhere, you can have it so that update is pulled and pushed to any other location that you want around the web on different times and different schedules and you can create different ways that it all works. And using RSS feeds in Sendible is what we use, and we found Sendible's fantastic. It integrates into most things.

Roger: I haven't looked at Sendible.

Joshua: Oh, it's fantastic. It's great. I've managed a couple of businesses through it. And yeah, it's by far the best one that I've seen out there. Not the cheapest but the best. Yeah. And you'd have to have some automation to be able to sell the websites for the price that you're selling them, because there is no money to be made in that otherwise. Yeah. So with your onboarding process, everyone sort of said something here and everyone's sort of... The answers they've got, it's not like there's a question mark for most of them. A lot of the things that you want to do are able to be done. It's just a time thing to be able to do them for most people, I'd imagine. Yeah? So for me, one of the biggest things that I did in my business was automating every single task that I did and documenting every task that I did and then finding something to do everything that I did so I could go traveling.

And I went over to America for nearly three months last year and didn't have to touch a computer, didn't have to touch anything to do with the business, which was awesome. So that was my big a-ha, champagne moment in automation, being able to really step away from the business. Because a lot of the time we put ourselves into these businesses that we buy and we sometimes don't really buy into a business. We buy into a job. We've bought into our position in business. And that isn't a good position to be in because most of it's buying for more money or more freedom. And a lot of the time you end up with less of both. And the only real way out of that is by automating things.

And automation isn't something you need to be choosing, do I do or don't I do it? It's, if you don't do it, you will be left behind. Because if you didn't have a microwave and you didn't have an oven now, it'd be very difficult to cook your food on a fire out in the backyard. And that's just-

Audience member: No, we had three years without an oven.

Joshua: You did? Three years without an oven? Did you have a dishwasher?

Audience member: Yeah, my son.

Joshua: See, see, you've got automation, that's automation.

Audience member: Yeah, you'd want to sit and think.

Joshua: So it's not monitored automation. So you need to always just be looking at ways to automate your business. We were contacted by a government agency in what we've been doing with some of the different things we've been putting around the web, and they've asked us to help businesses out, to automate their businesses. And they've actually reduced down the rate of what we charge out to $40 an hour to be able to help businesses, small businesses automate their processes. So if there's anything you ever see that needs to be automated at that sort of price, yeah, there's no reason why you shouldn't be getting someone in to at least look over your systems and see what needs to be automated.

The great news is everyone already knows something that needs to be automated. Most of the time with fresh eyes and another perspective, you'll find that there's always more and more that can be automated. It's always great to get someone to come into your business and see how your process is working and how everything is going together. Because as theold quote goes, with the NASA spending millions of dollars to develop a pen that works in space and the Russians used a pencil. So it's a just a perspective thing. that didn't actually happen, but it's still a fun quote.

So yeah, so that's, I guess, the main thing is make sure you're automating everything in business. Very few people here brought up automation, automating their marketing, only like a couple of people. And that is a big thing because you want to make sure your name is out there. If your business has no voice, your customers won't have any ears to hear it, so you need to be out there and be present in one way or another. Most businesses here are business-to-business businesses, I think, most of them. There's a few business-to-consumer businesses, but generally speaking, we all have a skill set that we can bring to the table to help each other's businesses out. Even if we're just going in, individually reviewing how things are working and how things could be better.

With your systems to be able to see what your competitors are doing. you can do things such as what's called web scraping and you can have it so that all of your competitors and all their prices are automatically update in a spreadsheet or a dashboard that you could see each day or each month, however often you wanted to do that, and then you can use tools such as Proposify, which would allow for you to go in and see how you can go about change... sorry, you can use Proposify to be able to quote to your customers really quickly and easily in a templated way and know the prices that they could be seeing from any of the competitors around the place, and know the pain points and the reasons why you'd want to push away.

I've worked with Sarah in the past and one of her concerns was there was other people out there that were cheaper in price. And I said, "Yeah, but they're not going to be anywhere near as good as what you're doing and how you're doing it." But we put a cheaper price up on the website and then just made conditions that it had to be a certain amount of people and it only included the same things that the other people included. A lot of the time, if people are looking to things such as Vistaprint, they're not going to necessarily go, "Is the stock as thick? Is it good glaze?" Or whatever the situation is, they're going to just go, "Oh, the cards are cheap. And then you can sort of just pivot that and you say, "Well, is that the image that you want to have from a business front? Do you want to have an image of a cheap business? Do you want to have these cheap cards"? Doesn't really sound very good.

Your first impression's a crappy card, so that's where you can then sort of change the argument. But have the pricing on your website as competitive as Vistaprint so you're not backing people away. But you don't know if they are or not backing away from that without having some data to really sink into and work that out, which is what we love. We love building businesses up with lots and lots of data so that you're able to make informed, decisive decisions. You can work out if your staff force is efficient, if your systems are efficient and if things are as automated as they should be. Automation doesn't remove jobs. Automation brings health and life back into your business because the jobs that people are doing aren't repetitious. They are fun loving jobs. Automating your wife is a fantastic idea. Automated wife, happy life.

Audience member: They have special shops for that.

Joshua: And they can fit in your pocket. Sendible would be great to help automate all your social media marketing though. Sendible, the same thing I was talking to Roger about, which I can talk to you more about. It's a fantastic tool. It lets you see everything, all the comments and everything in one spot for all of your customers so you can just respond to everyone in one location. You can post everything out, you can make sure it only posts during certain hours. And set there so that it posts out videos and everything else. We've got our marketing down pat, so in one hour, one hour a week, I'm able to create two youtube videos, three podcasts, five blogs, and we've been doing that one hour a week for the last six months and we have over 160,000 written words that have all been SEO optimised and put onto our website. Which has increased our traffic for a B to B website, which we don't pay for any paid advertisement on our website.

We get about 3,000, 4,000 unique visitors a month, so that's pretty good for a B to B business where we're not selling anything on the website whatsoever. There's no reason for them to come there except for see our services and see the blogs that we've been writing. So my time's up by a minute more than what I should have been talking, but plus extra and extra. But has everyone enjoyed this? It's been good? We've learned a bit? I could talk for hours and hours, but if you want to hear more, definitely if you've got my card, let me know. As I said, because the government rate is pretty, pretty amazing. We're pretty happy that I got into that.

Audience member: The one big obstacle everyone's trying to overcome with all these message bots and things is automating the sincere personal touch.

Joshua: You'd never automate that. I'm here. I can't automate what I'm doing right now because the feeling and the heart that I have for what I do in my business can't be seen through an automated message. So you can't automate the personal touch, but you can automate everything else around it.

Audience member: They try.

Joshua: Yeah.

Audience member: You can't automate passion.

Joshua: You can't automate passion. What you can do...

Audience member: You could give them a microwave once started. My mother would think this is witchcraft.

Joshua: It is.

Audience member: Oh, it is, that's right.

Joshua: Getting back to Google, it is. So you can't automate the passion and drive you have as a person, but you can remove that requirement. Say Google, the face of Google, the face of Amazon, the face... none of these big companies have a face. Apple had a face but then PC killed him. Do you get it? Yeah. It's a terrible joke. Anyway, you can't really automate that passion, but what you can do is create a lot of content around it so you can build a relationship beforehand, having dozens of videos and lots of social posts that sort of show that same approach.

So I've got a comical approach to the way that I approached people, and showing that and having that means that you can build 80% of the relationship up and then the other 20% can be nurtured in person. I have seen some of the stuff they do around the reading, the psychology on how people talk. If people are talking in feeling words of people talking and doing or hearing words, you say, "How do you feel about that?" And it can analyse with their words and then reword whatever you've written to then post that back to them in a way that resonates more strongly with them. So you can do some things like that, but I still think we're all operating a small business. We need to be able to automate, but we need to also keep that personal touch. You don't want to remove that. It's one of the best things you've got in small business. That's what Vistaprint don't have!