Hello there, Dylan from Table Tyrant Games again. While I was chatting with the Digital Brisbane crew a few weeks back, the topic turned to how I manage to run an online board game store (Vault Games), a board game publisher, and still hold down a 9-5 job during the working week. Well, there’s two answers to this: The first is to surround yourself with people who believe in the idea as much as you; and the second, automation.
I can’t really help you with the first answer but I can definitely point you in the right direction for the second.
Firstly, you must always see what integrations are available for any apps you are choosing to run, and factor that into your final decision. For instance, a customer-relationship management app (CRM) could do 99 per cent of what you need out of a CRM for your business, but if it doesn’t integrate with your other apps, you’re creating work for yourself, your employees, or both. Personally, if an app does 80 per cent of what I want it to do, and has open integration with other apps, I’m happy to jury-rig the other 20 per cent if that means I don’t have to manually resolve the nitty-gritty stuff.
Ok, so you have a few apps you want to use. How do you get this automation thing to work?
Get cracking and sign up to this. Zapier is a game changer. Not only is this app powerful, it’s also free (to a limit).
What can this app do?
Tonnes. Zapier utilises a thing called API or Application Programming Interface. A lot of apps are built now with access to an API, allowing developers to build special connections between the apps to talk to each other. What the folks at Zapier have done is build out a whole bunch of API connections, and given you a tool to set these up yourself without having to code it.
A few killer zaps to get you started
SurveyMonkey/Formstack ➜ Mailchimp
Do you have people filling out a survey? What about a competition form? Well now you can automatically move the data you catch into Mailchimp without needing to manually import them from the response list. I used this zap when I was performing market research for my online store. I had built a Formstack form that asked the questions I needed and included a little check box at the end. This check box, if ticked, would automatically add responders to a Mailchimp list in preparation for the store’s launch. There was no need to go hunting for the form’s data, it was already in Mailchimp and everyone who checked that box got an email from me nine months later when the store launched.
In short: Automatically store new contacts in your email list.
Woocommerce ➜ Capsule CRM
There’s a few helpful zaps here. First of all, when someone creates an order in Woocommerce, you can create or update that person in your CapsuleCRM system if they don’t already exist. This is handy for businesses that want to track their sales pipeline. Also, by using the CapsuleCRM task system, you can create tasks off the order as well such as fulfilment tasks or customer communication.
In Short: Capture customer data and manage orders
Nozbe ➜ Google Drive
Nozbe is a fantastic app for task lists and links to your Google calendar to remind you about what’s due that day, but there’s so much more you can open it up to with Zapier. If you’re a project-based business and use Google Drive for storage, you can set up a zap to create a new Drive folder automatically when a new project is created in Nozbe. “But that’s like a minute or two of work at most”, I hear you say. Yes, it is. But by automating it, you can guarantee that it will be done the way you want it to be done every time, regardless of who is doing it. And in business, standardised processes can save you time and money.
In Short: Automate the storage of new projects
Paypal ➜ Teamwork
This app works with Xero too if you use it as an invoicing system, but the point of this zap is to automate project setup and workflow once someone accepts the invoice. Like the Nozbe/Google Drive zap above, the automated process means you can expect it to be done the right way every time.
In Short: Kick off project workflows fast
These are just a small taste of what Zapier can link to. Jump on the app and see how you can use it for your business. After all, automating the nitty-gritty means you can focus on the more important things, like growing your business.