Our Precise Model For Transforming Manual Tasks Into Automated Ones.

In this episode, discover my "M-S-A Evolution" philosophy and the importance of having systems in place to free your time to work on and enjoy the things and people that matter most to you.

My goal has and always will be to set up a process once, optimize for effectiveness and then ensure it runs smoothly without me like clockwork.

This allows me to spend my time with the people who matter most, my family.

To be frank…

If you’re too busy to build good systems, then the truth is you’ll always be too busy.

I would like to introduce you to what I call the “MSA Evolution”, and the value that’s added by taking all the manual, low-productivity tasks and transforming them into automated processes.

So, what’s the MSA process? This is something that I’ve been teaching my clients for a while now:

The manual processes are best described as tasks that, every time you undertake them, you need to start over. They take up time, they require tedious work, and they add little value in the way of strategic initiatives.

As an exercise, I recommend you jot down everything you do in a day. If you stop to check an email, jot it down. Every little action needs to be documented.

It may sound difficult at first, but try to maintain trust in the process as you develop this skill over the next few weeks.

Here's an example of what a typical day in the life of  what a  "GEAR 1 Entrepreneur" ("ll cover what that is in a bit.) may look like:

Next, you’re going to calculate your R2P score. R2P stands for “reactive to proactive”. The lower your R and the higher your P, the more efficiently you use your time and energy.

Now, take all of the things you’ve jotted down, all of your menial tasks, and classify them in their respective R or P column. How weighted is your R column? Do you find yourself merely reacting to situations and tasks as they arise during the day, or do you make an active effort to be proactive and tackle tasks before they come due?

Most of our days are filled with reactive — and what's worse — reactive manual “stuff”. Manual stuff that we have to do ourselves,  stuff that doesn’t belong to a system or process and has to be re-created from scratch if you will.

Since this stuff is also reactive, what it usually boils down to is the realization that we don’t spend our time proactively working towards moving the needles for our businesses or focusing on the core sales and marketing activities that drive profitability. It means that we’re constantly putting out fires.

This is what I call being in Gear 1.

Gear 1

When I started HearandPlay in August of 2000,  I had the vision to change the way the world learned music and developed a site that teaches people how to play music by ear.

I started the company with $70 in my bank account, running the business out of my dorm room at the University of California Irvine.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I started making money.  By 2002, we would pull six figures.

A year later, I remember getting my dream car. I took it off the lot, made my way to the freeway, and the thing started roaring out of control.

I couldn’t accelerate, and the sound of the engine was deafening. Not being an expert on cars and in a panic, I took it back to the dealership. The technician got in the car. He took one look around and started laughing. As he glanced back at me with a smirk, he said: “Sir, your knee must have hit the gear, because you switched  the gear stick from automatic to manual.”

And there I was on the freeway, stuck in first gear — Gear 1 — getting nowhere and tearing up my transmission. It would take me years to have the realization that it wasn’t only me and my business stuck in Gear 1. There are tons of entrepreneurs out there, trying to make it in the fast lane on the freeway, stuck in Gear 1. They don’t know how to shift gears.

Why? Is it only because they don’t know how to drive a stick shift? Or could there be another reason holding them back?

The higher gears can be scary. The speed...the power… it can be overwhelming for some. They may think that their engine is working too hard in high gears.

As it turns out, the opposite is true. When a machine built for speed gets going — truly shifting into high gear — the stress on the engine decreases. The engine is meant for high gear — and so are businesses. So, how do those of us who can’t drive stick get our businesses to switch back to automatic?

You need to examine the things you’re doing and determine which are better suited to shift automatically, rather than be overwhelmed with manual processes and stuck on a freeway. So, which tasks are optimized to run on their own?

Systems can also be manual, but the big difference is that you don’t start all over when you finally systematize something.

I remember Tony Robbins telling a story. Because he speaks at engagements all around the world, he goes through a lot of wardrobe changes. Oddly enough for someone so “put together”, Tony used to get stressed over one particular item: his suits. The agony over which suit he was going to wear was causing him a lot of worry and anxiety, and finally, he decided to systematize it. So his team took pictures of his suit jackets, his slacks, and his shirts, and gave everything a corresponding product letter and number combination. And just like shopping in a catalog, Tony was able to say “Give me combination A2-1B” to pick out his suits. He took something as simple as his wardrobe and was able to turn it from a big chaotic mess into something neat, ordinary, and creative.

We all have our own suit debacles. The dreaded “oh, no” of starting the process over again of presenting a case to new clients and orienting them can have you dreading the experience (and if there’s one process you want to make sure you’re on point for, it’s the client-facing processes). The phone rings and you get to regurgitate the same sales pitch you’ve been selling for the past 15 years. It’s not effective, it doesn’t reflect the passion you have for your business, and worst of all, it shows. The client can smell it from a mile away.

If Tony’s story teaches us anything, it’s that you can systematize everything.

Let me ask you: if I pick up the phone to call your business ten times, do your staff members on the other line give me ten different greetings, or do I receive the same experience no matter how many times I call? The answer lies in the system.

Now I know there are different inputs and outputs, but is how the conversation starts scripted? Is your sales pitch scripted? There are some instances where I stand up in front of an audience or potential client and I just free flow, but if I'm doing a sales video or something that needs to be persuasive, you’d better believe my teleprompter and iPad are cued up and I'm reciting from them verbatim. I’m not going to rely on my manual abilities for something that I can put faith in a system; a systematic way of presenting my persuasive case.

So, what makes a SYSTEM? Simple.

A SYSTEM is Something You Stick To Emphatically and Methodically.

There’s a difference between a system and a process. Payroll, for example, in my small business, can be a nightmare. We have Google Docs that track timesheets and people understand the process, but it always seems like someone’s at lunch, someone’s out of the office, or someone’s unavailable, and I’m stuck chasing people for their hours at the last minute.

If it's not adhered to, and if you're not adamant about people sticking to it, it's not a system.

To put a system in place, you need to draw a line in the sand and say “here's how we do things”. These are otherwise known as standard operating procedures (SOPs). And by SOPs, I don’t mean those thick manuals that Fortune 500 companies publish. You’re putting a system in place, documented, for people to follow.

As the InfusionSoft marketer of the year, I live and breathe automation. It’s just how I’m wired.

Always look for what can be automated. Now, keep in mind that not everything should be automated just because it can be.

The processes that are great for automation are those that generally work with logic. If it’s void of human emotion, subjectivity, and can rely on conditions and mathematical logic, that’s your prime target for automation.

My team has accomplished this by customizing a button after a client interaction. If the interaction was good and led to conversion, you can send an email from my staff with something along the lines of  “It was a pleasure speaking with you.” We can also customize it to automate an “I know you're not ready now, but I'll be in touch in a couple of weeks to a month” follow up, and then can follow back up in the specified timeframe letting the person know we’re reaching out to see if now is a better time for them.

Anything that you’ve systematized properly and meets the right conditions can be automated. Human interaction can even work in conjunction with the automation as long as you use SOPs and the SYSTEM acronym.

Manual, Systems, Automation. MSA is your answer. To help strategize your manual tasks, implement systems, and automate transactional processes, use the attached worksheet as a guide.

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