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As your startup grows, the processes that worked initially slowly start breaking down. So how do we tackle it? - By automating your internal processes.

When?

So, automating & building for scale from Day 1 of your startup is a mistake. You are going to be tweaking many processes and even getting rid of some. So, wait for internal flows to stabilise and then identify the tasks that suck the most amount of your time.

How?

But yes, then manual processes will cause errors, cost you new initiatives, and become more challenging. So, in the report, we break it into:

  1. Identifying areas to automate
  2. Finding the right tools
  3. Of course, implementing the automation

We discuss these three steps including the usage of CRMs, Airtable, and Zapier/Integromat.

Additional Context

I also share, multiple other tools that supercharge processes! All this in this report. It is just 5 mins, as promised :).

If you would like it even shorter, I've summarised it on Twitter - here's the thread below!

 


No-VC Report #11


Problem🤕

I want to automate internal processes to save time that can then be invested in better activities.

Solution🕵️

CRM solutions along with other modern no-code tools can build a solid backend infrastructure for your startup. The key is being able to identify the tasks for which automation actually makes sense.

Why and when to worry about this?⏱️

a. Rationale

Manual processes might be required to ensure quality in a startup, especially in the early stages. But later on, they can get quite painful and eat into your bandwidth to take up other initiatives. Finding smart ways to automate tasks can save you an immense amount of time, avoid manual errors, and allow you to scale.

b. Timing

Automating & building for scale from day 1 of your startup is a mistake. You are going to be tweaking many processes and even getting rid of some. So, wait for internal flows to stabilise and then recognise the tasks that suck the most amount of your time.

Further, building automation takes time. Therefore, pick this up when you don't have other important initiatives or when manual processes are just not tenable anymore.

Tools

Implementation 🔨

a. Realistic expectation

Automations take time to put in place and can disrupt processes if set up poorly. So, test it extensively. Also, start small - begin with less critical flows. For the more important tasks, automate piece by piece instead of taking up the tough job of automating the entire flow at once.

b. Process

Of course, the setup for each startup will be different. However, the approach can be broadly broken down into three steps:

i. Identifying areas to automate

ii. Finding the right tools for automation

iii. Implementing the automation

i. Identifying areas to automate

These are manual workflows that you realise are one or more of the following:

  • Repetitive in nature
    • For e.g. Moving data from forms to your CRM
  • Take a substantial amount of time
    • For e.g. Looking through multiple LinkedIn profiles to find your ideal lead
  • Result in errors when done manually
    • For e.g. Manual tagging of data based on defined rules
  • Worked at a small scale but are increasingly getting challenging
    • For e.g. Scheduling of meetings, Candidate recommendations for a HR firm

ii. Finding the right tools for automation

Next, finding the right tool is key. For this you can look at:

  • Tool repositories such as Product Hunt and Remote Tools
  • The marketplaces of your CRMs, as most popular CRMs already have readymade add-ons
  • Communities like IndieHackers, RemoteClan, etc. stating your specific use case so that others can suggest one based on their experience

iii. Implementing the automation

Since we can't examine the exact automation of your startup, we instead focus on the popular tools and how/where they can be used.

  • CRMs
    • Typically, startups start with Google Sheets and realise the need for structure as they grow
    • Among other reasons, CRMs bring structure to data by:
      • Cleaner interface with better organisation of data
      • Restriction on the type of values fields can take
      • Regulating internal access to data
      • Easy data analysis
    • Based on certain criteria some of the automations you can set up in a CRM include:
      • Pre-defined yet customised mails to leads
      • Auto-allotment of leads internally
      • Prioritisation of leads through scoring, etc.

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  • Airtable
    • As discussed in an earlier report, Airtable can be understood as an advanced Google Sheets
    • It can function as a CRM, but when multiple people access it, its easy editing interface puts the data at risk
    • A typical way to use Airtable's automation includes:
      • Collecting data from its form
      • Using its smart "Views" functionality to segregate data & setup automations accordingly
      • For more advanced flows, its new "script block" can be used
      • Overall, the criteria you can use are far more advanced than a CRM, as almost any excel formula is implementable

image.png

 

  • Zapier/ Integromat
    • As discussed in an earlier report, these function as the glue connecting different tools
    • Many times you can't implement automations only with CRMs & Airtable
      • So, based on the leads satisfying a certain set of criteria in these tools, you can trigger specific actions using Zapier or Integromat

image.png

 

  • Other automations
    • Use the above tools as the backbone of your startup's automations
    • Thereafter, for specific use cases, you can use other tools. These include:
      • Linkmatch: Connecting LinkedIn to your CRM
      • Phantombuster: Scraping data from various websites including LinkedIn
      • Buffer, Hootsuite: Auto-posting content to social media
      • Vocus: Setting up email campaigns
      • Calendly: Calendar management
    • Wherever possible, use Zapier/ Integromat to connect these tools to our backbone tools, so that all data rests in one place

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