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In this post, I will discuss three ways of boosting your business. The first will show you how to get more eye-balls on your company or brand. The second is about optimizing your time (management). And the third explores the power of (software) automation.

OPTION 1: “Become James Bond”

The more eyeballs you can get on your company, the more potential leads you’ll receive. More leads mean more customers and more customers ultimately equals more revenue.

One of the first things I’d like to do, is look and see what competitors are doing.
When e.g. 80% of your competitors are using a niche related online platform to offer their services and/or products, there might be a good reason for that. Likely they are getting business by using that platform. So why wouldn’t you do that too?

A quick google search can literally be a gold mine. You’ll get answers like: are they advertising (using Google Adwords), which platforms are they listed on,  which companies are ranking the highest in Google, …

A quick way (without using expensive tools) is using my 3-STEP approach outlined below.
STEP 1: google the brand names of your competitors or use phrases as if you are a potential customer of your own company.
Example: Pest Control Company
Google Phrases you could try
“company that treats for bedbugs”
“Orkin Pest Control”
“Terminex Pest Control”

STEP 2: Once you have a good idea what your (online) competitors are, you should visit their websites as well.
Keep questions like the ones below in your mind when navigating through their pages. Stay open-minded: there is no right or wrong answer … it’s rather about finding what works in your niche.

  • do they list specific advantages like: open 24/7 ?
  • are the contact details easy to find ?
  • is there a ‘live chat’ available ?
  • Is the design simple, straight forward, … ?
  • is there a lot of content on it (article, … )

STEP3: Now we got a better view on what are competitors are doing, we need to make a action plan.
Items on that list might include things like

  • Website
    • Content
      • use other wordings: 24/7, free quote, …
      • writing more content: articles that establish your authority
      • ..
    • Design
      • optimizing you design (for conversions)
  • Advertising
    • start with advertising (e.g. Adwords)
  • Platforms
    • Put yourself on platforms: yelp and/or niche specific platforms

Note; This 3-step Competitor Research approach is simple but very effective. It can be time-consuming, especially when having lots of services/products and/or you are serving a large geographical area.
This 3-STEP can be automated which results in saving time. Contact me for more information about the Competitor Research Automation.

OPTION 2: “I do NOT have Time for This”

Sounds familiar? Tough we all share that same 24 hours in a day. Luckily there are ways to ‘create’ time.
Don’t worry you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to understand this.

Before we jump right into it, answer the next questions.

  • “How much is your time worth ? “
  • Considering a set of tasks: “If you would find someone that could do the same, would you outsource it “

I hope the question to the latter question is YES. Perhaps you have objections like: “would the quality as I would do”, …
That’s normal. It depends on a number of things (see next section) … but if you don’t try, … you’ll never know.

Outsourcing

These days it’s so easy to get in touch with people, even if they are on the other side of the globe. From a business stand of view, one could use this ‘new’ phenomena to your advantage as it brings lots of opportunities:

Business Continuity
While you (as a business owner) are sleeping, you could outsource tasks to someone in another time zone. So when you wake up chunks of tasks are already done. What a great feeling ….
Cost reduction
If you are living in a country where the wages are rather high, you could outsource to countries where an equal qualified person needs to be paid less.

The big question is of course: “Where do you find those people ? “. Of course it depends on the type of work you want to outsource. Below I give you some hints.
Don’t hesitate contacting me with your specific question and/or need related to outsourcing.

Outsource Platforms
Toptal.com
Here you can find Tech Talent.
A big advantage of Toptal is that the company screens their people beforehand. So you have access to pre-qualified Tech Talent at your fingertips.

Upwork.com
This is a ‘general’ platform.
You’ll find freelancers for all kind of jobs: data entry, graphical design, software programming, …

Fiverr.com
Fiverr too is a general platform where you literally can find everything (starting from $5). Need someone to make a funny birthday video for your mother?, You’ll find it there!
I use this platform especially when I have a clearly defined small tasks.

OPTION 3: Will ROBOTS steal our jobs?

Yes … I believe so … at least partly. Automation is here to stay. Especially when you add a layer of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on top of it, powerful things can be done.

Every time I find myself doing the same tasks over and over, I’ll automate it (mostly because I don’t like repetitive tasks).
For example: an automated version of the Competitor Research approach (see OPTION 1).

Next to repetition, there is another big driver to have automation in place: SCALE.
Say you want specific data from 1000 websites. Even if you could outsource that, it’s not ideal. Especially with those repetitive tasks: (human) errors resulting in BAD data quality.  So why not creating a data scraping bot that is capable of extracting a huge amount of data on websites?

Another example: I manage hundreds of WordPress websites. If you are familiar with WordPress … chances are the one thing you would like to automate are maintenance tasks (theme updates, WordPress security upgrades, … ). Luckily there is a way of executing these repetitive time consuming tasks on scale. Read all about it in this Toptal artcile.

NERD alert (next section is only relevant for technical profiles).
Below you’ll find my favorite set of (software) platforms to build automation on top of it.

GreaseMonkey
GreaseMoneky is capable of running (javascript) bot code inside a browser (like Firefox or Chrome).
As it ‘lives’ inside a browser, you can most of the time visually see what is the result of the actions of your bot.
It’s less ideal for scaling (see next).

Phantom Js / CasperJs
Those two libraries (phantomjs.org,casperjs.org ) are capable of ‘simulating’ a real browser. It runs perfectly in command mode. Meaning one could start 1000 bots in parallel, perfect for scaling.

Sikuli
SIkuli is perfect if for technical reasons the other tools don’t work. It’s a screenshot based automation: meaning it will try to detect images you give the program.

Other tools: UI Path, JMeter, Neotys

Wrap It Up

I am sure you’ll find some ideas to start working with. Really … the Sky Is The Limit … . Imagine combining the 3 options together. What if you could have a software robot that 1) scrapes competitor data from websites 2) transforms that into Working Instructions 3) sends the Working Instructions to an outsourcer.

Contact me if you are interested in one of my Skills: Online Presence (WordPress, SEO, Adwords, …) or Software Automation (CasperJs, PhantomJS, Grease Monkey, Sikuli, …).