If you spend all your time in your business, you probably lack systems and processes. With the right automated systems, you can spend time on more important things that will really help your business grow. Don’t be technology averse because you will never scale if you don’t embrace technology. Join Penny Zenker as she talks to the Founder of Succeeding With Systems and the Systems Implementation Engineer of Omnipotent Capital, Khadirah Muhammad. Learn why you need the help of both technology and people if you want your business to succeed. Discover the power of automation. Find out some great time-saving and useful systems you can get now!
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The Power Of Automation: Saving Time And Money With Systems With Khadirah Muhammad
Welcome to the show. I’m always geeking out when I’m talking to people about how we can be more efficient and effective in the things that we do, especially now when I feel like people are even more stretched emotionally. They also seem to have more on their plate partially because of that energetic drain that’s going on but also because maybe there are fewer resources available to them. Maybe there’s a lot of context-switching going on. We want to step back in this episode and think about how we can work smarter and leverage ourselves so we can focus on what’s most important and automate, delegate, and eliminate those things that are less important.
I’m excited to have Khadirah Muhammad with us. She is a systems implementation engineer, a fellow geek, and the founder of SucceedingWithSystems.com. She went from breaking into the entrepreneurial world at eighteen with the goal of retiring her parents to falling in love with systems. She now teaches solopreneurs and startups how to establish lifestyle freedom using systems automation and technology. Hello, Khadirah. Welcome.
Thank you. I am thankful to be here with the geek squad a little bit. I’m happy to be here.
It’s the geek squad. Tell me how you fell in love. Tell me about the love affair that you had with technology and automation.
It all started when I started my digital marketing consultancy agency back in 2019. I was about to graduate college. It was six months before. I’m applying to a bunch of different places. Nobody is calling me back. I’m like, “I have the time. I don’t have a lot of obligations, so let me try to do this on my own.” Almost immediately after college, I got a few digital marketing clients. I had fun with that for a little bit.
I ran into a situation where all of my clients were still spending so much time in their business even after I was increasing their revenue, getting them more leads, and helping them get their own customers. They were doing everything. I’m like, “Why are you doing everything if I’m getting you the people that you need? You also have a team.” That’s when I realized they were doing stuff and there wasn’t a real process. Nothing was written out. Things were just assumed. A lot of them were very technology averse. It started there as a solution for the clients that I had at the time. I had a real knack for it. My mom studies to be a Cloud engineer. My dad fixed computers for a living.
It’s in your blood.
It makes total sense. I love that. I love the geeky side of things. I love the things that people hate to do. I’m the first call they have when anything goes down. They’re like, “What’s going on with this? I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know why.” It could be so simple to me, but it’s a big issue for a lot of people. I became an asset to a lot of people even more so than I already was.
I did that for a couple of years for my clients and decided, “This is a real gap.” There are a lot of small entrepreneurs or people with small teams who need the ability to leverage technology. They also need to put in the right systems and processes so they can have sustainable businesses without necessarily having to spend 100 hours a week to make them grow.
There are a couple of things I want to talk about there. First of all, it’s important that any sized company can benefit from having more formalized processes and automating things. The whole idea is how we can be more profitable, efficient, and effective in what we do. Automation helps, especially with how we’re finding that there are fewer resources available in the marketplace. How can we take some of those roles and automate them? It makes total sense. That’s where we’re going with AI and everything
The other thing I wanted to address is back to what you said. You said people were doing everything. It’s important that we recognize for our audience that there is this tendency. We’re all control freaks. Let’s face it. When uncertainty, change, and all of that hit us in the face as it has, we even more so have the urge to control. We’re hardwired for it. It’s not easy for us to let go, but that’s part of the process.
The animal that comes for me is the ostrich. Have you ever seen little baby ostriches? They’re running around and banging into each other. If they’re not sticking their head in the ground, they’re running into each other. That is the image that comes up for me. Where do you start? Let’s say somebody says, “I’m at that point. I feel like I’m overloaded and overwhelmed. I’m doing everything. I’m limited in resources.” Where does somebody start?
The first place people need to start with is getting a good understanding of what they’re doing every single day in their business. I suggest journaling every day and writing out what you did for that day and what got done. Of the things that you did, what are the things you shouldn’t have been doing? That’s going to help you identify what are the tasks and the positions in your business that you need to immediately either hire a person or hire technology in order to focus and be able to help you get to where you want to go.
We don’t want to make it random. We don’t want to buy a bunch of software and spend hundreds of dollars per month. You got it but you weren’t sure how it works. Therefore, it’s not being used and you’re wasting money. It feels good to have some software there and say that you have it, but it’s not being used to help you.
We have to first figure out where we are at right now, and then the second part of that is you need to figure out where you want to go. I don’t even mean you want to make $100,000 or $1 million a year. I mean how big of a team do you have in your mind? How many clients do you want to surface? How big of a company do you want to get it to be? That will determine a lot in and of itself as well.
If you want to have a 100 or 200-person team and you have the dream of a super big company, then that will determine the small things today that will help you get there without having a bunch of transition problems. Maybe you’re somebody like me who doesn’t want that at all. I tell every person that I’m interviewing and I let them know, “I don’t want a large team. I want 5 to 7 or 7 to 10. I don’t want a large group of people.” My organizational chart is built out to have 5 to 10 very core individuals in there. Everybody else may be a contractor or something like that. You want to have your vision clearly understood because that will determine how you get there.
To give you a good analogy, if you were driving and you wanted to take a road trip, and you had a specific place in mind, you first have to figure out what that destination is before you start driving. The second thing is you got to have a route to get there. I live in Detroit. If I’m going from Detroit to Chicago, I’m not just going to start driving. I’m going to have a plan. I know the route. I’m going to put it on Google and it’s going to tell me where to go and what places to go. I know what my destination is and I know where I started from. Getting a good idea of where you’re starting from is super important.
To all of you, the first step of awareness is getting those goals clear and understanding where it is that you want to go and what your objectives are. It doesn’t matter the size of your business. It doesn’t matter if you are smack dab in the middle of a business where you’re a middle-level manager. You still need to know where the company is going and what your goals are so that you can align what you’re doing on a day-to-day with those goals. You need to make sure that you’re doing what matters most and what moves the needle. That’s what I hear you saying. Get awareness and identify the gap between where you want to go and where you are today, and then you can devise a fair plan.
It’s that clarity. A lot of people get overwhelmed when I talk about tech and systems. They think, “This is one more thing upon the thousands of things that I’m doing.” I don’t want them to feel like that. This is why they have to start with clarity. Get a good understanding of what you’re trying to do so you know what you’re working for. Another reason a lot of people will keep doing tasks is that they lose out on, “What am I doing this for? Am I being productive or am I doing a bunch of stuff? I’m tired from this stuff, but then I don’t feel like I’m moving forward.” If you don’t know where you’re moving forward, that defeats the purpose of doing all the stuff, if that makes sense.
We get caught up in this trap that urgent crowds are important. If you want to scale your business and you want to be more profitable and grow it, whether it’s growing the number of people or growing the amount of money that you’re making, you’re never going to get there if all of your time is spent on everything that’s urgent. Those things that are important that move the needle and grow the business are not getting done or not getting the attention and focus. I’m a big fan of shifting our focus and understanding what’s moving the needle and then putting our attention there.
I’m the same way.
One of the questions I ask everybody who’s on is what’s your definition of productivity and why?
My definition of productivity is when you get done, you feel good about what you got done. You have clarity that the things on your list that you checked off were able to get done. Even if it wasn’t everything, the things that did get accomplished, they moved the needle and you know it helped you. The reason I say that is because it goes a little bit about people doing a lot of the urgent things and not necessarily the important things. When you can feel good and you know, “This task, no matter how long it took, I know it’s going to help me get to the goal I have,” then that’s more important than anything in my opinion.Finishing a task that is going to help you get to your goal is the most important thing. Click To Tweet
In business or your personal life, if you know that you sending this email, reaching out to this individual, following up with this lead, or implementing this new process for your team are super important and it helps not just yourself but other people, then it’s better than anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re long list didn’t get accomplished. You have so many hours of the day. That’s okay. Did you do anything that makes you feel like, “We’re going in the right place. We’re running this route. We’re going to get to where we need to go because I keep moving forward.” You took that next step. It doesn’t have to be a mile.
Productivity equals progress, right?
You’re a technology person. What are your favorite tech tools that help you to be more productive in your business?
One major tool is having a customer relationship management system or a CRM. The personal one that I use is called GoHighLevel. It’s pretty newer on the market in comparison to HubSpot or ActiveCampaign if people are familiar with that. I love it because it takes the place of like Calendly or Acuity for your calendar booking. I can automate my email marketing without using Mailchimp, ConvertKit or SMS marketing as well. I can have so many things moving in the background without me having to do it. I love it.
Everybody needs a customer relationship management tool no matter what they do. You need a database that you can keep your customers and your clients in. You can see your history with everybody. You know where they’re at in your sales process. You know where they’re at in just them being a client in your business and how long they’ve been with you. It’s an all-in-one place versus sticky notes, Post-its, or your notebook that you write down but then you forget to go back. You forget the page because you are doing these other things. Everything got lost and then you don’t have the notebook anymore, so you bought a new one. You need something online.
After that, if your CRM doesn’t allow automatic emails for whatever reason or it’s not as good, use an email sender tool like ConvertKit. I enjoy ConvertKit when I use it. It’s good. It allows levels of automation in there as well as in automatically sending emails, especially on people’s birthdays and everything. It’s one of my favorite email tools.
Is there anything else? That’s the customer relationship aspect of it. What about something that helps you to save time? Do you have any time-saver tools?
I use Zapier a lot for a lot of my automation. I could talk all day about Zapier.
Tell people about Zapier so that they know how this can save their day.
You can think of it as the glue of the internet. I say that because it allows you to pass data between two totally different apps that don’t talk to each other. They’re separate, but Zapier comes in the middle and will pass data between those two. They can automatically send emails for you. It can automatically populate data entries in your group of sheets. It can automatically trigger events in other apps that don’t talk to each other. I probably have 300-something Zaps in my account if not more. I use it for a ton of stuff. I use it for clients. I use it for sending automatic reports. It is extremely powerful, especially if you get into the super geeky side, which is using the API and the webhooks. I don’t want to confuse anybody. It’s very powerful.Zapier is the glue of the internet. It allows you to pass data between two totally different apps that don't talk to each other. Click To Tweet
For most people to know, you don’t even have to get into the API and this stuff. It’s very easy. There are maps and fields across. It is very user-friendly in that process. To give people an example, I run a process. Let’s say I have a conversation with someone and they say they want to hire me for an event. They fill out a Google form. That Google form fills in the contract, sends the contract to them for them to sign, and sends them my W-9. It takes care of the whole process. That’s it. It puts it in my calendar the date, blocks it, and all that kind of stuff. You can save yourself an assistant. Zapier is your assistant and can do a lot of those types of things that an assistant might be doing for you.
I have a pretty similar setup. When somebody wants to hire our company and they fill out the onboarding form, what triggers next is we have a folder created in our Google Drive specifically for that client. All of their answers from the form fill-out get put on a Google document. In that way, my team can create it. It also triggers a new task in our Asana, which is a project management tool we use.
It also tags the correct individuals who should be on that project and who should be looking over everything. They’re part of the client fulfillment and everything. I have a specific Google Sheet with all my client’s info. We have it in one place and a bunch of stuff in there. It pretty much takes care of all my onboarding as long as somebody fills out that form. It makes the contract. It does all that.
That’s super powerful.
That is probably the number one time-saver I can at least think of. It’s incredible what you can do there.
Do you have any other little tools? I’ve got something that I use called TextExpander, for instance. I can put a #gig and then three paragraphs will come up that I normally use when I’m going to talk to somebody about a gig. Do you have any shortcut tools like that?
I have so many Google Chrome extensions. I’m trying to think if I have anything there. It’s not exactly time-saving, but it helps me be more productive overall. I have an app called News Feed Eradicator. It’s a free Google Chrome extension. What it will do is it will block out my YouTube feed, Facebook feed, and Instagram feed when I’m on my computer. I can set it for specific times. It helps me whenever I get the itch to look up something. I use Facebook for business reasons, but it can be so easy to see your feed and then see what’s posted. You’re then nine posts deep on somebody else’s profile, looking at videos. It gets distracting. That’s a good productivity tool that I use. Can I get one more?
It’s called RescueTime. I like to use it because sometimes, you need to see the numbers for yourself and you need to see what you’ve been doing. RescueTime will track my time on my computer, my phone, and my iPad. During work hours that I tell are my work hours, it will show me how productive I had been and how much work I got done. It gives me the truth.
Sometimes, you’ll think you’ve been doing something for twelve hours straight. I’m like, “I’m putting in twelve hours of work.” I look at RescueTime and it will say it is closer to 6 or maybe 7 if you consider all the time you took breaks to look at social media. I’m human like everybody else. It does happen. I love it for the accountability. It helps me know what I am doing that’s productive and how long I’ve been spending time doing it. I love it.
Thank you for sharing those. People always like to hear about new tools or things that might help them in different ways to be more productive. Tell me. What didn’t I ask you that you think is important that people get from you?
One of the things is understanding that it isn’t always just about the tech. I love tech. I love helping people install the best technology and choosing the best things that are for them. It is getting the right teams, in my opinion, that help you in the long run, as in hiring the right people and getting clarity on who you need to hire to help your business go to the next level.
It’s people over tech to me all the time, especially because I love technology. If I didn’t have the people on my team, life would still be so much harder. There’s not enough automation in the world. AI might change a lot of things, but you still need the right people who can think, take initiative, and help you grow in ways you might not even consider. For the audience, I want you to not think that tech is the only thing that you need. You do need the right people around you.
I agree. I believe even as AI takes over certain roles, it’s that much more important that we have the right people on board and people who have critical thinking skills. It’s those people who are going to be in charge of the computer by giving it context, having it work, and analyzing what comes out of it. I believe it’s going to be that much more important. Maybe the type of people that you hire might be slightly different, but you’re still going to need people. You’re going to need them to be able to better understand the work, the customer, and all of the inputs so that they can better appreciate how to work with the outputs.
Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for allowing me to be here. This was fun. I always love conversations like these. I can always geek out about tech.
Thank you. I enjoyed it as well. I hope that you all enjoyed it. Tell us where people can get a hold of you so that they can find out more about you or maybe hire you to automate something for them.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for being here. I hope that you got a couple of new systems that you can use. If you haven’t checked out Zapier yet, go check it out. That can be a huge benefit for you. I don’t care whether you’re a solopreneur or you are working in the midst of an organization. Sometimes, automating some things can save us maybe a small amount of time and even a large amount of time. It stops all that context-switching that we might have as we have to do all of those things. Check out the tools. Check out Khadirah and what she’s got going on.
Consider as you step back and look at your business to create that awareness of where you are today. Are you focusing on the things that are most important? Where would you have that opportunity to say, “These are the most important things.” How are you going to delegate, automate, or eliminate any of the things that aren’t in the highest priority area? You can give yourself the peace of mind of knowing that you’re not getting caught up in that urgency trap and crowding out the things that are most important. Thank you for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.
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About Khadirah Muhammad
Khadirah Muhammad is a Systems Implementation Engineer and Founder of SucceedingWithSystems.com who went from breaking into the entrepreneurial world at 18 with the goal of retiring her parents, to falling in love with systems and now teaches solopreneurs and start-ups how to establish Lifestyle Freedom using systems, automation, and technology.
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