How I fell in love with Business Process Automation
Everyone has an origin story. I’m frequently asked for mine…here it is.
I’m Kelly Goss, founder of Solvaa and author of Automate It with Zapier, and this is my story…the story of how I came to love helping businesses solve their productivity issues with Business Process Automation.
One of the worst days of my working life happened in 2015 on a dreary Sunday at 4pm when I sat down at my computer to finish collating the necessaries for a VAT return due the next day.
Now, doing VAT returns manually anytime is bad enough, but I was coming off yet another 70-hour work week of managing my veterinary clinic’s sales, operations and finance by day…then knocking out social media and other marketing activities at night.
I was burnt out and EXHAUSTED! My workdays never ended! My business partner, the vet, ran the clinical side of the business, but my job was to do pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE behind the scenes. I bet I was earning less than £1/hour, and I wasn’t having ANY fun.
And do you know why I was killing myself working so many hours just to keep my head above water?
1. The business couldn’t afford to hire enough staff for the admin load to be shared! (and I was doing the job of at least 3 people, btw!), and
2. I had no clue that there were automation tools that could’ve sliced at least 40 hours off my heavy practice management duties! But I’ll get to that part…
It was on THAT TERRIBLE SUNDAY that I finished the VAT return, then promptly had an epiphany…
I. WAS. DONE.
Reality finally kicked in: I knew there was a better way. So I took a deep breath, grabbed the back of an old bank statement envelope, and drew up a checklist for my next career:
1. Work smarter, not harder
2. Flexibility in my day
3. Work from home or from anywhere in the world
4. Prevent other business owners from falling into the same overworked and overwhelmed state I was in
You see, I actually knew better–even as I worked those 70 hours/week–how to fix the vet clinic’s broken business processes. The failure to fix the business was MY FAULT. Because in my previous career, I was in medical device and pharmaceutical vaccine manufacturing process improvement! Yes, I lead successful projects making our manufacturing processes better and cheaper, and overall improving the quality AND safety of syringes, needles and vaccines going into the market to be used by humans!
But even though I knew HOW to fix the veterinary clinic’s problems, there JUST WEREN’T ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY TO FIX ALL THEM MANUALLY! Plus ALL THE PROBLEMS WERE RECURRING–EVERY MONTH THEY WERE BACK AGAIN!
I was always the problem solver in my pre-vet clinic career. I graduated university with a degree in microbiology and zoology. In my first job I worked for a medical device company as a microbiologist responsible for testing and reporting on the sterility of needles, syringes and blood collection tubes.
I went from working in a lab to running labs. And with that responsibility came the directive to lead projects to make better and safer products. I then moved on to running critical projects involving many departments to improve the sterility of injectable vaccines. I found I loved process improvement–especially when it came to figuring out how people do their jobs and helping them to do their jobs better.
For anyone familiar with manufacturing or the sale of consumable products, you know that improving quality and streamlining the manufacturing process leads to better products, higher profits, and happier humans (the makers and the consumers).
I KNEW all of this when I started my vet clinic! It’s actually why I had the confidence to become an entrepreneur–I knew I could run a business by systemising it. Sadly, what I didn’t know at the start, but what I discovered was…
Integration and automation…and…Zapier!
At the clinic we had practice management software – a veterinary industry specific CRM. We could schedule appointments, we could send out reminders, and we could manage our stock and sales. But for our social media, email marketing, and accounting processes…I…did it all manually. Not a single piece of software that we used was connected. This meant data entry in multiple places and plenty of room for error…no fun at all!
What an enormous waste of my time and talent! I was never going to rise above the overwhelm because THE MORE SUCCESSFUL WE WERE, THE MORE WORK I HAD TO PROCESS! I was so busy treading water that I never had the time to put the automation dots together!
Can you relate? That’s so common in small business, isn’t it?
Introducing the right tools to run your business, connecting them and them automating tasks has the potential to change all that. Just imagine…no more duplication of data entry and instant automation of almost every task, invoice, update, data entry, alerts, analytics and reports… almost anything you may be doing right now for the 1000th time…gone!
And then…enter ZAPIER! Zapier has the ability to connect more than 2000 critical software tools that companies would normally use independently to run their business…
When I discovered Zapier, I got so excited. It validated that I wasn’t crazy! That everything I knew about process improvement, quality and productivity WAS TRUE…it just needed simplifying, integrating, and automating! But I wanted to prove it could work in someone’s business whose processes were in almost as much chaos as mine had been.
That’s when Ruari found me…my client whose video testimonial you can watch here. Ruari spent almost more time each week than I used to running his growing business. I could see instantly he was heading down the same path of being punished by his own success! The more Ruari sold, the more chaos he created in his business!
This time, though, I applied process improvement principles to Ruari’s business. I worked mainly on his sales and financials–and recommended how each process could be made more efficient by introducing the right tools for the job, integrating them natively or using Zapier to connect the dots and automate where possible.
After 2 years of working together, as Ruari’s sales volumes increased 10-fold, I helped him significantly reduce the need for hiring more staff to work on his sales and accounting processes, and gave him a return on his investment in me of more than 700%. Go here to read about Ruari’s project.
But the biggest surprise was when Ruari told me, “Kelly, you are one of the best things that’s happened to me since starting my business.”
And that is why I love what I do, and why I can’t wait to meet you and have you tell me your most challenging business process dilemma. Because I know together we’ll solve it, and you’ll start working smarter, not harder.
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