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Using AI and tech to mindfully grow your business

When it comes to AI, one of the biggest challenges that business owners face is discerning when to lean into new technology and when not to use it. How do you take advantage of automation and grow your business while still maintaining a pulse on your personal touches and brand?

On today’s episode, I sat down with technology educator and content creator LaShonda Brown to talk about this very dilemma. LaShonda does an amazing job of making tech accessible so that you can do more in your business and life.

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How to use SaaS tools to achieve time and financial freedom

It’s easy to diagnose problems, but being open to the solution is another story. A ton of entrepreneurs say they want more time and financial freedom, but they are intimated by new technologies that could provide that for them. 

Software as a service (SaaS) tools are more accessible today than ever, which means that independent business owners can use the same tools to grow their businesses that big corporations have been using for years. 

Every new software or piece of tech will not help grow your business. Thanks to information consolidation tech like new monthly subscription models, business owners can find what works for them to free up their time and energy. 

The best place to find new software tools: YouTube

How do you begin to uncover which new SaaS tool is right to help grow your business? An easily accessible place to start is on YouTube, the second largest search engine behind Google. You can simply type your problem into the search bar to find the answers you need. 

There are tons of creators who have tried these SaaS tools and can tell you about the pros and cons to help you decipher if it’s right for your business. Plus, you can start to learn from these creators by watching what they do.

When implementing new tools, the most important thing to remember is not to do it just because you see other businesses doing it, but instead, start with your own problems and look for the right solutions for you. 

If you need help identifying your problems, think about the gap between where you are and where you want to go. 

Utilize help from others to learn new tech

Many business owners shy away from new tech because they think they can’t learn it. In fact, it’s normal to live with more friction in your business because you don’t want to take the time to figure out how to set up a new software tool. 

The truth is that friction leads to more wasted minutes that compound over time, and setting up a SaaS tool only takes around 30 minutes. If you feel lost, these tools come with experienced professionals that can help you, like the HoneyBook Pros community or Canva Verified Experts. When you take advantage of the people who are there to serve you, you’ll save time setting up, learning, and adopting new tech.

How to reframe the fear of tech eliminating the personal touch

You may feel like everything in business has to come directly from you with a personal touch, which is often why entrepreneurs choose not to automate or delegate tasks. However, HoneyBook research found that 86% of clients purchase from the business that responds first. By working overtime to do everything yourself, you are losing time and valuable clients.

When you have the mindset of, “I don’t want the software to talk to a client first, I have to talk to them first,” you are limiting the amount of money you can make and the people you can help. Plus, you need to have a global mindset and think about clients in the world who want to contact your business when you’re asleep. 

The one way to find out what your customers want

There’s a lot of talk about how customer expectations have shifted due to the “Amazonification” of modern life. We’ve been trained to expect things in a 24-hour turnaround period. At the same time, there is a shift towards a more bespoke shopping experience. Customers also appreciate handwritten notes and personal touches that small businesses can provide.

The best way to know exactly what your clients want is to ask them. Business owners get used to being a megaphone that simply put content out into the world when in reality they need to be a telephone. Whether you send out a survey, ask questions on social media, or have one-on-one conversations with your clients, it’s important to get their feedback on a regular basis.

Talking to your customers will help you know just how much tech to incorporate into your business, and in what ways. For example, some influencers have seen more success with informal Zoom calls than large webinars. Sometimes “low-tech” options win out because they are more personal.

LaShonda and Natalie discuss AI.

How to leverage YouTube and StreamYard to connect with your audience

LaShonda found that her community loves to connect with her through live streams, so she started utilizing a program called StreamYard that allowed her to host live streams on YouTube and LinkedIn simultaneously. 

StreamYard is a “glorified Zoom call” where you can communicate with your audience. For example, when a participant comments, you can highlight their comment and put it up on the stream for everyone to see.

After a live stream is over, it automatically becomes a video on LaShonda’s YouTube channel, and since she has the monetization turned on, it becomes a source of passive income for her business. 

YouTube has done a better job than any other platform to monetize creators, and more independent business owners should be investing in their YouTube channels the same way they invest in Instagram.

When to use AI and when to do it yourself

When it comes to new tech and AI, you don’t have to start in the deep end. You can just dip your toe in. AI is an amazing tool to help get your brain going and get you past a blank page. That doesn’t mean that it should replace the unique spin that only you can put on your work. 

For example, HoneyBook has released an AI email composer that helps you get past the blank screen when you aren’t sure how to respond to an email.

LaShonda’s favorite tech tools

LaShonda loves using Groove because it’s a hybrid between tech and humanity. Groove is a co-working platform where you can virtually work with people around the world to get more done. When you use Groove, it turns on your camera and sends a push notification to up to three other people that can sign on and work with you.

Groove leverages the concept of “body doubling,” which can help you get more done. It is an especially helpful tool for people with ADHD.

Another tool that LaShonda recommends is Minichat, which helps you respond to comments and direct messages on social media. This tool can free up your time and give you more time away from your phone while also helping you make more money.

What differentiates the businesses that succeed from the ones that fail

The businesses that succeed are the ones who understand that their business is in a constant state of evolution. Being willing to put something out there and refine it over time, instead of waiting for it to be perfect, is the key to success.

Important sections of the conversation:

  • [1:30] Using tech as a gateway to freedom
  • [3:37] How to find the tech tools that are right for your business
  • [14:41] Utilizing tech support
  • [16:03] Tech versus the human touch
  • [23:46] How to find out what your clients want
  • [29:51] Livestreaming on YouTube via StreamYard
  • [36:46] When to use AI and when not to use it
  • [41:07] LaShonda’s favorite tech tools
  • [44:59] The biggest differentiator between businesses that succeed and ones that fail

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