What the heck IS a backend anyway?

And Your Question is?Got this question the other day and loved it…questions always get my brain going to find an answer. Whether I know the answer already or have to do some research to find it, I LOVE answering your questions. That’s a whole bunch easier than trying to figure out what to write while staring at a blank screen.

Not only did this person want to know what a “backend” is, she wanted to know why I had the tag line “sexy backends for your business.”

Glad you asked darlin’! Thanks for making it easier to do a blog post today.

First things first, what IS a backend?

The easiest explanation, at least to my way of thinkin’, is

the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes your business run (another term for it is “back office”).

It’s the infrastructure that let’s you do the “front end” stuff, what is also called “client” or “prospect” facing stuff.

Think meetings. Networking. Speaking. Coaching. Products. Those things your customers and prospects SEE that are the result of all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

It is the hidden day-to-day “unsexy” stuff that most business owners would rather not deal with. And frankly, didn’t plan on doing when they launched their business.

And it is the stuff essential to running your business if you’re gonna be in business. It’s gotta happen (although you may not have realized that if you were working for someone else) and that is where you can really find ways to streamline and automate repetitive boring blecky stuff (ok, so it’s not necessarily blecky for those who love it…like me and I only love it because I’m all about getting YOUR message into the world as quickly and painlessly as possible!).

Definition What is a Sexy BackendSo what is a “sexy” backend

(Hey there, I meant the one for your business, where did YOUR mind go?)

A sexy backend is one that is

systematized (which means you have a set of things working together instead of a bunch of things thrown together willy nilly), automated and streamlined. It becomes a well oiled machine humming away in the background, while you’re off doing what you do best.

(No, you don’t get bonus points or good karma points for slaving away 48 hours a day! Throw that thought out the window.)

It combines good old fashioned thinking that comes from our human ability to look at stuff, with the good kind of “laziness” (do I really have to do this the hard way over and over again?) with technology (which, in my book, was designed to do the heavy lifting of repetitive rote stuff, dammit!).

It is where you find ways to put as many things as possible on autopilot so you can focus on the front-facing stuff:

  • some of these things can be partially automated so human efforts are put to their best use and not doing things that technology is designed to take care of
  • some of these things can be streamlined so they are easier to do (maybe in fewer steps or with help from someone else or not so convoluted that they take forever to do)
  • some of these things can be written down (documented) so they can be done the same way each time without asking for help over and over again)
  • some of the things need you, or someone you trust, to take care of things manually (and that’s where you put your attention)
  • some of these things are a combination (see the example below)

So how do you get started?

Ah, now there is where art, science and experience hang out. It is also where asking the RIGHT questions comes is essential and being clear about what technology and processes can, and can’t, do can make your life easier.

The first thing is to use the STD Formula I developed while working for big corporations comes into play (again, where DID your mind go…giggle).

STD is STOP. THINK. DO.

STOP

Being aware is the first step to getting your backend working for you instead of wasting so much time doing stuff that isn’t what you love or doesn’t generate income. And to do that means stopping the insanity of running around, doing everything willy nilly and taking a good hard look at what you’re doing.

  • Does doing this generate income directly? Or indirectly?
  • Are you doing “X” 3 or more times the same way? (That is a bigggggg clue to seeing whether you can make life easier and get those bucks in the door faster.)
  • Are you telling someone else how to do something over and over again?
  • Do you find yourself trying to remember how you did something yesterday? Or last week? Or a while ago?
  • Are you struggling with something that isn’t your gift or talent and NOT doing what you are good at?

THINK

Can you

  • automate it (have technology take over the work)
  • outsource it (have someone else do it for you)
  • write a process for it (write down every step so you can have someone else do it the RIGHT way)
  • combine the above into a system that works FOR you while you’re off doing something else

DO

Once you’ve thought through the questions and been really honest with your answers,  THEN you get the backend stuff working for you instead of against you.

Yes, it takes time to do it this way. And it may seem like you’re “wasting” time doing it this way.

I promise you, you’re NOT wasting time. You will actually save time in the long run.

For example

One of my clients, a coach, offered a complimentary session. That’s pretty typical in both the coaching and consulting world. If done manually, it can eat up your time faster than you can imagine. She had people call her to schedule the session, then sent them a small questionnaire to fill out before their call.

And it was driving her nuts. Bonkers. Bonzo.

Before

  • The phone rang all the time and she either interrupted what she was doing to answer it (not great for productivity) or she had to call them back (and often played phone tag for days).
  • When she (finally) connected with the person, they went back and forth on times and then she sent them her questionnaire.
  • Most of the time, people didn’t fill out the questionnaire and send it back so her offer of a free 30 minute session went to 60 minutes (what a drain on her time and resources).
  • People weren’t being added to her list automatically so she either remembered to put them on there manually or they never got added.

See where this is going? Relate (even if it isn’t for a free meeting of some sort)?

After

After she explained what was happening, I took out pen and paper (yup, no techie stuff to start with) and wrote down the steps to her existing process.

Once I did that I looked at where the problems were and then looked at where automation and technology could lend a hand. Please note, this was a partially automated solution because we were tested what she wanted to do. Over 90% of the process can be automated with the right tools.

The new process is

  1. Remove the “call me for a session” option from the website and add an opt in box for people to request a session (that eliminates the drain on her time two ways: the phone doesn’t interrupt her and she no longer has to remember, meaning forget, to add people to her list)
  2. Have an automated email system (autoresponder) send a message to the person with the link to her required questionnaire
  3. When the completed questionnaire is received, her assistant sends a pre-written email with a link to her calendar and instructions for how to use it for scheduling a call
  4. A special calendar was set up with ONLY the times she was scheduling free sessions left open
  5. Her assistant approves one of the selected calendar times and sends a confirmation to the person with instructions on how to show up for the call
  6. A PDF version of the completed questionnaire is linked to the person’s scheduled appointment time
  7. On the day of the call, she reviews the answers and hops on her conference line, presses Record and there ya go

Since my background is in doing all this stuff, it took about 15 minutes for me to write down the process and see where we could make some changes. It took a few hours to get the technology bits working right.

Yes, it took some thought o get this systematized and automated and can you see how much time it saved her? Let alone all the headaches!

Whatcha think?

Is there a way a sexy backend for YOUR business could make things easier? Pop your comments, ah has or questions in the comments below.

Let’s do this. Together. Your message IS that important!

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  • Love it!

    Now I just need to know where I can get some Sexy Backends for my housekeeping chores… it’s all ‘back of house’ too – lol!

    • MamaRed says:

      I’m totally with ya Helene…housework is NOT my favorite gig and I’d rather do most anything else except it (even tho’ my mom taught me how to do it well). Let me know if you find a solution eh?

  • Hi MamaRed, you do have a fantastic tagline!
    Really interesting you chose the example above, because I just experienced that with a coach just a week or so ago – very smooth, and the “before” scenario you fixed was terrible – so great job there!

    • MamaRed says:

      Thanks Matthew, I appreciate your compliment. And how kewl is it that you just experienced that with a coach last week! The before scenario was such a PITA and my “lazy consultant” side was going bonkers. There is so much to do in this running a business gig … why not let technology help where it was intended to! Would love to hear how you put this approach (or something similar) to work in your business.

  • Sharon says:

    I love your case study, mama red. I guess to a large extent, most internet marketers have learned how to automate a large portion of their backend, but there is still so much that can be streamlined. I’ll be thinking about that now. Thanks!

    • MamaRed says:

      Hi there Sharon. I think some internet marketers have automated their backend. However, I think many haven’t (unless they’ve been around this stuff for quite a while!). There are so many people getting involved that are doing things manually or slogging through the steps without thinking there may be another way. Glad this post gave you some ideas on where you can do things the Lazy Way (using lazy in the *best* way, of course).

  • Great post, MamaRed. This is an area I always struggle with. I need to start writing down steps I seem to go through all the time.
    I actually love back end work. I should probably be a VA, but then I’d be stuck on someone else’s schedule. Bleh!

    I’ve bookmarked this so I can come back and really dig in to it later.

    Thanks for posting this.

    • MamaRed says:

      Hey there Patti…yup, that writing stuff down takes a bit of discipline. I teach it (and have done it for others for years) and it still takes that noodge to remember! One tip I can share is stick a note on your monitor with the question: Have you written this down? Thanks for the bookmarking (and as for being on someone else’s schedule as a VA, I’ve known ones who aren’t, so it might be something to consider!). Many hugs.

  • Lisa says:

    Oooo! You ARE good!

  • Tamsin says:

    Hi Mama Red

    Automation is FANTASTIC. Along with delegation :) Can’t believe how many people believe that they have to do it ALL themselves ‘cos NO-ONE does it as well as them!

    Oh well, I’ll be on the beach drinking a pina colada while they’re still working!

    Thanks for a great post :)

    • MamaRed says:

      I hear ya big time Tamsin! and one of the first things I am delegating as I grow my business is accounting and financials! Then I’ll join you on the beach!

  • Excellent system. Will take a closer look at see how it will benefit my business. Thanks, Wendy UBC

    • MamaRed says:

      Hi Wendy…I look forward to hearing how the approach helps your business grow. Do stop back by and let me know, ‘k?

  • Working at a managerial level in accounting, I see this all the time, but love the fun and interesting way you communicate the concept. In my current position, I’ve written reams of {process} 101 instructions which are currently in use quite successfully. Even when someone takes a vacation, the processes can be used to keep things going in their absence. But the streamlining is the best advice of all! I call it “working smarter, not harder”. True, setting it up in the first place takes time, but the time saved overall is well worth the effort!

    • MamaRed says:

      Hi there Sheri…oh, I so bet you’ve written reams of processes for sure! And you’re right, when they’re written down, they can be done by someone else, regardless of the “why” and the business keeps on groovin’. That streamlining can take some time and I totally belive it is worth it!

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