Automation allows you to scale faster. Without it, businesses get stuck in low growth.
Paul Minors is an automation & productivity blogger with over 100k monthly visitors. Paul has helped over 400 clients in optimizing and automating their workflows.
His Website: PaulMinors.com
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Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:07
Once upon a time, there were millions of businesses struggling. Every day they wasted time, effort and money on repetitive tasks that added no value. One day, the better automation podcast by process you came to show them the way. Because of this, these businesses save time, reduce costs, innovate and make much better decisions. Because of that, these businesses grow, prosper and use human creativity to change this world. Hello, my name is Aziz, and I'm your host that better automation podcast by process CO, where I interview the world's top experts and share their best ideas on how to improve automation in your business, processes, and life. My guest today, and it's an honor really is Paul Meiners. Paul is a productivity blogger with over 100,000 visitors every month, and a virtual consultant that helps entrepreneurs and businesses become more effective with their time, optimize their workflows, and get more done. He is the host at the Paul miner podcast, as well as an Asana Pipedrive and Zapier consultant with over 400 clients he has helped. Paul, how are you today?
Paul Minors 1:40
Hey, Aziz, I'm really good. Thank you. Thanks for having me on the show.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 1:44
I'm really glad to have you here. I already feel that we'll have a great conversation. And to begin with the past, because I like to separate things into past, present and future. What's your story of either falling in love with efficiency? Or getting into automation?
Paul Minors 2:04
Yeah, well, the efficiency started. Really, I would take it back to when I was at university studying or college, as it's called in this in this state. And so, you know, my experience anyway, was you get out of school, you're put into the into university into college, where you're very much on your own. Unlike school, there's nobody telling you what to do or when to be a class. There's no one chasing you to get assignments in, it's up to you, you've got to you've got to, you're really accountable, you've got to make sure you're attending classes and getting things done. And so, and the thing that really, I thought was very useful at the start of the semester is the lecturers would say, here are all the important dates for the semester, this is when the exams are, this is when all your assignments are due. This is when the tests are happening, they just tell you straight away, this is when everything is going to happen. And so it was really useful, because I could then work backwards from those dates to plan my time. So in preparing essays, what I would do is, I would, I would use my calendar to plan what I needed to do, because I held my lectures and my classes programmed into my calendar. And so I thought, let me just take this a step further, let me just put in my assignments when I need to work on things. And so this was my introduction to time blocking, you know, putting putting appointments on your calendar for the work that you need to do. And that was really where my interest in productivity and using my time more efficiently really started to develop was was at university. And I started my business a few years later, in 2015. And I decided to help people with productivity and productivity tools just because it's a topic that I'm interested in, I'm passionate about, and I feel like I'm pretty good at and then the automation. Gosh, it's hard to say when automation actually started I guess one of my first experiences with automation was probably an app like IFTT t if this then that this automation app on the iPhone, you know, an app that probably a lot of people probably still use today I actually I actually don't use it anymore, but that was probably my first introduction to automation where you could design a simple workflow where you've got sort of a trigger, you know, a trigger being like some event something that happens and then you've got the actions, you know, something that then the workflow then performs these actions. And then so that was probably the first automation tool I really played with and that really opened my eyes to you know, using technology to save time and to do work for you. And then when I was working in sales at a at a mortgage business, we discovered Zapier and that was really where you know, the automation just we you know, we can take things to that next level IFTT T is quite simple, really is quite sort of simple basic workflows or at least it was back then. And with Zapier, this is for those that don't know, although I'm sure most of your listeners are familiar with Zapier, you know, it's this great automation tool that connects the API's of different internet services together. And so it's a way of like coding your own workflows without having to know how to code. And so I started going down the rabbit hole on Zapier, just for my own benefit, like let me create some zaps that helped me to post updates to Slack or do this. And so I just started using it to scratch my own itch and automate a few simple things that I needed to do. And then it was a few years later, when I when my business had started, I started offering automation and Zapier support as a service to my clients because a lot of people were coming to me saying, Look, I'm using this tool like Pipedrive or Asana. I really wish it could do this, but it can't. And I would say well, actually, we could do something like that with with Zapier. So now we use it a lot. We use it every single day, not just in my business, you know, Zapier is the backbone for a lot of the things that we do. But also for our clients. Zapier is a great tool that we can use to extend, you know, take that tech stack and tie things together and really take their tools to that next level. And of course, save a lot of time in the process.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 6:21
Thank you. I have two questions, I will start with one of them. You mentioned during university that the professors will tell you when things are due. And then you can work backwards in order to organize that. A lot of businesses don't have that because if it's a startup or an entrepreneur, there aren't real deadlines in it, it I guess the deadline is running out of money. Or maybe they're going after, like any KPIs, they don't really have clarity on the vision of where they need to be what by when. And all that. And therefore automation might be done haphazardly, without a plan for it. So when people come to you, do you more focused on them telling you okay, we wish Asana could do XYZ and you'll make it happen? Or is that part of your process is clarifying Exactly? What are they doing? And therefore, which workflows really are adding value? And therefore thinking about automation based on actual things that add value rather than what might be useless? Is this like something that you spend a lot of time thinking about? How do people deal with it? Are people open to it when they come to you?
Unknown Speaker 7:42
Yeah, we do a bit of both. So you know, our service is we help people to set up and use tools like asana and Pipedrive really effectively. So Asana is a project management tool. Pipedrive is a sales CRM. So the first first thing, before we even look at automation, the first thing we help people with is let's just set up the tool correctly, let's customize it, let's set up your projects. And of course, part of setting it up involves understanding the client's business. So talking about their workflows and saying, Well, how do you do your work? Why why do you do it that way? Have you thought about doing it like this? And so that's sort of step one is understanding the business understanding how that process works, and then translating that into Asana or Pipedrive. Then we there's obviously some training involved, you know, Tim needs to understand how to use the tool that's very important. So automation is usually like step three. Once you've sort of mastered the basics, the tool is up and running, then let's look at okay, how can we take this to the next level? What opportunities are there to automate parts of the process and save time? Not not just for the sake of it, you know, but like, what are the what are the genuine opportunities we can use? So for a good example, with a CRM would be, you know, I get inquiries every day. Via Calendly people book on my website, they book a call with me through Calendly. This is true for a lot of businesses, a lot of businesses have like a lead capture form or a contact form on their website. So you have some kind of input. And then using Zapier, you can connect that to Pipedrive. So that when somebody you know, for instance, books that call with me through Calendly, I can have that create a new contact and new deal in my CRM, and maybe even add a subscriber to my email marketing system. So all these little manual things that normally you would do manually, I can have Zapier, do that for me. And that's, that's, uh, you know, data entry is a really common type of automation that we do, because if you have to input data into two or three different places, that's just wasting unnecessary time. But that's a bit of a that's sort of a breakdown of our processes. Yeah, we work with customers to set up their tools correctly to provide that training. Automation is sort of a bit more advanced, it usually comes a bit further on little bit further down the line. Thank
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 10:03
you. And usually at what stage are businesses coming to you with their needs for automation? Or to work with you as well as? What are the pain points? Normally they come up with that I'm sure after you you do your process, you'll find that actually, yes, that's a pain point. But there is another one or a deeper one that's more important. So in the market currently, what kinds of businesses or at what stage are your most common ideal clients? And what are their common pain points that they come for,
Unknown Speaker 10:41
we work with a lot of small to medium sized businesses who are experiencing rapid growth. And so I mean, we get people approaching us at all different stages of their business, some are new, some are much more mature, but often waiting businesses that are a couple of years old, you know, maybe two or three years into their business. They're growing quickly. And that's the pain point is their growth. It's a good, good problem. So they say, you know, people tell me all the time, we're growing really quickly, we've hired a lot of new people. Now, we need to use automation, to scale our business and to streamline our work workflows and our process. Because because we're growing so fast, and we expect to grow more this year, we need to be able to handle double the amount of work or we're going to employ onboard 50 new employees this year, and we needed system for organizing them. So that's usually one of the most common pain points we hear is people needing automation and better systems book to handle to help them handle their growth. Because I think a lot what happens to a lot of businesses is they don't think about automation early on. And then they start growing quickly. And then they go oh, wait. Now Now we need better systems, we need automation, we need better tools to handle our growth. Because we've got this we've created this artificial sort of limit on how much we can do. I think your systems and your tools in your and how they work together, the automation can limit how much work you can handle, I run a pretty small business. I'm the I'm the business owner, I have one full time expert who works with me using Zapier and then I have a couple of contractors. And we do over a million last year, we just did over a million dollars with like two full time people and some contractors. So it's I think, I think one of the reasons we're able to handle that level of work is because we have good systems in place because we have good automation. So my advice, often to clients is, or to business owners, people listening to this podcast, for example, is think about automation earlier than you think you need it. Because otherwise you get down the road with your business and realize, oh, man, we don't have good systems. We don't have good tools. Now we're growing too quickly, and we need to catch up. So to avoid that pain point, I think people need to be thinking about automation much sooner.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 13:12
I love what you're saying. That's actually very important. It's about being strategic rather than an proactive rather than reactive. Right now, you're focusing on Zapier, you're focusing on Asana, you're focusing on those tools, those three tools that are essential for you. Is there anything missing that you believe in the marketplace that they should improve? Or that the marketplace needs? But it's not met right now that you wish those tools could handle?
Unknown Speaker 13:50
That's a really good question. I know I can't think of anything not not to say that there isn't. I mean, I'm sure there's good opportunities out there. I use a couple of other good automation tools. They use Hazel on the Mac, for automating documents and files and folders. I use an app called keyboard maestro, another Mac app to automate different tasks on my computer, and Alfredo as well. So a couple of good Mac apps. So there's there's so many tools out there already. And they're already they're always getting better as well. You know, I don't know, maybe maybe in the future. I mean, I see this No, no code automation trend continuing. So obviously, the tools themselves will get better. You know, that's obvious. In terms of what's missing, though, I really don't know, I wish I had an answer, because then I could probably make I could try and make the tool and make some money that way. So I'm sure there's an opportunity, but I don't know what it is.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 14:45
Thank you. Yes, you're very correct. It's like the million dollar question or the $10 million question. And since you've been involved with so many projects, and you're keeping your team small, so you probably are On top of all of them are aware of the impact, and the changes the transformations. Is there any project that was so unique that stands out to you, or one where the difference and the impact was so big and significant that you think while our work truly changed this company and their day to day operation forever? Can you share such a story?
Unknown Speaker 15:26
I'd say the best success stories we've we've had without naming names is just a few of our long term retainer clients. We so we work with some clients on a project basis, you know, they might come to us with a list of, you know, here are some things we want to do. Here's, here's some processes we'd like to automate. And sometimes it's funny, sometimes people come to us with really vague sort of project descriptions, they just say, we want to streamline our sales process, we want to automate as much as possible. And sort of when you dig into that, and say, Well, what do you mean? Like what, what steps are? What are the pain points right now? What are you spending time on it? Sometimes people don't have the answers to those questions, they have to spend a bit more time thinking about, well, what is it that I want to automate, they just hear these words automation streamline and say, Yeah, I want to automate my sales process. And so those projects are always a bit more difficult, you have to probe and work a bit harder to find out what those opportunities are, I find it's often best when we work with a client to start with something small, let's just do something simple and easy. And get something up and running, just to experiment working with each other. And to get, you know, almost pick some of that low hanging fruit rather than trying to do too much at once. But the the projects are the clients that we've worked with the most successful are the ones we've we've worked with, for the long term, where we've done that we've done a couple of little things, we've automated a little bit here a little bit there, Asana, Pipedrive, JotForm, Google Sheets, you know, we're looking at all the different tools they have. And we've built on things incrementally. And so it's funny, it's, we've had a few clients, now we've worked with for a few years, and then we get to this point where they realize, wow, like, you've completely reinvented our business, you know, our systems are completely changed now. And the automation is saving us a massive amount of time. So we find those are the most successful engagements is where we're making slow, incremental progress gradually, over time, I guess the maybe the best story I can have. And this is from one of my longtime clients is we had automated so much, and I was working with a girl on on their team, who was sort of doing a lot of admin and, you know, processes in their in their company. And she turned around and said, I'm not going to have a job. I don't know what to do now, because you've automated everything. So we automated her out of her job in a in a good way. Because then she could focus on other things. She could spend time on other things, other other tasks that require more critical thinking. So that was obviously a really good thing. But that was that was maybe just the funniest story we've had is when people turn around and say, you know, you've replaced this full time job, we don't need that person anymore. We can get them working on other things. And that's that's a great outcome, because it means that we're really making an impact. We're really saving people time.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 18:26
Thank you. And that makes me curious about your own business. Without automation, how many people would you need in order to make the same amount of revenue per year? In your perspective?
Unknown Speaker 18:40
Yeah, good question. I don't know. Probably at least a couple, you know, maybe at least one or two more people possibly. To handle you know, I'd probably need like a full time sort of project manager, maybe someone doing more admin or like a business operations manager, something like that. So it's funny when people sort of look at a tool like Zapier, I mean, I pay $50 a month for Zapier and some people go oh, wow, that's that's quite a lot for Zapier and I'm like, I would happily pay $500 A month because it saves me so much time I get I get so much value from it. The cost is it's great value for me just because of yeah how much time it saves Yeah, but I would say yeah, maybe maybe another another two people I think maybe
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 19:26
thank you I'm since you value saving time and I know you're fascinated with productivity, you as a person. What is important for you about being productive? What value does it add to your life is that time saved? Spent I don't know in nature or with loved ones or something like that. Or like the curse of most on entrepreneurs, they save time here just to spend more time working more. How is your personal relationship with the value that automation brings by saving you time and effort.
Unknown Speaker 20:02
Yeah, great question. For me, productivity is a tool, obviously, to perform better in my business to get more out of my business to grow my business, productivity is important, but it but it's, it's a tool for getting more out of life as well. So it's a tool to use my time more effectively. You know, I'm not a, I'm not a religious person. So, if you ask me, like, what's the meaning of life? You know, obviously, there's lots of different ways to answer that question. If there is a meaning of life, I think it's to use your time well, you know, to enjoy your time that we have on this planet. And so for me, if you can be more productive, because what is productivity, productivity is about being effective, it's about being efficient with your time. So it's what you're doing and how you're doing it. So whether that's me working, or whether that's me in my personal life, I want to use my time well, and I want to get the most out of my time. So in terms of what I do, like, as I've grown my business, yeah, I'd say in the first few years, I did put more time as I've freed up my time, I've put more time into growing my business. Now. And especially since having a building the team out a little bit and having a few contractors, it really has freed up my time a little bit more. So now I enjoy. I mean, I work from home, so I can spend some time during my wife with my wife during the week, she's we're expecting another baby at the moment. So it's just good to be around to support her, which is really important. But also I can put time into things that I enjoy. Yesterday, I went to the golf range at 2pm. You know, I finished up my work for the day, I I'm not going to sit around and fabricate more work that I don't need to do. I went and went to the golf range and hit some balls. The other week I went surfing on a Wednesday, you know, sort of a, I often scheduled some time during the week to enjoy myself to dues to enjoy some of the perks of working for yourself. So golf surfing. And then we have our little boy, we have a three year old, he's at kindy during the day, but you know, sometimes we might pick him up early and go to the playground or go for walks and things. So that's it spending time with with friends, family, but also just doing things that I enjoy as well.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 22:15
Congratulations on the new baby. Really, it adds joy to your life. And I'm happy for you that you found exactly the thing that adds the most value that transforms the world through your own work. And like you said, although some people will not be doing those repetitive tasks as jobs, they will be freed up to add their own unique creativity, which is something only them can do and get can never be replaced or automated. No matter what. You know, Paul, if people want to get in touch with you to learn more about your work, to use your services, or check out your blog or anything like that. What are the best ways for them to do so what are the links and I will make sure to write some in the description as well. Yeah, the best
Unknown Speaker 23:09
place to find me is just my website, Paul minors.com. You can see my blog, podcast and videos and things there. I'm also on YouTube, you can just type my name into YouTube, poor miners or Twitter as well. Those are the places where I'm most active.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 23:24
Thank you. And for me here, I really really value what is happening in the automation space, the human life that has been saved because it's more valuable than money. And anything else. I know we spoke about Zapier. This podcast is for some more modern competitor to it. It's process EO which is a modern low code, no code platform for advanced automation, and creating an enterprise grade back end for your software. It can be on premise, so it's more secure for those who care about that. Any listener can request to get a free account at process co.com. The link is in the description. And I hope it saves you hours not just to enjoy life, but to create those projects you wish to create to learn how to play the guitar to learn a new language to travel because that makes life really worth it. Thank you, Paul. It was a privilege and honor and I'm grateful for this conversation. Thank you.