Tackling Technology and Business Automations to Reach Your Lifestyle Goals with Latrice Claiborne

Welcome to another episode of Launched & Legal with Dayna Thomas, Esq., entrepreneurship attorney and law firm coach. Launched & Legal is an Atlanta Small Business Network original series dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs and business owners the best practices and tips for strategizing, legalizing, and monetizing their ventures. Today, Dayna is joined by Latrice Claiborne, a system and operation strategist and Founder of Trinity Business Solutions.

If you have questions or comments about today’s show, send Dayna a message or comment on Instagram @daynathomaslaw.

Transcription: 

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Years of experience used to be the big factor in determining business success. Now, it’s technological knowhow. Technology is central to running any business. But with so many options, how do you choose here to tackle that question and more is Latrice Claiborne. Latrice is a system and operation strategist and founder of Trinity Business Solutions.
Her business specializes in marketing automations and making backend business systems and processes seamless for small business owners. Today, Latrice will be tackling technology and entrepreneurship and how automations can help you reach your revenue and lifestyle goals. Latrice, thank you so much for being here today.

Latrice Claiborne:
Thank you. I appreciate you having me.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Absolutely. Automations is huge for me. I was introduced to it maybe about two years ago and really had it play a huge role in my business now. It is just so amazing. I’m so glad that we connected because I want to share more about technology and automations with our viewers. Before we get into that, just tell me a little bit more about your background and how you got into entrepreneurship and systems and automations.

Latrice Claiborne:
I would say systems… When I say systems, systems, we’ll talk a little bit about that I’m sure, are processes, so the structure and the process. That’s always been how my mind worked even as a little child. It was like, okay, this is out of order. We need to create a process for how we do this. Even down to chores between my siblings. No, we need to have a process, who’s doing what first and in what order and who’s responsible for this. There has to be a structure. It probably drove everybody else crazy, but it was something that… It’s just how my mind worked. I got started doing this in the online space because I was working for an accounting firm doing marketing and business development. I enjoyed it.
I’ve always been a software person. When I got there, I was given a new software that the company had just purchased and they were like, “All right, this is part of your job to learn this, to start creating some automated sequences and to teach the rest of the team how to use this platform.” Long story short, I fell in love with it. I got certified in it. As I had my second child, I decided I wanted to do this for myself, so I started working for myself. Business was not always roses and daisies like people on Instagram Reels make it seem like, but I continued to head down that lane and I niched down into just doing tech and automation.
It brings me so much joy to go into a business to see how they can do things more efficiently, to see where this might be able to be done more. It could be done better. You’re not being productive in this area. Let me help you figure out a way that you can automate this using technology to save you your time. Ultimately, the goal is for you to live the life of your dreams, not just to have the business of your dreams. Restructuring your business on the back end helps you to live that life so you’re not sitting tied to your laptop all the time.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Absolutely. That makes perfect sense. You mentioned systems and automations. You did define systems a bit, but what is the difference because people often put them together, right? But what is the difference between systems versus automations?

Latrice Claiborne:
They also throw in their tools. They call software tools systems as well. A software tool is not a system. It’s just a software. We’ll kind of differentiate between what these things are. A system is actually the process as to how you’re accomplishing a goal and getting something done, the steps that you have to take in order to get a goal accomplished. The software tool is something that jumps in and helps you to get that system done more efficiently. Now, in automation, that’s basically using the software tool and the technology to do something for you that you don’t have to manually do yourself. I’ll give you an example.
In onboarding a new client, you have to get your client to maybe fill out a proposal, to sign a contract or a statement of work of some sort, and then to pay an invoice. All of that can be done automatically without you touching it and lifting a finger. Everything can be sent automatically. The proposal can be sent. As soon as they complete the proposal, the next screen is the contract. The next screen immediately after that is the invoice that they pay. That is something that you would normally do manually, but it’s something that can be automated.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
That’s a great example because I remember when I first started my business, I was doing that manually. I said, “There has to be another way,” because I’m spending more time sending proposals and did this person sign? Now I have to send them the invoice. It was just so much. Once I learned about automations, it just made the business run more seamlessly. When is the right time to automate? Should an entrepreneur just jump out and start automating stuff, or is there some type of time period? Tell us more about when.

Latrice Claiborne:
I think everybody, no matter where you are in your business, you should have some type of automation. Well, when you first start your business, you’re focused on sales and marketing. You’re like, “Listen, I need to get paid. I need to get these invoices closed. I need to get paid ASAP.” How can you focus on sales and being creative in your marketing and the things that you need to do to create content? Now, you’ve got to shimmy three times and jump twice to be visible on Instagram to make a Reel.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Oh my gosh, that’s another story, Latrice.

Latrice Claiborne:
You’ve got to do all those things now in order to be visible. You have to create content. You have to be creative. They’re really stretching you to reach your audience. With having to be creative, you don’t have time to be bogged down in admin work because that’s not what you got in business to do. You didn’t get in business to be a bonafide admin assistant for yourself. If you do taxes, you got in business to file tax returns. That’s what you got in business for. That’s something that automation helps you to get back to, and it expedites you reaching your next revenue milestone because you’re not spending time doing the mundane work.
You’re spending time with revenue generating activity. Automation is crucial to every single business. However, I think it’s important that, first, you understand and have an established process first. Because every online coach, every guru is like, “Ooh, I use this tool. Let me tell you to get it because I’m getting an affiliate commission.” Everybody’s like, “Ooh, shiny object syndrome. Let me grab the tool because so and so said I should use it. They made a million dollars last year, so I should use it too.”
But instead, you should start first with actually defining the process, writing out the process, and the software tool comes last. You establish your goals and what you want done and the process at which it should happen, and then you find the tool.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
That makes perfect sense because you don’t want to automate a mess. I was talking to someone about that. I was like, if you don’t even know what your system is going to be or what A, B, C, D or what all the steps are, what are you going to automate? Because all that’s going to do is you set up some type of automation and then you’re constantly scrapping it and changing it and scrapping and changing it because you haven’t realized what really works for your clients. Because it’s not only what works for you, but what is also helpful and easy for your clients as well.
If you have a new entrepreneur that understands, “Listen, I need to have some sort of automation in my business so that I can focus on the content or I can focus on the actual professional services,” what would you recommend as a starting point for someone who has nothing automated and they want to start?

Latrice Claiborne:
I always recommend two things that are really basic, really simple, but save you a lot of time. The first thing is if you don’t have a calendar scheduling link. We’re going to start there with that one, because that one is the easiest thing that you can set up. If you sat down for like if you’re not tech savvy maybe an hour, maybe an hour and use a tool like Calendly or Acuity, you use one of those things, we don’t have to sit there and go back and forth over, “When can you meet, on Tuesday at 3:00? Oh no, I got dentist. On Wednesday at 4:00? No, I’m going to take a nap. No, I send you my link. You book. It’s on your calendar.” Boom. Boom.
It even will integrate with Zoom, so now I’ve sent you a place to where we’re meeting virtually and it automatically created the link. We’re good to go. That’s a very, very basic simple one. But then next, I would also start with your onboarding. Using a tool like Dubsado or a Honeybook, something like that, that will automate your onboarding so you can send a proposal. They get the invoice and everything, like I was saying before. They can have a portal. They can fill out their questionnaires. You can even embed videos on the form. Maybe you have a welcome video and tasks that are assigned to you or your team members.
There’s so many things you can do with that, but that alone will save you time so you can figure out the next system you want to automate on the backend outside of getting the client onboarded and giving them an amazing world class experience straight out of the gate.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Absolutely. Those are perfect. Those are actually the first two that I did as well. And from there, you build on up. You mentioned something, you mentioned Dubsado, Acuity, Calendly. I want to talk about tools, right? Because you also mentioned that a lot of coaches and counselors and things like that in entrepreneurship, they recommend so many different types of tools. But a lot of times they are affiliates, which means they get paid whenever there’s a new subscriber for that tool. It can be difficult to really decipher what do I need, what don’t I need. What are some of the superstar tools that you want people to know about for specific services?

Latrice Claiborne:
We’ll start with different categories. If you’re doing a booking one alone by itself, I use Acuity just because it’s extremely robust and it does a lot of different things that I need for myself and my team. If you don’t have a team, you may not need something as robust. I use Dubsado as my onboarding. My clients have a portal. I’m able to send proposals and things like that. If you are using a platform for just email marketing, which I would encourage everybody, get your leads off of social media and get them on a text list or an email list. You don’t own your Instagram. You do not own your Facebook.
Instagram can shut you down when they feel like it or a hacker could come and take it and block you out of your account and now you’ve lost your customer base. You should be building some type of email list. If you are using a paid software, ActiveCampaign is the best email marketing platform out there. It doesn’t compare to the others. It’s the best one out there. It has all the data. It does all the segmenting and targeting to where I would say you can low-key stalk people. Everything they click, everything they look at, all their actions are tracked. If you want something free, I would use MailerLite.
MailerLite is a really great free one. You absolutely have to have something for your website. You got to have something for your website.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
What do you like for building websites?

Latrice Claiborne:
Wix is always a really great option especially if you are building it yourself. Wix has come a long way over the years, but now you can customize so many different things. A lot of people use WordPress, but WordPress can be very difficult if you’re trying to build it yourself or if you’re just getting started,

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
I would agree with everything. Everything that you have said in each of those categories I use. It didn’t all start out at the same time. I did build from booking to proposals and invoices, email marketing, all that stuff. Latrice, thank you so much for sharing that because it helps a lot of people with so many options out there. I love how definitive you are. You’re like, “ActiveCampaign is the best.” And not because she wants to sell for ActiveCampaign, but just because she genuinely cares about people using the right tools. That’s super important. Now, with all of that said about those tools, what do you think a reasonable budget is?
Because I am an advocate, especially for new entrepreneurship, keeping expenses low, but knowing the difference between an expense and an investment, right? These tools are investments because they help you make more money by freeing up your time and many other benefits. What do you think? I know it may be a range, but if someone was to ask you, “What’s a reasonable budget? I’m willing to invest in tools to help my business with automations,” what would you say?

Latrice Claiborne:
It depends on where you are in your business. The reason I say that is because a lot of these tools, especially the marketing automation stuff and all that, even video software is based off of the amount of streams or it’s based off the amount of subscribers you have. There’s a volume thing as well. If you have more team members, you’re going to pay more. If you have less team members, you’ll pay less. It’s based off of volume as well. I like to tell people who come to me and who are in my program, we have a low tech stack and we have a high end tech stack.
I give them based on your budget, do you want the low end or you want the high end? Me when I started business, I had everything free. I was like, what’s free and functional?

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Free and functional. Love it.

Latrice Claiborne:
I was like, let me just go with the free and function. I can do this and I’ll make it happen as much as I can with this little free thing. When I reached my capacity, I’ll move on to getting something paid. For a very long time, I use those things. Another software I want to jump in and I meant to say earlier was if you’re using some type of finance or accounting software, Wave apps is a free one and QuickBooks is the paid one. Wave apps is an online cloud based platform for accounting and it’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It does payroll. It does all the things. You can reconcile your bank account. It downloads your bank transactions.
When I started, I knew I needed something, but I’m like, “I don’t want to pay for anything.” I used Wave apps. I used MailerLite. It was free. It also had landing pages on it, so I used that. For signing software, I didn’t want to pay for a platform so I used HelloSign. HelloSign is free up to a certain point per month. I used that as well. I used as many free things and I believe my expenses were less than 50 bucks when I started my business. That was when I was trying to get a little fancy. But eventually I converted over. I ain’t even going to tell you all what my budget is. Don’t catch me slipping. I download everything.
I subscribe to it. I got like a million tech software. It’s insane. But typically you want to allocate at least a couple hundred dollars a month, depending on your volume. Now, I’ve seen people who have email marketing platforms and they have tons of email subscribers. They may pay three, four, $500 a month just for their email marketing platform because they have 500,000 email subscribers.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
And it makes them money.

Latrice Claiborne:
I always look back at the software tool. And if I want to continue to use it, I look back at my ROI and how much money I was able to make from this platform. Whatever tool you go with, you want to look at data. Don’t just go with what’s cute and what’s shiny and what has features listed on their website. You want to be able to see data. Who’s clicking what? Where are your customers coming from? How are they converting? Is this offer converting or not? You need to see all of your data.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
You can direct your path on what you need to change, what’s working, what to do more of, what to invest more in, what to invest less in, do I need to downgrade from this platform, or whatever it may be. That makes perfect sense. And we’re talking a lot about what we can automate, Latrice. Talk to me about what you really think people should not automate and they really need to be present and do it themselves.

Latrice Claiborne:
I’m extra. My life is automated. It’s a lot. I’m talking about from the grocery delivery to the little vacuum thing that vacuums my house at 1:00 PM everyday. Everything is automated. However, there are certain things that you literally can’t do. If you are an eCommerce brand, the fulfillment of your product. You’re going to have to get in there. You got to pack the boxes. Nobody packing the boxes for you. The software tool’s not jumping out and packing your boxes. There are certain things that you would absolutely have to do. But in every way, I try to figure out, okay, how can we not do this?
What I want to chime in on though is even in automation, I think it’s more important for you to do audits because there are so many things that can be automated in the backend of your business. From sales and marketing, it can all be automated. You’re going to have to create the content and you’re going to have to fulfill and deliver on your service. But I want you to schedule in occasional audits to figure out if the things are working. Most of the time people don’t know that it’s working. And then I want you to also start documenting. Document what it is that’s done. Most people don’t have documentation.
They’re like, “I think it’s doing that, but I don’t know. We set it up a year ago. We hired somebody. I don’t know how it’s happening.”

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
And haven’t looked at it since.

Latrice Claiborne:
That’s all the time. Most people, they have no idea. I want you to document, and I want you to do at least quarterly audits to make sure that what you have set up in place is actually working. Automation can happen, but you should be supervising and watching and making sure tech be teching. Sometimes it’s like, I don’t want to do it anymore. You want to make sure it’s still working.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
It is set it and forget it, but you can’t forget it forever. You need to come back and check in. I saw in some of your content the concept of future proofing. What is future proofing? Tell me about it.

Latrice Claiborne:
A lot of times people, they have an immediate need. They’re like, “Let me just grab a tool or let me put a system in place for right now to fix this thing because it’s a pain and I just need something to fix it.” With future proofing, you need to pick something that you can grow into. We’ll go back to the scenario of email marketing platform. Even with the marketing automation platform like that, you want something that will have the bandwidth to deliver the way you want it to deliver. You want it to be able to house all your future plans, whatever you have for the next couple of years, maybe you’re thinking about, yeah, I do want a course in a couple years.
I don’t have one now, but I do want it in a couple of years. I need to pick a software that I don’t have to sit and pay someone or have a headache of moving from one platform to the next every year. I know people who move and switch platforms every time the next best thing pops up on social media. They’re like, “Ooh, somebody said they like this so let me move.” Instead, you should find something that keeps you there, that has the features, that has the data, that will have the bandwidth that allows you to stay there for the next couple of years because it is a headache and a pain to have to uproot and move everything.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
I did that once, Latrice. I went from Teachable to Kajabi for my course. That was a headache. That is because of future proofing. Yep, absolutely. I wish I had known that concept before, but I know it now because of you. Thank you so much for that. With all this wealth of knowledge that you have, tell us about some programs or offerings that you have that can help people to do more with systems and automations for their business.

Latrice Claiborne:
We have what’s called Tech In A Day. It’s our VIP day. We literally set up your launch in a day. In one day. You bring us the content and we set up the entire launch in a day. It’s TechInADay.com. But we do done-for-you services. We do tech and automation. But what I do want to talk about is October 18th through 20th, we have a three day Virtual Systems Summit. It’s going to be a place for you to implement as well, because we understand fully that systems is like a buzzword. It’s just all over social media and people say it and they just throw it around and they don’t even understand it. Oftentimes it’s overwhelming.
It’s a lot. It’s a whole lot. During that summit, we’re not just going to be… I have some really amazing sponsors, even more amazing guest speakers that are going to be coming and teaching. We will be implementing at the conference. We’re going to be implementing. It’s virtual and you can register at Systems-Summit.com. It’s going to be amazing. I’m super excited about it. We talk about legacy all the time. We talk about legacy, but people don’t understand, your kids don’t want your mess. The babies don’t want that. Don’t do that. They do not want the hodgepodge of stuff that you just pieced together that you jimmy rigged a little bit and is duct taped.
They don’t want it. In order for us to build a legacy, we must first get this business in order so we can live the life of our dreams. Legacy is not just about money and how much money I’m passing down to my kids. I realize my legacy is also in the relationship I have with my children, the amount of time, the wisdom, the knowledge, the values I’m imparting in them. My business has to be set up in a way such that I can spend time with my kids and I can do the things that are important to me and have the life that I dream. We’re going to help people achieve that and start to head in that right direction at the Systems Summit. Go to Systems-Summit.com and you can join us.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
I love that. Please go to that website. How else can viewers check you out, learn more from you, and even work with you personally?

Latrice Claiborne:
I hang out on Instagram all the time. I’m mostly on Instagram. My Instagram handle is my first and last name, Latrice Claiborne. If you ever need systems support in any way, you can go to GetSystemsSupport.com. One other resource I want to give you, if you don’t know like, “I have no idea what I should be automating. I’m just lost. I don’t know what’s possible,” you can take the automation quiz. It’s Automation-Quiz.com. You can go there and it’ll help you run through, how automated is your business actually?
How automated is your business? Do you have this in place? It’ll kind of give you a rundown of things that you can automate. Because when I tell you I got everything automated, I just have it all automated.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
I believe it. I love it. I’m a huge fan of automations. It completely changed my life. I want to bring that information to more people. Thank you for being that professional and that resource for me and for the show, and I really appreciate you being here.

Latrice Claiborne:
Thank you. I appreciate it.

Dayna Thomas, Esq.:
Well, I hope today’s show help to educate and inspire you as you pursue your business goals. Be sure to share today’s show with someone who can benefit and visit MyASBN.com and subscribe. If you have any questions or comments about today’s show, I would love to hear from you, send me a message or comment on Instagram at @daynathomaslaw. Remember to tune in next week and every week to make sure your business is launched and legal.


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