[Business] The 4 steps to a bulletproof process

Written by Stefan on 8/2/2022

What is a bulletproof process?

A bulletproof process for me is one that:

  • Is based on a manual process
  • Is well documented
  • Can be easily iterated over time

Today I want to show you how we at Niche Mates do that kinda stuff in the hopes that you will find it helpful in your own journey.

Shall we?

Why does it matter?

Often times it seems to me that Indie Hackers tend to either:

  • Have no process in place
  • Skip a couple steps and go straight to automation

It’s probably a developer mindset that sees everything that’s tedious as something to automate…

… but this greatly limits your potential to come up with a process that is easy to use but also extend and that’s based in how things actually work well.

An added benefit is that a process like this can easily be automated and delegate, because it’s been documented well.

The steps of a great process

1. Create

First comes the creation.

This is the part where you sit down and think about what you want to accomplish and how.

Don’t overthink this, come up with the easiest and most manual version of what you want to do and move on to step 2 👇

2. Iterate

Use the process to get the job done that it’s intended to solve. Manually!

Why manually, you ask?

Because it’s much faster…
At least in the short run.

There will be a point when the gains of automation/delegation will outweigh the cost, but now is not the time, as professor oak likes to say 😏

This lets us iterate much faster and get to a process that actually works well.

Most of the time this will not be your first draft.

Take as much time and do as many iterations as necessary.
When the cost of running the process yourself or manually outweighs the benefits, or you’re happy with where it’s add go to step 3 👇

3. Delegate or Automate

The goal of your business should be to work on your business, not in your business

It should also not be running busywork tasks like sending cold emails

This is where delegation and automation come in…

Btw, they’re not mutually exclusive, you can also delegate parts that need human help and automate others.

Use your best judgement for this.

In general, I think that if the output of the task involves humans, I prefer effectiveness to efficiency.

Meaning, saving time is not as important as making it work well.

Delegation could be a contractor or VA, automation could be done with a tool like Zapier.

4. Revisit and Revise (if necessary)

No process is ever set in stone.

It might outgrow your needs, or you learn new things along the way

Revisit your processes, maybe once a month or at least once a quarter, and see if they need a touch up.

This should be an ongoing maintenance task for you.

An example

Setting up an automated cold outreach process for a YouTube transcription tool

1. Create

To kick this off, we did the following:

  • Create lead criteria (channel size, niche, language etc.)
  • Source leads by hand

The first version of the process looked liked this:

1. Source a lead (manually)
2. Send a handwritten email to every lead (manually)
3. Send follow-up emails by hand on D1, D3, D7 (manually)

2. Iterate

We did this for 2 weeks and listened to feedback that our outreach brought us, specifically:

  • Reply rates
  • How our offer was perceived
  • Concerns with the offer
  • If it was clear or not

With every response that had useful feedback, we tried to work it into the next outreach email.

We learned that we had to follow up more often, so we added another 2 follow-ups to the email sequence for a total of 5

Next, we created a template for the email sequence and just slotted in a custom first line that was highly personalized based on the recipient

The second version of the process looked liked this:

1. Source a lead including a personalized first line (manually)
2. Send a templated email with dynamic first line and recipient name (manually)
3. Send follow up emails by hand on D1, D3, D7, D14, D30 (manually)

3. Delegate or Automate

As you can see, we were already moving towards automation by just having a template with some dynamic data

And that’s what we did.

Writing emails like that at scale and especially following up is quite a pain

We got a cold outreach email tool, slotted in the templates and were now only sourcing and piping in leads by hand

We also delegated the cold outreach to some awesome VAs that we found via Fiverr.

The third version of the process looked liked this:

1. Source a lead including a personalized first line (delegated)
2. Send a templated email with dynamic first line and recipient name (automated)
3. Send follow up emails by hand on D1, D3, D7, D14, D30 (automated)

4. Revisit and Revise (if necessary)

We still check in on the open and reply rates and respond to responses that we get by hand.

This might be the next thing to delegate, but right now the overhead is manageable, and we know our service best and can give the best responses.

Conclusion

To wrap up the learnings:

  • Start with the simplest process possible and learn as fast as you can
  • Iterate and make it better, once you stop learning new things…
  • Delegate or automate it

That’s it.

Almost rocket science, but not really 😏

If you want more ramblings like this, you can follow me on Twitter.

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