It's an image we're all familiar with: the passionate, workaholic business founder, making every moment count, working 18+ hours a day… and raking in millions.
Not only are we constantly presented with this image — from social media and business books alike — but we're told that the only way to succeed is through this work-to-the-bone, roll-your-sleeves-up-and-get-stuck-in-to-everything approach to working life.
In reality, the founder's temptation to do everything risks holding the business back, while using automation tools like n8n can help set you free.
The myth of multitasking
When founders feel overworked and stretched too thin, juggling too many plates is usually the root cause. Trying to fill multiple roles at once is more than exhausting, it's simply not possible — not if you want to excel in each of those roles at least.
A number of studies have come out to say that multitasking actually does more harm than good. It damages your focus, is inefficient, and creates excessive levels of stress.
Founders should spend a smaller portion of their day working on critical tasks — rather than their entire day on a myriad of activities. This ensures that the founder’s skills, experience, and insights are applied where they have most impact and value.
If a founder’s time is stolen away from growth because they’re buried deep under paperwork, that business will struggle to flourish. You don’t need to be a business coach to know that’s true.
6 n8n automations to boost productivity around the clock
As an alternative to working hectic hours and putting a bed in your office, have you considered n8n automation?
Automation is becoming more accessible and affordable every day. It can also alleviate a lot of the admin-heavy tasks you’re (probably) clinging on to, to retain a sense of control. Take a step back and consider: is this activity really the best use of my time? Chances are, it isn’t.
And rather than seeing it as a delegation of control, think of it as a way to boost your productivity even further. Embracing automation will make your company more efficient and capable of taking on more clients — before, during, and after your working day. Why? Because, unlike you, automation doesn’t need a break.
Here’s a list of our favourite n8n automations for founder-led businesses:
Team and office management
Generate project management reports
Do you already use project management apps, like Trello, Airtable or Monday.com? If yes, you're just a few steps away from automating your project management reports.
To create this automation route:
- You can connect a platform like Trello to Google Sheets through an automation service like n8n.
- Once connected, set the automation to run each time a new card is created or completed in Trello.
- Then, save the information/status of that card to Google Sheets.
- Finally, have Gmail send you an email of the Google Sheets report at the end of each week.
Sync files across your cloud storage
Remote working has put extra strain on cloud-based folders and filing systems. One or two “Can you just send me…” emails is manageable, but when your company is sending dozens of these requests each week, then you’re wasting precious time.
Whether you're using OneDrive, Google Drive, and/or Dropbox, you and your staff must be able to access up-to-date files at a moment's notice.
To ensure that the files stored on each of these services are in sync, you'll want to create an automation routine that connects each cloud service to the other cloud services you use. For example:
- If you use two cloud services, you'll create two automation routines; one that copies files from Service A to Service B, and another that copies files from Service B to Service A.
- If you use three or more cloud services, you'll need to create an automation routine for each of your services. That means a routine that copies files from Service A to Service B and C, a routine that copies files from Service B to Service A and Service C, and a routine from Service C to Service A and Service B.
- In all of these routines, you'll want to set the automation to start whenever a new file is added to Service A. Then, have that same file copied to Service B. And that's it!
Now, no matter where in the world your staff are working from, your shared intel is updated in real-time.
Sales and marketing
Respond immediately to an email contact request
The more your business grows, the more emails you're going to get. This is great news! But it represents a challenge, too, as there are only so many emails you can answer in one day.
Or is there?
Auto-response comes as standard in most major email platforms (i.e. Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.), but these apps tend to have limited options. With an automation platform, however, you can respond to emails based on keywords, what time of day emails are sent, to which address they're sent, and so on.
To make this work:
- Hop over to n8n and create an automated routine that uses your email provider of choice as the trigger and action of the routine. For instance, create an automation that connects Gmail to Gmail.
- Set the routine to run whenever you get an email.
- Add a filter that checks for keywords, time of day, etc.
- Then, use the filtered info to send a personalised template email response automatically.
It’s that kind of contextual communication that impresses new and prospective clients. It also means you can close your inbox with confidence, from 7pm onwards.
You can learn more about automating your email with n8n in this guide.
Assign inbound leads to a sales representative
Platforms like Zendesk and HubSpot make it easy to keep track of your leads, prospects, conversions, and customers. They're also helpful for pairing these leads and customers with your sales representatives.
What many of these platforms don't do, though, is pair representatives to leads automatically — and assigning them can be a time drain. Unless, of course, you're using automation.
To set this routine up:
- Create an automated routine that connects your CRM platform of choice to a task management service like Airtable.
- Have it run whenever you get a new client in your CRM.
- Then, have it match that new client to a representative in Airtable. You can add filters to make sure that leads are matched with representatives that can best convert that lead, as well as representatives with availability to take it on (which won’t always be you!).
Manage your clients across platforms
Speaking of CRMs, there's a good chance you're using more than one. You may have one platform for your customer support, another for leads and prospects, and you may even have differing platforms for departments and branches.
Just like when using multiple cloud storage services throughout your business, this can create a lot of confusion and gaps in data across each platform. You, and your staff, probably spend a lot of time trying to copy data manually... or just accept the lack of synchronicity, right?
Fortunately, this is easily solved with automation:
- Create a routine that connects one CRM platform to another.
- Have the routine trigger whenever CRM A gets a new prospect / converts a prospect to a lead / updates contact info for a customer/etc.
- Then, copy the updated information to CRM B.
- Create another routine that does the opposite (copies the updates from CRM B to CRM A).
The synchronisation is something Miquel Colomer Salas, the founder and CEO of uProc, is using n8n to do.
If you have in-person meetings, work in hospitality, host events, or offer teaching and coaching, you probably get appointment requests all the time. And apps like Eventbrite make it super easy to keep track of all of your incoming appointments and schedule.
Replying to attendees, reminding them when their appointment is coming up, and confirming appointments can still take up a lot of time. So too can sitting around waiting for someone who’s forgotten their slot.
Again, automation can help with this:
- Create an automated routine that connects your appointment-setting app (Google Calendar, Eventbrite, etc.) to your email (Gmail, etc.).
- Have it run whenever someone sets an appointment with you or whenever someone's appointment with you is coming up.
- Then, send the person an email ahead of time to confirm their appointment and remind them of it so they don't miss it.
Better still, this all happens while you’re relaxing at home or busy focusing on other tasks. In this way, automation empowers you to stay one step ahead — confirming meetings in the future on your behalf!
Automate the office and spend more time on what counts
Every founder wants to be a model entrepreneur — being all things to everyone, at all hours of the day. But let’s be honest, this is an exhausting, inefficient, error-prone, and unsustainable way of working.
Using automation, and n8n, can help devote your time to more valuable tasks and work towards that ever-elusive work-life balance, too.
The best part is, you can start automating for free with n8n. The easiest way to get started is to download the desktop app, or sign up for a free n8n cloud trial. Thanks to n8n’s fair-code license, you can also self-host n8n for free.
Andrew Davison is the founder of Luhhu, an automation agency. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewJDavison.