How n8n powers a $100K online business
Bordr used n8n to integrate all their apps and services to allow them to quickly scale their business.
Richard Lo is a “maker, independent entrepreneur” who has been running a web design business with his wife, Kathleen, for the past few years and several other independent client projects.
In 2020, the couple moved to Portugal, where they founded Bordr, an online business that helps foreigners relocate to Portugal. What started as a side project turned into a six-figure business in just a handful of months.
At the n8n community meetup in June, Richard gave a talk titled Delighting customers at scale: Using n8n to power an operations-heavy business, in which he explained how he automated workflows for Bordr with n8n.
The use case
Though relocating to sunny Portugal sounds like fun, Richard and Kathleen also encountered a bureaucratic challenge: in order for a new citizen to get a tax id (a so-called NIF - Número de Identificação Fiscal), a Portuguese tax resident needs to apply for it on their behalf, so to act as their tax representative.
However, there wasn’t (enough) information on the process of getting the NIF. Moreover, the tax representative takes on a certain amount of liability, so you couldn’t just ask a stranger. Thus, most people would resort to Facebook groups for informal advice and help.
Richard and Kathleen thought of a solution to this problem: finding a local law firm partner that could get the NIF for people and managing this process for them. This solution turned out to be a lucrative online business – called Bordr.
To manage the client orders for NIFs, Bordr uses several different services and apps, like Postmark, Paperform, Stripe, and Airtable. As they started getting more and more orders, they needed a way to automate their work in order to keep up and even increase productivity.
In short, they needed a workflow automation tool that could integrate all their apps and services and allow them to scale their business.
I use Zapier a little bit when I have to... but for everything else, I’d much rather use n8n, because it’s a lot more powerful.
For their use case, Bordr considered two workflow automation tools: Zapier and n8n.
“Zapier tries to abstract the code a lot more than n8n does. Zapier is really good if you do one-two steps, for very simple tasks.”, explained Richard. However, Bordr’s workflows were more complex and involved well beyond two steps that Zapier could handle.
Naturally, Bordr opted for n8n as “the bigger piece that connects everything” because it “is a lot more flexible in terms of maintenance over time. n8n is more like a UI on top of the APIs.” n8n’s functionality thus allowed them to combine all the integrations used in their business into powerful automated workflows with multiple branching and conditional logic.
The n8n workflows that Bordr implemented automate several tasks, such as:
- adding orders to Airtable
- sending transactional emails to customers
- creating tasks for the law firm partner
- generating Power of Attorney PDFs
- logging sent requests
- sending the NIF PDF to customers
The workflow for creating a power of attorney PDF consists of 18 nodes, of which two regular and five core nodes.
The workflow for sending the NIF to the customer consists of nine nodes, of which one regular and four core nodes.
In addition to automation, Bordr also provides a self-service that allows customers to upload PDFs.
These two things combined allowed us to scale our operations without having to sacrifice any of the customer service we wanted to provide.
After implementing workflow automation with n8n, Bordr saw a significant increase in productivity, allowing them to process NIF orders at a quick steady pace.
More importantly, workflow automation also improved the customer experience. Customers appreciate being updated about the status of their orders, especially when it comes to a crucial relocation requirement like the NIF. It would have been impossible to manually email every customer about their order, but integrating Postmark into their workflows made it possible to automatically send transactional emails about every step of the process.
Looking to discover the power of low-code automation for your business? n8n is source-available, free to use, and with the ability to host it yourself or run it the cloud, you can test it out for your automation needs with no risk.