5 Things You Need to Automate in Your Small Business Today

List of tasks that can be automated in a small business

In today´s post I share with you taks that you should be automating in your business.

If you’re a business owner I know it can sometimes feel like you’re married to your business.

Businesses can become very demanding and time becomes a really precious commodity.

So one of the best ways to free up that time and allow you to focus on things that really matter is to automate certain menial and repetitive tasks.

What do I mean?

A lot of business owners are working IN their businesses but they’re unaware of the many benefits of working ON those businesses.

Automation saves you and your team time and money by eradicating human error, decreasing the use of manual systems and reducing operational costs.

Despite the benefits of automation many business owners I speak to are still hesitant to embrace it. A lot of them say that they’re worried that they won’t get a return on their investment.

Others fear that with things changing so quickly that systems are being updated all the time and if they invest in something it’ll be replaced by better technology long before they get a pay off.

But consider this: Through automation, Cisco Systems and Frito Lay saved at least $270 million and 30 000 work hours. And it’s not just on the large scale. By using an electronic invoicing system, Pebble Limited Partnership saves over $8 000 on paper each year.

Does this sound like something you’d like to try? There’s no need to go crazy, maybe just start with the following five areas.

1. Accounting

Accounting is often one of the most feared parts of running a small business. It just seems to send business owners into a panicked frenzy.

At year end or the end of the quarter seems to be spent trying to find invoices and balance everything. Then when your accountant tells you it doesn’t balance you end up spending ages trying to reconcile it and find the error.

It can take hours, if not days to get it all sorted.

That’s time you could spend growing your business.

But there is another way. These days tools like Xero are made for busy business owners. They automatically link up to bank accounts, PayPal, etc. and allow you to keep on top of your accounts.

Sure, there is still some work to be done at the end of each quarter or year end, but it’s drastically reduced.

But not only that. It keeps everything organised and in one place.

You can access your VAT records, annual accounts etc. online whenever you need to access them.

2. Data Backup

Data is one of the most important assets any business possesses. Most businesses that lose key data struggle to recover.

But computer crashes happen all the time. And people make mistakes. So, what can you do to make sure that you don’t lose one of your most important assets when an employee mistakenly deletes data, a virus creeps in, the hard drive fails or the computer gets damaged – or worse – stolen?

Have a backup of all your data somewhere else other than on your computer.

However, backing up your data on a regular basis is really time consuming when done manually and easy to forget about.

Cloud-based services such as Google Drive, Carbonite and Dropbox allow automatic backing up of files to the Cloud. That way it just happens without you having to think about it.

The best thing about Cloud-based services is that in case something (really ugly) happens to your computer, your backed up files remain untouched. What’s more is, with internet connection, you have total access to the data from any computer at any location in the world.

But it’s not just your files.Often, we talk about data backup while forgetting about backing up website data.

But how would you feel if your website was hacked and you didn’t have a back up. Or you just ‘accidentally’ deleted your database of products?

Sure, you can manually backup your files in cPanel but that means you need to remember to do it on a frequent basis. Again, this takes time and means you need to remember to do it.

A much better option is to just set it and forget it and feel secure in the knowledge that your data is being backed up automatically without you having to remember it.

3. Email Marketing

As old as it is, there’s no denying that email marketing is the best form of digital marketing.

Having a list of subscribers gives you the most direct way to communicate with potential customers. All you have to do is send well-crafted and customised emails at set intervals.

However, this is a task that is really hard to do manually, not to mention time-consuming.

That’s where automated email marketing comes in. With an email autoresponder like FreshMail, AWeber or MailChimp, you can schedule and send automated emails to any number of subscribers for the purposes of lead nurturing or educating.

These systems will also provide reports on your email marketing campaign. You can use these campaigns to tweak your campaign.

4. Business Analytics Dashboard

You’re putting in a lot of time, effort and money into your business so it’s understandable that you want to keep on top of the numbers that are crucial to the success of your business.

However, if you consider the amount of time you spend hopping from one platform to another, looking at different sites and making sense of all the data, you’ve probably wished there could be a better way.

And there is.

In fact, there are loads of great tools that can give you an helicopter view of your business analytics. One of them is Cyfe.

Cyfe features an all-in-one dashboard that allows you to see all the important metrics from a single customised dashboard.

With Cyfe, you can also create widgets for every detail you need.

Others in this category include Dasheroo, Leftronic, Freeboard and Geckoboard.

5. Social Media

Sure it’s important but social media is also one of the most time-consuming tasks for a business. But the good thing is that even though you can’t automate genuine engagement with your fans, there’s a load of things you can automate to save yourself time.

That means you’ve got more time to interact with your audience.

For instance, you can schedule social media updates to all your platforms. By using tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite you can easily schedule updates and get back to concentrating on more pressing matters.

For engagement, tools such as Commun.it and Paper.li make it easy to identify reach out to followers with latest updates that they can engage with. You can also follow, unfollow and send thank you notes to new followers – automatically.

Wrap Up

I understand if you have certain reservations when it comes to automating parts of your business.

But this isn’t about losing control. There are many labour intensive tasks that automation will free you from having to do. They will save time, reduce errors and deliver a more consistent service for you.

So go on, give it a go. Start slow with the above five and you’ll be surprised how much more you can automate.

Have you automated any aspect of your business? What’s your experience? Let’s talk in the comments.

I  hope you have found this post useful on what tasks you can automate in your business.

Thanks for reading and leave your questions below to keep the conversation going.

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