Life as a small business owner or entrepreneur is all at once thrilling and stressful, full of new challenges and expectations. But regardless of whether things are going swimmingly, there’s always one resource there’s never enough of—time.
Fortunately, technology has given us a multitude of ways to cheat the number of hours in a day. For small business owners and entrepreneurs especially, automating some of the more routine and reoccurring tasks can open up more time for focusing on your company’s growth and development.
Here are 6 things you should consider automating in your small business.
1. Posting to social media
Social media is at the heart of marketing and growth, both for sharing your company’s story on the Internet and for interacting with prospects, customers, and fans. But because of how often you need to post for your social media to be effective, doing it all manually often takes more time than you can afford.
Fortunately, social media automation options are numerous and effective. You can use them to schedule Facebook posts or tweets, automatically publish new blogs or content to your social platforms, and increase the power of each post by cross-publishing on other social media platforms (which is especially helpful if you’re using ones like Instagram, Pinterest, or Vine).
2. Regularly scheduled e-mails
After the dawn of the Internet but before the social media boom, email was a revolutionary way to keep in touch with prospects, customers, and your own employees. Nowadays, there’s so much correspondence done via email that it’s nearly impossible to type each one out as needed.
There are many types of emails that don’t need to be penned in the moment—follow-ups with customers, like thank you emails or special offers, or company updates for employees that happen with enough regularity that they can be automated.
Not all emails should be automated, of course. There’s certainly situations (like answering customer questions or complaints) that need a specific human touch. But those emails you find yourself sending in recurring situations can certainly be written ahead of time and used to quickly touch base with people.
3. “First-touch” engagement
First-touch engagement is what your company does to reach out when a person demonstrates interest in you or your product or service. Think of it like how a good waiter or waitress knows when and how to approach a table after they’re seated. That interaction sets the tone for the rest of the night.
You want your first impression to be a good one. First-touch engagement is often done via email or social media. However it’s done, it is about welcoming and thanking someone for reaching out to your company.
Automation tools can allow you to have a different message for first-time recipients than you would in the more general emails or social interactions mentioned in the points above. Just because it’s a more specific situation doesn’t mean you can’t automate it.
4. Gathering analytics
Data is what drives a lot of good businesses. Gathering information on how your customers find you and what drives them to purchase is paramount in today’s world.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms are a huge help in tracking how the three points above (as well as any other marketing your company does) are working. Do they effectively motivate a customer to buy from you? Are they keeping them happy before and after a purchase?
Analytical data, gathered automatically by good CRM software, can instantly tell you more about your customers and prospects. Doing this sort of thing manually is costly, inefficient, and potentially unreliable.
5. Payroll and scheduling
This may be the most common sense automation of them all, but automating payroll and scheduling can easily be overlooked.
Automation isn’t just about marketing strategies. One of the biggest benefits is automating recurring and unchanging tasks your business has to deal with daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.
Keeping track of payroll and scheduling (and having both planned out for weeks or months ahead), maintaining good records for when tax time rolls around, and incorporating tax payments on the fly are just a few things which can be taken care of by good software. More than anything, it saves you a lot of stress when paychecks have to be sent out or taxes need to be filed.
6. Invoicing and vendor management
Many small businesses rely on others or independent contractors in order to function and be profitable. Automating accounts payable and receivable goes hand-in-hand with automating payroll. Computers are far better are keeping records than we are as humans.
Automating invoicing prevents surprises from popping up and altering your bottom line. Further, it keeps your clients, vendors, and partners happy by keeping payments flowing smoothly. If everyone involved with the operations of your business—both internal and external—is kept happy, it’s much more likely your customers will be as well.
Paycor is a small business owner and entrepreneur's best friend. Check out some of our other articles for business owners, or take a look at our entrepreneur's guide to using technology to grow your business to read more tips.
Sources: Inc., Entrepreneur.com, Venturebeat.com
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