Save time by letting tech do the hard work
The robots are coming! Well, actually, they’re already here. From supermarket check-outs to car parks that recognise our motors, the use of intelligent tech is ingrained into our daily lives. But what does that mean for small businesses?
If you ever find yourself spending far too much time on mundane and repetitive tasks, it’s about time you embraced automation.
It may sound complicated and techy, but automation isn’t just for the likes of the huge firms in Silicon Valley. Every single company can benefit from making technology work for them. Here are just a few easy ways you can automate your small business to save on valuable time.
When you’re busy in the heart of your business, it’s easy for the social media side of things to get overlooked. You start with good intentions, posting a couple of things a week, re-Tweeting an article here and there when you remember, but before long, you decide it takes too long, your attention is elsewhere and your all-important social media feed is nothing but radio silence.
Luckily, there is an easier way. Scheduling tools like Buffer or Hootsuite post your updates for you. You line up your content for the week, decide when you’d like them to be posted, then you can toddle off and let it work its magic.
One of the real joys is that you can set it to post at peak times (mornings, lunchtime, the 3-o-clock slump), when you’re more likely to have the most engagement – all without even being at your desk.
Well, of course we’d say accounting! But it’s one of the areas in which automation can really shine – we touched on it last week in our blog about our love affair with Quickbooks Online.
Almost every business will have regular payments that are either coming in or going out, and it makes absolutely no sense to spend time every month manually issuing an invoice or paying a bill, so stop doing it! Accounting software will do it for you.
The ability to link your bank account(s) will cut down significantly on data entry time, as well as the potential for human error, and the more advanced software packages can calculate VAT, run payroll and even track your inventory.
Customer Relationship Management
Whether you’re sending marketing emails, tracking leads or providing top-notch customer service, the realm of customer relationship management (CRM) is huge, and so is the potential for automation! But let’s start small.
Even if you haven’t got a CRM strategy on the go, it’s easy enough to start one. It can be as simple as automatically sending potential new customers a welcome email. Email automation services like Mailchimp will not only send the emails, but will provide you with valuable data about who clicked through, unsubscribed, or otherwise engaged with your message.
If you really want jump in at the deep end with your automation, check out Zapier. It integrates with over a thousand apps to grab data and help you manage your workflows more efficiently. Whether that’s pulling in details of your new customers from PayPal sales, automatically sending important information to your company’s Slack channel or analysing the results of a customer survey, there’s very little it can’t do (short of making a brew for the entire office, that is…).