- April 07, 2017
By Rick Delgado, Freelance Automation Writer
It used to be that automation was only available to larger businesses because of the cost or software involved, but a new wave of innovation has brought automation tools specifically designed for all sizes of businesses that make it more accessible to even the newest ventures,
By Rick Delgado, Freelance Automation Writer
It’s a familiar scene for any small business owner—trying to grow your fledgling company but being weighed down by those familiar and repetitive daily tasks. Processing orders, printing shipping labels, filing paperwork, responding to the same email request over and over—it’s enough that it slows you down, but you might not have the money or resources to hire someone to manage the tasks. However, the growth of automation has made it possible to streamline your small business and make those everyday menial tasks a thing of the past. It used to be that automation was only available to larger businesses because of the cost or software involved, but a new wave of innovation has brought automation tools specifically designed for all sizes of businesses that make it more accessible to even the newest ventures,
There are a number of small business automation solutions available, each designed to make an entrepreneur’s life easier and more balanced. However, before jumping into every possible program, it is wise to be strategic and to find the best automation solutions for your company. Start by considering the tedious tasks you do on a regular basis—are there any that can be automated, or do they all require a personal touch? For example, scheduling and project management can likely be turned over to automation, but responding to customer service requests may still require human interaction in your small business. You should also look at tasks that are more involved than they need to be—are your processes slowing you down as you take multiple steps for something automation could do more quickly? If your order processing system involves downloading each order form, editing it, and sending it on to your warehouse email, consider adding automation to the process. An entire task doesn’t need to be automated, but it can be streamlined with the help of technology. The most common automation areas for small businesses include messaging, where an automated system can direct phone calls, block unwanted phone numbers, and organize email; customer relationship management (CRM), which uses cloud-based technology to create virtual profiles for each customer with their purchase history and personal information and makes it easier to reach out to potential customers and address customer service concerns; and marketing, which can create automated campaigns, run referral programs, and generate leads.
Small business automation can take on many forms. There are free services available, like Google Drive, calendar, and email for managing documents and schedules, all the way up to more expensive subscription-based services. To access more advanced features like personalization and video object tracking, you’ll likely have to pay a higher initial fee or monthly rate. Automation options come as apps or software tools and can cover anything from payroll to social media and customer support. With an idea of what areas of your business can automate, ask around to fellow entrepreneurs about their preferred automation systems. Popular small business automation systems include:
- Hootsuite, a social media engagement system that allows businesses to schedule future posts across multiple platforms, connect with influencers, and automate social media strategy.
- HubSpot, an all-in-one solution that connects sales data with marketing solutions by cultivating leads in real time. The system also helps automate marketing campaigns, manage projects, and track sales growth.
- MailChimp, an email automation tools that creates marketing messages targeted to certain customers and tracks customer preferences, and also automates workflows and scheduling.
- ActiveInboxHQ, an email add-on that turns email messages into tasks on a to-do list and simplifies and streamlines email communication.
- 99 Dollar Social, an all-encompassing social media outlet that creates visual social media posts tailored to your business and automatically shares them on your profiles once per day.
There is an automation tool for nearly every need your small business may have. With these, you can get rid of the menial tasks and focus on growing your business, building strategy, and taking your organization to the next level, all without breaking the bank or hiring excess employees. With small business automation, you can compete with larger entities without anything holding you back.
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