For the small business owner, saving time can be like mana from heaven. Saving a minute here on admin or a minute or two on financials there can really add up over days, weeks, and months. With the advent of the internet and cloud-based applications, there’s every reason to automate some of the most bothersome and mundane tasks to automation. Because it saves time, it also saves money spent on what are essentially overheads.
Here are some tips to help get your business automated, leaving you and your staff free to concentrate on core business operations.
Customer Relationship Management
Whether your business is B2B or B2C, the customer is king. To manage and nurture leads, keep in touch with customers, and keep them locked into your sales cycle, a Customer Relationship Management software package is key to sales growth. There are many CRMs out there, including Zoho [www.zoho.com], HubSpot [https://www.hubspot.com/products/crm], and Salesforce. These can all integrate between your current or new software and makes collaboration and task assignment easier than keeping track on an old-fashioned spreadsheet. Many CRMs focus on deal-tracking such as Pipedrive [pipedrive.com] or Leadfeeder [leadfeeder.com], though there are many solutions for small business out there.
HR or Recruitment
Finding and attracting top talent was once a time-intensive process. Now it’s made easier with automation. Applicant tracking software can help HR source, track, and hire the best candidates for your vacant positions by sending out emails, tracking interview status, and updating online job boards like Adzuna.
Adzuna’s job search aims to be one of the many outlets job seekers can use to find the best available job for them. Adzuna integrates across several sources, including companies posting through ATS, empowering job seekers with a better view of what’s available in the market.
Businesses can take advantage of this unique audience through a campaign or organic listing on Adzuna. A listing via ATS is free, but a pay-per-click managed services campaign like the ones Adzuna offers means your listing is seen more often and by the right candidates. This can achieve a higher reach and a lower overall cost compared with similar PPC techniques.
Invoices and Finances
Gone are the days of sending out reminders for invoices; cloud accounting software takes care of all the heavy lifting for you. Packages like Xero [xero.com] or MYOB have powerful invoicing, payroll, and finance tracking software, while Rounded [rounded.com.au] is a simpler package for freelancers or solo entrepreneurs. It saves time on manually drafting invoices and keeping tabs on them.
Document Sharing and Collaboration
If you hate sending emails back and forth with documents labeled “DOCUMENT1_FINAL_VERYFINAL_SERIOUSLYFINALTHISTIME.doc”, automating your document sharing and collaboration through Google Docs [docs.google.com] or Microsoft Office 365 [office.microsoft.com] can help keep tabs on changes in real time, and eliminate the need for the ping-pong game of emails. Both offer cloud storage to keep files in one central place. Dropbox [dropbox.com] is one of the original – and best – solutions for cloud storage.
There’s nothing worse than asking for work you needed yesterday and getting a blank look in return and a reply of “you never asked me to do that…” Apps like Trello [trello.com] and Asana [asana.com] help businesses create and assign tasks to one or more people, streamlining the process using notifications, milestones, and other features such as storing documents or relevant links. Supervisors can also see the status of tasks and figure out how to best deploy human resources when urgent tasks arise – as they often do!
If your business relies heavily on telecommuting or is stuck at their computers for most of the day, remote communication and collaboration apps like Slack [slack.com] or Facebook Workplace [workplace.facebook.com] allow your employees to chat in real time, share documents, have teleconferences, and even pick which pub you’ll go to for Friday work drinks. It eliminates the need for face-to-face meetings and planning sessions.
The days of mail merge are over – powerful email marketing tools such as MailChimp [mailchimp.com] or InfusionSoft [Infusionsoft.com] help you funnel leads into your marketing campaigns, send out regular newsletters, and integrate it all with your marketing or advertising platforms.
If This, Then That – create custom automation
Of course, many of these automation apps can be daisy-chained together to automate certain tasks when specific events happen. For example, when an invoice is created and sent, a notification can be put through to Slack informing management. Apps such as IFTTT (If This Then That) [https://ifttt.com/] and Zapier [https://zapier.com/] connect CRMs to email, task management to document sharing and social media such as Instagram to email. There are many combinations and configurations – you can even have a confirmed sale in your CRM play Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” on Spotify!
There’re many ways to speed up routine tasks with automation, and these are just a fraction of what’s out there.