If you want to stand any chance of competing with the titans of your industry, you have to spend a great deal of time on things like marketing, customer outreach, social media, and accounting – or do you? New software solutions are making it easier than ever to automate in these areas.
The Power of Automation in Small Business
You only have one brain, two hands, and 24 hours in a day. Much of the time, you have one hand attached to a phone or computer mouse, while at least five or six hours are taken up with sleep. In other words, you are only one person – as is each of your employees.
If you can’t afford to put hundreds of people on the company payroll, then you probably feel constricted by time and a perceived lack of resources. Thankfully, this is where automation comes into play. In particular, small business owners are extracting value from automation software in the following areas:
Scheduling is one aspect that business owners hate. If you have shift workers on your payroll, you know what we’re talking about. Between employee requests for time off, different availabilities, overtime requirements, and all of the other little issues that come into play, trying to manually deal with scheduling – even when it’s just a handful of employees – is overwhelming.
Thankfully, there are online employee schedule makers that automate the time-consuming aspects of this process. Humanity is one of the best. It includes features like real-time updates and budgeting, email and SMS notifications to employees, and drag and drop locations and positions (ideal for restaurants and kitchens).
2. Accounting and Invoicing
Do you like accounting and/or invoicing? Nobody does, right? As a small business owner, there are much better ways to spend your time than crunching numbers, yet your business will fall apart if you don’t have a good process in place.
Automated accounting software is nothing short of a godsend for small business owners who don’t have the luxury of a full-time accounting department. FreshBooks is by far one of the easiest and most cost-effective platforms. Not only it highly intuitive, but it also allows you to sync up invoicing, expenses, time tracking, projects, payments, and reporting all into a single system.
Marketing is one of those demands that never seems to end. As soon as you feel like you’ve got a grip on your marketing strategy, something happens and you’re forced to pivot, double-down, or shift. And while you never want to fully automate marketing, streamlining some of the time-consuming aspects is extremely helpful.
HubSpot is by far the leader in digital marketing automation. The platform contains everything you need to automate your inbound marketing efforts and tackle some of the big challenges you face – like content marketing, sales funnel optimization, landing page creation, etc.
Email is a huge time-suck! Whether it’s filtering through your own emails from colleagues and employees, or sending out mass communication to customers, you can easily spend hours of your day dealing with email.
One of the best email automation tools is MailChimp. Not only does it help with composition and management, but it can integrate with other tools to create powerful lists that are segmented based on thousands of different data points.
5. Social Media Monitoring
Social media gives small businesses cost-effective access to the masses – something that used to be an advantage for only large organizations and brands. The problem is that, like email, social media can consume hours of your day if you don’t have a solution in place.
With an automated solution like Hootsuite in place, you can manage all of your social media profiles, track brand mentions, listen to what followers are saying, and maximize engagement without overwhelming your schedule.
Give Your Business a Boost
The goal of a small business should not be to mimic large businesses. Instead, you should take advantage of the fact that you’re small and nimble. Having said that, there are times when it’s important for you to automate mundane, time-consuming tasks. In doing so, you free yourself up to focus on the big-picture objectives that matter in the long run. Familiarize yourself with the different software solutions that are on the market and try out a couple of them for size.