Not too long ago, only large corporations had the available resources to automate manual processes. Older automation tools were perceived as a luxury because they were more expensive and less widely available.
As technology has developed and evolved, everyone from startups to medium-sized companies has access to a plethora of business automation software solutions that can increase productivity, add to the bottom line, and address business needs.
Unfortunately, many believe they might want to automate every manual process immediately. For small businesses with limited resources, this misconception leads some to believe it's better to stay away from automation altogether.
As a result, many small organizations are missing out on the advantages that come from using automation tools in the workplace.
There is no need to automate business operations all at once. Small businesses can pick and choose a few processes that need improvement and slowly automate them.
There are many low-cost tools available that can optimize both external and internal processes over time. As a result of automating a few processes, small organizations will streamline workflows and generate new income.
Why Every Small Business Should Look to Automation
Though there is an increase in available automation tools, many small businesses remain devoted to manual processes. With fewer employees and required processes than larger businesses, smaller companies often don't see the need to spend more money on standardizing best practices through automation.
Though automation tools can be expensive, the return on investment is well worth the risk. Smaller organizations can use automation tools to maintain a competitive edge and expand their lead generation in an ever-evolving and volatile market.
For these reasons, small businesses should invest in automation tools to replace the most repetitive and time-consuming manual processes.
Here are the best practices for small businesses seeking to implement automation-
Manual payroll processes are time-consuming and labor-intensive. The HR team is responsible for tracking hours, verifying timesheets, and then performing payroll. Other required tasks include converting minutes to hours, calculating overtime, and ensuring compliance with state and federal labor laws.
Automation help optimize payroll by investing in a software system or time clock can minimize the potential for human error and allow human resources to focus on other tasks. An optimized biometric time clock automatically tracks employee hours per month and verify their identity through a human characteristic, such as a fingerprint or portion of the face.
Small business automation may also include using an app that allows workers to clock in and out on their own. These clocks can integrate with payroll software, making it much easier when it comes time to send out checks.
2. Scanning Receipts and Documents
Managing, storing, and organizing thousands of annual receipts, terms service agreements, credit card payments, and other documents can be overwhelming for small businesses.
Optimizing this business process by utilizing a scanner can remove the pressure to manage all of this required paperwork.
There are many different solutions available that quickly scan receipts, documents, transactions, and photos. Users can then upload this information to the cloud, where it is safely and permanently stored.
3. Employee Training
Hiring and training a new employee can be one of the more challenging processes, particularly for overworked small business owners with few available resources. Improving a knowledge management strategy by increasing access to available training materials can be a helpful solution.
Several software solutions allow small business owners to drag-drop all of their training materials online. These solutions also test knowledge by employing quizzes, games, and more.
This allows owners to verify that new hires are well-versed in the policies, procedures, and expectations required of them before moving out of the training phase.
4. Email Marketing
Small business owners need to find new ways to regularly connect with their clients. Many content marketing and marketing software tools allow users to send out newsletters, name email, order notifications, or promotional offers to any email address.
Many of these tools are inexpensive and simple to use, helping to free up resources and improve the company's outreach effort with minimal investment. These technologies also allow users to create their marketing campaigns, providing an opportunity to advertise when there aren't the resources available to run ads on TV or in magazines.
5. Customer Support and Customer Interactions
Employing an automated chatbox on the company's website can be a helpful and inexpensive automation tool to optimize customer service and free up resources. This tool allows website visitors to contact the company immediately so they don't have to send an email and flood a representative's inbox.
It also provides a way to monitor website users in real-time and set up a series of responses to typically asked questions without need for assistance from on-site team members.
Other tools allow small business owners to manage all of their customer interactions and information in one secure database. A CRM or customer relationship management system tracks client relationships and transactions. Many of these automation tools can also integrate with other software such as an accounts receivable database.
The Top 3 Things Every Small Business Should Automate
Though there are many automation tools available to small businesses who want to switch from manual efforts, the focus should remain on three essential areas to improve sales and increase productivity. These include-
Social media marketing is one of the more cost-effective ways for small businesses to build their brand and attract new clients.
Various marketing automation tools and apps allow users to schedule social media posts, curate unique posts and improve other business social marketing efforts. Businesses can use these tools to post all of their daily posts to several different social media sites at once, saving a lot of time and resources.
Automating daily operations by utilizing management software can help streamline workflows and increase efficiency in the workplace.
Warehouse automation tools organize the movement of products and improve inventory management. This can optimize the re-ordering process and save money by forecasting future demand and maintaining an accurate count of on-hand stock.
Other tools allow restaurant and small business owners to manage the employee scheduling of hourly workers, which can be a very tedious and meticulous task. Businesses with a call center can use a system to eliminate the time spent on calls that don't connect to a live person.
Both online and phone-based sales marketing strategies can incorporate automation tools to optimize the process and generate more leads. Sales automation tools can tag prospects, track performance, and gain more visibility into sales outreach strategies.
Other systems allow users to create and streamline online sales funnels to decrease the time it takes for someone to become a paying customer. Chatbox on Facebook and websites provide a way to auto-respond to messages and manage sales without the need for a person to manage the interaction.
In conclusion, here is why every small business should look to automation-
- Smaller organizations can use automation tools to maintain a competitive edge and generate new leads in an ever-evolving and volatile market.
- Automation tools can help streamline and optimize the software small business payroll, store documents, improve employee training, manage email marketing campaigns, and handle customer support/interactions.
- Though there are many ways to encourage small business process automation to save time money, the focus should remain on three areas, including marketing, operations, and sales.