Every business owner should strive for more automation in their business to increase performance and reduce overall costs. Manual processes can be very inefficient. A few years ago, I worked with a client who was printing off hundreds of invoices and scanning them back into their system. This was their process and they didn’t know of a more efficient way to do things. I showed them how to save to a PDF rather than printing each invoice and this simple process saved them a tremendous amount of time and money.
As a small business owner, you wear many hats, which can feel overwhelming and lead to exhaustion. This can decrease productivity and enjoyment of the company you have worked so hard to build. Manual processes hinder small businesses from scaling and turning larger profits. Which is why it’s so important to streamline where you can.
Here are 5 key areas where you can start automating processes in your company to free up your time, your employee’s time, and yield great returns.
Employees spend a good amount of their work week doing manual data tasks like copy and pasting information from multiple pieces of technology together. I see this happen all the time and it’s a time consuming task that can be highly susceptible to error. There are programs like Zapier for that allow you to automate tasks. You can have someone sign up for your newsletter and have that data “zapped” into a CRM. A new client signs up? Set Zapier to “zap” their information into your accounting software. You can set up a zap for nearly any task you’d like to automate.
Using marketing automation platforms or email clients like Mailchimp or CRM tools like Hubspot or Zoho for example, allow you to take the most interested clients and continuously keep in touch with them. You can use these platforms to send out emails and some even allow you to send text messages through their platforms to your clients to keep your business top of mind.
This is one of the biggest areas of opportunity for a business to automate. If you aren’t on an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or you are using a very antiquated system, reporting can be a time consuming task due to data manipulation. ERP software is used to manage day-day business activities throughout an organization (accounting, compliance, supply chain, manufacturing, shipping/receiving, budging, etc.) I’ve seen multi-million dollar companies use spreadsheets for reporting and run into inaccuracies with data or the document losing data. Eventually, you will have to move to an ERP system to further help with accurate reporting, reduce data duplication, and have a single source of truth.
Automating the ability to see inventory on hand at all times, what is in production, and what has shipped out allows a business to scale and decrease counting errors. Errors are especially problematic when attempting to manually track inventory on a spreadsheet. The best way to see inventory on-hand and any movement is having either a full ERP system or at least an inventory management software in place like Fishbowl. These softwares will allow the business to set up various inventory workflows with automation and allow full transparency to see what inventory is on-hand, where it’sstored, and what is in progress (WIP).
In 2019, Forbes did a study that showed 69% of small business owners are kept up at night with concerns about cash flow. Automating your accounting system can berelatively easy. If you are using QuickBooks you can set up invoices to be emailed with a link for a customer/client to pay with their credit card. If you are sending invoices out manually you can have companies set up to have a credit card on file or pay via ACH so you aren’t waiting for a check to come in the mail.
The key to increasing revenue and reducing costs throughout your business is automation.
This article was written in partnership with getWise - a technology platform that provides on-demand expert advice for small businesses and women to accelerate their business or career.