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Small business automation - what you need to know

Small business automation - what you need to know
May 13, 2021

Small businesses can benefit from automation as well and this blog post will discuss what you need to know about how it could work for you!

The idea of automation is nothing new. It has been around for centuries, and there have always been those who are against the idea. Automation has helped to increase efficiency in many different industries from manufacturing to agriculture.

What is business automation software?

In a nutshell automation software is used to map and execute repetitive tasks, which means that it can help you get more work done in less time.

In particular, jobs that involve you copying data between systems, manually typing stuff in, creating documents using the same template, creating invoices, sending emails and managing tasks on your todo list - they're all the sort of tasks that software can take care of for you these days.

Why automate your small business?

Automating your small business can be a great investment. It will save time and money, both of which are precious resources to any owner or manager!

One often-overlooked advantage is avoiding mistakes. If you spend your days typing customer information into different systems, sooner or later you'll make a  mistake. That mistake could cause anything from embarrassment to a bodged delivery of even legal jeopardy - depending on your industry. Automation software makes sure repetitive tasks get done exactly the same way - correctly every time.

Finally, automation is a must if you're scaling your business. Sure, you can always hire more people to get admin work done, but there will come a point where it's simply cost-prohibitive, or there will be so much that even an army of workers can't handle it in time.

How to get started with automating your business?

Consider automating the following aspects of your company: payroll, accounting, customer onboarding, sales, marketing - in fact, every area of your business provides opportunities to streamline.

The key is to take it slow and be methodical. Target one part of your business at a time, thoroughly map its processes first and then plan automated workflows that will be effective for your companies needs.

These are some more ideas for you as your start analysing your business:

- Lead management

A marketing automation system can track prospects' progress through the sales cycle and assign them a score based on their potential to become paying customers. Key communication touch points can be recorded and even sent automatically.

- Email campaigns

Marketing automation software can help coordinate marketing campaigns and increase their effectiveness with performance metrics. For example, it might track the date your customer purchased a refrigerator and send them maintenance reminders annually or notify them of complementary products currently on sale.

- Social media

A marketing automation software is a necessary asset for any small business with an effective social media strategy in place. These systems help manage all of your posts across platforms and keep to a finely-tuned schedule that will provide your company with their best current engagement rates.

How to choose the right software for you

While most CRMs these days have some automation capabilities, you'll likely want to turn to one of the major automation apps to get things working in your business. The market leaders are Zapier, Integromat and n8n and there are dozens of other niche alternatives.

- Zapier

Zapier is an automation platform that connects with thousands of other apps. The software uses what they call "zaps" - workflows that map out a process involving two or more connected apps.

- Integromat

Integromat is similar to Zapier, but focuses on visual programming to create workflows. The software connects with hundreds of popular apps and lets you quickly build some very advanced workflows.

- n8n

Again - similar to Zapier and Integromat in that it allows you to build complex workflows visually, where it differs is that it can be self-hosted and run for free. The trade-off is a steeper learning curve.

Conclusion - take automation seriously in your business

Automation isn’t only for large enterprises, and there is a growing selection of tools to help you take advantage of automation.

With that in mind it's never been easier to reap the benefits of automation in your business - and if you're worried that you don't have the time or resources to invest in it - you can also hire one growing number of experts in business automation.

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