Work smart, not hard.
You’ve probably heard this advice over and over again.
Too many entrepreneurs and small businesses spend more time working in their business as opposed to working on it.
If you take a step back from your everyday operational activities and look at the bigger picture – you might realize that there are certain areas in which you can implement business automation to improve your overall efficiency.
Putting more processes on autopilot and shifting your focus on more important things is the way to go if you ever want to scale up your business.
Look at it this way:
Efficiency is the art of producing goods or services in a way that uses the least possible amount of resources. And effectiveness, meanwhile, is accomplishing the right tasks or activities.
In other words, efficiency is doing things right, and effectiveness is doing the right things.
The point here is that too many entrepreneurs get caught up on small details or tasks that aren’t important in the long run. Of course, ideally, you should be doing the right things in the right way (efficient and effective).
But, of course, that is easier said than done.
Or is it?
It’s now entirely possible to convert your business metrics into data points and start automating them with the power of AI.
You no longer have to slave away doing the same manual tasks every month when you can just get a robot to do it for you. There are many tools you can use for business automation of certain tasks of your business.
Though, it’s just as important to know what you want to gain out of the tools and what parts of your business you want to automate.
Today, in this guide, we’ll be focusing on the latter and the areas you can automate or otherwise outsource so that you can focus on more important things as a business owner.
So, if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to save time and scale up your business – this guide’s for you.
1) Social media
Social media is an essential process of any business but once you have at least one account for each social channel – keeping track of them and engaging with your client becomes too time-consuming.
Most businesses have at least 2-3 social media accounts, if not more. And each channel usually demands a different type of content. So, keeping track of all them and creating content for each on the go can be a real time suck for most business owners.
This is a far too common problem nowadays. And the bottom line is, if you’re not using any social media tools in your business – you’re losing time and potential to focus on other parts of your business.
So, here’s what you should look for when you’re automating your social media channels.
With that said, some people take business automation too far. It’s important not to lose sight because it’s your customers who you’re interacting with. Social media automation is supposed to supplement your interaction – not replace it completely.
There are many tools that can help you schedule social media content that your audience will enjoy and then help you understand the analytics behind it.
And when it comes to social media, it’s better to sit down once and schedule a few weeks of content in advance, as opposed to doing them every day.
But make sure you don’t lose your human touch when interacting with your followers.
Stay consistent with your posting, make sure your tone of voice aligns with your brand, and in general, try to take the time out of your day to reply to your customers yourself.
They can tell the difference between a chatbot and a real human behind the screen, so, keep that in mind and don’t lose the “human” touch.
Once you start generating a buzz and have some engagement going, be sure to peek behind the scenes and look at the analytics to make sure everything is going well.
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If you’re just starting out, and don’t have much of an audience, email marketing just might be one of the most effective tactics to improve your business performance.
While there are many different email campaign types, generally speaking, there are two ways you can approach email marketing as an entrepreneur – both of which can be automated to save you time and effort.
First, take a look at your newsletter. A good email marketing automation tool should allow you to set up trigger-based actions so you can leverage opportunities better. You need to be aware each of your touch points you have with your clients and leverage that to your advantage.
For example, whenever someone signs up to your newsletter, make sure you have an email ready to go with the appropriate copy to welcome them. Similarly, you can also set up emails for abandoned shopping cart (if you’re in eCommerce), letting them know of a free offer/discount (make sure it’s related to the products they’re interested in), and more.
While you can’t really personalize these down to each specific scenario, you can make sure the text is relevant and welcoming, with the right CTA in the end.
The second type of email marketing you can leverage to your advantage has to do with lead nurturing through outreach.
This is arguably harder to set up compared to your newsletter, but if done well, can land you many new clients. For this, you want to make sure you’re targeting the right people above all.
LinkedIn has a particularly good way of filtering down your potential leads in terms of its industry, role, and more.
Once you do that, all you have to do is find the right tool that works for you and proceed to do outreach with the relevant copy – which depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Finally, arguably the hardest part of any startup or an SMB – the finances.
If constant bookkeeping and repeating the same tasks manually has you scratching your head or bored out of your mind, this step is for you.
So, finances is a pretty broad field, and automating it looks different everywhere. Though, generally, this area can be intimidating for most entrepreneurs who don’t know what they’re doing.
If that’s the case, what you might need is a decent all-in-one accounting software that can handle all your bookkeeping, tracking expenses, invoices, payments, and more.
One of the biggest advantages of using accounting software has to do with its convenience.
If you find yourself adding up all the numbers at the end of each month and sending out invoices manually, you should start automating that straightaway.
To do that, you can easily set up recurring invoices within the software, for example, that get sent out each month with the appropriate amount, based on your presets. And if you want to make sure your invoices are getting paid on time, you can easily pull up an overview of all your invoices (paid ones, recurring, pending, so on).
The best part is, once you set everything up, you’ll be getting an automatic report at the end of each month to get a better overview of your financial situation.
This way, your accounting software acts as your own personal accountant and you can tell what the health of your business is like.
From automating invoices to creating reports, you’ll see where your money is going and where it is coming from.
Why should you be spending time doing the same repetitive and manual things when you can get business automation software to do it for you?
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About the author:
Uwe Dreissigacker is the founder of online invoicing software InvoiceBerry and also offers free invoice templates to businesses. Small businesses and sole traders can create, send and manage their invoices, quotes and credit notes with the tool. In his free time, Uwe travels the world and enjoys experiencing different cultures.