Automation may sound like a fancy concept, but really just describes the way businesses are using technology to boost productivity and lower costs. As you’ll soon find out, automating your business functions can make you leaner and more efficient. Best of all, automation solutions are today light weight and affordable. This means you won’t break the bank when you decide it’s time to digitize your small business.
Is Automation Right for You?
Entrepreneurs live in exciting times. Never have the odds been more stacked in their favor for achieving success. It all boils down to technology. The digital revolution has opened up tremendous opportunity for small businesses to succeed. Automation takes that reality a step forward by giving you the tools to make your day-to-day tasks easier.
From a business perspective, automation consists of integrating applications and software solutions in order to contain costs and ensure smoother work flow. If you’re on the fence about integrating new technology, begin by focusing on your core business functions. Ask yourself: What functions does my business do now that can be done more efficiently? If these functions involve marketing, communications, e-commerce, accounts receivable or all of the above, your business is a strong candidate for automation.
10 Automation Tools to Enhance Your Small Business
The following automation tools can help you reduce clutter and save time. The end result is more focus on improving your products and services and less time worrying about managing tedious day-to-day processes. Even if you don’t integrate all ten of these tools, consider starting off with one or two. It can go a long way in helping you balance your time more efficiently.
Small businesses often rely heavily on email marketing to generate sales and boost customer engagement. MailChimp is one of the most affordable automation tools on the market, allowing you to integrate your entire email marketing work flow. Tools like scheduling and market segmentation take a lot of the hassle out of managing your email lists. They also free up lot of time by allowing you to communicate products and services more quickly.
Email can be great for marketing, but is often less effective for communicating with members of your team. Slack takes the hassle out of internal communications by streamlining conversations among team members. Communication is automatic and visible to as many people as you want. This is especially critical for small businesses who may rely on freelancers and remote contractors.
Small business owners in the market for an all-in-one marketing solution can get a lot of miles out of Infusionsoft. This powerful service helps you integrate customer relationship management (CRM), email marketing and e-commerce all on one platform. Infusionsoft also has a large catalogue of add-ons that can be integrated directly into the platform, giving you even more options to boost your brand and retention.
Customer service is one of the most time-intensive aspects of running a small business. Tools like HelpScout ensure you’re not spending more time than necessary on processing orders or supporting your customers. HelpScout provides efficient help desk support as well self-help features aimed at getting your customers to find the answers they need.
YayPay is an innovative software tool that automates your entire accounts receivable process, allowing your business to get paid faster for products and services already delivered. Research shows it normally takes businesses up to 60 days to get paid for a product already delivered. YayPay can help you stay on top of your accounts so that you don’t run low on cash flow.
Is your business struggling with low cash flow? Are you constantly asking yourself, “How will I pay for that?” Check out Red Door Capital’s cash flow solutions to find out how we can help.
There’s a pretty good chance your website is hosted on WordPress. If that’s the case, your site s eligible for Spokal, a unique inbound marketing tool that can help you maximize your content distribution. Spokal allows you to automate your social media outreach so that you can engage more people faster. It also integrates beautifully with MailChimp for email campaigns, giving you even more options to automate your communications.
Hootsuite is another tool dedicated to boosting yor social media engagement across 35 popular networks. It does a lot more than just disseminate your posts; it also allows you to identify important social media influencers in your network and automate social marketing campaigns. The free plan supports up to three social mess profiles.
Creating and processing invoices is one of the most tedious aspects of running a small business, especially if you don’t have a dedicated resource managing your inflows and outlays. FreshBooks allows you to speed up your invoicing process while keeping track of things billable hours and expenses. It also has the lower to generate automatic invoices and send them to your clients directly.
Our cash management and merchant services help small businesses grow their invoices. Check it out to learn more.
Depending on the nature of your business, event planning might be an important marketing and communications strategy. RegFox makes event registration and conference planning quick and easy. It also allows you to keep all of the processing fees during ticket sales. Event planning isn’t always on the to-do list, but when it is, RegFox is an affordable, easy-to-use interface.
Managing and analyzing data are a core function of many small businesses. With Fieldbook, you can automate your spreadsheets like a database. The platform allows you to create custom tracking solutions quickly, taking the hassle out of database development. Your newly created database can serve as as central depository for important business information.
Interested in how your business can use technology to boost cost savings and productivity? Be sure to check out our Fin-Tech series available on our blog. For the first installment of our Fin-Tech Business Series, check out: How Mobile Technology Can Help Your Company Grow.
Chris Ronzio (January 25, 2016). “Save Time, Stress Less: How to Automate Your Small Business.” Bench.co
Adam Toren (December 8, 2015). “15 Tools to Create Automation in Your Small Business.” Entrepreneur.