What is one thing a small business should automate to save time and be more profitable?
To help you determine what tasks to automate, we asked small business owners and CEOs this question for their best insights. From automating repetitive financial tasks to employee leave approvals, there are several recommendations that may help you decide what to automate in the future.
Here are thirteen things every small business should automate:
- Repetitive Financial Tasks
- Customer Service
- Business Calendars
- HR Services
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
- Client and Customer Emails
- Booking Process
- Social Media Posts
- Satisfaction Surveys
- Personalized Content Delivery
- Instagram Automation
- Employee Leave Approvals
Repetitive Financial Tasks
From invoicing to bookkeeping to payroll, there are a lot of back office to-dos for small business owners to address. These (relatively) mindless functions have to be done right, but they can take a lot of time away from more strategic activities. For example, our research found that the average small business owner who processes their own payroll spends 18 hours a month calculating wages, cutting paychecks, and submitting taxes. Many of these repetitive tasks can be automated affordably.
Elliott Brown, OnPay Online Payroll
Automate your customer service chat/emails to be able to respond to popular questions and record which people still need help. This eliminates time being spent talking back and forth with a potential customer trying to troubleshoot. Additionally, if the system records who still needs help and what their issue is, it’ll help you be prepared with the correct answers going into the phone call or chat. Customer service automation gives you back valuable time.
Tom Mumford, Undergrads
So much of our time is spent organizing – before we can even begin the actual work. That’s why it’s crucial to take full advantage of automation whenever you can. When it comes to your business calendars, set them up to remind you of meetings, tasks, and anything else you need to keep on top of. If you work with a company on a daily basis, sync your calendars so you can always quickly check in before setting a meeting, a call or even a deadline.
Lauren Kleinman, The Quality Edit
Try setting up voicemail automation software to ensure you’re following up with any leads you might have otherwise missed. There is various software that has this capability and doesn’t come at a high price point either. Essentially, the software will keep track of voicemails and set up automatic reminders for you to return the call as soon as possible. If you continuously miss a call, it will know to keep reminding you, and reminders will only be removed if you do so manually or if you call the person back.
Joe Spector, Dutch
There are options now for businesses that want to outsource some of their administrative departments, namely their human resources. Companies such as Bambee, Gusto and others provide HR services for a low monthly rate. Their interactive websites allow for small and mid-sized businesses to interact with real-life HR professionals in real time. It’s a good option to look into if you’re seeking to reduce overhead and devote more time to tasks that are centered on growing your business.
Joel Jackson, Lifeforce
Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
One thing I really think has made a huge difference for me, is automating our KPIs from the very start. I did this using Data Studio (Google’s free product), and integrated all applicable data. Data Studio makes it nice and easy to integrate everything from Google Analytics to Google Search Console, from plugging in APIs and sourcing revenue data. Once you have this up and running, you can easily keep tabs on the important KPIs from your business without having to spend further time running daily, weekly, or monthly reports.
Mike Miller, Wilderness Times
Client and Customer Emails
Small businesses can save countless hours of work and at the same time, increase sales and revenue with the automation of client and customer emails. This is best practiced through the employment of automated flows and promotional campaigns. For example, if your small business invests in email automation and therefore, utilizes a Welcome Flow, you’re not only freeing up time for more important tasks and surely generating more sales—you’re also increasing brand awareness and building credibility without having to dedicate any additional hours to the task. This practice can be extended to other aspects of one’s small business, though email automation is one of the most worthwhile automation investments available today.
Reece Kresser, Zizi
Every small business should have a software that expedites their booking process. Whether it be used for discovery calls or consultations, this can save the hassle and confusion of sending calendar invites and assuring time zones and availabilities align. Many services also allow you to collect payment prior to the client getting on your calendar which means you no longer need to send a separate invoice. The moment I implemented a software my business and life were never the same.
Isaac Mashman, Mashman Ventures
Social Media Posts
One thing a small business can automate is posts on social media. Set up posts for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or TweetDeck. As a small business, you need an online presence. Creating posts and sharing them takes a ton of time. The best way to take them off your plate is to create them ahead of time and let automation take care of the rest!
Sara Bodner, Conklin Media
We can send customers satisfaction surveys. Once the customer has received the product, we can send automated emails that contain surveys to gauge the customer experience. Surveys provide valuable feedback to help businesses improve their offerings and customer service. By sending surveys automatically, we ensure that every customer receives one, and we show our dedication to improving the customer experience.
Justin Soleimani, Tumble
Personalized Content Delivery
Using machine learning and AI, you can start delivering personalized content to customers based on their past behaviors and apparent interests. The rising desire for personalization in marketing is something that can be difficult to do without some kind of marketing automation, so in 2022 it’s a good idea to start investing in it. You can use marketing automation to gather data on your customers’ prior purchase history, estimated interests based on shopping behaviors, and social listening to compile personalized content that will help increase your conversion rate and loyalty with your customers. Then you can deliver highly relevant content that is personalized based on that data at the exact right time to hopefully make more sales.
Leo Livshetz, Unhide
One thing a small business can automate to save time and be more profitable is its posting on social media. Through the new Meta Business Suite and Business Manager, you can schedule posts on Instagram and Facebook for free. Scheduling your posts ahead of time will help you increase your profits because it provides you with more time to engage with your audience, helps you remain consistent with your online presence, which can ultimately increase your profit by keeping you at the forefront of the minds of your clients and potential clients.
SheRise Ford, The SheRise Enterprise
Employee Leave Approvals
Automate your employees’ leave approvals to save time and money. I’m always puzzled by managers who devote significant parts of their workday to approving and sorting out leave approvals, when automation is an effective scheduling tool that will make clear who will be working any particular day. While some argue that a human element needs to be involved to sort out the validity of employees’ needs to miss work, I think that’s insulting to your workforce. After all, you chose to hire these employees–shouldn’t you trust them?
John Jacob, Hoist
Brett Farmiloe is the founder of Terkel, a Q&A platform that connects brands with expert insights.”