Small business automation pertains to using modern technology to replace manual work in the overall business processes. Allowing some aspects of your business to be automated will save you time and effort, which allows you to focus on things that make your small business a success.
However, most small businesses don’t implement this in their process since they think integrating automation is only for the big companies. This idea could never be farther from the truth.
Automation can significantly help small businesses to grow faster and scale more effectively. Today’s innovation in the automation industry can almost help in every business process out there.
In this article, you’ll learn the different areas that you can or should automate for your business and the various benefits that it can bring to your operations. So if you’re ready, then let’s get right to the article.
What Is Small Business Automation?
Automation has changed your lives, whether you noticed it or not. A lot of businesses have thought of innovative ways to make daily activities simpler. We have Uber Eats and WhatsGood to deliver us food and fresh fruits to our doorstep. We got Fitbit and advanced medical alert systems to monitor our vitals.
But it is in the business industry where automation has greatly benefited people. Although big businesses may seem like the biggest beneficiary of automation, small businesses can significantly leverage it as well.
Small business automation refers to the processes in a business that can be automated or be delegated to a machine. In this era of technological advancement, automation is nothing new. However, there are still small businesses that have not used automation to hasten their growth.
No matter what industry your business operates in, there’s a good chance that some of your processes can be automated. For example, you can automate an Amazon FBA business and run it entirely with no constant monitoring. Or, if you’re a homeowner and looking to sell your house quickly, you can automate all inquiries about your listing to your phone.
Automation can benefit any business no matter the industry they’re in. All you need to do is think about what process you want to automate, then search if there’s software for that.
Here are ten business processes that you should consider automating.
10 Business Processes That You Can Automate
1. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a common process that businesses do. Nine out of every ten marketers use email marketing to distribute their content organically. This means that no matter the industry your business operates in, email marketing campaigns are an integral part of your marketing and promotions.
If you’ve gathered a hundred contacts in your email list, it will be a very tiring process to send an email to each one of them. It will also be a more tedious process if you incorporate personalization strategies and segmentation. If you don’t use automation to help you in this effort, any ideas for this endeavor will take a lot of time to do.
Luckily, email marketing is one of the famous business processes that can be automated. According to DMA, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, businesses can expect a $42 return on investment. A process as important as this should be done seamlessly and with no human errors as much as possible.
Automation in email marketing can cover all types of emails. For example, your cart abandonment emails could be set automatically if a web visitor doesn’t complete their purchase. It’s a great addition to your business since it can remind your customers of their abandoned carts.
2. Social media
Social media automation has also done wonders for businesses in this digital age. Small businesses that have leveraged social media have seen their metrics and conversions improve. The most basic automation in this process is setting a time for when the content is posted and on what social media platform.
You can automat other important areas in this process – like social monitoring. Social monitoring refers to observing what people say about your business, whether it’s a good or bad comment. This is helpful when your business has multiple social media accounts.
One of the most used innovations that happened in the world of social media marketing would be paid advertising. Managing every advertisement on different platforms can be a lot of work when done manually. But when you use automation, it makes the whole process a hundred times easier. You can even leave it running without monitoring the advertisement every second.
Other than posting and distributing content, automation in social media can also help with integration. Business owners can now automate different social media elements to their CRM software.
3. Customer support
If there’s another aspect that businesses extensively use automation for, that would be in the area of customer support. Before automation came into the mainstream, companies would always appoint a person to handle customer support to answer every customer’s concern.
Some businesses would hire a call center to attend to their customer support to provide a 24/7 service for their market. Take this company, for example; when they offer a 24/7 service for their business, they need to be ready any time of the day to respond to any clients.
In today’s business landscape, this process is much easier and seamless. Businesses can set up a chatbot to answer the general queries of customers. Chatbots can be of great help when your business is in a new industry like NFT marketplace and DeFi.
This innovation has been so effective that 64% of internet users claim that 24-hour service is the best feature of chatbots.
Automation also helps in ticket assignments. When you’re a small business, you need to be sure that every concern is addressed. Think of this as an opportunity to have 100% customer satisfaction.
This fact can serve as an edge for small businesses over larger companies. Big companies won’t be able to 100% satisfy their market because of their size. They just can’t attend to every issue raised by their customers. But if you’re relatively small, you can do this with the help of automation. Achieving a high customer satisfaction rate is completely possible.
Improving the customer support aspect of your business can start with your contact page. The most recent ideal contact page I’ve seen would be from this business:
It’s simple yet very effective. Plus, they’re already asking how they can help, which cuts the back and forth messages and allows them to respond and address the issue immediately.
4. Data reporting
Data reporting is an important element if you want to grow your business at a faster rate. Through these reports, you can see what business actions have been paying off and what are lagging.
You can make an informed business decision based on these reports. Your team can capitalize and continuously work on what’s giving your business good results and completely change or replace the processes dragging your business down.
The process of data reporting was once a tedious task to do. It needed multiple employees to gather important metrics and report them to management. In today’s time, automation has made this process simpler.
Any automation software can give you any report within a few seconds. Gone are the days of data reporting that takes multiple days to accomplish. With the innovation on this particular process, reports on important metrics are available with a single button click.
5. Data analytics
Other than data reporting, automation has also helped in data analytics. Your small business can benefit from this by making your analytics process more accurate with no human intervention. This allows you to save time and employee costs.
Before automation happened in this process, businesses would seek the help of analysts to give interpretation behind the numbers that their operations produced. In today’s world, analysts were replaced by interactive dashboards wherein businesses can see various analytics within a few seconds.
The great thing about automation in data analytics is it can give you fast results in any aspect of your business. The analytics can be presented to you within a few seconds – you can check the analytics behind your blog posts, social media campaigns, email campaigns, web traffic, subscriber count, engagement on posts, and many more.
6. Lead and contact management
Any good manager and brand designer knows how vital leads and contacts are for a business. However, manually taking notes of leads and contacts is a hassle and takes a lot of your time. If you’ve seen how automation works in this specific business process, you won’t opt to do this task again manually.
The CRM solutions available today, like predictive dialers, inbound and outbound solutions, can help make things easier when capturing leads and managing contacts. With just a few tweaks in the software, you can segregate your list to whatever classification you like.
Most CRM can group your list by age, gender, occupation, country they live in, to even classify them on what campaign of yours did they interact with. Automation in this particular aspect has really benefited businesses. With the different management features, companies can use their content marketing more efficiently by tailoring each content to their contacts’ interests and likes.
Accounting is one of the most complex things to do when running a business. All the processes under accounting can take much of your time when you’re not used to doing them. Luckily, automation has also made the tasks here easier.
With the various accounting applications out in the market today, most of them can simplify things. The different software here can help with filing tax returns, monitor bills that are coming in and out, and update you on which accounts still have balances. These applications allow its users to schedule payments, categorize transactions, and make record-keeping easy.
As a small business, utilizing software that helps you with your accounting is a great help. It allows you to dedicate less time to these processes, focusing more on other aspects to help your business grow.
Even if you’re a small business, keeping track of shipping for every product can consume most of your workday. In some instances, people might jumble things up when customers ask for updates.
But when you decide to streamline your shipping process, it makes it seamless, and the response to customers is made quickly. It is what some businesses used to grow and hack their way to becoming a bigger company.
Take 3Wishes for example. It’s a prominent company that sells lingerie and Halloween costumes worldwide. The reason the company can ship worldwide and still have the time to promote its product would be because of leveraging automation. Customers can see where their items are without having the company manually update them all the time.
As an active small business, you always want to be collaborating and get your brand out there. These activities require several meetings which can get lost in many of the attendee’s schedules.
Thankfully, automation has also reached this process of running a business. Manually setting and checking your calendar for meetings and talks are a thing of the past now. Today, syncing your calendar with your software automatically fills up the dates with important meetings that you need to attend. It can also alert you of any duties you need to do as long as you’ve let the software know to remind you.
10. Employee tracking
Automation has not just disrupted the processes of converting leads and producing content; it has also helped businesses with the duties of employee tracking. From timesheets, employee onboarding, leave absences, sick reports, to overtimes, a lot of software can now do these things for you automatically.
Flamingo is an example of automation software that helps business owners easily track their team’s paid time off. It rids the manual work of using spreadsheets and data entry.
Benefits of Small Business Automation
1. It’s a much cost-effective option
Most businesses turn to technology for certain processes because it’s much faster and more reliable than humans. There’s a reason why robots have taken over some jobs throughout the years – it’s because leveraging modern technology is a much cheaper yet efficient option than employing people.
Humans get sick and tired, which impairs their work production. On the contrary, robots or software don’t get tired and ill. These technologies can work 24/7 and don’t need those holidays and sick pays.
2. It eliminates human error
One of the reasons technology in the workplace is beneficial is because it can compensate for any human errors. It is because human errors can delay processes and work production. It can even cause inaccuracy when it comes to certain data and metrics.
With technology, everything is on point. It can do various functions perfectly well as long as it is programmed correctly. Plus, technology used for production can be consistent in its delivery forever.
3. It saves time and energy
As you’ve read the sections above, you can see how automation solves complex processes that might take days and weeks to finish. With the technology we’re dealing with today, those tasks can be done quickly and without much effort – a single click can give you a month’s report on your website; clicking a few buttons can lead you to the metrics of your marketing campaigns.
A global study by Automation Anywhere reported that office workers in a dozen countries spend more than three hours a day doing repetitive manual tasks which are not part of their primary job and duties.
By using automation, you get to eliminate those repetitive tasks and allow your staff to focus on things that matter.
4. Having a remote workforce is now possible
Before the rise of automation in business processes, work teams needed to be in a single location to get things done and be more efficient. But given the advanced technology that these applications present, small businesses can now go for a remote workforce setting.
This benefits small businesses, especially those who work in the digital space, since the management won’t be needing an office. This lowers the cost of overhead while it increases communication within the organization.
5. Improved employee satisfaction
When you get your employees to work on only things that matter, this increases their feeling of importance in your company. This is particularly important in small businesses because you wouldn’t want to keep changing team members as you grow.
That scenario will be time-consuming since the learning curve of every person will vary. Some will learn their job and duties immediately, while some might take a long time. So satisfying your employees is a great benefit to have when you’re in your growth stage as a business.
It’s no secret that automation can help people perform business processes easier. Modern technology has small businesses to keep their costs low while making their growth faster.
Looking for the right software to help you with the processes above will surely make running a business easier. No more complex processes and complete jobs more efficiently and seamlessly.
About the author
Burkhard Berger is the founder of Novum™. You can follow him on his journey from 0 to 100,000 monthly visitors on novumhq.com. His articles include some of the best growth hacking strategies and digital scaling tactics that he has learned from his own successes and failures.