With 63% of entrepreneurs working longer hours than the average employee, it seems that both time and money are in short supply for many small business owners. To combat these difficulties, many have turned to technology for help, which has allowed them to transform their internal processes and work more efficiently.
One of the most common ways of boosting business efficiency is through automation software. This has the power to significantly reduce the number of manual, time-consuming tasks that business owners face on a daily basis. However, deciding which processes to automate can be challenging, especially if you're new to using digital tools.
This blog will cover five processes that can be easily automated by the right software, allowing you to concentrate on generating leads, making sales and growing your business.
1. Accounting and VAT
If you decide to automate only one of your business's processes, that process needs to be accounting and VAT. Even if you're currently using spreadsheets to make calculations and logging your expenses easier, the right software can dramatically reduce the amount of time you need to spend checking figures and processing invoices.
VAT, in particular, is prone to being affected by changes in legislation. A VAT software package will make it easier to stay up-to-date on any legal changes while also:
· Automatically calculating VAT on all orders and invoices
· Reporting on VAT data
· Reducing the need to quality check calculations for accuracy
· Ensuring your compliance with MTD regulations
2. Social Media Scheduling
Running multiple social media accounts can be exhausting for small business owners, which is why so many abandon their profiles and fail to grow their followings. Scheduling software, such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Hubspot, allows you to maintain a consistent posting schedule without burning out. Simply spend a few hours creating content in batches before uploading it to your scheduler in line with your marketing strategy.
You will still need to invest time into building genuine relationships and responding to comments, but the manual process of uploading posts, copying and pasting hashtags and co-ordinating your social content calendar will be seen to by your software.
3. E-mail Marketing
While manually sending your e-mail list a monthly newsletter might be more than manageable, executing a complex e-mail marketing campaign is impossible without software. Providers like Mailchimp and Active Campaign can help you to automate e-mails to welcome new customers, deliver news about products and events, retain existing customers, confirm orders, remind users about abandoned carts and much more. Your software will use information about customers' buying habits to send them the right, personalised e-mails for their needs. E-mails will be sent automatically and can be triggered by certain actions, such as clicking on sale items or signing up for an eBook or course.
4. Inventory Management
If your business sells physical products, automating your inventory is key to effective supply chain management. Inventory management software helps you to maintain stock levels by automatically placing orders for more raw materials, products or packaging supplies when your business is running low. This makes replenishing your warehouse a significantly less menial task and reduces the risk of customers being disappointed by products being out of stock.
However, it's important to review your inventory management system on a regular basis, as you may find that as time goes on you will have to adjust the frequency that you're ordering certain products. This could be as a result of a change in business direction or simply due to a product falling out of favour with your customer base.
5. Customer Service
Customer service will always require a certain amount of human connection, but that doesn't mean that aspects of it can't be automated. While you should always have a phone line or e-mail address that customers can use to speak to a real person, using AI chatbots and automated responses can make responding to some types of enquiries much more efficient.
Software can also facilitate streamlined ticket routing, which means that enquiries will always be sent to the right person. Rather than having shipping questions arrive in your marketing manager's inbox, effective ticketing can help to reduce frustrations amongst your team and ensure customers get the answers they need more promptly.
Learning how to automate business processes can make a huge difference to your overall efficiency, helping your venture to grow more quickly. Get started with the five suggestions above today.