Give Yourself the Gift of Time: 9 Tasks Every Small Business Should Automate
March 14, 2017
Automation software isn’t just for tech firms and manufacturing facilities. It’s for everyone – solopreneurs and small business owners included – who wants to free up time and energy to focus on higher-priority tasks.
“Businesses of all sizes – with a few employees or a few thousand – can benefit from automating certain activities. Just as the CEO doesn’t do tasks an intern could, you shouldn’t waste valuable time on activities a computer can accomplish in a fraction of the time. After all, being a great leader is all about proper delegation of tasks, and there’s nothing wrong with delegating some of them to a computer.”
What could you get done if you were able to free up a few extra hours every week? Get ready to put those projects on your to-do list, once you automate the following nine tasks.
1. Consolidate Web Logins
“Password managers aren’t just for convenience’s sake; think of it as good online hygiene. Most password managers save and generate secure passwords for you, meaning you only have to remember one password – the one that opens your vault.”
Password managers save you time and protect your digital presence, making them a win-win for small business owners.
2. Simplify Employee Scheduling
Restaurant, coffee shop and retail business owners take note – there’s an easier way to schedule employee shift work than Excel (or worse, a pencil and paper).
Tools like When I Work (a labor management-focused tool) and Hubworks (part of a larger suite of business management apps) automate the process for you, balancing employees’ availability against their desired work shifts and your scheduling needs.
3. Streamline Your Customer Support Process
As AI continues to advance, automated customer service programs are becoming more and more common. This benefits both businesses and their customers. According to Groove, “91% of customers would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.” What’s more, automating small, repetitive tasks can save customer service teams hundreds of hours a year, which translates directly to increased productivity.
4. Put Invoicing on Auto-Pilot
While it’s tough to fully automate your company’s bookkeeping needs, you can still put many of them on autopilot using tools like FreshBooks. Once installed, you can set both invoices and payment reminders to be delivered automatically, allowing you to spend less time on accounting and more time doing what you love.
For an even more hands-off approach, pair FreshBooks with a service like Bench.co. Not only will you free up the time you’d otherwise spend updating your books, you’ll gain the assurance that your financial needs are being handled by the pros.
5. Optimize Payroll Processing
Payroll processing is another function business owners can optimize through services like Gusto and Wagepoint (U.S.) or PaymentEvolution (Canada). While, again, the services aren’t fully automated, they’ll save you plenty of time by handling things like employee onboarding and tax filing automatically
6. Set Up a System for Self Employment Tax Filings
On the other hand, if you’re a solo worker, you don’t have to worry about payroll taxes and other employer requirements – but if you’re U.S.-based, you will be on the hook for self employment taxes.
Self-employment taxes are typically filed on a quarterly basis, and it’s up to entrepreneurs to save the required amount and make payments on their own. That is, unless they use a service like Painless1099, which automatically pulls a pre-set percentage out of each incoming client payment to be set aside for tax purposes.
7. Personalize Your Email Marketing
If you aren’t currently sending automated, trigger- or timing-based email messages to your customers, you’re missing out. While it’s widely acknowledged that email marketing can boast a 3,800% ROI, “automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than ‘business as usual’ marketing messages.”
Services like Vero, Drip, ConvertKit, Mailchimp, Aweber, InfusionSoft and Ontraport can help get you started with everything from automated launch sequences, to post-purchase follow-up, to abandoned cart recovery and more.
As AI continues to advance, automated customer service programs are becoming more and more common.
8. Supercharge Your Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is another area that’s seen a tremendous amount of growth in terms of automation. While tools that can automatically load updates to your social profiles (like Buffer) have been around for a while, new entries to the field can help you:
- Automatically recycle your older blog content for re-publication (MeetEdgar)
- Receive recommended social updates, based on the topics you choose (Quuu)
- Get notified automatically whenever your paid social media campaigns are losing money (Reveal)
- Automatically aggregate user-generated content to push through to your social profiles (Waaffle)
- Create custom social media graphics using templates and stock photos (Designfeed)
Essentially, with social media marketing, if there’s a function you’d like to automate, there’s likely an app for that.
9. Design Effective Lead Magnets
Essentially, a lead magnet is a free offer you make in the hopes of inspiring your customers to join your email list. According to Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative, “Lead magnets have always been a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal. They’re especially golden in this digital age because we can satisfy the reader’s request in an instant.”
That’s all well and good, but what happens if you don’t know the first thing about creating a lead magnet? Never fear – Designrr is here to transform your blog posts into well-designed graphic PDFs. Check out the tutorial on the site to see how easy it can be to automate the design of your lead magnets.
Got another automation process or tool you’d like to add to this list? Leave a note in the comments below with your best suggestions.
about the author
Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, Narrow.io, Quuu, and Linktexting.com. Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.Sujan is a leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hard working & high energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of