Running a small business may not seem too challenging from a distance. After all, it’s a small business, so how much operational and management work could there be?
But since I started my own agency, I’ve realized that running a small business or firm isn’t as easy as it looks.
The good news is that there are plenty of best practices small businesses can follow to save time and manage their tasks more efficiently with the help of automation. Through experience and research, I’ve narrowed down on a few tips to help small businesses make the most of automation.
Automate Personalized Emails To Nurture Leads
If small businesses struggle to efficiently follow up with their leads, they may end up missing out on potential conversions. I highly recommend automating personalized emails triggered by specific actions. This will ensure that you reach your prospects while they’re in the most vital stages of the sales funnel and that you can send out timely follow-up emails.
Tools like ActiveCampaign can help you carry this out: The platform allows you to set behavioral triggers to automate your emails so you can effectively nurture your leads. GetResponse also has a similar email marketing feature at competitive rates for small businesses.
Streamline Your Purchase Orders
Plenty of small businesses have ineffective procurement and purchase order processes. They waste their time on repetitive tasks that could easily be automated, often resulting in accidental process repetition. In fact, a report conducted by PayStream Advisors found that 54% of companies are still entering their invoice details manually. And small and medium-sized enterprises are the largest users of ineffective, paper-based invoice receipts.
This makes it crucial to streamline your procurement and purchase order processes in order to save time, improve productivity and avoid mistakes. I suggest using automation tools like PurchaseControl to create automation workflows and automatically send out purchase requisitions for approval. The tool helps you maintain all relevant information in one place, making it easier to quickly process vendor invoices for payment. Precoro is another excellent tool to simplify the process of routing purchase orders for approval: You can automaticity allocate cost centers and get notified about budget overspends.
Create An Efficient Payroll Process
If you have full-time employees, you know just how time-consuming it is to manage their payroll. There’s a lot that you need to take into consideration, including state and federal regulation compliance. As a result, I highly recommend automating your payroll management process to create a more efficient system.
Deluxe Payroll is an excellent platform for this because it lets you develop a system that’s customized according to the needs of your company with the help of a payroll specialist. Paychex also offers a similar payroll and HR solution to optimize your payroll process.
Organize Your Tasks More Efficiently
One of the biggest challenges I faced when I started my agency had to do with task management and assignment. I started out with several freelancers and already had a few clients. This made it hard to keep track of who was working on which project, and which projects were due soon. It was only once I started automating the process of task scheduling and management that things became more organized and on track.
I use Trello to create separate boards for different clients and projects. The tool lets you create assignments for specific team members, upload briefs and set due dates. This makes it so much easier to automatically keep track of how a project is progressing. You could also use a tool like Zapier to build workflows and automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks. The platform connects with multiple apps so you can smoothly exchange data between your apps.
Manage Your Calendar More Efficiently
When you’re running a small business, it’s very easy to miss appointments and meetings due to lack of calendar organization. You have plenty of operational and management tasks to oversee, so it can be difficult to keep track of your other obligations. You might even get double-booked by accident because you missed one vital email.
Hiring an assistant to manage your schedule can solve this problem. However, you might not have the budget to hire someone. I would suggest using a tool like Calendly to simplify this process and organize your schedule more efficiently. This is a simple automation tool that lets you set your availability and send out an email invitation. The email contains an embedded link, which the recipient can click on to view your calendar of availability. From there, they can choose the date and time that works for them, and the tool will automatically schedule the event in your calendar.
If your business involves client appointments, you could use a tool like SimplyBook.me instead. This platform allows clients to book an appointment and confirm their attendance through your booking page.
Provide Better Customer Service
Small businesses have a limited customer base, so bad customer service can destroy their whole operation. This makes it crucial to provide the best level of customer service by keeping track of customer complaints and addressing them in a timely manner.
I would suggest using a tool like FreshDesk to set up a ticketing system to manage your customer complaints more efficiently. It also lets you create pre-formatted replies for common questions, helping you provide speedier responses. Zendesk Support also lets you automate your customer service workflows and deliver timely, relevant solutions to your customers.
Some of these tools are designed to automate repetitive tasks, while others can help you streamline your processes for efficiency. Consider implementing these types of tools and the best practices above to save time and focus on the most important aspects of your business.