Ideally, increasing automation will let you scale and grow your small business more rapidly and efficiently. Automation reduces manpower needs and saves time, and both of those factors save money. In addition to reducing the time required to do many operational tasks, automation frees you up to work on other things essential to growing your business. For example, not having to spend time manually doing accounting tasks means you can spend more time on tasks such as sales, marketing, and personal customer service.
Understanding the Essence of Automation
Automation involves using technology to set up systems for performing repetitive or mathematical tasks. A classic example of automation is a product assembly line. Another example is an accounting software program, such as QuickBooks Online. Accounting software uses mathematical formulas to collect, analyze, and calculate data, such as profit margins or payroll tax deductions. Using accounting software saves an enormous amount of time and if the data is accurately entered, it virtually eliminates calculation errors. Think about the relative ease of using an accounting software program for quick access to the accounts receivable your business has outstanding that should be received within 30 days. Now imagine how long and laborious doing that task manually would be searching your files for invoices, organizing them by date, and manually categorizing and calculating figures. The convenience and benefits of automation do have a cost, but automation tools are designed to more than compensate for their expense, quickly producing a favorable return on investment. Automation typically provides direct monetary savings as well. For example, online billing and payment systems save your business the cost of paper cheques, envelopes, ink, and postage.
Using Automation in Your Small Business
While your small business may not have a huge, automated assembly-line operation like a major auto manufacturer, you can still effectively employ automation to streamline processes and improve your business operations. There are three principal areas of business operations where automation can offer you substantial benefits: administration, marketing, and project management. Automation in the area of business administration could include an automated phone system that routes calls or records messages without the need for a telephone operator or secretary. Business administration also includes your accounting department, automated with an accounting software program that handles your payroll, bills, inventory, and more. You can use automation to improve the efficiency of your marketing efforts with customer relationship management software. CRM tools save data on all of your customers, schedule contacts and appointments, add new leads, and store your customers’ purchase histories and preferences. Small businesses can have better-organized and more effective social media marketing campaigns by using social media software such as HootSuite. File-sharing programs such as Google Docs or Dropbox streamline project management and make teamwork easier by letting team members share documents and other files and collaborate more closely on their group projects.