The future of business is happening now. Small business owners who are adopting Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and automation technology today are positioning their business to succeed in the coming years. It’s no surprise that many of our savvy QB Community members are automating (or attempting to automate) some aspect of their business. Here, we’re sharing a roundup of what they’re doing and why.
Automating to speed up production
“Our popsicle production early on involved plastic molds in a freezer overnight. Now we use a high-powered machine that freezes over around 200 pops an hour! And someday we'll hopefully have large-scale popsicle machine equipment that can freeze and package many more pops at a time than we could dream.”
“The construction industry is an old-school trade so we don’t really automate much, although tools help us make things easier. Of course, smartphones with cameras are a godsend and frequently save me a trip to the jobsite. Texting is great, -- if I’m in a client meeting, I can still respond to a worker. Architects can email me PDF files of plans. None of this is exactly new, but it sure is helpful!”
“Just recently, I've been helping with Shopify integration for the "BuyBots" they use for sales. Artificial Intelligence is what I'm focused on right now, because the Call Centers are being replaced with automation more than ever this year. This is actually a good thing, because it saves money on Employee Salaries, and allows one person to run a Corporation with a small staff.”
-- @activemode, Web Developer
Automating to make common business functions more efficient
“The construction industry employs so many people who rely on their jobs to put food on the table and make ends meet. The faster they get paid, the better. This industry has the slowest payment time of any industry in the world. Zlien provides a money management software product … It improves the process and makes payments faster.”
-- @scottwolfe, CEO of zlien
“I’ve used QuickBooks for 20+ years – generating reports and statuses for budgets and so on. I used to do it manually at night and now, with a touch of a button, it’s all automatic. Being able to automate functions like invoicing so I can make payroll, paying accounts payable, keeping track of my cash flow -- all of this helps keep me on task.”
-- Chris Rhodes
“For my regular … monthly invoices to clients that are recurring, I use an [automated] functionality within the invoicing area. I have found it to be helpful and saves me the effort of reinventing the wheel every month. But I wouldn't do it for more complex services, if the invoices were different [amounts] monthly.”
-- @Adam_Fenner, Accountant
“I am celebrating my productivity this week. Using new project management software, QB for bookkeeping, and others. So I'm excited to get more productive and continue to work smarter and not harder.”
-- @redrosestudios, Branding consultant/web developer
Automating as a marketing tool
“It's also a great idea to add marketing messages within automated reminders, too. Payment reminder mails have surprisingly higher open rates compared to cold emails! What a better way to tell your customers about your new product or discount than adding a small banner at the end of your payment reminder email!”
-- @Megan-Payorcrm, e-commerce
“We definitely try to automate where we can, from social media to production. We pre-schedule our social media posts when possible through the Later app.”
-- Alexia Burke
“We created new beautiful presentations [for potential clients] that told the story about [our business] as well as explained our service offerings that could be demonstrated from our iPad or our laptops. Ever since we invested into the correct tools our closing ratio nearly doubled, just by using technology to present technology.”
-- @ParkwayInc, Small business consultant
Helping clients warm up to automation
“Where I used to work before, we had clients who dropped boxes with receipts on our desks, and we were expected to make a tax return from that. So, [this is] still the reality … I had three clients where I had to do a year's worth of bookkeeping before I could get started. I guess they are mostly technology resistant here. I have a very hard time introducing apps.”
-- @LeahIlanah, Bookkeeper
“If [clients] can envision what the change will improve for them, and they can truly see that it is relieving a pain-point, then how we get there and the learning curve they may need to deal with becomes less of a barrier.”
-- @girlFRIDAY, Bookkeeper
Further reading on automation & small business:
QB Community members, how is automation helping your small business succeed?
Business Automation is a very hot topic in the current small business environment. Matter of fact it is so hot, that we currently have automation projects in the works with 50% of our client list. Time is such a precious commodity that it seems that everyone is racing to find more time.
Quest for Automation leads to Innovation:
While I love being an accountant, I hate doing manual data entry, so I began a personal quest to eliminate data entry as much as possible. It was along this journey that I came up with a QuickBooks Desktop application. Our app, Vendorsync helps to automate more of the data entry process for QuickBooks Desktop by eliminate 50% of the manual entry related to bank feed imports. I guess you could kind of say we brought the power of the cloud to desktop accounting.
Zap your way to Free Time:
Zapier is another very popular example of process automation that we implement all the time. During a previous Xero to QuickBooks Online conversion project, we needed a way to allow our client to continue with the system they were used to while we completed the conversion process. To avoid playing an endless game of catch up, we setup Zapier to watch for new transactions in Xero and to automatically add them to QuickBooks Online as they happened.
Future Automation Plans:
As a self-proclaimed computer geek, I am excited Google Sheets introducing Macros as a new feature. The ability to record multiple steps and have them automatically done in sequence every time you click a button opens so many new time-saving opportunities. Since Intuit and Google have developed such a great workflow relationship, I can only imagine what people will come up to simplify their everyday tasks!