In this article, you will learn:
- Email Automation
- Automating Bookkeeping Tasks
- Switching to Cloud-Based Payroll
- Automating Project Management
- Preparing and Communicating Performance Indicators
If you are a small business owner, you face the challenge of your employees spending the majority of the time undertaking routine tasks. They spend fruitful hours of work in writing emails, fixing meetings with customers, completing the paperwork, etc. instead of focussing on strategic matters.
Where the use of artificial intelligence and automation is increasingly defining the success of small businesses, your employees still stuck with repetitive manual tasks is a matter of concern.
This is because the technological change resulting from automation, artificial intelligence, and the coming of the Gig Economy is bound to change the nature of jobs in the near future. For instance, it is said that 85% of the customer interactions would be handled without involving humans by 2025.
As per statistics for small business owners with regards to automation, 68% of the entrepreneurs spend their time managing the daily to do’s. More than 40% of the workers spend a minimum of one-fourth of their time doing repetitive tasks.
Given such numbers, it is estimated that 60% of the workers can save 6 hours a week if such repetitive parts of the job are automated. That is a lot of time that can be used to formulate business strategies and achieve business goals.
Furthermore, it’s just not the big businesses that can undertake automation. Smaller businesses too can automate many aspects of their business. This could include replying to emails, payroll, recurring invoices, etc.
This article will let you know tasks that you should and should not automate as a small business.
Tasks That You Should Automate
The email statistics revealing the time spent by workers on writing and replying to mails is alarming. On average, workers spend two and a half hours a day going through and replying to the emails. Now, this is a lot of time for your workers to be unproductive.
Similarly, you as a business owner can also be receiving similar messages or frequently asked questions which become tedious to respond given their number and nature. Copying and pasting the same email responses to a number of people in a day is certainly a difficult task.
Thus, to overcome such a situation, you can use Canned Responses in Gmail, This is a feature that allows you to create and save a variety of email templates in your inbox. All you have to do is compose the templates, name them and allow Gmail to paste them for you when you send the email next time to the same recipient.
In addition to this, you can also automate your email campaign by using multiple tools that send emails automatically based on the actions of your subscribers.
Automating Bookkeeping Tasks
Business owners like the flexibility and control that owning their business give them. However, the majority of the business owners feel that bookkeeping and taxes are a few of the least favorite tasks of owning a small business.
As per score.org, 40% of the small business owners say bookkeeping and taxes are the worse part of owning a small business. Furthermore, 40% of the small business owners spend 80 plus hours a year on taxes, payroll, working with accountants, and meeting obligations.
One of the tedious tasks that come under bookkeeping is sending invoices and ensuring that you are being paid on time. There are a number of alternatives available that help you send recurring invoices automatically and set reminders for customers who fail to pay you in time.
Switching to Cloud-Based Payroll
As a small business owner, you face another challenge when it comes to payday. This is because a lot of time is invested in preparing the paychecks of your employees. Payroll management is a complex process as it involves scattered data, tedious calculations, and statutory compliances that need to be met.
With the help of payroll software, you can:
- get rid of manual payroll calculations,
- integrate leave and attendance information to automate payroll inputs and payslips,
- send bulk payslips to employees via email etc.
Automating Project Management
Another aspect where you can offload repetitive low-value work is project management. This is because project management involves taking updates from the team members, keeping track of the to-do lists, project delays, risks involved, coordinating tasks, etc.
Without having a centralized hub for collecting information, getting updates from team members, prioritizing tasks in setting deadlines, it becomes difficult for you to manage a project.
There are various cloud-based project management tools that enable you to collaborate, keep track of the progress of a project, help you meet deadlines, map out goals, and have a central hub for all the communication with the employees.
Preparing and Communicating Performance Indicators
As a business owner, understanding and having a proper detailed report of the performance matrix is extremely important to know where your business stands in terms of sales, liquidity, traffic on your website, etc.
Likewise, your clients too need information with respect to certain aspects of their business that you are handling. For instance, chartered accountants keeping track of accounting and tax positions of their clients.
There are a number of online tools that help you generate reports and be informed about various aspects of the business. For instance, Google Analytics provides you information with regards to visitors on your website.
Likewise, QuickBooks helps you generate accounting and tax reports for your business as well as for your clients.
Tasks That You Should Not Automate
Following are the tasks that you should not consider automating:
Fear looms over the fact if all of the jobs would be automated in the future, such fear is valid as the future irrespective of work for many people looks gloomy. As per a report by McKinsey, close to 50% of the current work activities are technically automatable. But what is a relief in all of this is a fact that the mundane repetitive tasks would be the ones that are likely to be automated.
That is to say, not all of the jobs qualify for automation specifically, the jobs that need critical thinking and problem-solving ability. These include skill-based tasks that involve the use of the human brain such as strategizing, planning, designing, writing, etc.
Establishing Human Relationships
When it comes to automation, it can certainly aid business owners in maintaining healthy relationships with various stakeholders. This could include sending reminders, follow-up emails, thank you emails, etc.
But, what automation cannot replace is the emotion involved in communicating with the various stakeholders. For instance, acknowledging an employees effort on a specific project needs an in-person presence to make such an employee feel appreciated.
Likewise, dealing with challenges such as customer issues, employee complaints, etc cannot be resolved through automation.
Thus, when it comes to maintaining and sustaining any business relationship, you certainly cannot rely on automation tools for they may have all the potentiality to make your work easy but lack empathy and emotion.
Getting New Clients
If your business seeks new clients frequently, automation can only help to a certain extent. For instance, you can sell educational emails to your new clients providing them details about your product or service.
However, client onboarding is a crucial time and completely relying on automation for those important initial communications can backfire. It is a time that requires a personal touch with the customers and build a sound relationship with them.
Solely depending on automated introductory emails lacking personal attention can hold you back from building that first impression that lasts forever.