This is the final article in a series inspired by the YouTube Video, “7 Leverage Tools The Rich Use To Make Money,” by The Better Men Project. It covers tool #7, leveraging automation systems. Automation may seem like a tool for big enterprise companies, but it’s increasingly helpful for small businesses and solopreneurs thanks to evolving technology. Indeed, it’s very important for smaller businesses because they may not have the manpower to perform every necessary task. For functions that can’t be automated, I suggest you read my previous article, “How To Hire A Freelancer, And Why”.
Guidelines For Automating Your Business
The good news in automation is that there are thousands of apps that can do almost anything you want; that is also the bad news, because the options are overwhelming. When starting, you must deconstruct your business, and prioritize which parts you should do yourself and what should be automated or delegated. Follow these guidelines.
Automate the easiest processes first: If a process/function doesn’t need a human personality (or if there’s no human “value add,”) let a machine do it. Start with something simple. That way, you can get comfortable with the world of technology and understand what’s feasible.
Automate repetitive tasks: No human wants to perform time-consuming, monotonous work. If work like data entry can be digitized, it can be automated.
Find an app that bundles services: Some apps specialize in one job, but others have grown to encompass multiple functions. For example, Hubspot is a freemium customer relations management software that also includes email marketing, among other things. Such a software-as-a-service bundle can save you money down the road.
Comparison shop: You may have heard of one app that is a market leader, but you don’t like the pricing, the company behind it, etc. The easiest way to find alternatives is to type the app’s name in Google followed by “vs.” You can find comparison reviews of that app along with its competitors.
Find your weaknesses, and replace yourself: We all have things we’re good at, and we should focus on those. Anything we struggle with should be delegated to automation or a freelancer.
What To Automate
Bench.co has a great article about can be automated in your business, and recommends apps and services (“How To Automate Your Small Business In 2020.”) I’ll summarize it here, but you should read it for ideas. There are more apps to consider, though, so try my comparison shopping suggestion on Google. Not all of these operations may pertain to your business (although marketing is essential,) so set priorities.
Marketing: Social media marketing is a great first step in building your brand. Bench recommends Buffer and Hootsuite to manage your social media content so you don’t spend all day online. Once you have followers and subscribers, email marketing is the most powerful online sales strategy. You can look into Mailchimp, Drip, GetResponse, and ConvertKit for your email service.
Customer Relations Management (CRM) apps straddle the lines between marketing, sales, and customer support. Salesforce is the market leader, but it’s pricey. Bench recommends Zoho as a budget-friendly alternative. You can also check out Hubspot.
Accounting & Bookkeeping: Tracking expenses and invoices can easily skip your mind, and cause a panic during tax season. There are apps that track these as they happen. For vehicle mileage, you can use MileIQ; for employee payroll, there is Gusto. Harvest is an app for invoicing recurring retainer clients. Bench recommend their own service for bookkeeping. ScanSnap Scanner and Shoebox are good choices for document tracking. Finally, TaxJar keeps track of sales taxes, especially if you do business in multiple states.
Employee Support: If you’re hiring employees, the Bench article suggests posting on ZipRecruiter to get the word out everywhere. When training your new hires, Trainual is a tool for documenting your procedures and quizzing trainees. Collage is an employee records system for HR, and it’s also an alternative payroll system if you’re in Canada.
Customer Service: Chatbots are the big new thing in customer relations and support; they can be installed on your website and programmed to answer common questions. The Bench article suggests Tawk for your chat bot because it has a powerful free version, and lets you hire human representatives for $1 per hour. To make responding to emails easier, you can turn to classic Gmail since it moves unanswered emails to the top of your list.
If you run an ecommerce business, Bench recommends Stamps.com and its subsidiary Shipstation to help you. Stamps.com simplifies making postage, while Shipstation integrates with your ecommerce website to track orders.
Entrepreneur.com, “11 Ways To Automate Your Business And Boost Efficiency”