Guest post by Victoria Greene
Automation — does it conjure up images of zombie-like robots? Or images of jaded executives, pressing ‘play’ and walking away from their business, cackling?
Automation is not the bad guy. In fact, it’s a very savvy way to improve your business operations, make more money, and generally get a better experience from running a business. When you automate certain mundane or scalable tasks, you free up time and resources for more worthy tasks. Here are nine simple, yet compelling business benefits of automation — whether you are big or small, it’s time to embrace automation.
Business owners never have enough time to complete all their tasks. From staffing and meetings, to financial planning and branding — a busy executive has a lot of things on their plate. By automating administrative processes and data collection, you can free your head space and do more exciting things with your time. You don’t need to dive in the deep-end and buy an expensive custom database or outsource everything at once — start small, and build from there. Check out how even a few simple IFFTT recipes can help you save precious time — it’s all about transforming your business through incremental change.
You need to focus on the things that can never be automated like building company culture, increasing brand value, improving employee engagement, and managing financial planning.
Make financial savings
The tools and processes needed for business automation are often available for free, with some eventually requiring premium subscriptions (often based on the number of users). You won’t have to invest in huge, expensive hardware — most of the things you need are readily available through the SaaS (software as a service) model.
Not only will automation save you time, but you may find that you can also save on business equipment and staffing costs. Always push yourself to find more efficient and better ways of doing things — even small actions can be refined.
Business development and sales can be a headache — but cash flow and new business are essential for a company to be able to scale up and grow. Automation can help you bridge the gap between where you are now, and where you need to be.
By automating parts of your sales and lead funnel, you will be able to focus on relationship-building, rather than humdrum data collection and writing emails. Let automation take care off the heavy-lifting, so that you can spend your time with the leads (people) who truly matter.
Manage resources better
A small company is often pushed to the brink when it comes to its resources. Automation means that even small teams and operations can make the most of what they have. Especially when it comes to martech (marketing technology), automation can be a game-changer.
Social media can be a 24/7 burden on a small business, so automation and scheduling can help take a huge load off. With clever social scheduling and a proper social media calendar (a la CoSchedule), your team can keep the brand alive on social, and focus on more big picture content marketing. Social media should always have a reactive element too, but automation will help you increase your social reach.
Email is a valuable, but potentially expensive marketing channel. It’s important that your team learns how to refine their email marketing efforts so as to not waste precious copy and design resources. Automation can help you make the most of your segmented email lists, and automated email cycles have great ROI when it comes to repeat business and custom.
When it comes to managing social media advertising, business owners could usually do with a little help. Anyone selling on Shopify can now take advantage of Kit — a friendly AI bot who quickly and painlessly suggests, manages, and executes social ad campaigns. This kind of strategic automation is a great example of how sophisticated and smart automation tools have become.
Be more agile
Agility isn’t just a software development buzzword — it’s an important mindset watchword for the modern business owner. Agility means that your business is well-equipped to deal with the demands of modern commerce and customer service — that you’re able to change, move, and pivot quickly.
Automation makes your business more agile. Scripts and databases can be easily changed, updated, and renewed. You can easily switch software programs and systems, renewing your entire data systems painlessly.
When you are busy, it can be hard to find the time to sit down with staff and chat about their individual progress. Though HR intranets and surveys should never replace face-to-face interactions, they can help a company scale its staffing operations fast.
Daily task reminders, check-ins, 360 reviews, and reminders to take holiday can all be managed and automated from a HR dashboard. Automated prompts give staff a sense of routine and structure.
Be more in control
Automation is often the sign of a business who is good at collecting data, professional, and secure. Old-fashioned handwritten records are often unsafe, difficult to process, and leave your business open to nasty security surprises.
Automation means that you will have a better idea of exactly what is happening throughout your business, and the data you collect can help you quickly refine and pivot your business model.
Automation will help you improve your customer journey, as you are able to constantly pre-empt, and better fulfil, their needs. You’re aiming to achieve an almost instinctive level of customer service — and automation can help.
Build a legacy
Automating your business will give you more time to focus on community outreach, and increase the potential impact your business has on the world. If you and your team are working yourselves to the bone just to make ends meet, you won’t be coming up for air.
Use automation to make your business more powerful, and build processes that allow for longevity. Try to increasingly take yourself out of the picture.
Engage with new tech
New technology isn’t just about having the latest Apple product in your office — new technology is often designed to solve a specific problem. By embracing automation, you will be working with some of the smartest tools and software in the world.
So you see — automation isn’t scary…in fact, it’s fun! Start small, and scale from there. Automation will 100% improve your business — just find a way to make it work for you.