Automate Your Way to Efficient Growth

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Small business owners tend to be hands-on kind of people, out of necessity if nothing else. But you don’t have to handle every chore. Automation can actually increase efficiency and free you up for making money.

The holy grail of any business is profit, naturally. But small business owners hold time, efficiency and productivity in nearly as high regard, mainly because they’re almost as hard to come by as money. Some people might say even harder.  So how can you get more time to be more efficient to produce more profit and growth?

Every business has vital-but-time-consuming tasks that require attention, but they don’t necessarily qualify as income-producing activities. By automating those tasks, you can free up more of your time, and your employees time, so that you and they can focus on activities that do produce income.

Consider, for example, using email auto-responders and templates to answer common customer questions or for handling customer orders.  Customer relationship management (CRM) and invoice processing software (such as SalesForce, Zoho and SugarCRM, to name just a few) can also help with automating and give you more time to work on growing your business.

Don’t forget that you can easily automate crucial tech tasks, such as virus scans and data backups. The benefit of doing so is two-fold: you protect your business from data loss and save yourself time and effort.

Marketing is another area that lends itself to automation. Outsource your email marketing and social media campaigns to services such as AWeber and Constant Contact; or try using a social media dashboard (think HootSuite or TweetDeck) that lets you schedule your posts to multiple social media platforms at once.

Here’s the thing about automation. It’s a great tool – when used judiciously. Start slowly and be sure to keep tabs on how your customers respond to it. Nothing can replace the direct person-to-person experience of great customer care. Strike a balance between the two strategies. You don’t want to sabotage hard-earned relationships with your customers for the sake of efficiency.

Adapted from 3 Ways to Automate Your Small Business by Maryalene LaPonsie at Small Business Computing. Follow Small Business Computing on Twitter.