Ten Easy ways to use automation in your business
Updated: 5 days ago
How many times have you found yourself thinking about how you could simplify and/or automate things in your business so you could spend more time doing what you love doing and focusing on your area of genius?
This month I’d like to touch on 10 easy ways to use automation in your business. Let’s get started!
1 Task management and workflows creation
How do you create and manage your to-do lists? Do you give your team tasks when needed and don’t follow up with them until it’s supposed to be due? Do you and your team have a hard time tracking who does what?
A task management system with automation such as Asana or Trello can help you and your team stay organised and accountable. With a task management tool in place, your team knows exactly where to look for their next action item and when it’s due. You’re also able to see their progress which will allow you to support them if needed.
I love using Asana to manage everything in my business, from tasks to projects, and the Gmail integration to turn emails into tasks with the click of a button is great!
2 Typing the same things over and over again?
There are different ways to stop typing the same things over and over again. For example, get a text expander for emails, proposals, etc. This will save you lots of time!
Email templates are a big one because we usually send the same emails to our suppliers, prospects, etc. Whether it’s a response to a customer’s price request or an answer to an often-asked question, it’s useful to have a few “pre-made” emails on hand.
3 Email management
If you run your own business, there are lots of chances that you deal daily with never-ending emails. What can we do about this?
Declutter your inbox. Unsubscribe from all those newsletters and mailing lists you don't read. You can use a platform like Unroll.me to see a list of all your subscription emails and unsubscribe easily from whatever you don’t want.
Set up automatic labels and filters. In Gmail, for example, you can automatically label and color-code every email that goes in and out of your inbox (as well as set up multiple inboxes so you can easily manage your emails).
Mark the emails that require a speedy response and make those messages show up first. Gmail, for example, lets you “star” any of your messages and brings all of them to the top of your inbox. You can also mark emails as important.
4 Calendar management
There are few things more frustrating than a back-and-forth email chain to determine a meeting time. Optimise this process by using a meeting scheduling tool such as Calendly or Acuity, for example, which will automatically sync with your calendar, and allows contacts to schedule time to meet with you when you’re available.
5 Payments processing
How do you accept payments in your business? The key is to accept payments easily. Find a platform that allows you to process payments in an easy way. Many businesses I work with use PayPal, Stripe or Wise for local and international payments, for example.
6 Streamline your accounting and expense system
Managing small business finances is a job of its own. If you’re still managing this yourself in an excel spreadsheet, consider using an accounting and bookkeeping software such as Xero or MYOB, with automation capabilities.
7 Automate your onboarding processes
Onboarding tasks are perfect for automation because they are repetitive as many new employees in a business will need the same training and need similar reminders.
Examples of ways you can automate your onboarding process include:
Automatically generating and sending legal and compliance forms for new employees to sign electronically
Having accounts and access to key tools and systems automatically created
Sync employee data across necessary systems to reduce manual entry
By automating as much of the back-end process of onboarding as possible, you’re creating less busy work for your HR team and creating a smoother and more consistent experience for new employees.
8 Set up automated email campaigns
When you think of automation, email marketing automation might come to mind first. A good way to get started with email marketing automation is to have a look at the automation capabilities that your email marketing platform already has and think about how you can use them to execute your strategy. Some types of email automation are:
Personalising each email you send
Segmenting groups based on data and automatically sending the right email to each group
Triggering emails based on actions, such as webinar sign-up confirmations or abandoned basket notifications
Email drip workflows that send content at set intervals
Delivering content or requested information after filling out a form
A/B testing content and automatically sending the best-performing version of the content
9 Use a social media scheduling tool
Social media creation and management is very time-consuming. Using a social media scheduling tool can be a game changer. With the right one, you and your team can create meaningful content in advance, and schedule content to automatically post to your key platforms when your audience is there.
There are lots of options out there. I’ve used Later, Canva and Facebook and Linkedin scheduling tools, always following my social media content calendar which I have set up in Asana.
10 Outsource key tasks to experts
This might not be purely automation, but it's highly relevant. When you are starting a business, you’re usually responsible for everything to make the business run. While that can be good for the bottom line, it’s not good for scaling and automation.
Once you’re able to afford it, outsourcing tasks to new team members, assistants, and specialists can really help your business go to the next level.
In my case, I started by engaging an accountant, then a marketing expert to help create my content strategy, and once I implemented it, I outsource my content management to a VA, as well as my business admin. And more to come!
I know how hard can be to start delegating and outsourcing, but if you find yourself carrying too many hats and never having enough time for what’s important, try this: go through the tasks you’re currently doing for your business and look for areas you can outsource to someone else to save you time and drive better results.
Final tip: Create Standard Operating Procedures
Whether you’re a solopreneur or lead a small team, having standard operating procedures (SOPs) is critical for a healthy business.
SOPs are detailed instructions that outline how to complete processes within your business. As your company grows, having SOPs on hand makes it so much easier to onboard new team members and delegate tasks to others. The faster team members can get up and running, the greater the impact they can have on your business.
Automation is a long-term strategy. Take a look at where your business is now and what are those manual tasks you do and/or look for inefficiencies. And then, ask yourself how can you start automating these to free up your time to focus on the areas where you have the most impact.
And if you’d like to learn more about how a Virtual Business Manager could support your business, read more here.