A business is a combination of dozens of smaller tasks and duties. To run a successful business, one must do the majority of the things right in order to grow.
Given the sheer number of responsibilities that come with running a business, this may pose a challenge for some. Even though automation has significantly altered the way businesses operate in this day and age, there are still dozens of entrepreneurs who prefer to run their businesses the old way.
Instead of harnessing the power of technology and automation, they would rather issue manual invoices, or even if they employ a computer, they'd have to enter each detail manually. Rather than printing heaps of pages and going through them to gain insights, why not put the power of business automation to use and save valuable time and resources.
Although there are a lot of things that can be simplified with automation, we'll be focusing on the various aspects of running a business that can benefit from automation. We'll also focus on solutions that upon implementation, can help streamline even the most complex business processes.
What are the benefits of automation?
Automation can bring down the time it takes to complete processes, while at the same time increasing productivity and efficiency. Here is a list of things that automation helps us with.
Reduces manual intervention and diminishes the chances of human error
Contributes to significant cost savings
Programmatic advertising can be cheaper than traditional advertising processes
Frees up mental energy so that the business owner can focus on your business
Streamlines the finances which help you prepare invoices easily and pull useful data and insights within a few clicks
Makes tax calculation and payments simpler
Reduces manual labor as automated processes can be executed with a computer or even a mobile phone
Makes managing banking transactions and inquiry significantly easier
Makes vendor payment and bill collection easier
How To Benefit From Automation
A business can maintain an inventory of raw materials, finished goods, and office supplies digitally. Each time an invoice is generated, the relevant raw material and finished goods are subtracted from the outstanding stock.
You can even set alerts to notify you once a certain material falls below a minimum threshold. This ensures that your stock is always well-maintained and the production can continue without any surprise interruptions.
You might have heard about the term "Big Data" in recent years. In essence, Big Data is a way to collect information over time and use it to extract valuable insights which can help both save costs and improve business strategy. This helps business owners in making well-informed decisions.
For instance, consider a person who manufactures a product and sells it across different states and cities. Data analysis can help determine helpful insights such as:
Places where the product is in most demand
Places with the lowest sales figures
Growth of sales in a new region over time
These trends can be paired with online research about competition and it can help with establishing a growth strategy towards the expansion of business operations across new regions based on practical data.
How does a small business deploy big data? And more importantly, how do you automate it?
Tools like Appy Pie Connect and Zapier let you connect your spreadsheets, email inboxes, and accounting applications to big data tools like Google BigQuery that can run your queries and send back results.
If you do not have the right resources in your team to execute something like this, consider hiring a freelance data scientist to do the job for you.
Recruitment and Hiring
When your business is starting to gain traction, you will need to hire more people to keep up with the demand. Managing recruitment can be a tedious task, especially when the hiring manager receives dozens of online applications for each position.
A resume tracker (such as ATS) can help filter out candidates using job-specific skills, keywords, or qualifications. This helps the recruiter spend less time on screening candidates which can be utilized towards more detail-oriented interviews and setting up standardized recruitment processes.
Recruitment automation is in fact, one of the most commonly deployed automation processes among small businesses and is used to filter qualified candidates from a pool of resumes, conduct background checks, set up interviews, communicate rejections, etc.
Brick and mortar stores are limited by the amount of inventory they can display in their stores. However, this limitation can be overcome through the power of online marketplaces. Business owners can showcase their products through an existing e-commerce website such as Amazon, or set their own website to sell products online.
Unlike physical stores, online stores offer scope for a lot of automation. You can integrate your backend systems with your supplier so that they are automatically notified when stocks run low. You can also automate communication with customers regarding the status of their delivery.
There are apps on Shopify and other popular eCommerce platforms that help you automate a lot of your business management so that you only have to focus on growing your business.
Harnessing The Power of Social Media
Social media is usually thought of as a way to stay connected with friends and family along with providing a constant source of entertainment. However, if used correctly, social media can equip business owners with the ability to increase their outreach, target specific demographics and as a result, drive fresh leads and customers to their business.
There are several ways in which social media can be employed to automate one's business marketing. Invest in a social media management tool that lets you schedule posts in advance and monitor alerts in real-time so that you do not have to do all of this manually.
This way, you can know when any of your customers post a message about your business and you can get in touch with them on time to resolve issues, if any.
Business Process Improvements
The majority of existing businesses are known to follow a set procedure when it comes to day-to-day operations. However, the lack of adaptation to changing market landscapes can lead to diminished growth potential.
For instance: a well-thought-out automation strategy can ensure maximum productivity during working hours. This is done through task scheduling and workforce management ensuring that the billable hours of each employee are put to maximum use, leading to significantly better outcomes.
As more businesses move online, the late adopters are at a significant disadvantage. Their capabilities are limited by their collective workforce and physical reach in the markets. Automation is a game-changer for small businesses across the world.
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of business tools and resources. He is also the author of ‘How We Did It: 100 Entrepreneurs Share The Stories Of Their Struggles And Life Experiences’.