When did you last think about how you’re using your time?
If you’re running a business, there simply isn’t a more valuable resource than your time. It’s always possible to make more money, to hire new staff, or generate more assets, but time is finite and needs to be used wisely.
Far too many business owners are wasting their own time or using it poorly. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the mundanities of running a business. And, while this “rolling up the sleeves and getting involved” mindset is admirable, it’s important to assess whether it’s an effective and efficient use of your skillset.
While it’s impossible to manufacture more time, the last few years have seen an explosion in automation tools that will give you more time to focus on the bigger picture of your business. Instead of manual processes, you can spend time strategizing and growing the size of your business.
Rather than allowing yourself to become a slave to menial tasks, here are several essential automation tools for small business.
Client Communications and Email Marketing
Still manually sending out email communications? Stop! There are several easy to use, free apps you can leverage to centralize your email marketing into easy to manage lists. Leading the way in this field are MailChimp, Hubspot and Constant Contact. All three allow you to target specific lists of clients with one click, while easy to use templates make your communications look more professional with minimal design work. It’s even possible to schedule communications in advance or create an autoresponder to keep clients informed of any out of office delays in responding.
Billing and Payments
It’s a shame how much time business owners waste manually creating and issuing invoices to their clients. If you’re growing, this process can soon completely swamp your time, leaving few hours for other important tasks. The good news is, accounting applications exist that will allow you to automate invoicing, send notifications for late payments and even handle payments directly online. A great example of this is the app Shoeboxed. This convenient billing solution can automate data entry into your expense reports by pulling figures directly from your receipts. Elsewhere, Quickbooks allows you to create recurring payments, track bills and even pay multiple vendors and bills at the same time.
Whether it’s communicating with your team or your clients, there have never been more ways to do it, or more efficiencies to exploit. Slack, a free chat app, allows you to centralize communications with your team. Different channels can be created for different projects, while clients can also be granted privileges to view individual channels and communicate feedback directly to your team. It’s a more nimble and convenient alternative to using conventional email. For social media, it’s tough to look past Hootsuite as a management and automation tool. This handy software allows you to simultaneously manage all your channels, post content individually or all together with a simple tick, and even schedule posts months in advance.
Instead of keeping files and collaborative documents on one computer in your office, move them to the cloud. This decentralization of your collateral holds a number of advantages for you and your team. If you suffer power outages or an unforeseen setback in your office or building, your files are safely secured remotely and unaffected. It also enhances the collaborative potential of your team as they can all edit relevant documents at the same time, avoiding delays in the process. The gold standard for this level of automation is Google Drive. If you’re simply using it to house documents, the free 15gb of storage should be sufficient.
Find Out More
Looking to free up more time to grow your business? At GD Commerce, we’ll be happy to help you find ways to automate your business, so you can focus on spending more time doing what you love. Reach out to find out more!