As a small business owner (and particularly if you’re a one-man-band), repetitive tasks take up a lot of your time. Keeping on top of these tasks is important. But they can be tedious and probably keep you from working on your business (find out why you should focus on that).
Do I see you nod at this? Then it’s time to think about how you can automate your workflows & processes and set up routines to save time & get more productive.
Whether it’s admin tasks or marketing routines, many of our regular to-dos can easily be automated. And it’s worth it! Spend a little bit of time getting things set up now, and it’ll save you hours in the long run. And even better: You can free up time you can use for your client work & for developing your small business!
Check out my favourite ways to automate workflows & create processes for your small business:
1. Project Management
Another helpful way to automate workflows for your small business is to automate task and project management. This is particularly handy if you work with lots of different clients at the same time. But is also really useful if you’re working on one important project with lots of elements.
Trello is great for managing your projects. It features a combination of boards, lists and cards to help you organise your workflows. It also lets you set deadlines and assign tasks to different team members.
Instead of to-do lists scattered around on various bits of paper, everything is in one place. (And it’s cloud-based, so you can use it on-the-go as well.) You can check off tasks once they’re done, or easily drag and drop elements from one area of the project to another.
I love using OmniFocus for my task management! Add actions and group them into projects, then set reminders and deadlines. OmniFocus will also send you automatic notifications to remind you to complete tasks.
Again, it’s cloud-based, so it synchronises to all your devices. A little caveat though: It’s only available for iOS and macOS X.
2. Content Alerts
Whether you want to search for content to give you inspiration or want to keep track of mentions of your brand, this is something that can easily be automated. Set up a Google Alert or Feedly search to pull together all mentions of a particular topic.
If, for example, you’re looking for articles related to your industry to share on your social media channels, this is a quick and easy way to find content without spending hours searching the web.
This type of workflow automation is also a great tool for monitoring what people are saying about your small business. Positive mentions can be shared on social media or can help influence your website or newsletter content.
And any negative mentions can be a great source of feedback, allowing you to improve your products or services, and even reach out to customers to offer a solution.
Read more about how to benefit & learn from customer objections.
3. Monitoring & Reporting
Keeping track of your stats is really important when running a small business, but it can also be very time-consuming. To help automate workflows for small businesses, I’d really recommend setting up some Google Analytics reports.
This allows you to check up on key stats and see how your website is performing, without manually having to look up all the data. Just spend a little bit of time setting up reports to track the stats you need, and then get the reports automatically emailed to you on a weekly or monthly basis.
Databox is great for this too as it allows you to pull data from various platforms into one place before creating automated reports.
See how sales are going on Stripe, track your Google Ads results, keep track of your Adobe Analytics and see how well your Facebook adverts are performing. Think of the time you’ll save not having to check each site individually!
4. Accounting & Bookkeeping
Not only is accounting very time consuming, but it’s also something that many of us don’t enjoy doing. Don’t put yourself through the stress of manually sending out invoices and searching for expenses receipts at the end of each month.
Instead, your accounts are the perfect place to start if you want to automate workflows for your small business.
Sign up for digital accounting software, such as FreeAgent or QuickBooks. These services allow you to set up various automations, such as sending out regular invoices on a particular date each month, and sending clients automatic reminders if payment is overdue.
They also make it easy to record expenses just by snapping a photo of the receipt on your phone. This way, monthly expenses can automatically be calculated without having to trawl back through your bank statements.
Then, at the end of the financial year, your bookkeeping data can be sent straight to your accountant, which makes filing your tax return quick, easy and stress-free!
5. Social Media Scheduling
Social media marketing is a very important tool for most small businesses, but it’s also something that can take up a lot of your time.
As well as being able to schedule social media posts ahead of time, these social media management platforms also allow you to set up automations to pull in content from your blog, decide on the best posting schedule for you, and re-post evergreen content.
This means you can schedule a whole month of social media content in one go, rather than trying to find time at the end of each day or week to remember to post something on Instagram!
Find out how you to best market your business when you’re busy.
6. CRM Software
CRM, or customer relationship management software allows you to automate the process of managing customers and sales. Rather than trying to keep track of all your customers by yourself, CRM software will (safely) record all this data for you.
You can keep customers’ contact details, shopping preferences, previous orders and more all in one place.
Not only does this make it easy if you need to get in touch or follow up with a customer. But it also allows you to easily predict trends, track growth and personalise the offers you send out to customers.
This can help increase customer loyalty, improve your customer service offering and maximise sales. Take a look at CRM software such as Salesforce to help automate this part of your small business.
7. Contacting Customers
Another way to automate workflows for small businesses is to manage the way you contact your customers. As your business grows, it’s no longer practical to send out an individual email to all your customers.
Instead, use a service like MailChimp to automate your newsletters. As well as regular weekly or monthly newsletters which can be scheduled in, MailChimp also allows you to send out automatic emails after certain triggers.
For example, you may send a welcome email when they join your mailing list or ask for feedback or a review after they make a purchase.
You can also automate other types of customer contact, for example by using WooCommerce. Consider sending a reactivation email to inactive customers or when they have abandoned their shopping cart in your webshop.
This is a quick and easy way to build the reputation of your brand, stay in touch with customers and improve your customer service – all with just a few clicks to set it up!
Marketing doesn’t just stop with a sale, read more about how you can grow your small business with after-sales services.
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Time-Saving Tips for Your Small Business Marketing
It’s Oh So Quiet… How to Boost Your Small Business in Quiet Times
How to Market Your Small Business When You’re Busy
Make Your Small Business Work Smarter Not Harder