Marketing Planning & Reporting, Workflows & Processes

How to Save Time & Automate Your Workflows


As a small business owner (and particularly if you’re a one-(wo)man-band), regular 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). If this sounds like you, 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.

And to find the tools to help you with each of the following, check out my favourite small business and marketing tools.

1. Project management

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A really 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. And if several people are involved in the project, a project management tool can be a life-saver.

When you work across multiple projects, you can end up with to-do lists scattered around on various bits of paper. No matter how hard you try, those lists can eaily get mixed up or misplaced. Having a cloud based system, where everything is stored online and in individual folders, is a game changer.

What matters here is that you get super organised. Sure, it might require a bit of investment in time, and potentially a subscription to an app or website. But the payoff is huge. When you find a system that works for you, you can set up reminders, deadlines and virtual to do lists. Set notifications to remind you when certain tasks need to be completed, and colour code tasks for different projects.

By automating your project management, you’ll save yourself so much time in the long run.

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 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

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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, take advantage of systems designed to keep track of this for you.

You can do this for everything you need to monitor in your business. From financial stats and cash flow reports to social media and web performance.

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. This is such small change but a massive time saver!

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, taking care of your staff’s payroll 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.

Consider signing up for digital accounting software. 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.

You can also record expenses just by snapping a photo of the receipt on your phone and uploading to many of these systems. 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! Future you will be so thankful…

5. Social media scheduling

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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.

These days there are so many tools available to automate your content creation & curation workflows. In fact, I have a whole post dedicated to my favourite social media scheduling tools!

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. It’s also great for repeat business, referrals and for getting online reviews.

7. Email marketing & newsletters

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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 an email marketing platforms to automate your newsletters. As well as regular weekly or monthly newsletters which can be scheduled in, these platforms 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.

Many platforms also allow you to automate other types of customer contact. 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!

Don’t forget to check out my favourite small business and marketing tools in this post. That post is a companion to this piece, helping you discover the best platforms and software to make the above happen.


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
After Sales Services: Why Your Marketing Shouldn’t Stop With Making the Sale
Make Your Small Business Work Smarter Not Harder

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.