In 2019, there is so much talk about automation: whether it’ll render vast sections of the workforce useless, if robots will deliver our pizzas or even write the next great American novel, how it will disrupt our day-to-day lives. The concept of automation, however, isn’t new. As early as the 1940s, automation was leveraged in industrialization, with technology that allowed for certain tasks that were once manual to become automated, like assembly lines.
So why is there such an upset about automation now? Simply put, automation is evolving. It’s shifting from machinery and production processes to online technologies, becoming more commonplace to the average person with access to the Internet. Not just for the uber-wealthy, automation can be leveraged by almost anyone, especially small businesses.
Did you know that 69% of people who start a small business do so from their home? These aren’t businesses with large staffs of highly-technical people. These are individuals who have to roll up their sleeves, wear every hat, and all the other expressions that go hand-in-hand with being a scrappy entrepreneur. Automation is useful for the small business owner that needs help but isn’t quite ready to start outsourcing entire tasks to other people or companies.
Even if you can’t hire help, you can at least cut down on the tedious tasks that don’t need to be done manually. Work smarter, not harder, as they say. .
Here are the top tedious tasks that you do not need to do manually in 2019:
Online payroll platforms, like Gusto, automate the tedious tasks typically associated with payroll while also making it easy to make adjustments, like salary increases or bonuses. You may also want to consider a fully-integrated accounting platform with automated payroll capabilities so that expenses can sync with your other accounting records.
82% of businesses fail because of cash flow problems. Accurate books are essential for avoiding this. Using an automated bookkeeping service reduces inaccuracies while also cutting down on the time-consuming tasks. These tasks can take even longer if you lack accounting experience. If you’re going to automate anything, bookkeeping is a no-brainer.
As a small business, your tax requirements depend on many varying details, like which state you live in, the entity type of your business, or how much revenue you’re producing. Tax compliance software sets up reminders when an action is needed or when a tax deadline is approaching. With the right software, you’ll also have access to accountants who can provide guidance around tax season.
In the U.S. alone, 77% of people have a social media profile. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are ripe with opportunity for you to spread the word about your small business and engage with customers. Between creating content, taking pictures, and customizing posts for each social platform, managing a social media account (or three) can take a ton of time.
Scheduling tools like Hootsuite and SproutSocial make it easy to format and schedule social posts in advance so you can take care of it in one fell swoop rather than sit glued to your phone or computer throughout the day.
Understanding how people are interacting with your site, like which pages they’re landing on or if they always drop off at a certain point, is very telling of how you should optimize various aspects of your site’s content, CTAs, and design.
Google Analytics (GA) offers a free version of it’s reporting insights that might be just what someone with a small business and little analytics experience needs. GA is robust and has tons of data you can dig into. But if you’re just looking to keep a pulse on how your site is performing, you should consider automating monthly reports. Through these automated reports, you can customize what data you’re looking at to ensure you’re kept up to date on the most important traffic insights for your business.
Email Sorting and Responses
There are so many “hacks” for email these days, you’d be remiss to ignore them. Here are a few:
Cutting down on junk mail
Tools like Unroll.Me make it easy to unsubscribe from junk mail so that your inbox doesn’t skyrocket with irrelevant messages.
En masse outreach
For businesses that reach out to large groups with newsletters or sales, platforms like MailChimp use unique fields to automate personalized touches such as the recipient’s name.
Many email platforms, including Gmail, provide options to set up canned responses to common questions. If you find yourself writing the same email over and over again, you may consider creating a canned response that you can customize when needed.
Time is one of your more valuable resources, so gauging where your’s is going will help you determine if you’re spending it wisely. Time-tracking tools, like Harvest or TimeCamp, will paint a much clearer picture of where your time is really going. If you find, for instance, that you’re spending too much time on accounting tasks, it might be a sign you should automate that, too.
Automating to Work Smarter
You can’t do it all. Fortunately, there are tons of automation tools available to help your business run smoothly with fewer errors. Are there any tools you particularly value? Please share by submitting a comment below.
Interested in automating accounting tasks like bookkeeping and payroll? Chat with one of our experts about how ScaleFactor can make your life easier.