How to Automate Your Small Business in 2022

How to Automate Your Small Business in 2022

With the growth of online commerce and the opportunities it can offer to smaller companies, there’s never been a better time to embrace automation for small business needs. In this article we look at How to Automate Your Small Business in 2022.

In the post-COVID landscape, a level playing field where online companies can compete with global giants has become a very real possibility. 

While previous success only seemed doable with a big budget and a never-ending pool of resources, today’s consumer is savvier and more open-minded when it comes to giving their business to a smaller enterprise. 

However, with this new wave of consumer comes an expectation in terms of service, timeframes, convenience, and most importantly – innovation. 

The Benefits of Small Business Automation 

In a study conducted by global research and advisory company Gartner, some fascinating insights were gained into how automation is perceived, and how it may benefit a small business over the next few years.

  • The automated technologies market reached $481.6 billion in 2020 and $532.4 billion in 2021.
  • That same market for automated technology solutions is expected to reach $596.6 billion globally this year.
  • By 2024, it’s forecast that companies will reduce operational costs by 30% by embracing hyper-automation technologies.  

In addition to this, the everyday benefits of automated processes offer your company some very real and trackable perks. Whether you’re a sole trader, an e-commerce company, or a small to medium business, you can expect to gain the following advantages. 

Reduced Errors

The accuracy of your communications and admin improves exponentially with an automated system to oversee things like spelling, grammatical errors, and financial matters. It also provides you with the ability to schedule workloads and keep on top of your deadlines. 

Faster Results and Response Times

No two days are ever the same for online commerce companies and small business owners. In fact, all entrepreneurs will inevitably find themselves in need of fast information that could have a huge impact on their brand at some point or another. 

This could be a last-minute order from a potential new client or a human error that’s led to an irate customer in need of an immediate response. Either way, automating your key processes ensures you’re prepared to react quickly to any situation. 

Improved Efficiency

The innovations of technology come with certain consumer expectations, and efficiency is the most noticeable one from a customer’s point of view. A lot of menial tasks waste hours of employee time when they could be done far more efficiently through automated solutions. Digitally handling repetitive daily tasks allows you to shift your focus onto bigger picture things. 

Reduced Costs 

Every small enterprise knows the importance of its bottom line. When you’re running your own business, costs are (quite literally) the difference between moving into a new tax bracket and not making enough to sustain your business. In other words, cost matters. 

So much of a business’s time is wasted on errors that could have been easily avoided. Automation provides businesses with the ability to shake off these costly problems and redirect focus on bringing in new business. 

More Conversions

These combined attributes above cater to the modern consumer and help to make the buyer’s journey far smoother, faster, and more productive. This helps you to gain more loyal customers, a better brand reputation, a process that’s easier for the consumer, and more conversions. 

Choosing Which Areas of Your Business to Automate 

Now you’re up to speed with where the future of commerce is headed, and the benefits that automation can provide. But your business has its own set of goals and objectives that reach beyond these generalisations.

So, how are you going to find out which areas of your business are going to benefit most from a transition into automation? And how are you going to implement it into your company through this year and beyond? Follow these 3 simple first steps before going any further. 

Step one: Implement a rigorous audit of your internal processes. 

Step two: Cross-reference this audit with the automation available to you below.

Step three: Identify the areas that can be improved and set goals to implement changes. 

The Main Areas of Automated Business Tools 

To assist in mapping out these areas for you to apply changes, the range of automated workflows and processes at your disposal are listed below. 

Finance and Accounting Automation 

Keeping on top of your financial management is one of the most tedious but vital parts of running a business. If you’re sick and tired of the complexities that come with accounting, taxes, and other financial tasks, you’re certainly not alone.

This time-draining exercise can be automated, and with HMRC government initiatives like the MTD scheme (Making Tax Digital) leading the way in the digital tax revolution, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of automated accounting. 

However, HMRC-recognised software is notoriously tricky to find, which is why Sage has provided businesses with a streamlined and simple approach to being tax-compliant. Their Making Tax Digital automated services condense all the stress and complications of MTD VAT compliance into one easy-to-use system. 

Administrative Automation 

For businesses that still operate from buildings or shared workspaces, the Ara Visitor Management System is a smart software tool that allows visitors to sign in, notify you of their arrival, and check them out after your meeting has ended. It even checks their temperature for added safety and security for COVID-cautious members of staff. 

If your admin issues are more related to the constant menial chores of work-life, IFTTT (If This, Then That) helps to connect fluidity between your different apps and devices, saving you from having to criss-cross between various platforms by triggering automation. 

Project Management Automation 

Calendly is a refreshingly simple tool that eliminates the litany of emails, calls, and constant changes that come with trying to arrange a meeting. All you have to do is set preferences for your availability in Calendly and attach a link by email. Others can then choose a time that also suits their preferences and everything is sorted in minutes. 

For a web and mobile-friendly work management tool, Asana combines the ability to organise workflows, task management, and complete work projects through a streamlined automated process. A must-have for fully remote businesses.

The time-tracking tools that Harvest provides businesses with will help them to get a better idea of task length and employee activity without having to alter the way they work. This automated tool gives you insights into team availability, work capacity, and even cost breakdowns for online invoices to clients. 

Automated Communications Tools 

Small businesses need to communicate louder to compete with bigger companies. That’s why modern automated marvels like Grammarly are vital to utilise across your emails, blog posts, and social media content. Poor spelling and grammar mistakes can undo years of good reputational management, so this innovative tool is absolutely essential. 

Sick of how many media channels you’re expected to post on these days? Hootsuite eases the pain of social media posting by helping to automate and integrate your content campaigns across several platforms. 

Virtual hiring tools are eye-opening examples of how much time was once wasted on dealing with candidates who didn’t even complete the full application process. InFlight creates a process that makes candidates feel noticed while reducing the time your business spends on menial tasks by automating many parts of the application process. 

Customer Service Automation Tools

Innovative integration systems like Tenfold combine current platforms like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics and make use of known channels and names that consumers are already comfortable with. You can get instant access to data across any tabs, any time of the day by using Tenfold’s Chrome extension tool. This personalised but informative approach gives you huge customer insights, instantly. 

Tidio is aimed at giving small but ambitious businesses the chance to merge customer service with sales. By connecting your emails, live chat, Instagram, and Messenger together, you can monitor customer service with one of the easiest automation tools available. 

The Next Steps Toward Small Business Automation 

Now you’re in the loop about what’s available to your business, it’s time to take the next steps toward future business success. Never forget that despite the narrative of big business being an insurmountable giant, automotive tools are custom-made for smaller enterprises who dream big. 

Just remember a few key things before your start your automation journey: 

  • Dreaming big should always involve smaller steps towards your goals 
  • Don’t change everything overnight – focus on one area and track the results 
  • Ease your staff into new software and provide the best training possible 
  • Consider how a new integration will work alongside your existing tech 

Taking small but purposely steps is what makes the automation and small business dynamic work best. So, with each move you make, consider the above points, and only invest in automated tools that’ll provide you with solutions that last for the next 5-10 years, instead of clamouring to find a quick fix to get you through the next few days. 

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