In recent years, automation has become a common tech solution for many aspects of business operations, from marketing to data analytics and reporting. Automating monotonous and repetitive tasks gives you and your team that chance to focus on other duties in need of your undivided attention. Business automation is also a tool you can leverage to scale your company and promote growth.
Not sure where to begin when it comes to using automation effectively? Below, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members each recommended one task entrepreneurs should automate within their businesses to free up time and help them scale.
1. Email Marketing
In the early stages of small business ownership, I tried to do everything myself. After nearly a year of burning it at both ends, I realized I was spending my days doing a lot but accomplishing very little. Something needed to change! I did not have a large staff to delegate responsibilities to, so I needed to discover ways to automate my business. I wrote down every aspect of my business and asked myself two questions: 1) Can I save time by automating this area of my business? 2) Will automating this area of my business make it less effective? I ended up automating several aspects of my business, but far and away the most impactful was email marketing. It transformed my business. It was not until I learned how to “let go” that my business took its first real jump in productivity. – Brendan Meyer, Golden Franchise Consulting
After struggling with spending a lot of stressful time adding up the minutes and the hours of each clocked-in employee, I found that salaried positions often mirrored hourly nearly the same amount when it came to employees leaving 20 minutes early one day and hitting nine minutes in overtime the next day. I have all of my employees on salary now, and my payroll is automated. I went from spending 12 or more hours a month on payroll to about 15 minutes a month. I only log in now to make adjustments or to add in bonuses. You will want to check with your state’s salary requirements and be sure you are following the rules for that. – Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo
3. Setting Lead Appointments
I find one task that people can automate is setting appointments with their leads. Most people call and email the lead trying to set up an appointment. I have found that if you automate a text message going out to the lead thanking them for filling out a form on your site and asking them to book a call via a calendar link, this will increase your conversion rate plus save hours of time. – Bryan Driscoll, Motivated Leads
4. Social Media
Automating your social media posting will not only free up time, but it will also allow you to increase your audience. There are many automation tools that allow you to schedule monthly posts across platforms. A consistent brand voice on social media can be leveraged to generate leads, hire new team members, as well as network with others in your industry. Automating social media frees you up from having to go in and post daily as your company grows. – Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas
5. Financial Tracking
As an accountant, I spend a lot of time tracking various expenses and accounts to be prepared for tax season. Through the use of apps and software that automate the process of tracking receipts and condensing multiple spreadsheets, I’ve been able to free up a lot of time to focus on other aspects of my business. Although there’s currently nothing on the market that can replace a qualified accountant, using tools to automate some accounting services can have a tremendously positive effect on your company’s productivity. – Bryce Welker, Real Estate Schooler
6. Customer Service
The single most important aspect of a business that entrepreneurs need to automate is customer service. Nothing will steal the time of a founder and leader more than customers who need attention. Of course, with a small business, that personal touch with customers is often a key differentiator. Therefore, the goal here is to set up a clear and documented system for each type of interaction your business has with customers. Some of those can be truly automated with software and pre-built messages and escalations. Other interactions will require a human touch, and it’s on the entrepreneur to define the best practice and remove any guesswork for the team members put in charge of this. This was the single most important step in my journey to scale our business so I could focus on growth. – Daniel Reilly, B2X Global
Automating the interview process has saved us a lot of time and resources. Hiring the right person is always a challenge for any company—hence why interviewing has been a very time-consuming and manual process for a while. The need to scale quickly forced us to be more efficient. We listed out the entire workflow from start to finish and identified all the steps where manual work is involved. We looked to see if any of these manual processes could be replaced with other tools or different methods. During this time, we also documented all the steps so they could be easily scalable in the future. It took us multiple iterations to get to a nearly fully automated state. Even though we are constantly seeking to enhance it more, now we can interview more people in a shorter amount of time. – Meeky Hwang, Ndevr, Inc.
8. Any Activity You’re Not Passionate About
There are quite a few business activities to tend to as a business owner. There are product/service activities, financial processes, marketing and sales, HR activities and legal operations. Any of these activities can hamper scale for many reasons, and any one that does should be addressed. One reason some of these activities affect scale is that they take up way too much time compared to their direct effect on company growth. Take financial processes for example. Unless you’re a spreadsheet-loving CEO, dealing with bookkeeping can be one giant annoyance. And if you don’t feel your best, productivity grinds to a halt—so automate that. This goes for any activity you don’t do well or don’t find pleasure in doing yourself. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS