Small Business Automation 101: 6 Essential Tips to Get Started

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In an era where businesses experience massive competition from their rivals, technology continues to be the go-to solution. Every modern company relies on technology in one way or another.

With a number of hats to hone and a huge amount of workload to deal with, you’ll always be pressed for time as a business owner.

To remain competitive in the market, it’s imperative that you find a quick and cost-effective solution to complete all recurring tasks. That’s where business automation comes into play.

By automating your day-to-day tasks, you get to focus on other important areas of your business growth. But where and how will you start? Read on to learn more!

1. Choose the Tasks to Automate

This sounds obvious, right? Well, you’ll be surprised how many people get it wrong at this initial stage. As such, the whole automation project becomes ineffective and just a waste of resources.

To avoid going down that route, it’s important that you list your tasks according to their level of prioritization and frequency of occurrence.

As stated earlier, repetitive tasks can take up most of your time and you might end up forgetting about other important facets of the business.

For instance, checking emails daily is an important part of any business operation, however, they can be very time-consuming. Other similar duties include account payroll, inventory management, invoicing, and creating reports.

You can save a lot of time and free some of your personnel by employing apps and other tools to automate these frequent tasks.

For instance, business management software for landscapers can help you schedule jobs, organize work orders, and even send automatic invoice reminders to your clients after completing landscaping jobs.

Apart from accelerating operations, these tools eliminate any possible human errors that could have otherwise affected the company’s productivity.

2. Explore Available Automation Opportunities

There are many available automation tools and apps, but not all are ideal for your needs. For instance, some applications are designed specifically for certain fields, while others are universal.

It’s your responsibility as the business owner to research and finds possible integrations with the current system.

For instance, if you have a remote team, there are high chances that you could be using messaging apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams. With many projects running, it can be quite difficult to keep track of email notifications and messages from these apps.

Fortunately, there are programs designed to put all your notifications in one place, which is a handy addition to your business automation project.

However, it’s recommended that you find automation opportunities within these apps before looking for additional help. This will make it easy for you to actualize your project and will save you some money.

For instance, rather than investing in an application designed exclusively for reminders, you can take advantage of similar settings in your calendar app.

So be sure to check all the features available in the software you’re already using before going into the market to find alternatives.

 3. Start Small

Every business has different forms of repetitive tasks; some are large while others are quite small. The latter can be programmed easily and the automation process started without any complications.

However, the larger the task, the more challenges you’re likely to face.

In case you find yourself with such a project, it’s imperative that you split it into small programable tasks. Once you’ve worked on every bit, you can then go ahead and compile the whole program.

One advantage of following this automation process is that it reduces unnecessary errors.

Breaking down a large project into modules also accelerates the programming process because every bit can be completed by a different person. This ensures that you utilize all the creative minds you have in your business.

4. Filter Unnecessary Triggers

You’re always going to deal with irrelevant data at some point in your automation. For instance, when it comes to emails, not all senders are important for your business.

Just like any other notification, these emails will still send a signal which will trigger any linked operation. In the long run, you might end up wasting resources on unproductive processes.

To avoid such issues, it’s recommended that you filter your emails and other data by sender or subject. If this isn’t possible in the native app, you can filter this information in the second step.

Remember, the goal is to ensure that only the important triggers are reported in the final step of your business automation.

5. Do as Many Tests as Possible

Many people launch their automation immediately after building them in the hope that everything will work out as expected.

However, in the long run, they end up facing errors which could be detrimental to the overall business operation. To avoid such issues, it’s vital that you test the created automation at every stage.

The best way to carry out these tests is to think of all possibilities that are likely to arise. For instance, double-barreled names and differences in date format are some of the most common factors that could bring confusion to your program.

By ironing out these problems, you’ll make your automation even more effective and reliable.

6. Error Notification and Continuous Improvement

Regardless of the amount of testing you do, there’s always something that can go wrong in the long run. For instance, the data that results from the trigger event could vary from the anticipated information, which means the whole process could come to a standstill.

Therefore, it’s important that you set up a notification trigger that will alert you and give you a chance to correct the errors as soon as possible.

Take advantage of this opportunity to amend and make necessary improvements to your system. Remember, consumer needs are always changing, and so should your automation process.

Introduce new programs that will further enhance your operations and increase overall productivity.

Conclusion

Business automation continues to grow in popularity as a way to complete minor, menial tasks. As a small business looking to start this journey, your first step should be choosing the tasks that need to be automated.

Explore all the available opportunities before making any final decisions. As you do all these, it’s recommended that you start small, filter unnecessary triggers in your automation, and carry out several tests.

References

 1. “The Do’s And Don’ts Of Business Automation”, Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/serenitygibbons/2020/08/13/the-dos-and-donts-of-business-automation/?sh=4cafd47a5e22

2. “Effective Tips For Small Business Automation”, Source: https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/05/effective-tips-small-business-automation.html

 

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