How to Put the Power of Automation to Work for Your Small Business

Freeing up time, money, and resources is essential to streamlining operations and increasing productivity

In the early stages of building a small business, entrepreneurs often stay involved in oft-times mundane tasks—from social media posts to data input—to make sure systems are working properly. But as a business grows, owners can benefit from being less hands-on, automating processes to streamline operations and increase productivity.

“Automation frees up the time, money, and resources to drive efficiencies,” says Christian Nascimento, vice president of product management and strategy at Comcast Business. “I think that when done right, it can also augment human connection,” such as communications and customer service. Business owners and staff can also focus on more valuable tasks such as expanding their client base or breaking into new markets. Here’s a look at steps you need to automate your business and set you on a path toward growth.

First, Identify Opportunities for Automation

Automation simplifies your business by accomplishing tasks that you or your employees would otherwise have to do manually. “Take a look at your business processes, and identify areas that are time consuming, repetitive, or prone to errors—things like data entry,” says Lori Martinek, a branding and digital outreach consultant in the Phoenix area and a mentor with SCORE, an organization that pairs successful business owners with entrepreneurs.

Once you understand where those bottlenecks exist, take steps to take those activities off your plate. Leverage your network of vendors, partners, and other small business owners for recommendations, and look to reputable software providers with solutions that match your needs. “Seek out tools that are user-friendly and provide training for you and your employees,” Martinek says. “Whenever possible, try to get a free trial so you can test it before you buy.”

Scalability also matters, Martinek adds: “Look for a tool that can grow with your business, so you don’t have to research and learn new products as you expand.”

Then, Explore your Options

Your unique business functions will shape your automation needs. “Knowing what you need to get started can be very overwhelming for people, especially new small businesses,” Martinek says.

One place to start is with software platforms designed for automation and efficiency. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow you to store customer data. You can connect other software platforms to a CRM system so any updates—say, a change in a customer’s status or a new business deal—are kept up to date everywhere. Features like these cut down on manual data input and can reduce the chance for errors. They also help ensure your team has the most current information available.

“We’re talking about making sure a business is running more efficiently so that the owner can focus more time on things like training staff and offering great white-glove service to customers,” Nascimento says. “It’s reclaiming time from activities like entering information or filling out forms.”

Small businesses can take advantage of software that helps automate marketing efforts, as well. For example, businesses can use these tools to segment their customer base and create more personalized and timely email campaigns aimed at specific target audiences. You also can use them to track the progress of your outreach campaigns, which can give you crucial feedback on which marketing strategies are most effective in helping you reach certain customers.

Meanwhile, automated account software provides a host of potential benefits such as managing expenses and keeping tabs on your company’s finances. Connecting your accounting tools to your CRM can give you important insights into which clients are truly helping to drive your business’s growth.

Point-of-sale systems make it easy to ring up customer sales, but these days they offer businesses much more. Many of these systems also offer automated reporting and insights that help track data related to sales, which is invaluable in understanding customer spending patterns.

Finally, Get Connected

Software isn’t the only tool that can help automate your business functions. A host of connected devices—often referred to as the internet of things or IoT devices—can be harnessed for such things as temperature control or pest control to help you monitor and manage infrastructure from afar, potentially saving time and money. For example, automatic monitoring in a restaurant freezer can free up an employee from checking the temperature of food every 45 minutes, letting them spend more time catering to diners. “That’s a win-win from a technology and customer experience standpoint,” Nascimento says.

Whether it’s using software tools that drive automation or leveraging the power of connected devices, internet connectivity sits at the center of the modern, nimble small business. “Connectivity is foundational,” Nascimento says. “And automation works better when connected to a fast, reliable network.”

Working with a partner that offers complete connectivity solutions, such as business internet, Wi-Fi, cybersecurity, and mobile, can help business owners minimize the time they spend managing vendors and services. “It can be super helpful to the small business owner to have these services in one place, Nascimento says. “If you need help, you don’t need to jump through a bunch of hoops. You have the benefit of having one expert that can look at the whole picture.”

Get your new business ready to do business with connectivity from Comcast Business. Click here to learn more.

Originally posted on Fast Company,


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