Owning your own business often means that you’re pulled in many different directions, usually at the same time. To keep yourself from going crazy, it helps to automate as many processes as you can. This makes it possible for you to run your company efficiently without having to spread yourself any thinner than you already are.
With this thought in mind, there are five things you can automate, starting today, that will help you better streamline your business as you continue to help it grow. They are:
1. Your Administrative Tasks
A survey of more than 1,500 office administrators revealed that persons in this type of position are responsible for many duties. This includes budgeting, payroll, human resources tasks, social media management, and more.
Whether these functions are currently being handled by you or someone else in your business, you can free up a lot of time by automating as many of these administrative duties as possible. Create templates for your annual budget and use programs designed to make paying your employees a breeze.
This leaves more time to spend on other issues or situations that may demand urgent attention. It also reduces workload, which means less employee turnover and lower rates of burnout.
2. Your Proposal Process
When you’re in business for yourself, your ability to continuously win new work contracts is not only critical for your sustainability, but it’s also necessary for growth. The question is: How long does each proposal take to complete? Furthermore, do both you and the prospective client both consider it a pleasurable process?
The reality is, if you’re putting more effort into proposals than you’re getting in return, or if you and/or your clients find the whole process burdensome, then it’s time to reevaluate your proposal process. The key is to automate in a way that is easier and more enjoyable to both of you.
One way to do this is by purchasing a proposal software which helps you create effective proposal templates that you can use over and over again. Using this type of software also enables you to negotiate within the proposal itself, even enabling the client to electronically sign the document once it’s accepted, saving you time in the traditional back-and-forth.
3. Your Tax Preparations
One study conducted by the National Small Business Association found that it takes the average small business owner approximately 40 hours to prepare and file their company taxes. Others spend even more, with 25 percent admitting to spending a full three weeks on this task alone. If either of these is you, you would benefit greatly from automating this process.
To do this, use software that compiles the exact data that you need for your taxes so you don’t have to do it by hand. You may even want to give your tax preparer his or her own username and password to gain entry into various areas of your system so the information can be accessed directly if there are any questions.
4. Your Social Media Management
How much time do you spend on your business social media sites? If your response is “too much,” then you could definitely benefit from automating the handling of those sites.
Using tools such as HootSuite, or Buffer, you can auto schedule your social media posts and plan them all ahead, saving a lot of time by preempting your intended social engagement with your followers.
There are also some sites that enable you to preschedule all of your social posts at one time. This keeps you from having to access each social media site every time you want to interact with your consumers, which also reduces the temptation to spend more time there than you realistically should (by checking your own personal accounts).
5. Your Customer Support
While offering stellar customer service is a great way to help your business grow, too much time spent making consumers happy can deflect from time that should be spent on other areas of your business instead. How do you strike a balance so you can successfully run your company, yet still make your customers want to come back to you in the future?
The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that you consider using online help desks like Groove or FreshDesk to handle any customer concerns. This ensures that you’re meeting the needs of your customer base without overburdening one of your staff or potentially having issues fall through the cracks.
Automate these five things—your administrative tasks, your proposal process, your tax preparations, your social media management, and your customer support—and you’ll have more time to tend to other business functions that can’t necessarily be automated or that require more brain power. It also means more free time for doing things outside of work. Just imagine what you can do with that.