Owning a business is an accomplishment to be proud of. But it also comes with a lot of stress and responsibility. According to a Gallup poll, over 60% of small business owners work 50 or more hours each week.
But you don’t have to do it all. Small business automation can make running a small business easier. Small business owners have many options, tools and apps that simplify being entrepreneurs.
What is small business automation?
Small business automation uses software, applications or other technology to create an automatic process for tasks. It can streamline many day-to-day operations by implementing a fully (or partially) automated workflow.
Many business owners believe it’s only for bigger companies. However, small business owners can use it to focus on higher-level tasks, freeing up time to grow their business or improve their processes.
Marketing automation for small businesses
Marketing automation can help small businesses grow faster, find more customers and simplify their operations.
1. Email campaigns
Email campaigns are a great way to reach out to customers and prospects. Here’s how it can help:
- Connect with leads and prospects to get them interested in a product or service.
- Welcome new customers and subscribers to increase retention.
- Send abandoned cart emails to remind a customer to return and purchase the items
- Send birthday and anniversary emails that include a special offer.
2. Social media marketing
Social media marketing automation is an easy and efficient way to ensure that your profiles and pages are updated regularly. It can:
- Ensure your company's social media marketing is consistent across all platforms.
- Publish content at regular intervals during popular times to increase engagement.
- Schedule posts in advance to connect with followers more often.
3. Display ads
Display advertising, a type of online advertising, lets small business owners reach their target audience across various digital platforms. Automation has benefits:
- Customize the campaign based on real-time data to get better ROI
- Run campaigns at timed intervals even if you’re not online
- Measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns
Sales and lead management automation
Tools and apps can help small businesses automate leads and better manage sales. Ditch the spreadsheet and save time and resources with these small business automations.
4. CRM platform
CRM is short for customer relationship management system and helps you manage customer information. Automating the process of finding and managing your customers has many benefits:
- Increase sales using data-driven recommendations and by tracking all interactions and communications.
- Predict the probability of closing a sale for more accurate sales forecasting.
- Combine customer data and business intelligence tools to help you make data-driven, strategic decisions to improve the efficiency and timeliness of follow-ups.
5. Sign-up forms
Customer contact information is crucial to business growth, but manually gathering data is time-consuming. Sign-up forms simplify the process to help:
- Get customers to opt into your subscriber list for future email or direct mail marketing.
- Integrate the form with a CRM platform to automatically add new leads.
- Segment customers according to how they signed up to trigger personalized welcome emails or campaigns.
For small businesses, keeping up with communications can be a challenge. But it’s essential to every business, and these automations can make it less tedious:
- Generate follow-up emails after customer purchases.
- Send future meeting reminders, so everyone is on the same page.
- Reminders to check in after a specific amount of time when a prospect shows interest in a product or service.
7. Proposals and agreements
Proposals and agreements are a necessity in the business world. To manage these quickly and efficiently, companies are resorting to automation for:
- Templates that use prepopulated fields to customize proposals.
- Automating the signatory process to reach a deal more easily and quickly.
- Automatic tracking of contracts in a sales pipeline.
- Integration of opportunities to upsell and cross-sell other products and services.
8. Invoice automation
Invoices can be a hassle. Small businesses spend valuable time and money dealing with them. However, automation can solve some of these issues:
- Generate and send invoices immediately upon the order or delivery of the goods or services.
- Ensures accurate and timely billings to decrease processing time.
- Track money owed and how long it will take for a payment to reach the company.
- Increase accountability through better transparency and control at every level.
Customer support automation for small businesses
Small businesses often don’t have the resources to provide the same level of customer support as larger companies. However, automated tools can boost customer support and provide solutions to their customers.
9. Customer response scripts
Small businesses are always searching for ways to provide better customer service. Customer response scripts have many benefits:
- Consistent communications for common questions and concerns.
- Decreased response time by providing quick solutions to inquiries.
- Integration with phone systems to provide needed information to callers.
Chatbots are great for small businesses that want to offer a high level of customer service without sacrificing their budget. It can help by:
- Lowering staffing costs while providing around-the-clock support.
- Answering most questions and providing solutions to common issues that customers may need help with.
- Detecting patterns to give more accurate responses in the future.
Scheduling apps for small businesses can eliminate much of the back-and-forth between customers and internal staff and teams. Here are other benefits of scheduling automation for small businesses:
- Real-time tracking of appointments for business owners and employees.
- Automatic salesperson assignment when a client requests a meeting.
- Email and text appointment reminders.
- Integration with CRMs, intake forms and invoicing software.
Business operations small business automation
Small businesses have increasing opportunities to automate many business operations, such as accounting, expense management, human resources and software and security.
Accounting is one of the most important functions in a business. If you don’t need a dedicated accountant on staff, automations can provide the control you need to:
- Reconcile books with bank statements and locate errors.
- Create custom reports using built-in formulas.
- Integrate payroll and timesheets for up-to-date data across multiple platforms.
- Attach proof of purchase and other documents digitally.
13. Human resources
Human resources (HR) helps maintain a healthy work environment for employees and employers. Here’s how to automate some necessary support:
- Job posting and employee onboarding
- Manage vacation and paid-time-off requests to maintain staffing levels.
- Reduce compliance risk and policy violations.
14. Employee utilization
Employee utilization is about more than time spent on the job. It also includes other skills and tasks that employees contribute to their company. Small business automation tools can help:
- Automatically assign tasks based on employee strengths.
- Streamline project tasks and milestones to keep everyone in the loop.
- Collect and analyze data to improve performance over time.
- Boost motivation with metrics and goal progress.
How NEXT simplifies small business insurance
Being a business owner can be lonely without the proper support in place. Luckily, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Small business automations can simplify tedious tasks and give you more time for the things that really matter.
Another way to simplify your small business is to have the proper small business insurance protection in place. NEXT offers small business owners various coverages for many business types.
Whether you are looking for commercial auto insurance, workers’ compensation or general liability insurance, we can help you find a policy that fits your needs and budget. NEXT is 100% online. You can get a quote, review options, buy coverage and get instant access to your certificate of insurance in less than 10 minutes.