3 Easy & Impactful Ways to Automate Your Small Business
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Marc Berger, founder of Pure
September 18, 2019
In case you haven’t noticed, we are living in the Age of Automation, fast technology, and artificial intelligence. These technologies are drastically reshaping the face of business at a rate never seen before. Companies that are intentionally adapting to today’s changes and being proactive in preparing for tomorrow’s unknowns will be best positioned for longevity and growth.
Automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and digitization are creating incredible efficiencies for businesses, and the technology available is getting better and better every day.
I often tell clients they simply can’t ignore these massive advances in technology in avoidance of change or hope that they’re just ‘trends’ that’ll eventually fade out. In order to future-proof your organization, you must be watching the trajectory of your industry and business at large. Change and the willingness to adopt new technologies, workflows, and mindsets will likely be your only constant.
Below I’ll share three fundamental ways you can begin automating your business with technology. My hope is your creative juices will start flowing so you can identify other areas in your business that could be improved by automation and technology!
Billing is one of the easiest and most impactful processes to automate for many organizations. You’ll never operate at maximum efficiency if you are constantly chasing accounts receivable or simply don’t have a mechanism for tracking cashflow. Before even considering apps and software to systematize your billing process, you’ll first want to migrate your company books to a cloud-based accounting solution like QuickBooks Online or Xero that syncs your source documents and bank data in the cloud for accurate, real-time visibility into your financials.
Once you have your books in the cloud, you can begin to automate your billing process with the tools built into these online accounting solutions. Making the payment process as simple as possible will minimize the invoice-to-payment turnaround time and increases the likelihood of receiving payment.
Depending on how you deliver your product or service, this could mean hooking up a card reader to your smartphone so you can accept payments on the fly, or sending invoices from QuickBooks Online with a “pay” link, or a specialized solution like Bill.com which allows your customers to pay using EFT (electronic funds transfer) or a credit card.
Regardless of how you choose to automate your billing process, your customers should be able to pay with virtually no effort. Make it as easy as possible to move money from their bank account to yours.
Far too many small businesses still run manual payroll every two weeks. It takes a great deal of time and effort on a regular basis, is prone to error, and is subject to high penalties if done erroneously. Yet, it is one of the easiest functions you can delegate to an automated solution.
Payroll solutions such as our partner app, Gusto, automate the payroll process seamlessly, reducing your time and effort with just a few clicks each pay period. Gusto integrates with many cloud-based accounting solutions, connects to your bank, auto-drafts payroll from your account and direct deposits into your employees’ accounts like clockwork each payday.
When looking to increase your business’s efficiency, you should absolutely be considering a solution for something as time-consuming yet easily automated as payroll.
Lastly, you should be considering how to possibly adopt a subscription-based model for your product or service. By automating your sales function, you effectively streamline your revenues into predictable, constant income. You’ve heard that getting new customers is more costly than keeping existing ones, so find ways to automate your product or service so you can hang on to those satisfied buyers.
For example, consider Dollar Shave Club, the quintessential example of a successful subscription-based business model. Their monthly subscriptions for razors and other hygiene products generate recurring revenue and ensure customer repurchase. Instead of relying on your customers to go back to your website or store whenever they run out of your product, you make it convenient for them by automatically charging their account and shipping your products to their door – all without requiring any effort from them.
Note that you don’t have to go 100% subscription-based either; many companies allow customers to make a one-time purchase for a good or service while also offering a subscription upgrade option, often at a discounted rate. So, let’s say you own a carpet cleaning business. Instead of just offering one-time services, you could offer a monthly subscription option where your customers are guaranteed a monthly carpet cleaning service, and you are guaranteed revenue from them every 30 days.
The logistics of automating your product or service offerings will highly depend on your industry, niche, and existing business model, and will likely require more time, energy, and resources to adopt than automating your payroll and billing will. However, given the opportunity for growth and recurring revenues, it’s definitely worth considering.
We offer business advisory services to help you incorporate the right technologies and automation into your organization. Contact us today to schedule your first advisory consultation!
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