Every entrepreneur wants to create a profitable business. But instead of working on their businesses, most of them end up working in their businesses with a go-all-out, hands-on approach. When it comes to growth and scale, this hands-on approach won’t work. What entrepreneurs need is a way to leverage, and a way to scale. They are always looking for a sustainable way to go smart.
Automation is the answer to every entrepreneur’s dream. Businesses face severe competition and a roller coaster ride on the path to success. It helps when a few processes pass through automatically without the involvement of business owners at every juncture.
Jeff Haden writes on Inc. that automation helps you remain competitive. If you don’t, someone else will. Sooner or later, you’ll realize the importance of automation. You’d better do so early, before you miss the bus. Jeff also recommends automating the easiest processes first, building a culture within the company that embraces “automation” (much like there was — and still is — a need to embrace marketing as a culture), automating time sapping processes, and focusing on one process at a time.
But why automation, you ask? Lauren Simonds of Time notes that while every business has vital, but time-consuming tasks that require completion, not all of those tasks are income-producing ones. If time is money, you need all of that time you can get. Automation gets you just that.
Are there steps you can take to get there quick? How do you automate, streamline, and grow your business with automation?
Steps to Automate and Streamline Processes
Website Hosting and Management
A website isn’t what it was in the early 90s. Today, websites do a lot more than show up like a brochure 24 x 7.
Today, you need a website that works like a marketing machine — it ought to handle all the traffic that comes in, sweat it out to result in maximum conversions, and stay there when the weight of the world comes pounding on server bandwidth.
When that happens (or anything else with your website, for that matter), you don’t want to be spending time on it.
Well-managed websites for growing businesses don’t go without maintenance, care, and attention. That’s when you ought to trust managed hosting to work for your business. Managed hosting gives you more security, speed, automatic updates, absolutely no downtime, expert technical support, and daily backups.
Analytics: Why Chase Numbers When They Can Come to You?
If you actually consider the time spent logging in and out of multiple Web properties, social log-ins, and Google Analytics, you’ll realize that your time gets crunched and pounded harder than you thought.
Numbers are important. For all that effort you put in and money you spend, you need to see how your results are playing out.
You don’t really have to spend any more time than you need to. In fact, you can automate aggregating all your pertinent data or metrics using a centralized dashboard like Cyfe.
Cyfe is an all-in-one dashboard that monitors numbers across functions and other tools — including social media, support, infrastructure, sales, marketing, finance, accounting, and a lot more. If there’s a metric you need to know, it gets right into the dashboard you create.
Create custom widgets as you need to, monitor everything you need, build custom data sources as you want, customize reporting as you deem fit, and thrive with real-time reports.
Social Media Automation
While you can’t automate real-time replies, pure engagement, and genuine conversations with your fans, followers, and customers on social media, there are many other aspects that you can.
Schedule all your updates — now and into the future — using Hootsuite or Buffer for Business. Use many of the tools built for engagement such as Paper.li, Commun.it, and others that automatically identify, recognize, and shout out to your followers to engage with the latest updates in your account. You can follow, unfollow, and thank others who follow you — all automatically.
Nothing works as well as email marketing does. It just so happens that it’s old and isn’t half as happening as social media is. Yet, it’s a committed workhorse that makes your success its focus.
If you cannot afford the big weights such as OntraPort and Infusionsoft, there are many popular and nimble email service providers such as Mailchimp and Vero to give you everything you need to automate email marketing.
Send automated RSS-to-Email campaigns, push trigger-based messages to your website visitors, and much more. You can use email automation for lead nurturing, educating customers, and a lot more.
Here’s how Mailchimp uses its own automation workflow:
Can you build something like this for your business?
Customer service, when everything else is equal, could be a great differentiating factor from your competition. But not when you do it like everyone else does.
You have to figure out a way to automate your customer support to a large extent. For instance, creating communities to foster user-generated content, building FAQ and a knowledge base could be your first steps.
Solutions like FreshDesk, Tific, Jacada App, Zendesk, Groove HQ, and UserVoice can all help you streamline, automate, and systematize your customer support processes.
Noom — a startup that helps users keep up with their health and fitness goals — realized early on that managing multiple queries could be time consuming and drain the company of creative resources. Using UserVoice, it surmounted that challenge by centralizing its support processes, putting FAQ and knowledge base in one place, and reduced the number of support instances by 8 percent each month.
Thanks to some really awesome tools available for businesses of all sizes, automation isn’t just for corporations and giant mega companies. It’s not about what tools should you be using for automating parts or specific functions of your business. It’s more about realizing the need for change and doing what you can to make it happen.
Do you use automation for your business? Did you experience what automation can do for your business? Tell us about it in the comments.
Growth Concept Photo via Shutterstock
Thanks for sharing! Automation is a great way to engage on the scale, it needs to setup right and be as honest as possible. Thanks for sharing great tools to do it. Including Commun.it 🙂
Excellent article, as automation & streamlining of processes holds the set for every business, due to which positive planning can make every business sail smooth even during tough competitive times.
I like your article, makes a change as many articles out there are quite shallow/brief/lazy in signposting to great well thought-out solutions and instead point to mainstream highly known brands/softwares.
One thing I’d say you missed out… is the likes of cross-communication apps like: I use zapier.com for many things; including Recording my Client’s own Prospects & Leads (eventbrite.co.uk signups > sync to > google sheet > shortcutted to client’s phone/desktop + my phone & desktop).
I provide Streamlining & Automation Solutions for many Small Businesses (5 to 100 employees) as they typically need the Clarity / Organisation, however!! … I also find that many bigger businesses (5000+ employees) don’t have much automation in place as their departments/hands are tied by their IT team and/or their IT team don’t work closely at all with Marketing/Sales/HR all of whom would be interested in Streamlining via outside the box thinking.
Well done on good article.
PS. On a more personal note: I find Tasker for Android and NFC Tags great for automating many things and ‘ridding’ many idiosyncrasies from my devices.
Good post. I think automation is great for the aspects you mentioned, especially things like social media posts. There are some aspects of a business that are always going to be better handled by a real person, in my opinion. Thinks like accounting and bookkeeping should be looked after and handles by someone with experience. If you can’t do it yourself, hiring someone with the skills and experience is always ideal.
Of course, it all comes down to your own personal business needs! But, this is a great post to show business owners where they can save time and effort. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!