If you're like most small business owners striving for optimum productivity, it’s natural for you to look out for ways to automate processes to save time and money. Fortunately, many great automation tools can help you do just that. Automation brings out the best in your team while ensuring you rake in more profits by spending time on the things that matter.
However, the seeming disadvantage of business processes automation is the high cost of tools. Most business owners resort to affordable business loans to purchase these tools and make the most. This article will take a general overview of business automation, the necessary tools, and a step-by-step approach to getting the ball rolling.
What Does an Automated Process Mean?
An automated process refers to software or digital technology to carry out specific business processes or workflow functions. It replaces the need for human intervention in performing tasks and helps you carry out time-sensitive, high-volume activities faster.
You can use automated processes to carry out Human Resource (HR) functions within your organization, like onboarding new staff. Other departments can also benefit from automation like inventory, sales, product development, procurement, logistics, delivery, etc.
Necessary Tools and Resources for Automating Business Processes
After taking out small business loans, you may want to automate your processes to utilize the funding. Process automation tools help you automate the menial and repetitive tasks that need less human intervention. Some of the best process automation tools in the market are:
1. Microsoft Power Automate
Microsoft Power Automate is an excellent tool that connects your favorite applications, synchronizes files, gathers data, and enables these apps to work seamlessly as part of a single flow.
With this tool, you can automate daily, repetitive tasks, manage data flow, organize documents, and keep everyone in your organization informed with custom notifications. You can create automated emails and PowerPoint presentations using its templates and build forms to store information on a database.
It even has an image recognition function that can scan invoices instead of having someone manually go through them, saving you a lot of time. You can tell that this software wants you to handle what’s essential and automate the rest from its tagline.
Zapier brings all your work tools into the same room, saving you precious time. Thanks to this effective software, you don't have to toggle between applications.
When an activity occurs on one app, Zapier sends an instruction to another app to perform a particular action. It is easy to navigate, needing only a quick sign-up with your social media or Google account.
Grammarly is a writing assistant that helps check various forms of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. The AI-powered tool can help you edit, proofread, and scan your emails, marketing content, and other documents for plagiarism, enabling you to communicate better with your target audience and create error-free content.
This tool has a chrome extension that allows you to work directly from your browser. It also helps you write on the various tools you use on your signed-in device. So, you can use the editor while talking to prospective clients on Whatsapp, in your Slack teams, or even when sending marketing emails.
This is cloud-based automation software that automates your business processes and helps you track them. Whether small or large, any business can benefit from its capabilities, such as purchase order management, payment process approvals, and more. Kissflow integrates with other apps and technologies, placing everything you need at your fingertips.
5 Steps to Automate Your Small Business
No matter how small your business is, you can create automated processes to make it more efficient, productive, and profitable. The secret to automation is to start small and build from there; you don’t want to take on too much at once. Here are some ways you can use your small business loans to automate your business:
1. Pick Which Tasks to Automate
The biggest mistake you can make is to automate the wrong tasks. You can automate many tasks but shouldn’t, like those that involve creative input like design or content creation. Start with the repeated, tabor-intensive tasks that the algorithm can handle without your information. These include publishing web posts, analytics reports, sending invoices, scoring leads, automatic email responses, etc.
2. Select Your Automation Tools
After deciding which tasks to automate, carefully choose the tools you need to make it happen. There are now many automation software in the market, making it difficult to make a pick. We reviewed some of the popular choices in the section above; you can consider those that fit your business needs.
3. Set Targets
Don’t spend your small business loans on automation tools if they will not make your business profitable. Before putting automated workflows in place, make sure you have clear targets of what you want to achieve. For example, an automated lead generation process and set a target number of leads. This way, your goals are measurable, and you can tell if automation helps your business.
4. Monitor Your Progress
It is not enough to set targets; you must monitor your processes to see if they work. If you don’t do this, it will be hard to measure how much impact process automation has on your business. You will also find it difficult to spot areas where you need to tweak your automation and produce better results.
5. Refine Your Process
Setting targets and monitoring your work performance will see if automation positively affects your business growth. You can tell which strategies work and need changing from your progress reports. You can refine your process until you find the best fit for your business.
Best Business Processes to Automate
You can automate any repetitive process, but there are some that you must not neglect. These include:
- Lead management (sign-up forms, list segmentation, etc.)
- Email marketing (welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, etc.)
- Social media (social listening, advertising, integrations, etc.)
- Customer support (Chatbots)
- Notifications and updates
Automation is not a day’s journey, and you cannot rush the process. Start with the smaller things and build your way up from there. Before you know it, your small business will have grown to meet the targets you set for it.