agentProcedures1Automation and integration isn’t just for the big companies out there. Small businesses have access to great tools to get more done faster.

Running a small business is hard at the best of times.  Most of the time, the owner(s) have to do it all. Sales, marketing, website, phones, social media, manufacturing, logistics and the list goes on.

Unless you want to remain in a state of doing every little task to keep your business alive, one your goals in business should be to replace yourself and automation is the key to achieving this goal.

Automation and Integration are key to scaling and growing a business while staying lean & agile. It can actually increase efficiency and free you up for making more money.

Every business has important but time consuming activities that require attention, but they don’t necessarily qualify as income producing activities. By automating those activities, a business owner can free up more time, and employees time, so that focus can be put on activities that do produce income.

There are literally thousands of tasks that can be automated and it’s the responsibility of the business owner to look for, and implement these automated tasks.

Here are the some common business areas that can be automated in most businesses;

  1. Ecommerce Sales – Selling online is one of the most popular automations. Whether you sell products or services, you can sell online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  2. Automate customer and vendor contacts – email auto-responders and templates can be used to answer common customer questions or for handling customer orders.
  3. Support sites – a support site like www.desk.com can help you manage customer help requests and provide self service tools so customers can solve the majority of the reoccurring problems themselves.
  4. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can automate the sales cycle and the activities that surround managing the entire customer relationship such as calls, emails, follow ups, meetings, and reminders for all sorts of business events. CRM is like having a full time assistant.
  5. Invoice processing software can also help with automating. If you’re still using a desktop based accounting system, you may want to consider moving to a modern web based accounting system like Kashoo, Xero or LessAccounting.com. These systems are designed to be integrated with all kinds of other systems like Paypal and ecommerce shopping carts.
  6. Virus scans and data backups should be automated to run on set schedules
  7. Marketing automation is a huge opportunity with almost endless possibilities. The use of email marketing and social media campaigns can help you reach more people quickly and efficiently. Services such as AWeber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact can be integrated with your CRM  and support systems. Social media dashboards like HootSuite or TweetDeck let you schedule your posts to multiple social media platforms at once streamlining repeatable tasks.

There are many tools today to help facilitate automation between your systems. Two of our favorites are Ifttt.com & Zapier.com.

IFTT.com, which stands for If This, Then, That is a service that allows you to integrate many web services to automate simple tasks.

Here are 5 examples Ifttt automation’s:

  1. Post a Tweet when I update my Facebook page
  2. Backup Facebook photos to Skydrive
  3. When I post on Facebook, post to Blogger
  4. Send me an emails for new Craigslist postings from any search
  5. Record thoughts via Voice Mail and send file to Dropbox

Zapier enables you to automate tasks between other online services like Salesforce CRM, Basecamp, Gmail, Evernote, Google Docs, MailChimp, paypal, Dropbox and many, many more.

Here are 5 examples of Zapier automation’s:

  1. Google Contact to MailChimp List – Adds a Google Contact to a MailChimp list
  2. Add PayPal New Customers to MailChimp – Adds any new customer from a sale to a MailChimp list.
  3. New Google Task from Evernote Note – Create new task in Google Tasks for new Evernote notes.
  4. Add Dropbox File to Google Drive – Automatically upload new Dropbox files to Google Drive.
  5. Tweet New WordPress Posts – Automatically tweet new WordPress posts

These are very simple yet effective automation’s that any business can use. There are also many more complex ones that take a bit more analysis and thought to implement them.

If you want to learn more about how your business can automate and integrate  your business process, contact us to discuss your options.