Many small business owners cry a similar story: they simply do not have enough time to develop their business, and they are bogged down in the mundane day-to-day tasks. Mind you, we don’t mean these tasks are insignificant. But the repetitive nature of these types of duties day after day certainly eat away at the more valuable time you could be working on small business improvement and office automation.
To get out of the doldrums of repetitive and minor tasks, we recommend that you consider small business automation. This is not to say you should buy the latest technology or a robot to do everything for you, but you should develop a plan to make minor and seemingly trivial tasks in the office much quicker and more efficient.
Reasons for Small Business Automation:
Why should you implement plans for small business automation? Here are a few good reasons:
- You can effectively deal with management decisions – As a small business owner and entrepreneur, your job can be better spent growing your business. Implementing automated processes in the office helps you develop better marketing plans, new business products and making solid business contacts and alliances.
- More time – You will have more time to focus on the more important and high priority projects necessary to grow your small business. Office automation and similar small business improvements will allow you more time to focus on growing your business and boosting revenues rather than spending time on duties that will not increase your bottom line.
- Eliminate repetitive tasks – The small stuff may seem minor and trivial, but they tend to take up as much as 80% of your time. Small business automation processes can help eliminate these time-wasting tasks.
- Easier to train new staff – With small business automation, you can easily train new people who work for you, and spend less time trying to create an ad hoc training program for your small business.
Small Business Automation Tips
Write a Process and/or Operations Manual
This is one of the most important steps in the small business automation process. You must have a plan to automate and make business improvements. And that plan is delivered through your process or operations manual.
- Support Processes and Procedures – These types of “mini” manuals or guides should be required. Each department should have their own process manual that outlines the steps required to perform regular tasks. Examples would include end-of-period financial closing in your accounting, new client closure and implementation in your sales, or precise recipes for consistency in your craft beer production.
- Overall Operations – This type of manual should serve as a general guideline for your overall business operations. Use your business plan as a template for creating an operations manual that includes high level perspectives of everything from sales, marketing, finance, production, management, customer service, etc.
- Create an Organizational Chart – This should be part of both your process and operational manuals. An organizational chart provides clear line of how decisions are made along the process in each of your departments, all the way to where the buck stops at your desk.
These types of manuals and guides can be a helpful and, in the long run, time-saving task that will help you make small business improvements.
Studies have shown that routines can help reduce the amount of time to perform tasks. Create routines that will help you perform more work in less time. Examples might be reading and responding to emails first thing in the morning, performing all data entry later in the afternoon, scheduling regular production or sales meetings at the same time/day each week, etc.
Utilize Scheduled Tasks
Your computer (both PC and Mac) have the capability of running assigned tasks automatically. By using this tool, you can free up time for yourself and let your computer do trivial work when you are not using it. These types of scheduled tasks might include running software updates, defragmenting your hard drive, running anti-virus sweeps, or automatically running certain software and scripts to provide you with the data you need to start each day running.
Use Software Tools
And of course, you can use certain software applications to help improve your automation efficiency. Try using an autoresponder for your incoming sales emails, CAD software to help your staff design new products or improvements, accounting software that makes bookkeeping a breeze, etc. Some software may seem pretty steep in price, but if in the long run it helps you reduce time and streamline processes, ultimately these tools are worth the investment. After all, you can then spend more time growing your business and revenues.