Doing more with less … it’s often the name of the game when operating a small business. When your credit is maxed out, cutting costs is one option. But growing your business is the best long term solution to bring in more cash flow. One way to expand your business is through technology and automation. Here’s why:
- Automation helps businesses find more time and money by making existing workflows operate more efficiently, which can reduce the cost of goods, free up labor, and improve margins
- Technology enhances business productivity by automating administrative tasks, reducing human errors, and excess costs
- Automation can reduce cost and capital expenditures while maximizing opportunities for growth
Here are 10 tips for using technology to automate your business resulting in more growth at less cost:
1. Use technology to reduce the costs of hiring, legal fees, document printing, phone service, and other tools to run your small business.
A number of online companies automate and simplify services with the click of a mouse, creating what technologist Ramon Ray calls a “frictionless” way of starting and running a business. Services like LegalZoom not only make it easier to handle legal issues for your business, they also make it less expensive, ensuring your business will definitely be able to afford it. Similarly, Elance, Vista Print, RingCentral, and The Small Business Web make hiring, printing, phone service, and small business computing a breeze. Smallbiz Technology
2. Optimize your Website for better user experience, making the marketing and selling process cheaper and more efficient.
Some business owners may not think of their Websites as a kind of automation. But certainly a properly designed Website that draws in visitors and converts them into customers or clients is doing a lot of this. Among the things that optimize your Website, making it more efficient at attracting and winning over your target audience are effective use of graphics, photos, and video, and a site that is easy to access, says online marketing expert Jon-Mikel Bailey. Simple fixes make your Website into an effective marketing and customer conversion machine, growing your business at less cost. Wood Street Inc.
3. Make your e-commerce site a mobile monster.
One of the most important ways to boost sales while not necessarily increasing costs is with an effective e-commerce Website. Here, transactions with customers can be handled 24/7, 365 days a year with no need for employees or store overhead. But for an e-commerce site to be truly effective and efficient, it must be easily accessible to your customers. A study projects 1 billion of those customers will own mobile devices by 2013. This means your e-commerce site must also be mobile friendly. Danny Pajevic has some suggestions for accomplishing it. Creating a Webstore
4. Use apps to help you run and monitor your online store.
Apps can help you automate some of the most important aspects of marketing and operating your online store, like scheduling social media updates and collecting important customer data through analytics. But that’s not all. Apps also allow quick HTML and FTP editing, comment moderation, and response to just about any other problem you can think of from a mobile device while on the go. Imagine the cost of missing important sales calls or errands because you’re tied to your computer, monitoring your site, or even more expensive, paying someone else to do it. Get Busy Media
5. Use technology to identify ideal clients.
One time consuming and potentially costly aspect of growing your business is identifying ideal clients or customers. Fortunately, two of the most pervasive technologies today provide the best tools on earth to make this process more efficient. Social networks, like LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, are all great sources of information on prospective clients. Search engines like Google are also very effective data mining tools to drastically streamline the process, says one expert. Dawn Westerberg Consulting
6. Automate your e-mail campaign for a more collaborative exchange with customers.
E-mail marketing has been a huge tool for businesses ever since the beginning of…well, of e-mail. But while old school e-mail campaigns may have simply consisted of sending out messages or offers to a specified list of prospects, today’s campaigns can involve a sophisticated mix. For instance, e-mail campaign applications can allow you to send out surveys, offer your customers links to your Website where they can enter pertinent information for offers, and use auto responders and split tests to provide customers with greater interaction. Get App
7. Use video to automate your marketing and branding efforts.
Never thought of video as a kind automation? Maybe you should. “Video provides a multi-sensory experience—an audio, visual and emotional experience all in one,” explains Neil Wood-Mitchell, founder of digital video company Three Motion. That means video has many of the more intimate qualities associated with one-on-one interaction with a prospect or client. How much would it cost you in time and money to call up each of your clients or Skype them with a personal message? With video, you can share that message once and have visitors and social media connections view it at their leisure. The Work at Home Woman
8. Turn your mobile device into an office on the go.
You can get an overview of the stats of all your Websites, Skype with clients, suppliers, and partners, manage and measure your e-mail campaigns, carry all the pertinent information for an important presentation, and even take credit card payments from anywhere. All these activities are possible using your mobile device and a collection of amazing apps. All this technology improves your efficiency and productivity by streamlining many functions you need to run your business every day and making sure you’re always in the office, even when you’re not. Keep Up with the Web
9. Use free tools that gather data on your marketing efforts.
For all your marketing campaigns, it’s important to gather as much data as you can about the impact your message is having on your targeted prospects and customers. In the old days, gathering even the simplest data on the impact of marketing could be costly and time intensive. But today, many free tools like Facebook’s EdgeRank automate the process, collecting data about how many followers your marketing message is reaching. In this post, Nick Steeves gives us the four factors EdgeRank uses when determining a post’s reach. Wishpond
10. Use metrics to measure everything.
Technology has not only improved our ability to automate many business operations. It allows us to grow a business and improve efficiency while controlling and, in many cases, cutting costs. It also enables us to gather and quickly manipulate data on our business operations, allowing us to measure progress at a glance, identify problems, and quickly make improvements. Using metrics to improve performance is a critical way to take the pulse of a business, says consultant Dave Brock. And it has never been easier. Partners in Excellence