Top 3 Small Business Technologies: Business Automation
When I started in business, I didn’t intend to end up in this position. I’ve been really good at recognizing opportunities and filling in gaps in niches or markets. I’ve always been pretty neat and organized. I like to try to simplify things into as much of a black and white as I can . I’m pretty objective, analytical, can prioritize well, and get things done quickly. I’ve always been fascinated with the internal workings of various businesses and trying to make sense of the seeming chaos. When it came time to scale, what I didn’t account for was the human element. It’s not as easy as just expanding the parts of your business that need more labor. There are intangibles, intricate, intimate relationships, and emotions and feelings involved in all parties. That’s all very hard to manage for an objective person.
The time it took to train and teach new people could have been better spent just doing the work better myself. Most small businesses will likely find that. Most of my hiring experience, as has been the case with most of the businesses I’ve worked with results in the vast vast majority of people not working out. Just not having the right person to begin with despite your best efforts, but you put all that into them anyway for too long. Much of that time, energy, and money is a complete waste to the company. I gave myself a 5 year limit. If I couldn’t put in place a trustworthy work force in that time, it likely wasn’t going to happen in that field and the effort would be better spent elsewhere. If all other parts of your business are working well, but if your turn over is too rapid or too high, and your unreliability too costly, it can bring down everything.
Anybody who’s been an entrepreneur for any length of time knows it’s literally impossible to do it all yourself. It is just flat out impossible. Not in the reasonable amount of time that things need to get done in business. That’s how I came to depend on technologies. I guess we’re seeing this a lot currently in low skill, low wage positions all across the economy. But, this isn’t about replacing low skill or building the equivalent of a dumb robot to do the simplest things. It’s about leverage! Automation! You can automate, with a little up front investment, many business process. Or, at least make them much more efficient with these tools.
When I started my business, I already knew from working in a prior business that I wanted to have a monthly automatic billing system. Except, I needed it to be standard and reliable and accurate, unlike the last payment processing system I used and unlike a person who forgets and makes mistakes. It also needs to be secure.
To date, this is the best business decision I ever made. It’s been about 8 years and been using it since day 1 with absolutely no complaints. If I had to hire staff to do the same thing, I would have spent untold hours in meetings, training, correcting mistakes, lost money, etc. I also don’t have to keep making sales, it runs on its own. Every client credit card is charged on the 1st or the 15th of the month. it helps smooth cash flow and is more like getting a bi-weekly paycheck as an employee. It runs automatically until the client determines they need to stop service or take a break. It keeps retention high and the service going for the long term. Client’s pay their credit card bill with our charges included without getting invoices or bills directly from us. And we charge for the month of service ahead so there is no chasing down money or checks after the fact. We can take all forms of payment including eChecks in the same fashion.
Automatic Recurring Billing Part 1
It’s really pretty unbelievable what Infusionsoft can do. Most use it for sales and marketing automation. Things like email marketing follow ups and nurturing email sequences to educate leads before they actually buy. But, it can be used in other business processes like staying organized, managing client relationships (CRM), hiring, and ecommerce. And it’s all inclusive so you don’t need different systems for those different processes where the systems may not effectively talk to each other or integrate well. Infusionsoft and Authorize.net do integrate. You can stay focused on only what is producing the most revenue for you. And leverage it. While you’re out personally networking, your sales automation can be converting your leads already in your pipeline. And the level of training, tips, knowledge, and help that they provide in various forms is second to none. You can get a year’s worth of work done in one three day accelerator workshop.
Taxes, payroll, bookkeeping and accounting. These are definitely a few things that stop people from starting businesses and becoming entrepreneurs. It’s just too difficult and too much to think about. And, if you’re boostrapping, it can be really hard to hire someone to do it. But, this might be one of the best inventions for entrepreneurs ever. And it’s extremely cost effective too.
GoDaddy has an automatic bookkeeping service. If you’ve ever used Mint.com for your personal finances, it works in exactly the same way. Here’s what you do. You simply integrate it with your online business banking and connect your other accounts like Paypal or anywhere else that money might flow in and out of your business.
It will sync easily and you can get an accurate financial picture of what’s going on in your business at any time. It will sync and categorize your expenses. It’s as easy as looking at your online banking screen. You can:
- Accept payments
- Automatically record and categorize sales and expenses
- Create and send invoices
- Run P&L (profit and loss) reports at any time
- Simplify your taxes
Some people are running businesses and not keeping track of any financial transactions. They have no way of knowing where their money is going or what is working. Hopefully, you’re not one of those people. But, even if you are, now there’s no excuse.
I like that it is automated. It’s essentially a robot. It doesn’t forget. It will work 24/7. And is always there when you need it. It’s a LOT of control back in your hands, while saving you time, for only about $10 a month. It’s pretty hard to beat. I have it working in 2 businesses even with people on staff in these financial roles. If you have been going without recording financial transactions, just do it now. You can set it up in minutes and know the health of your business finances almost instantly. This is easily one of the most useful tools and resources I’ve ever come across for entrepreneurs.
Give some of these resources a try. Leverage them. You can cover three departments of your business with these; sales and marketing, internal operations, and finance. It’s like putting a car together by hand with each nut and bolt vs. using an assembly line. You stay on the business end while your systems efficiently run in the background for you. This isn’t to say that you should lose the personal element in your business. On the contrary, automating certain things will allow you to put more of that personal element where it needs to be and gives you the best return. Think of the time and money saved, the reliability and trust in your systems you’ll have, and the lack of mistakes your business will endure. Take a tour, watch the videos, and do a free demo.