4 Tasks Every Small Business Owner Can Automate
:: By John Swanciger, Manta ::
For small business owners, to-do lists are never-ending.
With all the responsibilities involved in running a small business, it can sometimes feel impossible for small business owners to complete tasks on time and maintain high-quality standards. To add to the stress of checking everything off your to-do list, implementing online marketing such as social media and SEO can demand most of your working week.
If running your business is leaving you with little time to serve customers, automating some of these tedious tasks can free up precious time. Automation is an affordable option for small businesses that want an extra set of hands without the extra paychecks. By automating certain tasks, small business owners can offload the weight of time-consuming responsibilities. Here are a few tasks that, with the right tools, you can easily automate for better business operations and revenue.
Social media’s influence cannot be ignored. More than 65 percent of Americans have accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center. However, it’s unrealistic for small business owners to maintain their company's strong online presences alone, especially when customers are using multiple online platforms to communicate with their favorite businesses. With automation, businesses are able to draft and schedule social media posts in advance, making daily communication with customers easier. With automation tools, small business owners can take an hour out of their week to schedule blog updates, email newsletters, post across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and more.
Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social are some of the most popular services for social media automation, and users can take advantage of both Web and mobile applications for each. A continuous social media presence allows businesses to form long-term connections with customers, and automating social posts takes the strain of daily upkeep off business owners’ shoulders.
Booking meetings is a time-consuming task that can distract from more important responsibilities. As simple as it sounds to coordinate meetings, an influx of appointment requests — from vendors, customers or even job applicants — can easily overwhelm small business owners. Automating this function can prevent speed bumps by providing small business owners with user-friendly calendars and notification alerts when new appointments are scheduled. Most scheduling solutions also remove the tedious task of notifying customers of their appointment times by sending automatic reminders. Most importantly, small business owners are immediately alerted when a cancellation occurs.
Applications like ScheduleOnce and BookedIn provide a variety of automated scheduling options. The applications also allow owners to add an availability calendar to their small business website, so customers can book appointments on their own. By automating scheduling, small business owners can remove the stress of active appointment monitoring and improve long-term relationships with customers and vendors.
While it’s important to establish an online presence before any online marketing initiatives take place, small business owners should think ahead and develop strong digital marketing strategies in tandem with other projects, such as website or e-commerce launches. With marketing automation tools, small business owners can get the Web-based marketing information and support they need without managing the strategy, operations and technology themselves.
Often, business owners don’t have the time to pause and reflect on their companies’ marketing strategy. With marketing automation tools and online scans (that offer scores based on the company's SEO, customer reviews and more), small business owners can prioritize efforts and get the most out of their marketing dollars.
Online directories are a vital resource for today’s small business owners. And while online directories offer easy ways to increase search engine visibility and get in front of more customers, the idea of updating dozens of listings every time a company’s description, hours or coupon changes is overwhelming.
With automated listings management solutions, businesses can fix errors and update information on directories like Yelp, Google and Facebook with the click of a button. This guarantees that the company’s information is consistent and correct across all online listings sites. Businesses are always evolving; hours can change, new services and coupons added, or companies can move locations. Applications make business listings easy to update in minutes.
Running a small business is never easy, and owners are required to wear multiple hats. Whether it’s one of the tasks suggested above or another project on the to-do list, there are a variety of ways small business owners can use automated solutions to their benefit. Each resource offers a win-win: better customer communication and more time to focus on your business.
John Swanciger, CEO of Manta
John Swanciger is a seasoned technology executive with vast experience in team building, product marketing and strategic partner development. As CEO, he leads Manta to strengthen its current offerings, while expanding products and services for a growing customer base of small business owners. John brings more than 15 years of industry experience working with high-growth business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies, including Accenture, Hotwire, Switchfly and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.