As entrepreneurs, bloggers and small businesses we are continually tasked with various day-to-day operations that many large organizations also have to deal with. No matter if you are large or small, such tasks still need to be taken care of. At the end of the day, the client doesn’t care if you have one employee or 5,000, as long as they get the quality work they are looking for.
To help with the management and completion of such projects, automation and software-based services are making this process a whole lot easier. At the same time, it’s also helping businesses better manage their outgoing costs and increase profit margins across the board. In this article, you will discover five different ways to improve productivity, management and simply getting more done.
Using Technology to Streamline Business Processes
We all know the world of retail and location-based businesses are dying. The internet isn’t just to blame for this, it’s also the ability to streamline a business from anywhere and eliminating the need for additional costs of staff, retail locations and holding physical products.
Here are some of the best ways to implement technology and automation into your business to see continue growth and productivity across the board.
eCommerce Site Solutions
Companies who sell products and/or services online rely heavily on their website for business. When sites are haphazardly thrown together, they do not provide the best consumer experience which can lead to less sales and a ruined reputation. Utilizing resourceful e-commerce solutions such as Magento allows business owners to improve their e-commerce site and provide a quality platform for consumers to use. This article gives information on how you can learn to leverage the Magento platform for an improved consumer experience.
Takeaway: This same concept holds true for retail location-based businesses that are still stuck in their old ways of selling to their local audience. Yes, you can still be loyal to where you were born and raised, but if you aren’t making it easy for your audience to buy on — you are basically putting yourself out of business. Have you ever wondered why sites like GoDaddy or Wix.com can sell their services so cheap? It’s because they’ve automated the process of e-commerce site creation and made it so easy for their customers to get up and running.
Most small businesses do not have the funds to hire a full-time accountant. Many owners end up taking on the responsibility themselves to no avail. One of the major problems with taking on the responsibility of financial management is that it can be time-consuming. Managing the company budget, generating reports for taxes, monitoring and issuing payroll, invoicing clients, and even managing debts require a plethora of reports and calculations. Business owners can shave some time off of their day by investing in accounting software. The right software would allow businesses to easily keep track of all their financials and generate reports as needed.
It’s also important to note that there are better business accounting solutions for organizations of all sizes. Whether you have 100 employees or just a single entrepreneur, one of the last things you want to do is mess around with your financials just to save a few dollars on internal accounting costs. Organizations without an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) accounting software in place are leaving themselves vulnerable to their own human nature. This kind of software streamlines the entire procurement process, offers real-time income statements, bank reconciliation insights, and a bunch of other tools so human error never costs your operation money. Additionally, there are professional services automation software that can help identify new opportunities in the pipeline to accurately forecast future revenue.
For individual business owners and entrepreneurs, there are also many self-selve invoicing and accounting software solutions to consider as well.
Takeaway: Billing and cost management doesn’t need to be a paid department of your business anymore. Services like Paychex, Freshbooks and Due.com make it way too easy to setup your accounting and billing online, while also automating the process of sending out payments and managing where your costs are going each month.
Project Management Software
Managing projects requires several key players and tasks. Trying to keep everyone on the same page can often consume a lot of time. Project management software on the other hand makes executing and monitoring processes a lot easier for both the customer and the involved parties. The right project management software allows users to input project information, set projected completion dates, input a budget, and provide access to key players. Cloud-based platforms are even more advance allowing users to access the project plans remotely from anywhere with internet access as well as update information in real time.
Takeaway: Gone are the days of needing to bring all employees into one office room and holding board meetings. They are simply a waste of time and resources. Now through the use of the internet, mobile messaging/video and online services like Skype or GoToMeeting, it’s way too cost effective to keep thinking like an old-world company. Implement project management and networking software into your organization and simply get more done.
Marketing is another big aspect of a successful business. Keeping your name in the minds of your target audience is important and also an ongoing responsibility. Again, most small businesses don’t have the budget for marketing teams and therefore use in-house staff skilled in other departments to pitch in. While this may work in the beginning, it is taking key staff away from other responsibilities and also wasting a great deal of time.
Takeaway: No matter what industry you are in or the demographic audience you are going after, marketing automation is key. With over 3 billion users on the internet, there is simply no way to effectively run a business one campaign at a time and manually looking over spreadsheet data. Through the use of self-serve advertising platforms like Facebook Ads and campaign management services like Wishpond.com, it’s never been easier to implement marketing automation into your business.
Brand Management Software
Whether’s project management, e-commerce sales or marketing software… every business needs to be aware of when, where and why their name is being mentioned online. This usually falls under the category of reputation management. It’s not so much about maintaining your reputation, but instead having a system in place to know when and where someone is writing about your brand online. Just one complaint from a random customer or even defamation from your competition can result in thousands (or even millions) of lost dollars in sales, customers and brand reputation.
Takeaway: Going to Google.com and searching for your personal or brand name is a great way to see what might rank for your name, however, this is also tedious and not something you can do on a daily basis. Instead, you can rely on tools like Google Alerts to set up a free email alerts system to notify you every time your target keyword or name appears in the search results. For more advanced tracking, you can also refer to reputation management services, which not only have more detailed tracking and management systems in place, but they can also help remove any negative attacks that might currently be ranking for your name as well.
Automation and Technology for Every Business Model
Depending on what your needs are there is plenty of marketing and automation solutions for you to choose from. Social media management software for instance, would allow you to schedule posts, measure marketing performance, and interact with followers. Content management tools would assist you in generating key content, finding relevant keywords and phrases to use, and even track which platforms are receiving the best feedback from your posts.
When you’re dealing with limited funds, finding the best way to streamline processes can seem impossible. The good news is that there is probably a perfect solution out there for you, and it’s probably more cost-effective than you think. With free and low costing options available to you, finding the resources without breaking the bank is simpler than ever. If you’re considering the possibility of investing in any of the above-mentioned software, be sure to compare products to determine which presents the best overall value for your business.