09 Feb 5 Things You Need to Automate This Year
It’s 5 o’clock, you’re drained, and you’re ready to call it a day. Even after getting to the office early and having a productive 8 hours, you still didn’t get to all of the items on your to-do list.
Now may be a good time to take a step back and see where your time is really being spent. Once you add it all up, you’ll likely find that it’s the little things that only take a few minutes that are eating up your time.
The answer to this dilemma? Automate your business.
With the plethora of apps available online, you can put the internet to work for you to get some of those repetitive tasks accomplished. While some apps do require a subscription or purchase, you’d be surprised how many things you can automate for free.
Taking a day to set up these automations can help you focus on the bigger, more challenging tasks.
1. Scheduling Meetings
Have you ever tried to schedule a call with someone, spending more time emailing back and forth than it would have taken for the actual call?
With apps like Calendly and Acuity Scheduling, there’s no need to go back and forth to find the perfect time to schedule a call with a client. Simply send a link to your calendar, and once your client selects a time, you’ll receive an email confirmation and the event will be added to your calendar automatically. These apps sync with your calendar, so there’s no need to worry about scheduling conflicts. You can also set up automatic calendar reminders via email or text.
If you use Sunrise Calendar, try out their “Meet” feature which has similar capabilities. Sunrise was acquired by Microsoft, and, sadly, the team has stopped working on the product, so there won’t be any new versions, but the current version still works quite well.
For scheduling with a crowd, try out WhenIsGood; have everyone pick their availability, and see what time works best for the group.
2. Getting Paid and Bookkeeping
How many non-billable hours a week do you spend trying to get paid for the billable ones?
Using an accounting program like Freshbooks you can turn your timesheet directly into an invoice, or you can set up an automatic, recurring charge that could save you hours each month.
Of course, our favorite way to automate accounting is through SimpleKeep, where you’re set up on a web-based accounting platform and assigned a dedicated bookkeeper to do your bookkeeping and taxes for you.
3. Dealing With Clients
Let’s face it, as unique as each of your clients and their concerns are, when it comes to answering client emails you often use the same responses. You can create canned responses or templates in most email services, and with add-ons like Streak you can save “snippets” that allow you to quickly paste frequently used text as you’re writing.
An even better solution is to use Help Scout to manage client support emails. It’s an easy to use software that makes handling customer service requests a breeze. You can use it to set-up a knowledge base, so your clients get their questions answered, even when you’re not available.
For automatic follow up emails, consider using a CRM—a Customer Relationship Management app. Some CRMs like Contactually can be set up to automatically send a quick check-in email to a client you may have lost touch with, helping you stay top-of-mind.
4. Backing Up Files
We’ve all had that day when the internet cuts out or our computer shuts down unexpectedly and our work for the day disappears. Still, somehow, we procrastinate on backing up our files.
Stop procrastinating. DropBox has features that make saving to your cloud backup as easy as it is to save to your hard drive. Here at Simplekeep, we use Dropbox to share files with clients, and it works like a dream. No more emailing files back and forth!
Have you ever wanted to save an e-mail attachments automatically to a folder on your computer? With services like IFTTT or Zapier you can connect whatever app you’re working on to save automatically to a designated DropBox folder.
5. Social Media
Most consumers expect to be able to connect with businesses they like on at least one social media platform, but keeping Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest all bursting with fresh and useful content could be a full-time job in itself. It is a full time job for some people, and even the experts have a little help from automation.
Fill a queue of posts in SproutSocial, Buffer, or Hootsuite and have them automatically post to all of your platforms during the times when your users are most likely to check their feeds. Putting together recipes in IFTTT or a few zaps in Zapier to post across platforms automatically could be a huge timesaver as well.
And finally, when it comes to analyzing your data to see what’s working and what’s not, automatically collect data across platforms with Dasheroo.
Taking the time to set any number of these can help you automate parts of running your business so you can work more efficiently—allowing you to spend more time actually doing productive work, not repeat tasks.
Building a business takes time. But with the right tools, you can use that time wiser and more efficiently. In today’s world, and with these resources, automating your business has never been easier. Now it’s your turn to save time, and work better. Oh! And after you try a few, don’t forget to check back with us—we love hearing your stories of business success!