- A Beginner’s Guide to Start Automating Your Business - June 8, 2020
Time is money.
At one point or another, you’ve heard it; maybe you have even said it. As you continue to expand your business, your list of daily tasks subsequently will as well. Your tasks might be easy (sending out a newsletter to your customers to inform them of a new product launch or offer a discount on your products); however, managing all of your online orders and shipping statuses alongside your brick and mortar orders can take a significant amount of time out of your day!
Automation might sound like a scary word to most business owners due to its “hands-off” approach and allowing your tasks to, in essence, run themselves. A common misconception of automation is that a coding background is required. While this may be true in some instances, the following services and tips require little to no coding, and offer a free point of entry to accomplish almost all your tasks!
Does the following workflow sound common?
- Receive an online order.
- Input the customer’s data into a spreadsheet.
- Alert any/all of your employees in a department of the new order via email.
- Ensure the customer’s email is subscribed to your newsletter.
If you answered yes, then Zapier can take this 10-15 minute task and do it all for you within minutes, all without you pressing a button! Zapier works on two basic principles: Triggers, and Actions. When you receive an online order (Trigger), Zapier will input all of the data into a connected spreadsheet, subscribe the customer to your newsletter audience, and send a communication to your team about the order (Action).
Zapier connects with over 2,000 different services (with more added every day!) to build a workflow to fit your everyday needs. Would you like to have attachments that are emailed to you automatically saved in your Google Drive? Done. Would you like a Slack message sent to your payroll team when you receive a payment? Done. The possibilities are endless, and will save you hours if not days of time doing remedial tasks!
When Google announced the feature of real time and online collaboration in the early 2010s with Google Docs, the days of emailing files back and forth for revisions between employees was done. Now, two or more people could work on the same document from different locations, allowing for a more productive work environment.
Some of the most underrated features of online documents stem from the fact you are able to provide feedback in real time. You are also able to ensure your team is viewing the most up to date information. When you update a spreadsheet to show all the orders received on the current day, you can feel at ease knowing your shipping department is viewing the same data, without having to ask for the latest report.
As we begin the 2020s, there are a multitude of programs / services that offer an online collaboration experience similar to Google such as
Templates, Templates, Templates!
I am a firm believer in templates, and use them in almost every one of my day to day tasks. If I am sending an onboarding email to a new employee, I am using one of my many saved email templates. While my email client of choice is Spark (which offers a ton of template customization, including attachments automatically applied!), Gmail also offers ways of saving a templated message to be autofilled. This alone can save you hours each day when you are just starting to onboard employees!
But what if you want to send a newsletter? Most, if not all small businesses have heard of / used MailChimp. But constantly designing a new email to send to your customers every week can take a lot of time, and can sometimes show inconsistency. Thankfully, MailChimp a saved template function, which will give your mass emails a look of continuity, and professionalism, each time you send them.
Zapier can take your step-by-step workflows and complete them in the background; online collaboration services can eliminate the headache of back and forth emailing revisions; templates can autofill all the necessary information you need with just one click. Using one (or all three) of these automation methods will drastically take a lot off your ever-growing To-Do lists!