Whether you are a startup entrepreneur or the owner of an established company, boosting efficiency is always a priority. The possibility of saving time, money, and resources while still achieving the same results is always an attractive idea. Consider the following ways you can automate your small business in 2018 and boost your efficiency.
1. Familiarize Yourself with AI and Machine Learning
The purpose of automation is to let machines perform repetitive monotonous tasks. Artificial intelligence takes this concept a step further to create technologies that ably mimic what a human can say, think and do. AI is specifically designed software that constantly seeks patterns, learns from experiences and then self-selects the appropriate response (like humans). From pulling data from documents and manipulating information to detecting products or objects in images, these software robots adapt and learn the more they work.
The following are just a few of the many ways AI software can improve business processes:
- AI for Sales. AI can help your business boost sales by automatically filtering vast amounts of information recorded over time to develop forecasts; thus, allowing you to focus more on closing deals, rather than manual data entry. Accenture’s Intelligent Pipeline Solution, for example, successfully monitors millions of miles of oil pipelines around the world.
- AI for Equipment Management. Oil and gas, trucking, aviation and other industries have successfully used AI to process the historic performance data of equipment. This data can then be monitored and used to discern a variety of operational outcomes, such as when machinery might fail.
- AI for Marketing. Marketing teams today have a massive amount of information at their disposal concerning buyer behavior. However, the task of sorting through that information and pulling out useful data can be overwhelming. AI simplifies this process and quickly provides accurate predictions, qualified leads, customer recommendations and can even predict customer sentiment.
- AI for Business Insights. In a study released in 2017 by the Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review, 84 percent of respondents shared that AI would allow them to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage. The business insights AI provides can ultimately lead to the development of new products, new and redefined job roles for employees and more benefits to customers.
2. Hire a Contractor or Virtual Assistant Who Works in a Different Time Zone
Regardless of how much you plan and focus on time management, there are simply not enough hours in the day. This is especially true for founders and small business owners who often work long hours. However, even the most dedicated worker must take a break to eat, sleep and clear their head. A great way to boost efficiency is to find a virtual assistant or contractor who works in another time zone. At the beginning of your day, you can schedule a Skype call to review the work they have done and pick up where they left off. At the end of your day, you can then send a quick email letting them know where you finished, and what you would like them to get done.
3. Use Email and Social Media Extensions to Batch Activities
Throughout the day, do you find yourself constantly switching between work, phone, email, and social media every few minutes? If so, you should consider using email and social media extensions to batch activities. Batch processing allows you to group similar tasks that require similar resources to streamline their completion. For example, you can write a large batch of emails, and then use the popular feature of an email plugin to schedule them to be sent out the next morning. Likewise, using a social media manager to schedule weekly posts will help you to keep your profile current and link your social media accounts so your post is shared on all accounts.
4. Take Advantage of an Integration Tool to Create Automatic Workflows
Before you know it, your business can be using a long list of software tools on a daily basis. Tasks might be routed through Trello, while upcoming events and schedules are stored in Google Calendar or ScheduleOnce. All of your recent survey responses might be stored in Google Sheet, but your contact information and other survey tools are stored in yet another location. Integration tools allow all of your software tools to “talk” to one another. You can easily link together any number of these tools to create automatic workflows: from email, calendars and spreadsheets to payment processing and survey tools. Ultimately, taking advantage of integration tools will help you improve efficiency by streamlining task management and centralizing communications.
5. Build a Small Business Culture that Embraces Automation
While building a company culture that embraces automation can sound very “big company”, it is actually more applicable for small businesses and easier to implement. Initially, employees are often reluctant to embrace automation for fear that they will automate themselves out of a job. However, in most businesses, the top performers tend to be the ones who automate the most. The key is to automate the easiest processes first and show the company you are personally embracing the changes as well. It is also important to discuss the benefits of automation to employees, including how it will support their current functions and help them grow into higher-level positions. In the end, employees will appreciate being part of a forward-thinking company.
All in all, automating various business tasks and processes like invoice creation, content creation, data sharing and workflows will increase work efficiency. You too can cut costs for your business, improve performance and spend more time on important jobs.
Boost Efficiency with Security Business Capital
At Security Business Capital, our invoice factoring services not only allow you to leverage your unpaid accounts receivable to generate cash on hand, but also to take advantage of assistance with back office tasks; such as, managing billing, checking payment progress and maintaining records. If you are interested in learning more about how our invoice factoring services work and how our help can free up your valuable time and resources, get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.