3 things your small business should automate
- Small Business
- June 11, 2018 | Mike Plaster
Running a successful small business takes a lot more than having great products or services: It takes time. Lots and lots of time.
Many small-business owners spend 200 hours a year or more simply dealing with regulatory and tax compliance. And in a recent survey by Constant Contact, 22 percent said their single biggest challenge is finding enough time to do everything they need to do.
If you found yourself nodding along as you read that last paragraph, this post is for you because there are more tools than ever to automate tasks that used to take a lot of time and effort. The best part? These tools won’t just make your life easier — they can make your business stronger, too.
Below are three things you should consider automating as a small-business owner, as well as some of the popular tools for each.
Want to send an email to customers automatically on their birthday? Create specific messages that are triggered based on how recipients reacted to a previous email? Manage your contacts and messages in one centralized place? Automated marketing tools can do that and more, depending on what your business needs (and what you’re willing to spend). Some also include CRM, sales tools, and other resources to help you best utilize your customer data. Here are a few of the leading products:
Constant Contact: One of the most popular email automation options, it also features additional services such as event-registration management, use of stock images, and more. You can even add a widget to your website to archive previous newsletters and messages.
MailChimp: This affordable and widely used email tool offers a free plan if you want to dip your toe in the water before jumping in. When you upgrade to a paid plan, you can get premium templates, analytics, and other services.
Campaigner: This tool goes a little beyond the basics of sending messages and managing contacts, adding CRM and Salesforce integration as well as email autoresponders based on customer behavior. Campaigner’s reporting capabilities even include detail on what email platform your customers use.
HubSpot: This robust platform offers tools for CRM, sales, marketing, and then some, with free options as well (although to utilize marketing automation, you’ll need to sign up for a paid plan). PCMag reviewers said it’s best for “small businesses that are steadily growing their marketing activity.”
How easy is it for your customers to set up an appointment, meeting, or service call? Avoid the back-and-forth of “What time works for you?” emails and save your staff time on the phone with scheduling software.
TimeTap: This online appointment manager makes it easy for your clients to book, and features intake forms you can customize. It also integrates with other calendars, so you always have a complete picture of what’s going on.
Acuity Scheduling: This “online assistant” allows customers to cancel or reschedule themselves, and gives you the ability to automatically send reminders. You can also manage multiple locations and employees, and gather information through integrated intake forms.
Appointment Plus: This software solution features a wealth of preference settings, so you can tailor your setup for both your needs and your customers’ expectations. It also includes email and text reminder options.
3. Sales tax calculation and filing
Of course, Avalara solutions are all about helping business owners save time and frustration.
AvaTax delivers real-time rates directly into your shopping cart or invoicing system at the moment of purchase, providing a better customer experience and ensuring you’re in compliance in over 12,000 U.S. sales and use tax jurisdictions. We can even prepare and file your sales and use tax returns with a higher degree of accuracy than doing it yourself — and in a fraction of the time, too. Click here to learn more.