The question of small business automation is no longer should you, it’s “how should you?” Automating workflows will help you reduce redundant, time-consuming tasks. Furthermore, many of these tools will help you save money on everything from bookkeeping to marketing. To help you navigate these waters, we’ve chosen five killer tools that will help you create a more powerful and efficient business in 2017.
Automation task: Small business bookkeeping + accounting
No one starts a business to become a bookkeeper. In fact, according to a TD Bank survey which polled over 500 U.S. small business owners, bookkeeping was by far the most hated task by entrepreneurs with the next task falling a whopping 24 percent behind.
Enter the online bookkeeping service Bookly (full disclosure, I work for them).
In around 30 minutes you can sync up your small business accounts with Bookly’s software. Once you do, a team of accountants will take care of your needs remotely. Bookly is 100 percent U.S. based and all data is read-only (meaning accountants do not have access to your money.)
Unlike traditional accounting solutions, Bookly provides financials in real-time. Anytime you want to see your financial data, just sign into the Bookly dashboard. It’s 2017, why pay for DIY software solutions like Quickbooks, or expensive (and slow) traditional accounting firms, when you can have all of your accounting automated and available at your fingertips instantly.
Pro tip: Not sure online bookkeeping is right for you? Schedule a free online demo where an accountant will show you through the process. After the demo, you’ll get a free 30-day credit to try Bookly with no risk.
Price: Starting at $99/mo.
Automation task: Applications
IFTTT (If This Then That) is an extremely powerful tool that integrates with dozens of services, many of which you’re probably already using, like Instagram, iOS Contacts, Alexa, MailChimp, and Spotify.
In essence, IFTTT is a way for non-programmers to “program.” It allows you to create a chain of commands with the services and apps you’re already using. For example, you can:
- Automatically turn your Instagram posts into native Tweets
- Automatically save photos you’re tagged into Dropbox
- Automatically mute your Android phone at bedtime
- Automatically add new iOS Contacts to Google Contacts
- Automatically have any new bills signed by the president sent to your reading list
Pro tip: Browse the popular applets section to discover workflows users have already created. This will help give you a good idea of where to start and hopefully inspire you to create your own.
Automation task: Sales + marketing + lead management
The marketing automation space is full of tools—but how many of them can combine all of your marketing tasks in one central hub for an affordable price?
With Infusionsoft you can manage your leads and build campaigns seamlessly. Here are a few of the automated tasks you can accomplish with the top dog in the CRM space:
- Send personalized communications to every contact
- Trigger emails, calls, and other actions based on contact behaviors
- Use autoresponders to send a series of seamlessly personalized emails
- Assign a lead source to each website visitor
- Track visitor activity from their first visit to latest purchase
- Capture and calculate user behavior metrics
Pro tip: Check out Infusionsoft’s Customer Success Stories section to see how other business owners have found success using its tools to run their business.
Price: Starting at $199/mo.
4. Davinci Virtual
Automation task: Administrative duties
Davinci Virtual is a remote service that apart from giving you the option of creating a virtual office, lets you automate your web chat, and receptionist services. This means whether you’re on vacation or in a meeting, you don’t have to be in the office to be able to provide quality service.
Pro tip: Check Davinci Virtual’s Deal Page before purchasing, they have dozens of discounts depending on product/location.
Price: Starting at $59/mo.
5. Google Alerts
Automation task: Market research
Utilizing Google Alerts is like having an automated research assistant. Google Alerts can help you stay apprised of any topic you wish. Want to know what people are saying about your business? Your competitor's business? Need to stay up to the minute on certain news bits, or happenings so you can make informed decisions or create relevant content? Simply type in the phrases or topics of your choice, and Google will send you an email whenever any news about the topic pops up.
If you choose to use Google Alerts, make sure to mess with the filter settings in order to avoid getting unnecessary spam notifications. Try and be as specific as possible and avoid using broad terms like “bookkeeping” or “small business.” Dial it down to the terms that are most pertinent to your niche and the competition.
Pro Tip: Google Alerts is not always 100 percent foolproof. If a certain topic is extremely important, you might consider using other similar programs in conjunction with Google Alerts to make sure you don't miss anything.
Austin Miller is the head of content marketing at Bookly. Bookly is an online service that provides virtual accounting for small businesses. When he’s not helping entrepreneurs modernize their accounting solutions, he’s working on his latest fantasy adventure novel.