Growing a business is hard work. Especially when you’ve been in business for several years, you’ve got staff or freelancers, a team to manage overheads, taxes, and customers.
Running any small business can feel chaotic, whether you provide a skill-based service, sell physical products, or clients subscribe to your software (Software as a Service). For business owners, it can feel like herding cats. As soon as one problem is solved, another appears. You can take two steps forwards and one step backward. It’s exhausting.
One of the best ways to achieve more control over your business and calm the chaos is to automate and streamline business processes. You don’t have to feel like your business is running you.
With the right process and streamlined operations, you can return to running and growing your business without the chaos.
This article outlines five ways to streamline business processes, giving business owners some much-needed control over the chaos of business ownership.
Why Is Growing a Business So Chaotic?
No one goes into business wanting more headaches and stress than when they had a normal 9-5 job. And yet, for many business owners, that’s exactly how running a business feels. As a result, you can end up working longer hours, being more stressed, having a lot more on your plate, and getting paid less than when you had a job.
In many cases, chaos becomes a way of life for business owners. It becomes an accepted norm. Especially when you’ve got dozens or hundreds (or more) customers to take care of and keep happy and a team you employ to manage and grow your business. Success creates more stress and chaos.
It doesn’t get easier when you’ve grown a business. But, unfortunately, in many respects, it can get 10x harder.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can free yourself from so many burdens.
Why is it Crucial to Streamline & Automate Business Processes?
With the right processes and systems, business owners can reclaim the joy you once felt from running and growing your business. You can start automating tasks that previously took up so much time and created so little value. But first, take stock of what you do daily.
Ask yourself several important questions (you might benefit from having a coach or mentor help you with this to get your head out of day-to-day concerns):
- Daily, how am I spending my time?
- Am I working on or in my business? Working on your business involves leadership activities, growing it, and managing your team. Whereas working in your business involves managing small tasks that contribute to the company’s overall success, you’d have more time offloading some of these tasks.
- Am I happy and fulfilled doing this work, or is there some other way I can contribute to the success and growth of my business?
If you aren’t spending time as productively as you’d like and spending far too much time working in rather than on your business, you must automate and streamline operational processes.
Take control of the chaos. Get back to enjoying running and growing your business.
Here are five tech-driven solutions for doing that, from payroll to payments and HR to communications.
5 Ways to Streamline & Automate Business Processes
1. Implementing email automation
Inboxes can absorb so much of a business owner’s time.
Even if you use messenger platforms like Slack and project management tools like Asana and Trello, you spend too much time answering emails. When you’ve got staff to manage, contractors, suppliers, vendors, and customers, your inbox becomes a noisy junction of mission-critical communications.
Missing an important email can be the difference between a project going smoothly or another fire you must put out.
Email automation tools are one way to solve this problem. There are dozens from which to choose. Numerous platforms integrate automation tools into other solutions, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software and other SaaS suites dedicated to automating email outreach and responses.
With the right email automation tools connected to other elements of your company’s tech stack, you can regain some control and save valuable hours during the working week.
2. Automate payments and payroll
Payroll and payments are another area that can absorb hours of your time. Even if you’ve got an admin team member handling this, or you outsource to a financial service provider, such as an accountant, you still need to authorize every payment as the business owner.
You control the money and access to the accounts, and you need to check you’ve got enough in the bank to make every payment. With the right automatic B2B payment solutions, you can save hours. Ensure you set everything up to minimize your involvement in the payment process so you can check everything in a few clicks.
Establish processes or standard operating procedures (SOPs) so that those doing this work for you have taken care of everything else before you need to authorize a payment. Take yourself out of the day-to-day processes for payroll and incoming and outgoing payments.
Ensure your team chases payments from customers so they pay you on time (and encourage clients to automate these payments, too) so there’s always enough to cover payroll and other expenses.
3. Automate recruitment, onboarding, training, and retention (HR)
Recruitment, onboarding, training, retention, and managing staff (Human Resources) are time-consuming. Even if you have a team member or two who can do that for you, it takes time and effort to find and train the right candidates and then manage them while employed at your company.
Fortunately, hundreds of software tools can help you automate and streamline these processes.
Application tracking system (ATS) software can handle the entire end-to-end recruitment process. But, except for interviews, other software tools can take care of everything else – saving business owners hours more time every month.
4. Leverage business process automation tools
Other business process automation tools and software will save you even more time.
With the right software in your company’s tech stack, you will make your job easier and free up staff time to focus on projects and work that adds considerably more value to your company.
Imagine if your sales and marketing team could rescue ten or more hours weekly from boring manual tasks. That’s 40 hours every week; across two teams, that’s the equivalent of two extra full-time team members.
5. Provide proactive customer service
When customers are happy, you don’t have to worry about them churning. Customer service is essential for sales. Once a company scales beyond a certain size, you must employ a team to care for customers. You need to provide the best service possible.
However, too much of traditional service is reactive. For example, businesses react to incoming customer calls, messages, and emails. What if there was a way to provide proactive customer service? And gauge customer sentiment proactively rather than being reactionary?
In other words, they are preventing minor problems from escalating into more serious ones by engaging with customers much quicker. Fortunately, marketing automation software can send events-based or trigger-based emails and messages depending on when a customer has done something, such as buying a product or canceling their subscription.
When these processes are automated, it saves everyone time. Plus, it shows a company proactively thinks about its customers and puts their needs first.
Key Takeaways: 5 Ways to Streamline Business Processes
Now is the time to look closely at what your whole team does most days and weeks, including yourself. Then, assess where processes and systems need automation.
Find the most cost-effective and easy-to-use solutions, subscribe to them, implement them, and benefit from streamlined, automated business processes.
Here’s a reminder of the five ways you can streamline business processes:
- Implement email automation
- Automate payments and payroll
- Regain control of HR and team management
- Leverage business process automation tools
- Provide proactive customer service