What’s The Deal With Automation For Small Businesses?

What’s The Deal With Automation For Small Businesses?

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As a small business owner you’re probably completely hands on in your operations. Do you like to remain involved in every single aspect of your business and do you want to be responsible for a positive outcome? If your answer is “yes” then I understand. However, when you place too much focus on the operations of your business, your strategy and creativity can fall, seriously, short.

The best thing you can do to ensure you don’t lose your creative edge is to incorporate systems and processes that automate various parts of the business.

In turn, this frees up your precious time and mental capacity. For instance, instead of worrying about the packaging of your goods to send out for delivery, you can rather place all your focus on your next strategic marketing campaign.

Related: 3 Ways To Avoid Catastrophic Failure By Streamlining Day-to-Day Processes

Business process automation can mean anything from creating an automated production line to including software that automates administrative processes. The latter is the more popular type of automation for small businesses and therefore very likely to be the right choice for you too.

What can business process automation do?

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Think about all the daily, weekly or monthly tasks you have to do in order for your business to succeed. Bookkeeping, inventory control, invoicing, marketing and communication with customers sound like familiar task you’re constantly bogged down with? These repetitive tasks can become the bane of your life.

When your business eventually scales and you employ staff, it’ll become the bane of your new employees’ daily grind too. Eventually someone is going to drop the ball, or the task will become such a hassle it’ll be left to the last minute and rushed. Neither of these instances will result in a positive outcome.

 

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By implementing business process automation you’re able to reduce the number of repetitive tasks. This frees up time (for everyone) to focus on aspects of the business that drive growth, new business development or better customer satisfaction.

The other benefits of business process automation

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Most business process automation software and systems offer easy workflows that are direct and easily integrable with other systems.

This means that as the business grows more automated, processes are added to the already existing solutions, seamlessly.

In fact, bookkeeping solutions available to small business are often offered as a modular solution that scales with the business. It begins with basic automated bookkeeping, which becomes accounting software when needed.

Eventually when the business is at full scale, an enterprise resource management system is put in place. Including business process automation into your business will ultimately result in saving you both time and money.

Instead of paying an employee to handle mundane administrative tasks, a once-off purchase fee is paid for automation. Also, human error is avoided and this means more time spent on growth, development and garnering profits.

Related: 3 Sure Fire Ways To Improve Efficiency And Find Your Business’s Productivity Sweet Spot

To include business process automation right in the beginning during your start-up years might appear costly – however the saving, long term, is worth it.

Having automated processes is also a plus if you’re looking for investment or preparing a sound exit strategy for a future sale of your operation.

Investors, across the board, want quick access to the finances, operations and activities of the entity they’re interested in injecting money into or purchasing.

If business process automation is implemented, this type of information is available and accurate, immediately.

As a small business, especially in Africa, you’re probably operating with a bootstrapping mentality and I commend you for it – it’s the best way to do this whole start-up thing. But, rather than trying to expand quickly and entering the hiring process rather look to automated systems first. They’re definitely cheaper than an employee.

What’s more, when you finally do employ staff they’ll be put to better use than filing invoices and pressing “send” 2 000 times trying to get your email marketing message out there.

Megan Sell
Megan only discovered her love for writing at the age of 28. Before that she spent her time in the theatre world and then in the magazine industry, where she realised the sweet reward that writing can deliver. After building up her portfolio Megan ventured into the digital realm to try her hand at the online game. Now she is the editor of The Cradle, an African entrepreneurial website that advises entrepreneurs and small business owners across the continent.