For a business it is crucial to use the benefits of technology and learn to automate office tasks as good as possible. It not only saves you from buying hair colour in bulk (my grey-hair-armies have grown into the gazillions since having launched my business) but mainly to save money and time. Two things you don’t have much of as a business owner, especially not in a one-person-operation where you’re not yet ‘cool or big’ enough to qualify for an innocent intern.
Even if you’re not too tech-savvy and find it daunting at times to train yourself, watch out: some recommendations for the fainthearted:
Social Media – We all know how time-consuming and distracting it can be to keep up with the necessary evil. Some people ship around it by posting motivational quotes primarily which remains a mystery to me. Motivational quotes are great and I like mixing it up by posting some myself, but generally I believe in putting in a bit more effort, showing a little more love and posting quality content to the world and/or your loyal followers.
With global access via the Internet it has become easier than ever to find quality content, which, with a little help by most webpages out there, you can share immediately by directly posting to the big social media giants. You can also use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to consolidate your social networking, schedule content sharing and sync all your accounts.
Content & Media Research – Although probably outdated by 7 other new gadgets by the time you read this: RSS is still alive, and I love it. Instead of wading through a ton of articles and webpages on a mission of desirable content, you can feed your e-mail program or any other spot with your favourite news collected along the way. For the mobile tech heads out there, there are numerous apps you can customise and make work for you. Let’s talk Feedly.
Website-Login – One of the biggest misdeeds in terms of privacy protection is to write down all your passwords – unless you’re supersmart and sneaky like some of us. Surely, nobody ‘normal’ is able to remember all the passwords accumulated in an eternity-long existence in cyberspace – but you could use automated software to log-in, if your computer doesn’t do it automatically with inbuilt gadgets and tools.
RoboForm could be one of them, and actually also assists with remembering your data when having to fill in your details online. Don’t worry, it is all safe and secure – only ancient minds like I will go to hell as I am still using a little, safely stored notebook with all my encrypted passwords. Psst!
Computer Back-up & Maintenance – Generally you learn best through loss, and I bet we all have learned or retrained that lesson more than once when it comes to computer back-ups. Times of manual back-ups are over and you can get your external hard drive to do it all by itself by automating/scheduling the process, preferably to a suitable time you’re not working at to avoid interruption.
In addition to my external hard drive I nowadays also use cloud-based back-ups (i.e. Dropbox). But that is only because I’m terribly compulsive – everybody else with a half-sane mind, who does not run back to check on the oven that hasn’t been used in a week, can probably do with one or the other. It also makes sense to schedule your browser for cookie/history clearing here and there, which you can also easily set up.
Administration – In the era of technology you can pretty much automate most of the administrative tasks ranging from scanning your documents to be filed by your computer automatically to the option of automating e-mails by setting up e-mail templates. Whether it be for mass mailouts, client birthdays or other occasions. Google’s free Canned Responses is such a smart little tool, it creates templates automatically after you’ve decided on an initial template and put down some additional ground settings.
Automatically having inserted your signature into your correspondence is a lifesaver as well – I wish I would’ve known about it when I did my first marketing mailout. In hindsight I console myself in having added a personal note by signing 300 letters manually!
Bookkeeping – It would be great if everybody could afford a great bookkeeper who can become your ‘Mr. Moneypenny’. In these days there is actually no need for it though, unless your business is going through the roof overnight (which they do on rare occasions only). There is fantastic software out there that does it all for you. Freshbooks, for instance, stores receipts and payment information, you can send out payment reminders to culprits not having paid in time, you can use it as time tracking system, track and categorise expenses, create reports and strengthen client relationships with a seamless CRM option.
Outsourcing – And for all other things you cannot or do not wish to automate, you can always outsource to people like me who help freeing up your time. A little self-promotion never hurts along the way…
There is some truth in the saying that ‘a business owner should work more ON than IN the business’, and if you can afford it, you should start early onward by learning this valuable insight.
Technology can be scary but jumping in and learning to utilise their potential to your own benefit can be revolutionary for your business.