Time is the one thing small business owners never seem to have enough of. Many owners wear multiple hats while running their companies, and some tasks have to be abandoned at the end of the day because there isn’t enough time to get everything done.
This can be frustrating, and it can hold entrepreneurs back from growing their businesses.
A solution to this common pain point is to embrace cloud-based technologies that can take some of those mundane tasks off your to-do list each day. Below are five easily automated tasks that, while necessary to keep the business running, can be time-consuming.
There are a lot of administrative tasks that go into managing customer relationships. These include capturing leads, managing appointments, and moving customers through the sales pipeline. Managing these tasks across a team can be challenging without software or a system in place. Notes get lost, meetings get missed, and customers get frustrated.
A cloud-based customer relationship management platform can automate many of the tasks that sales people and busy owners struggle to find time to accomplish. CRM can also help you avoid the mistakes that could cost you a sale.
On the road making sales calls all day? You no longer have to trudge back to the office at the end of the day to input your notes. You can do it from home after you have had a breather.
Not sure what’s on your calendar for tomorrow? That would be a major hassle if you had to go back to the office to look at your calendar. With a cloud-based CRM, you can take a look from home before bed to be sure you don’t miss anything. Then you can rest assured you aren’t neglecting an important customer meeting.
Many business owners figuratively drown in paperwork on a daily basis. As that paperwork piles up, it has to be filed away somewhere or passed along to the right person, which means someone has to find the time to get it where it belongs.
More often than not, those papers simply pile up into huge stacks on desks. It becomes impossible to find what you need when you need it.
Cloud-based file storage can solve this problem, though it will require you to start working with digital documents (which you should be doing anyway). They do more than simply allow you to save your documents to a file. The information is stored in a secure, central location; you can access them anytime you need documents.
Technology writer Lavanya Rathnam shares some of the biggest benefits to switching to the cloud to manage your files:
It’s a method of managing paperwork that could be a significant time-saver for you.
Managing finances can be among the most time-consuming administrative tasks for small business owners. With non-cloud tools like spreadsheets and desktop software, someone has to be in the office to handle tasks such as invoicing, recording expenses, and paying bills.
This can be so frustrating for some owners that they put off doing it regularly — and get stuck crunching numbers at the end of the month. That’s when accounting errors happen.
Before that happens, consider investing in cloud-based accounting software that can automate many of those tasks for you. Cloud accounting platforms eliminate the need to enter data manually, they provide an integrated view of money flowing in and out of the business, and they allow users to access the data even when outside of the office, explains Karen Peacock, Chief Operating Officer at Intercom.
Not only that, but cloud-based accounting software makes it easier for you to collaborate with others on financial management. For example, before making a business purchase, you can grant your accountant access to your cloud-based financials for a consultation. Or, if finances allow, you can work with a part-time bookkeeper on billing and invoicing — with neither of you having to work from the office.
Because the work is done in the cloud, you have more options and greater flexibility in managing finances.
For your social media marketing efforts to be successful, you have to be present and active on your pages and profiles. But with everything else you have to do throughout the day, posting to social media can easily get put aside because managing multiple accounts (or even just one) can quickly drain your time.
Not keeping up with your social media presence is a big marketing mistake, though. Mikayla Wyman, Social and Community Engagement Specialist at WordStream, explains that your customers are using social media to interact with companies they want to do business with. In essence, they are waiting to hear from you, Wyman says. It’s a level of customer engagement you would struggle to reach with any other marketing efforts.
So, you can’t afford to fall flat with social media, no matter how time-consuming it becomes.
Cloud-based social media management tools help you stay current and relevant on your social media channels. How? They allow you to schedule posts in advance, which relieves some of the day-to-day pressure of posting. You can also get alerts when someone comments on your posts, which helps keep you engaged with customers without having to regularly log in and check your pages. Some of the most popular social media automation tools include:
What makes these tools especially helpful is that they allow you to post across multiple social media platforms. For example, you can schedule a post of the same content across all the platforms ahead of time so that they all post together. This saves you the time of having to log in to each profile and make updates inside the platform.
Another time-intensive marketing task is sending out marketing emails to your customers. The legwork for an email campaign is extensive — you have to design a template, create the content, plug in the relevant information, create distribution lists, and send the email to your lists. Often, there are replies to manage, as well.
Much of this process can be automated with cloud-based email marketing platforms. They allow you to save your templates and your lists, as well as schedule emails ahead of time. As with automated social media tools, this helps you maintain a regular schedule of emails to keep your customers engaged, without taking up a lot of your time. SendX and Constant Contact are two popular such platforms.
No business is too small to embrace the cloud. Even the smallest businesses, like one-person shops and freelancers, can benefit from the efficiencies created by turning these administrative tasks over to the cloud. It’s a win-win for small business owners who are constantly searching out ways to do more with less.