This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
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We all could use a little extra help when it comes to running our businesses. Whether you have a personal assistant, a virtual assistant or simply Google Assistant (still a contender), it can at times feel like a juggling ploy to keep up with all the moving pieces. Enter additional responsibilities and passion projects (such as speaking gigs, writing opportunities or launching new initiatives), and the pieces move faster and demand more attention, decreasing our productivity and contributing to our overall stress levels.
What ends up happening is that potential leads and opportunities can slip through the cracks. How many times have you forgotten to respond to a potential client because they messaged you on Facebook, where you had 347 other unopened messages? Or, how many hours have you had to log into your weekly calendar to respond to emails?
Thankfully, we have technology that can help us. I’m in the business of investing time up front to automate said technology to work for me moving forward, so I don’t have to continue to commit chunks of my weekly schedule to run operations or delegating and then overseeing those delegations. It also helps that automation can eliminate a margin of human error, as reported by Towards Data Science. If you’ve ever been curious about how automated technology can play a role in your productivity, regardless of what type of business you run, here’s how to get started and test it out for yourself.
1. Determine what doesn’t require your mind power
The reason to rely on technology is simply that your mind power is precious, and ideally should be reserved for creativity and brain-powered productivity sessions. Even if you prefer to be in control, ask yourself, “What doesn’t need my mind power to operate efficiently?” Do a walk-through of your day, and you’ll likely find a number of tasks that eat up your time and don’t require your effort. And one of the most cited benefits of automation is its ability to save time.
Amiad Soto, co-founder & CEO of Guesty, a short-term property-management platform for those with businesses on Airbnb and other booking channels, mentioned in a virtual conference the other day (yes, that’s a thing now) that when it comes to running your own short-term rental business, “Many don’t realize just how much time the small, repetitive tasks of guest communication, staff scheduling, maintenance and updating calendars across booking channels can take. For entrepreneurs, this time is better spent elsewhere, such as marketing and growing their businesses. Automation tools in a business such as this — which can mean automated check-in instructions and requests for reviews post-stay, or editing a listing and having it uploaded to all major booking channels instantly — can save property managers/hosts a minimum of 50-plus hours per week. Relying on tech tools that enable you to avoid monotonous tasks also means being able to avoid hiring more staff, and rather rely on smart solutions as an extension of your in-house team sans another salary.”
Think about how much you could drive your business forward if you had technology at the helm of the automated tasks. That’s a lot of extra time for creation, strategy and working on the big projects.
2. Figure out how automated tech can enhance your client experience
Beyond what you can get off your own plane, automated technology can also go above and beyond to enhance your customer’s experience in a way you never thought through before. One example is response time. The Lead Response Management Survey found that “waiting even 30 minutes to reply to a potential customer’s inquiry can decrease your odds of qualifying the lead by 21 times.” Having an automated technology in place to respond within minutes — then to follow up without a response — is extra work that you likely never considered before.
Automated technology like the chatbot can get a bad reputation, but done with thoughtful, human-centered copy, can actually dramatically increase your conversion rate. The possibilities for automated technology extend far beyond cleaning up your to-do list. And companies of all different sizes, as explained by Business News Daily, and value propositions are using it to add to their features in both simple and revolutionary ways. At the heart of it, automation enables companies to serve customers better than the business could before.
3. Test it out on a small scale first
To get started, it’s best to exercise it on a small scale to make sure you feel in control and that it works for you. Don’t begin by completely overhauling the typical way you do business, as this can lead to a big cleanup down the road. Slowly implement one new technology (or increase the scale of the technology’s tasks slowly) per week to make sure that you know what’s going on and can brief your team members.
“It all comes down to the research, which requires a period of testing,” Kyn Chaturvedi, Chief Business Development Officer of Tomochain, told me in a recent email conversation. “Leaning on technology is one of the best productivity hacks that entrepreneurs can try, but they have to understand deeply how it will work within their own business and build the right infrastructure for it.”
Automated technology should by no means be adopted overnight, but it’s the first step in taking the load of the small tasks off our shoulders, so we can reserve our energy and creativity for efforts that really move the needle forward in our business. Businesses of all types and sizes are finding ways to make automated technology work for them, and productivity is increasing as a result. Try it for yourself, and see how it can improve your business’s ability to serve.