As a small business owner, one of your most precious resources is time. Research from BRW magazine shows that 70 percent of small-medium businesses are still processing most of their data manually, resulting in hours of wasted time better invested in activities like growing your business or spending time with family and friends.
So how do you know if you’re one of those 70 percent who are wasting precious time manually processing data? And more importantly, how do you get into the 30 percent of businesses who are operating efficiently and leading their industries?
Connecting your cloud programs can save you precious hours by automating the tasks you do regularly, freeing you up to focus on activities that grow your business.
Here’s a list of indicators that you need to automate your business as well as some tips on how to do it.
1. Entering sales data
Manually entering sales data into your accounting program is not only significantly time consuming, it can invite errors. It also makes your accountant hate you as they usually have to spend hours trying to find and fix discrepancies or holes in the data.
If you are still doing this, stop. There is a better way.
With the rise of cloud software, many of the applications you use to run your business can now be seamlessly connected using online integration platforms so that data flows freely between them. Online retailers can automatically convert sales from your online store into invoices in their accounting program. Or sales teams using CRM sales management software can easily convert closed deals into invoices.
2. Sending invoices and chasing payments
Research from RBS Invoice Finance shows that small to medium businesses spend on average 130 hours every year chasing payments, and that small businesses wait on average 30 days longer than their agreed payment terms to receive money. Not only is that time business owners could be spending growing their business, but it is also a significant contributing factor to the cash flow problems plaguing small businesses.
If you are still manually creating and sending invoices and then chasing payments, you are wasting more valuable time.
To rectify this, small businesses can use billing and invoicing management software such as those offered Freshbooks and WHMCS.
These applications can automate the process of creating and sending invoices as well as send late payment reminders and even automatically add late payment fees to invoices. Once the invoices have been paid, they can be automatically synchronised with your chosen accounting program using OneSaas.
3. Updating customer details
CRM tools and email marketing software provide an excellent way to maintain regular contact with your customers and track your interactions with them. This software is now available on a small business budget (some, such as Highrise and Mailchimp, are even free).
However, if you are manually inputing or updating your customer details in these programs it may not be worthwhile.
The good news is that you can automate the process of getting customer details out of a master system and into all your other systems and effectively maintain one customer database.
Online retailers can have all the customers from your shopping cart seamlessly synchronising with your email marketing or CRM. If you maintain your customer contacts in your accounting package, you can sync them with your preferred email marketing or CRM system.
If you are making any of these mistakes, it’s time to automate your business and get ahead of the competition. Aside from the significant time savings, automating your business in the ways described above can also help you maintain better accounting records, get paid faster and builder deeper, more profitable relationships with your customers.
This article first appeared on the OneSaas blog.