June 16, 2024 • Productivity

6 Business Automation Tools for Better Work-Life Balance

More sun, less admin.

Summertime invites (arguably, tempts) us to make more time for play, leisure, and adventure.

We aren’t glued to our computers, offices, or workstations. Instead, we’re (ideally) checking email less and enjoying the outside more.

But for small business owners, this can pose a challenge: how do we keep our business running smoothly while we’re out enjoying the summer days?

The answer lies in business automation tools.

Think of automation tools as mini robots and automated systems working hard for you while you sleep, and get your summer on.

 

Business automation tools I can't live without. Woman holding a compass outdoors

 

One of my favorite quotes about the concept of automation is from The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness (here’s the free audiobook or paperback)

The quote talks about business automation tools as permissionless leverage—a way to use software and media that works for you while you sleep:

Business automation tools offer an effortless way to keep things moving seamlessly behind the scenes, allowing you to minimize effort and maximize your value, knowledge, and brand any time of the year.

These powerful tools can help you nurture leads, share your knowledge, and be present for your current and prospective clients and customers—without being ‘always on.’

As much as we love our business and brands, we’re human.

We need breaks. And Vitamin D-rich walks in the sun.

So, let’s explore how automation tools can help you get in a little more sun and do a little less admin, without compromising the value or service quality your business offers for your clients and customers.

5 Benefits of Using Business Automation Tools

  1. Time Savings
    • Automation tools can handle repetitive and time-sensitive tasks like data entry, email sequences, and social media posting. This frees up valuable time for more strategic or leisure activities.
  2. Cost Efficiency
    • By automating routine processes, you can help your teams operate more efficiently, or, if it’s an off-season for your business, reduce labor costs.
  3. Consistency and Accuracy
    • Automated processes ensure tasks are completed with accuracy and consistency. You reduce the risk of human error and don’t even have to worry about making time to post or respond, for example.
  4. Improved Customer Experience
    • Your automations are always on no matter when your clients and customers find you. Automation tools can streamline customer interactions, from quick email responses to relevant email flows, and efficient order processing, which leads to higher satisfaction and loyalty.
  5. Enhanced Productivity
    • With less time spent on mundane tasks, you or your team can focus on creative and highly strategic activities that drive growth and innovation. Or, you can make more time for personal time and relationships.

6 Types of Business Automation Tools

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
    • Examples: Salesforce, HubSpot
    • CRM tools help manage customer interactions, track sales, and automate marketing efforts, ensuring you nurture leads and build lasting relationships.
  2. Marketing Automation Tools
    • Examples: ConvertKit, Klaviyo, Later.com
    • These tools automate email campaigns, social media posting, and other marketing tasks, making it easier to reach and engage your audience.
    • I use ConvertKit for my newsletter, Klaviyo for my e-commerce brand, and Later.com to schedule posts across Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, when needed.
  3. Accounting and Invoicing Software
    • Examples: Finaloop, QuickBooks, HoneyBook
    • Automating your accounting processes can save time on invoicing, expense tracking, and financial reporting, ensuring you stay on top of your finances.
    • I use Finaloop for my e-commerce brand and QuickBooks to send invoices for my brand design clients. I plan to try HoneyBook next; it has a better interface to set up automation for myself and my clients.
  4. Calendar & Project Management Tools
    • Examples: Notion, Asana, Calendly
    • These tools help manage tasks, deadlines, and team collaboration, keeping projects on track and boosting team productivity.
    • I love that Calendly, a scheduling software, also helps me set up payment and appointment-setting in one. I use it to make it easy for my clients to book their Power Hour, a customized and private advisory session for brand owners & entrepreneurs.
  5. Human Resources (HR) Automation
    • Examples: Gusto, Square
    • HR automation tools streamline employee onboarding, payroll, and performance management, reducing administrative burdens and enhancing employee satisfaction.
    • I used Square Payroll when I started to hire for my product-based business, though I found that Gusto was the more common integration across my other apps and systems.
  6. E-commerce Automation Tools
    • Examples: Shopify, WooCommerce
    • For online businesses, these tools can automate inventory management, order processing, payments, and customer service. This simplifies operations and enhances the shopping experience.

How Small Businesses Can Use Automation Tools

  1. Start Small and Scale Up Slowly
    • Identify the most time-consuming tasks in your business and start automating them first. As you become more comfortable with automation, you can slowly implement more tools.
  2. Choose the Right Tools for Your Team Size & Budget
    • The cost of automation tools can add up, so take advantage of the free trials. Test them out before making the financial commitment.
    • Research and explore automation tools that align with your business needs, team size, goals, and workflows.
  3. Integrate Tools for Seamless Operations
    • Look for tools that integrate well with each other. For example, integrating your CRM with your email marketing tool can streamline customer outreach and data management.
  4. Monitor Results and Optimize for Your Audience
    • Regularly review the performance of your automation tools. Gather feedback from your team and make adjustments as needed to optimize efficiency.
    • Use the tools to set up A/B tests. Test messaging, send times, and more to determine best performance, and optimize as needed.
  5. Train & Align Your Internal Team
    • Ensure your team is well-versed in using the new tools—and get them on board with knowing your ‘why’ for creating the change. Provide training sessions and resources to help them adapt to the new tools smoothly. Or set up demos with the individual automation tools and services if offered.
  6. Focus on Customer-Centric Automation
    • Using automation to enhance the customer experience is the best investment. Automate responses to common questions, streamline order processing and personalize marketing efforts to meet your customer or client’s needs.
    • Business automation tools can make your life easier, yes. But more importantly, business automation tools support your brand or business in providing value and creating ease for the very people who keep you in business.

In Summary: Best Automation Tools for Small Business

Business automation tools shouldn’t be considered a nice-to-have, but a must-have for small business owners who want to deliver value for their audience and customers—without overworking and missing out on life, summer, and a good night’s sleep.

By automating repetitive tasks, you can save time, reduce costs, and ensure consistency. This way, you can focus on strategic growth, or even leave space for an ‘off’ day.

From calendar, invoicing, and payment systems to email & social media marketing tools, there are many business automation options that may suit your business needs.

Start small, choose the right tools, take advantage of the free tiers, A/B test, and gradually scale up your automation efforts.

With the right tools and systems in place, you can minimize effort, maximize profits, and unlock new levels of living your best-summer life 😎

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