Entrepreneurs

What To Automate And Where Human Touch Still Reigns: Expert Shares Ten Insights That Will Help Small Business Owners And Entrepreneurs Run A Better Business

As small business owners and entrepreneurs come out of the pandemic, it’s easy to say that you just have to run your business better. But what and how? To get relevant insights, I recently connected with an expert about small businesses. Jon Fasoli works for Intuit QuickBooks and is the Vice President and Segment Leader of the Small Business and Self-Employed Group. He shared with me, below, the five things small business owners should focus on automating or operating better and the five things where human touch is still vital. 

For small business owners, there truly are never enough hours in the day. However, one way they can free up their time is by embracing automation. By saving themselves valuable time, not only can they focus on other important aspects of their business, but they can take steps towards operating more efficiently and effectively. This was critical in the past year as many small business owners quickly had to pivot their business models overnight in order to survive the unknown. I recommend automating tasks that are repetitious and drain time, such as:

Responding to common emails: Business owners spend close to 25% of their time on email so speeding up the process of responding to similar questions can help save time. Creating templates or canned responses, for instance, allows you to save emails you frequently compose, drop that body copy into a message, and then edit as needed or simply click send.

Sending recurring invoices: For invoices you send monthly, you can set up recurring invoices ensuring they’ll be sent out every month without you having to manually send them. You can also set up automatic reminders to clients who may have forgotten to pay by a specified time period.

Processing payroll: By automating payroll a business owner can set it and forget it. Using financial tools, payroll can be automatically scheduled, sent, and tracked, with paychecks and taxes calculated and distributed.

Managing tasks: The average entrepreneur spends 68.1 percent of their time working “in” their business. A slew of different solutions, like Zapier can help coordinate between different apps and save business owners from repetitive tasks like setting up folders or queuing up reminders. 

Bookkeeping: More than a third (40%) of business owners said bookkeeping and taxes are the worst part of owning a small business. Solutions like QuickBooks saves an average of 25 hours per month by connecting to all of a small business’s accounts and automating this bookkeeping and tax work. Outsourcing this job to software creates more time for owners to focus on growing their business and unlocks richer collaboration and coaching with their accountants. 

Still, there are some aspects of running a business where human touch is still very essential:

Onboarding clients: You only get one chance to make a first impression. New customers and clients need personal attention to establish a solid relationship before you introduce any automation. Make sure you handle this part of the relationship with as much human touch as is possible.

Addressing customer problems: One in three people say the most important aspect of customer service is speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent. Clients or customers who have a time-sensitive problem are one area where you need personal contact and not automated responses. 

Driving creativity: Automation can boost productivity, leaving more room for creativity and solving potential problems. Automation hasn’t found a way to replicate the human brain, which means more creative tasks—from brainstorming your next product to designing graphics—can’t be completely automated. 

Building relationships: Automation can help create consistent touch points for growing and maintaining relationships. Reminders about important dates or notifications to follow-up on an email are useful. However, in order to establish a rapport and build trust, it’s essential for both parties to feel mutually invested. That’s hard to do when everything is automated.

Recognizing employees: 69 percent of employees claim they would work harder if they felt their hard work was better recognized. Effective recognition is “honest, authentic, and individualized to how each employee wants to be recognized” and those boxes are impossible to check with an automated process.

As you grow your business out of this pandemic environment, focus on working smarter, automate where possible and provide more human touch where you can. Your business and you will benefit greatly.

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