Gone are the days when growth meant employing more people and asking them to work longer and faster. Thanks to technology, it's easier to grow your small business through automation.
Is automation necessary for a small business?
If you want to keep up with the advancements in your industry and stay ahead of the competition, you have to automate. It is a necessity of the times.
Increased productivity and better output are two of the biggest advantages of small business automation.
However, the common questions are where to begin and how to begin. For more than a decade, we've been helping and working with small businesses that want to optimize their processes, and we're happy to share the first steps if you want to automate some repetitive tasks so you can have more time to work on your business.
1. Build Culture That Accepts Automation
If people are not ready to accept change, you cannot force it on them. The immediate reaction that employees have to automation is that it will make their job redundant, so the first thing to do is to build an environment that is conducive to change. Cars automated the horse, yet horses were not neglected.
Once the stage is set, it is easier to convince people that automation is here to reduce their workload, increase accuracy, and make things simple. The aim of automation is not to fire people but to assist them.
And if you're wondering if small businesses can automate, yes they can! We have helped hundreds of small businesses across South East Queensland automate their processes. We have seen a lot of them grow, motivating us to advocate and help more organisations see and explore the benefits of automation.
2. Start With the Easiest Process
The most common question we get from small businesses is, "What processes should be automated?" Don’t dive in and automate the most complex or the biggest process of your business, especially if you're also new to automation. It's best to start with the simplest process so that if something goes wrong, you can still handle it and fix it without much stress and without serious implications.
When the simple processes have been automated, you will have the confidence to move to complex processes. By then, you will have a better idea of what to expect from employees, tools, and machines. With better insights, you will be able to plan better.
Do you need help with small business automation? Let's talk about your processes and goals.
3. Focus on One Function at a Time
It's not recommended that you automate all aspects of your business at once. If you do that, you will not have time to see your shortcomings and it will result in a less than seamless operation. If something does go wrong, it can set you back days.
We suggest that you list down all functions and identify where automation is necessary. Categorise these functions based on their importance and simplicity so you know what to work on first. Once you've chosen the first function to improve, automate where necessary, check the results, validate them, and only when you're satisfied move on to the next function. Remember that you need to perform multiple tests in various scenarios to find out all possible problems and solve them before you roll it out.
4. Make It Simple and Repeatable
Automation does not have to be a complicated thing. Look for how simply it can be done. Keeping it simple will prevent breakdowns and also reduce downtime. Having a complicated process in place will only increase the chance of something going wrong and increase maintenance time. If there is a breakdown, it will be relatively difficult to fix. Think in simple terms when thinking of automating. This will help you prepare better for times when there is an outage with your process be it machinery, employee or software breakdown.
5. Streamline the Assignment and Communication of Tasks
For automation to work, you have to make sure that the task management and communication are streamlined. If tasks are assigned without much thought or conveyed carelessly, there is bound to be a failure. This could be a lack of communication or miscommunication. A proper system that will send out the work to the parties involved must be in the place.
6. Build Specialised Teams
Having small teams within your organisation is the most efficient way of setting yourself up for successful automation. Each team focuses on their own task.
When building a team, ensure you have chosen the right people and the right technology. Together, they will create an efficient workflow. Automation will help them in working better, achieving your business goals faster.
Turn to us for small business automation! Book your initial consultation with a dork and enjoy the benefits of automation asap.
Proper documentation of your processes will always ensure that you have a reference to go back to if something does fail. A failure can be anything from software not communicating correctly or staff not adhering to procedures you have put in place.
Documentation is the key to a successful small business automation and subsequently, growth. It creates accountability, gives room for improvements, and moves things out of the heads of the team leaders and managers.
8. Work on Your Business
Sometimes you get up on the wrong side of the bed, an office day looms ahead, and you just want to get it over with. For most, these days are called weekdays, but it doesn't have to be this way.
Empowering your staff to be able to follow your lead with great systems gives you the time to look over your busyness and turn it back into your business. Ask them to help you make the business bigger and better. Work on it rather than in it. This will also make the people receptive to automation and encourage them to automate wherever possible, ultimately driving your organisation's productivity and profitability.
9. Take Advantage of AI
Artificial intelligence can be useful in any business. Whether you're in property management, finance, or manufacturing, there is AI that can help you automate some tasks, remove repetition, and give you more time to do things that matter more.
With AI working alongside your team, you can rest assured that repetitive tasks are done as scheduled, deadlines are met, and your employees have the time and energy to work on more important, complex processes.
When utilising AI and automating processes, remember that the best results can only be produced through time and constant monitoring. Start gradually and build on the results as you proceed.
Automation does not mean making jobs redundant or removing jobs meant for your team. It is removing repetitive tasks from the hands of your employees so that they can use their time and skills on high-impact tasks. It is reducing their workload so they can be more efficient and have work-life balance.
If used correctly, small business automation can help increase your business capability. Remember that for it to work, you must have your whole workforce aligned and onboard. Work with them and empower them with knowledge.
At the end of the day, a business is only as good as its workers and as happy as its customers. Automation will benefit everyone. Repetition is cancer to the soul. Automate your business and watch it grow!