Save Time: Automate Your Business

automations productivity systems Feb 13, 2022

“There are never enough hours in the day to finish everything I need to do in my business!”

We hear this all the time from our members in Female Fusion. There’s so much that they need and want to do, but when first starting out, they have limited people resources to get it all done. The key is to work smarter, not harder, and the good thing is that there are so many tools and systems available at no, to low cost to help. The idea of systems and automation seems so simple, but many businesses leave this out at the start, waiting until their business and their ‘to do lists’ have grown much bigger. As a start-up or micro-business, it’s easy to think that it’s not for you, or you don’t have the budget for it. This is a false economy, as it then becomes a much bigger task to put it all into place. Not only that, you spend far too much time working “in” your business rather than “on” your business. 

Finance

This should be the very first system that you get into place, once you have started trading. Many make the mistake of issuing their invoices in Word or Excel. There are a few problems with this: firstly, it makes your business look small (and no one wants to look small) and you have no way of properly tracking the money that comes in and the money that goes out.

Depending on where your trade license is from, you might also have a mandatory audit each year. If your books are not in order, that audit is going to cost you a lot! In the UAE you must also register for VAT if you sell more than 375,000 AED in one year – if you’re not tracking this effectively you could run into trouble. If you are planning to bid for contracts with some government entities or companies, they might insist that you are registered for VAT and you can present them with a TRN (tax registration number) certificate.

Get yourself started at the very beginning with a good cloud-based finance system that is approved by the Federal Tax Authority. Popular ones include Xero, Quickbooks and Zoho. They all offer free trials, so find one that works best for you and your business. 

If you are VAT registered and use a payment gateway, don't forget that you need to be issuing VAT invoices for every single transaction. Failure to do so might result in you being issued with a fine. Our favourite automation for this is Quaderno. It's a plugin that will connect your payment gateway provider directly with your accounting software, and will issue VAT compliant invoices instantly upon payment. Even better, it creates a VAT invoice in your accounting software to reconcile your books.

Email and marketing automation

Depending on the type of business that you have, there are a number of options for automating your emails and marketing functions. Within Female Fusion’s product-focused e-commerce businesses, Klaviyo is a popular option. It integrates with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Shopify Plus, BigCommerce and Magento to segment customers, track website behaviour, create targeted emails and personalise the customer experience. 

For non-ecommerce focused businesses, our members love platforms such as Convert Kit, Active Campaign, MailerLite or Flodesk. Some have better options than others depending on your business, so it’s always good to try it out on one of their free trials.

Creating content

  • Canva – to create your own images for social media, brochures, presentations and edit short videos. The basic plan is free, or upgrade for a small fee to access the whole lot
  • Loom - for recording videos for short training courses or video explainers
  • Free image libraries - these include Pexels, Unsplash and Pixabay

Social media scheduling

No one has time to post on their social media accounts every day, while still trying to run a business. The best way to go about this is to batch your content in advance, so plan out and write your content for the next 30 days. Once you’ve done this, you can plug it all into a scheduling platform. There are many out there, ranging from free to expensive depending on what you want to do with it. 

Top platforms used by our Female Fusion members include:

  • Meta Business Suite (for Facebook and Instagram posts)
  • Planoly
  • Canva
  • Hootsuite
  • Sked Social

You need to look closely at each platform and see what would best suit you and your business needs. What works for one business won't always be right for another.

General organisation

Many entrepreneurs struggle to stay on top of all the work they have, but a good old organisation system can help. Some of our favourites include:

  • Calendly is an absolute time saver for booking meetings – it will not only allow people to choose their own meeting time, but it will also create a meeting in Zoom, and send automated follow-up emails afterwards
  • Trello or Asana are great platforms for staying on top of tasks and including the whole team in project management – the best part is that it’s free for the basic plan
  • Monday.com is another project management tool that comes at a cost, but a number of SMEs find that it’s a great tool to get everyone organised and on-task in the business
  • We love a good survey over at Female Fusion. We are absolutely in LOVE with Typeform because it allows us to create surveys to understand our members' needs and requirements. It also allows us to create information request forms, including the option to upload documents. Even cooler is that you can integrate Typeform with Monday.com. When we recently hired a new team member, the job application was through Typeform, that fed through into a Monday board, which then allowed us to evaluate applications - and the system automatically sent out emails to applicants. If they weren't successful, everyone received an email thanking them for applying, if they were successful, the system sent them an email inviting them to book in for a Zoom interview through Calendly.  
  • If you don’t like to type, Otter.ai is a free transcription tool that will have your voice notes down on the page in a matter of minutes!
  • Zapier is an app that integrates all of your apps together – so for example if someone buys a product from your website and your website platform doesn’t automatically create an invoice in your finance system, Zapier creates a “zap” between your website and your finance system to automatically generate your invoice

These are just some of the automations that our members at Female Fusion are using to speed up their business processes and give them more time back to work on their businesses. 

** please note that some of the links we've included are affiliate links, which go towards helping us continuously grow Female Fusion and help other women entrepreneurs build their businesses. We appreciate your support by using these links.

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