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7 Ways to Automate Your Entire Business Using Online Tools

7 Ways to Automate Your Entire Business Using Online Tools

Running a business can become hectic because of all the aspects that go into it. It can be time consuming; and time is money. And if you don’t want to become overwhelmed with the extra responsibilities, you would have to hire extra in-house employees, which will cost even more money.

You can alleviate some of that extra stress by automating your company so that you can focus on the most important task—revenue. Listed below are some ways that can help guide you into making your business more effective and efficient.

1. Setting Up Your Business

When automating your business, you should look at ways to make business functions more efficient. What practices would you like to improve on? What tasks are repetitive, and can be sped up by automating? Document how much time and money it actually takes to do these tasks without automating, versus with automating, in order to see how efficient your results are.

You can utilize batch processing—grouping activities together to do them all at once—which can save you time instead of having it spread out throughout the day. You can batch process emails, bill payments, social media interaction, and stock ordering.

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Having a positive mindset can also improve your business by working to see where improvements can be made instead of just settling for your current processes. You should always be trying to find ways to improve your company and ensure optimal efficiency.

2. Online Marketing

In this age, where technology and social media rules, you should find ways to utilize this in your company’s favor. You know that getting your company known is important, but also very time-consuming.

To do this efficiently, you can utilize batch processing along with other online tools. Popular email marketing tools include AWeber, Vision6, and Mail Chimp. Email marketing can keep people aware of your business activities, which you can automate by creating auto responders—a scheduled sequence of emails sent out automatically—this will keep your customers engaged for as long as you have set up.

Many businesses also use blogging and social media to engage customers and keep people aware of their activities. You are able to link both blog and social media profiles, and schedule posts to the exact dates and times that you want them published. You can link the accounts using Jetpack, and then use tools—such as Hootsuite—to automate your social media presence. With Hootsuite, you are able to access all social media accounts from one place.

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3. Admin and Office

A lot of tedious work can go into the administration and office, and this can really slow a company down. However, there are many online tools that can help automate these tasks. Evernote is a popular program that can help your business keep notes, task management, accounts, contact logs, etc., organized. There are also tools that can connect hundreds of web apps into one place—such as Herolocity; which can handle appointments, online orders, invoicing, phone systems, and everything that holds you back from driving revenue—for free. You can even automate data entry for your receipts.

With companies like Shoebox, you are able to send all of your receipts to them. Shoebox will scan all of the receipts and then send it to Evernote, and you won’t have to worry about having to do in-house data entry. There are also tools to help with file storage which allows you to back up, and even share files. Box and Dropbox can be used for free, but you can opt for more advanced features when your company needs expanding.

4. Customers and Contacts

Utilize tools like Contact Form 7 to allow people to contact your company through your website 24/7. You can even funnel responses so that they reach the appropriate person. You should also include a FAQ on your website to reduce the need for customers to contact you directly.

Assess the questions and problems that are frequently asked, and then have the answer posted onto your website, to reduce the number of queries sent. Along with a FAQ, a ticket system—such as Zen Desk—can be utilized which will allow you to organize and manage problems that your customer is having.

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You can also use software tools that can help with your customer relationship management. As your company expands, you will have more customers that need to be tended to. With CRMS, like Salesforce, you can provide your customers the attention they need, automate your sales funnel, and label hot leads automatically.

5. Tasks and Projects

Another helpful way to automate your business is by using task and project tools. There are websites—such as Trello—that can allow you to assign different users certain tasks, while also allowing you to label, attach files, and set deadlines.

Each task can be broken down into a checklist. You can also use management tools like Asana and Do, which will allow you to oversee your business projects.

6. Sales, Inventory, & Accounts

You can alleviate yourself from your in-house accounting tasks, by automating your business. Xero is a popular tool that allows you to easily log in and take care of invoicing and payroll, while allowing your accountant to log in to fix any errors you have made.

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The software is constantly being updated, and since it is on the cloud, you can access it from anywhere. Along with accounting tasks, you can also automate the money-making aspects of your company by having a shopping cart and online ordering. With websites—like woo commerce—customers can order whenever they want, and you can make money 24/7.

With all the money that will be going in and out of your company, you can also budget online as well. Softwares—such as You Need A Budget—lets you know exactly where your money is going so that you don’t mistakenly overspend, which can be a huge problem with small businesses.

7. Staff

Your employees add so much value to your business, but the hiring process can become time-consuming. To help with this, you can use software—like Recruiterbox—which can help track and respond to applicants, manage job openings, and allow you to assign users to different parts of the recruiting process.

After hiring new employees, you need to have them go through training. This takes extra time and money, but with today’s technology, you can provide training online—videos, audios, how-to guides—with password protection to ensure that only your employees have access to it.

Through your website, you can organize different training sections according to different types of staff. After hiring and training, you need to roster to keep track of all of your employees and the different shifts worked. A software that can help you manage this is FindMyShift which allows you to manage things like lunch breaks, holidays, and much more. This will lessen your stress and make managing your employees much easier.

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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