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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 July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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