How to Automate Your Small U.S. Business
Shared from Thomasnet.com
Small businesses are becoming more effective and efficient than ever, thanks to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Otherwise known as Industry 4.0, small businesses are ushering in an era of automation that allows them to compete with larger companies. Like many other of history's previous industrial tides, it's a positive transition.
Automation can streamline your small business, boosting output, versatility, and client satisfaction while saving money over time. It can save time and labor by performing "repetitive digital administration tasks," like payroll, scheduling, and other duties that keep workers from fulfilling their primary roles.
Because even the most proficient workers can make mistakes, automatic processes can minimize error rates, reduce labor costs, free up time, and optimize resources. This makes it so employers and employees can focus on growing the company. Automated performance tracking can even tell a business whether automation is working for the company or not.
Below, we dive into how small businesses can begin automating without breaking the bank.
More Than Physical Robotic Processes
When many consider automation, they picture fleets of robots producing, packaging, organizing, and transporting various goods. Accordingly, warehouse robotics promise a compound annual growth rate of over 27% from 2019 to 2024. Improved fabrication is indeed a significant advantage, but it's certainly not the only one.
Small, affordable robots can handle cleaning duties, for example. And even those who are hesitant to automate manufacturing processes can excel with automated bookkeeping or email marketing, with its potential return on investment (ROI) of $35 for every dollar spent.
As well, because finding room in their budget can be a major hurdle for small and medium-sized businesses that want to purchase their own fleet of robots, companies like Formic allow businesses to use robots by the hour. This allows companies to begin automating without a lot of risk, capital, or expertise.
What Are Other Companies Doing? Reaching Out to Their Bases
Automation also transforms how companies initiate, interact with, and maintain their client base. For example, chatbots can immediately respond to common customer queries at all hours and eliminate unnecessary work for employees. This strategy extends to social media, which is becoming a mandatory modern outreach method. Automation can compile leads, mentions, and other relevant data while handling pre-scheduled alerts, updates, and blog posts.
Automating other personalized marketing correspondence such as anniversary-based emails, "happy holiday" emails, and reminders that an online retail cart has been abandoned can also benefit a business's bottom line. Morrow Audio, for example, gained 26% recovery of "lost cart" profits using this method of automation. So it's no surprise that around 80% of top companies automate their marketing processes.
Because robots never quit or get injured, they are a necessary tool for eliminating downtime. Decentralized cloud storage offers extra security and speed. In other domains, AI entities are improving their self-correcting and self-directing capabilities. As a result, every decision is informed, data-driven, and free of inescapable human biases. Plus, AI systems can forecast market trends or perform cost-benefit analyses to improve the efficiency of your small business.
How to Start Automating
With benefits such as scalability and reduced errors and cost, small businesses should begin automating now to keep up with competitors. To begin automating, businesses should consider the following:
What tasks are you going to automate? Choosing the right tasks to automate may seem obvious, but it's where many businesses go wrong. Businesses must first understand how automation works and where it fits into their business model. Businesses likely don't want to automate processes that require creative thinking of human input, but more laborious or dangerous tasks.
What automation tools will you need? Once you understand what tasks should be automated, businesses can choose the tools they will need to get the job done. This may include software that automates sales, social media posts, manages chatbots, etc.
What are your automation targets? There's no reason to automate if it doesn't turn a profit. This is why businesses must set targets to gauge success. Because automation can save time, businesses should also consider what they will do with that extra time. Defining measurable goals is an essential part of automation.
How will you track results? Without setting targets and choosing the right KPIs, you’ll struggle to measure how much of a positive impact automation is having on your business.
You can start small and build from there. A little research can go a long way, so explore your market options in robotics and automation. It's also important to encourage input from employees who will be managing or working with the automation tools.
Take Advantage of Automation
While previous industry shifts may have been case-specific, automation can be universally useful for small businesses. Advanced robotics, state-of-the-art AI, and all-encompassing analytics are no longer limited to wealthy companies. This democratization of automation may be the biggest game-changer yet, and it's designed for everyone's benefit.