How to Automate Your Small Business

As a small business, staying lean and efficient is paramount to your continued success and profitability. Regardless of the type, size, or location of your small business, automation is one of the best ways to stay lean and efficient. As a small business owner, your time is invaluable, and while it may be tempting to keep your operations close to your chest, your business will benefit tremendously when you let go and turn to automation.

From emails and content creation to marketing and accounting, the ability to automate your business’s repetitive tasks will ultimately save time, reduce costs, and allow you and your team to focus your attention and efforts on minimizing errors and promoting sustainable growth.

There are a multitude of ways to automate your business; here’s a list of four quick changes you can make to cut costs and reclaim your precious time.

1). Hire a Virtual Assistant for Repetitive Tasks

Virtual assistants are one of the chief resources to help you save money and accomplish tasks efficiently. At a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee, a virtual assistant can provide your business with specialized services around the clock. Repetitive and recurring tasks such as bookkeeping, blogging, marketing and social media are just a few of the many responsibilities you can delegate to a virtual assistant.

2). Set Up a Chatbot So Customers Can Easily Ask for Help

Customers have a knack for needing things at all hours of the day and night. You’ve already been putting in 10-hour days all week and it simply isn’t realistic for you or your employees to be available 24/7. A chatbot is one of the easiest and most affordable ways you can assure both existing and prospective clients that someone is always available to help.  

Even when you or an employee are available, chatbots can often provide helpful answers to simple questions, freeing up employees to focus on tasks that require direct human attention. Setting up a chatbot so customers can easily ask for help is a great low-cost tool for helping to minimize inefficiencies in your day-to-day operations.

Chatbots should be an integral part of your business’s sales and customer service experience and will ensure that you communicate with 100 percent of visitors who land on your website. Chatbots make it easy for customers to receive the help and guidance they need, without you or your employees having to sacrificing valuable time.  

3). Outsource Content Creation to Qualified Writers

Outsourcing content creation to qualified writers comes with numerous benefits that will help automate your business and reduce costs. An expert employee may be great for accomplishing specific tasks or overseeing a team, but when it comes to content creation, outsourcing is key to putting your writing needs on autopilot.

Enlisting the outside services of a qualified writer will save you the time-consuming, costly hassle of training and employing a dedicated writer. Outsourcing content creation also gives you access to a virtually limitless pool of specialized freelance writers who can produce more content faster, in addition to empowering you with the flexibility to ramp up or dial back your content production at any time.  

4). Use Automated Social Media Publishing Tools

A staggering 83 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 say they use social media.[1] With over 90 percent of companies in the U.S. utilizing social media platforms for marketing,[2] make sure your small business stays relevant with the help of automated social media publishing tools.

Social media publishing and management apps like Buffer, Hootsuite, Agorapulse, and eClincher will help optimize your business’s social media pages by allowing you to schedule posts across all platforms and receive messages in a single, easy-to-manage mailbox. These tools can also help your business understand key metrics, and analyze and improve engagement and the performance of your posts.  



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5 Tasks You Should Be Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant

One of the key ingredients to the success of any business is to keep the operation running efficiently. We’ve all heard the old adage that time is money, and when it comes to your small business, this statement proves especially true.

While you’re certainly capable of accomplishing each of the tasks your business needs, it simply isn’t possible, nor is it practical, for you to do them all. So, what’s the solution? Prioritize. Organize your activities into two categories: things that others can do, and things that only you can do. Go down the list of the things you can outsource to others and immediately free yourself up to tackle the things that you, and only you, can do. Outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant is both easy and affordable. Why spend a minute more of your precious time worrying about producing content and marketing your small business? You’ve spent enough time carefully formulating your business plan, and it’s time to recognize the value of outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant.

Here are 5 simple assignments you should be outsourcing to a virtual assistant so you can spend more time running your business.

1). Content Marketing

Content marketing is more important than ever, and most of us spend a significant part of our day consuming content across a variety of mediums. In the digital age, content marketing is one of the best ways to disseminate valuable, timely information that will help your business remain relevant and keep your audiences engaged. It’s also one of the best tasks for you to be outsourcing to a virtual assistant. You can even hire multiple virtual assistants, each with different specialties, to help you diversify your content and keep it fresh.  

2). Video Content

Producing high-quality video content is one of the most effective ways to market your business. Video production and editing requires a highly specialized skillset and you’ll save time, money, and frustration by outsourcing your video content needs to a virtual assistant. Businesses who include videos in their marketing grow revenue 49 percent faster than those who don’t use videos,[1] so videos should certainly be an integral piece of your marketing plan. Do yourself a huge favor and hire a qualified virtual assistant to save you the many hours of hair-pulling, blood boiling frustration that accompanies trying to produce and edit great video content.

3). Web Development

Having to come up with a brand and a strategy for your business is hard enough. Turn to a virtual assistant for your web development needs and drastically reduce costs and time. Your website is the backbone of your business, and you can’t afford for it not to be working perfectly. A virtual assistant will always be available to make sure your website is up-to-date, and that all systems are fully operational around the clock.

4). Social Media

Another one of the things you should be outsourcing to a virtual assistant is social media. With billions of social media users across the world, platforms like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest present the perfect opportunity to share your brand’s offerings and content, increase your company’s following, and promote valuable engagement with existing and prospective clients. But don’t be fooled; social media isn’t as simple as just posting random pictures and articles—it’s an art form that requires the expertise of a professional guru. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of virtual assistants with the experience and know-how to kick your social media presence into high gear.

5). Blog Posts

Writing blog posts is another task that’s perfect for outsourcing to a virtual assistant. Besides saving money, you can utilize different writers’ unique skillsets to generate a steady stream of diverse, organic posts that will complement your company’s brand and help drive traffic to your site. Virtual assistants also give you the power to customize how much or how little content you need at a particular time, saving you the expense of keeping a full-time writer on your staff.  


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Business, Marketing

How to Market a Small Business On a Budget

Everyone knows about the importance of marketing your business in today’s economy. Small businesses will often spend a significant chunk of their revenue on marketing in an effort to woo customers. But what if you can’t afford to spend that much on marketing, or you just don’t want to? Fortunately, there are a variety of different ways to keep spending at a bare minimum and still run an awesome marketing campaign.    

Below, check out a list of marketing strategies for small business owners that you can include today for free or at low cost to you.

1). Content Marketing

If you’re on a tight budget, content marketing is without a doubt one of the best ways to market your small business. By delivering relevant, high-quality content to your audience through a variety of mediums, you’ll be able to educate your audience and earn its trust. People prefer to learn about products and companies through articles and videos, rather than being sold through direct advertising. Trust us—your audience will thank you in the form of sales and continued engagement.

2). Start an Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing is a proven method for engaging with your customers and capturing their attention. An email marketing campaign allows you to put information in front of your customers with a simple click. Email marketing is a quick way to communicate conveniently with thousands of customers. Check out MailChimp, an email marketing provider offering a completely free subscription plan that allows you to send as many as 12,000 emails per month.

3). Build Your Online Presence

The Internet has led to a much more educated consumer. Most consumers will research a company and product before making any kind of purchase. Establishing an online presence doesn’t necessarily require spending thousands of dollars.

Try creating or redesigning your website with low-cost options from companies like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and WordPress. You can also promote your business for free by being active on other companies’ websites, commenting on articles, forums and threads, and interacting with consumers and businesses to help spread the word about your brand.

4). Start a Blog

A blog is a great way to share valuable content with your audience, whether it’s about your industry, your offerings, or just an interesting topic you think readers will want to hear about. 70 percent of people prefer to learn about a company through articles, not advertisements; 90 percent of consumers think custom content is useful.[1] A blog is an opportunity to connect with your customers, so take advantage of this online space and create a blog that’s jam-packed with useful, creative content your customers will love to engage with.

5). Utilize Social Media Marketing Tools

Social media gives you instant access to billions of people worldwide—and the best part is that it’s free. While it’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on sponsored ads, you don’t have to empty your wallet to market effectively on social media platforms.

Many popular social media management tools offer a free version. Check out Buffer, Hootsuite, and SocialOomph, and see how these services can help you save time and optimize your social media accounts.

Final Thoughts

Effective marketing strategies for small business brands rely almost entirely on metrics and data. If you notice that your audience is responding to a specific social media post, run with it. Utilize A-B testing in all of your early marketing efforts to determine which strategies are yielding results and which ones are falling short. Come up with a plan and start small, adjusting and reallocating funds to the highest-performing strategies as you go. If something is working, don’t be afraid to spend a little more in that area; if it’s not, don’t bother continuing to throw money at it.


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