Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

December 2016

Recent Posts

It was early in my business when I realized I was repeatedly performing the same tasks. Frankly, it felt a bit like a scene from the 1993 movie classic, “Groundhog Day.”

Small business automation was not yet coined as a “thing.”  Yet, there was already a craving in the business community for a better way to handle redundant tasks — without paying someone to do the same work over and over and over.

So, my brilliant team and I gathered our collective brains to come up with potential solutions. Hence, the Client Café was born.

The Client Café became a private portal that stored routine documents. Rather than digging through numerous computer folders and clogging up my clients’ inbox with worksheets and assessments, the Client Café became the main resource center, saving us countless hours.

Presto! It was the first automation at Synnovatia. (We were so ahead of our time!)

Two Many Tasks — Too Little Time

The fingerprints of a small business entrepreneur are on everything. They’re on bookkeeping, project management, marketing, human resources, operations, invoicing, customer service, payroll, etc., etc. You get the picture.

Ask any business owner the one thing they want more of and, without hesitation, they respond, “time” — which is quickly followed by “help.”

Conceding that hiring staff to handle repetitive tasks may not be financially feasible, a practical solution to free up time is to streamline wherever and whatever we can. It’s the only way to keep our heads above water.

All Aboard the Small Business Automation Train

In order to multiply and magnify your efforts (without adding staff or hours) automation of various business functions is key.

Before plunging head first into small business automation, put your well-earned money where your automation ought to be with a few strategic considerations:

  • Where do tedious and/or redundant tasks occur repeatedly?
    This may include unsubscribing from promotional emails, social media posting, marketing emails, reconciliation of bank accounts and credit cards.
  • What tasks eat up your time?
    This may include managing your day via post-it notes, communication, scheduling meetings, email, project management, banking, managing vendor relations, or overseeing staff.
  • What activities require multiple touches to complete?
    Here’s an example that routinely occurs when collaborating on a document. Can you count the number of steps? How much time you would regain if this process was automated.

A document is sent via email.  Access inbox where you are met with a flurry of distracting emails. Locate the desired email with the document. Download the document. Read the document. Make edits and suggestions. Save the document. Access inbox. Click on new message. Add recipient email. Craft subject line. Type response. Click on “paperclip” to open document folder. Search through folders. Locate document. Select to attach. Click send.

  • What areas of business can be automated?
    Business functions to consider for automation are operations, sales and marketing, customer service/relationship, accounting and finance, human resource management, production, research and development, and administration.
  • What tasks are being done that are a complete waste of time yet needs to be done?
    These are the tasks or activities that elicit heavy sighs and eye rolls.

Options for Automation

Now that you have a better sense of where automation may free you from the dull and tedious, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

To help narrow the possibilities, these are some of the automation tools happily implemented by our clients and/or us.

  • CRM – Hubspot, Zoho, Insightly
  • Project Management – Redbooth, Trello
  • Payroll/Accounting – Quickbooks, Freshbooks
  • Social media management – Hootsuite, Buffer, Socialoomph
  • Email management – Mailchimp, Constant Contact
  • Scheduling – Doodle, Boomerang Calendar, Calendly
  • Task management – Active Inbox HQ
  • Marketing – Hubspot
  • Customer support – Zendesk

Additional automation tools to consider are anything Google (calendar, email, docs, etc.), Dropbox, Zapier, and IFTTT.

Once you’ve researched our recommendations, ask your colleagues about their small business automation applications. There are hundreds of other software options, tools, and apps designed to make your business run more smoothly — and get back the hours for the activities that you enjoy most.

Trust me, this is just that start of your love affair with automation. Before long, you’ll wonder how you ever did business without it.

Over the course of the next few years, you can expect your business to run dramatically different, thanks in part, to mobile trends in small business. What does this mean for you and your business? Plenty! Whether it’s their smartphone, iPad, or laptop, consumers are on the move. If you’re willing to adapt to meet their changing needs, your business will flourish.

The Mobile Landscape: Predictions and Prognostications

More than half of small enterprises expect to integrate mobile marketing into their strategy…and for good reason!

  • Business reviews are read by 56% of B2B clients on mobile devices.
  • Mobile devices are used to conduct 72% of Internet searches.
  • Product information and feature comparisons are conducted on mobiles by 55% of B2B customers.
  • The purchasing experience is being streamlined by shifting from offline to online payments by 57% of B2B businesses.
  • More consumers are using smartphones to make online purchases with U.S. mobile payments expected to grow to $142 billion by 2019 (Forrester).
  • New businesses are being found through online research by 36% of consumers (Vistaprint Digital).

Solving the Mobile Strategy Mystery

Before deciding whether (or not) it’s best for your business to jump on the mobile bandwagon, it’s wise to exercise some mobile strategy “strategic thinking.” To avoid confusion, it’s worth repeating — mobile isn’t a tool. It’s a strategy that helps us reach our clients wherever they are. It truly does put your client first.

Ask yourself a few simple questions to determine an effective mobile strategy for your business…

  1. What business objective would your mobile strategy be tied to?
  2. What opportunities might your business be missing without a mobile strategy?
  3. Does your small business need a mobile strategy?
  4. What platforms are being used by your buyer persona to access your digital assets for search and/or buying?
  5. What other questions do you need to ask before making an investment?
  6. What is changing in the mobile world?
  7. How can your small business use mobile marketing and technology to meet consumers where they’re at?
  8. What current mobile assets does your business have in place?

The Essentials and Options of Mobile Marketing

In a recent survey of 1,000 US micro businesses (companies with fewer than 10 employees), Vistaprint Digital discovered that more than 25% are missing out by not taking advantage of marketing opportunities available to them.

Here are a few essentials, along with some options, for you to consider:

1. Responsive Website. Since Google implemented its Mobile Optimization Guidelines, a website that adapts to the different digital platforms (smartphone, iPad, desktop) is a must. Businesses without a responsive website may experience a drop in their SEO ranking or, worse yet, be eliminated from search completely. EEK! The Vistaprint Digital Survey noted that 45% of respondents (e.g., your potential clients) were unlikely to buy from a poorly designed website.

2. Responsive Email and Content. Knowing that 72% of all Internet usage occurs on mobile, it only makes sense to make sure all customer touch points adapt to their device.

3. Optimize Mobile Search. Forbes recently shared an interesting perspective on the importance of “tweaking” content for the mobile experience. When content is optimized around “micro-moments”, engagement and sales are greatly improved.

According to Forbes, the most common “micro-moments” are:

I-want-to-know moments: e.g., “What is the capital of Washington state?”
I-want-to-go moments: e.g., “Where is the nearest grocery store?”
I-want-to-do moments: e.g., “How do I cook a turkey?”
I-want-to-buy moments: e.g., “Adidas CourtVantage sneakers”

4. Location-based Keywords. Don’t you love the way Google finishes your sentences? Search for a “business coach” and Google adds “near me” as a search option. Armed with this snippet of information, make sure to take location-based keywords into consideration.

5. SMS (short message service) Marketing. Using permission-based text messages, consumers can keep up with special offers, new products, and the latest information from your business. Considering that open rates for SMS marketing on average are 98% compared to an average of 20% for traditional email, it may prove to be a gold mind. The average click-thru rate is also higher for SMS marketing — 36% compared to 6-7% for email.

6. Mobile App. A recent Gallup study reveals that 72% of Americans check their phone once an hour — 90% of the time through an app. This type of consumer behavior is driving the mobile trend for app development! Small businesses are expected to contribute to a triple-digit growth in mobile apps by 2018!

It can be challenging to think about the kind of app that makes sense for your business. However, if you do want to develop an app, consider this:

  • What is your business meant to do?
  • How can you do it better (and create a better experience for your client) with a mobile app?

7. Mobile Payments. I love Apple pay. In fact, I’ve gotten so spoiled that a purchase requiring the actual removal of my credit card from my purse, leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. And, it appears it’s not only me. Consumers have become much more comfortable with purchasing online.

Mobile payment, like many of the other mobile trend essentials and options, creates a simple, seamless shopping/payment experience for the consumer.

Mobile this. Mobile that. It’s a lot of information to take in, isn’t it…until you consider your mobile experiences as a consumer. Then it all begins to make sense, doesn’t it.

Finally, a mobile strategy, like any other small business strategy, is not one that you can set and forget. Measure your improvements. Evaluate your results. Keep what works, eliminate what doesn’t, and tweak your mobile strategy until your business achieves the seamless integration and results you — and your consumer — desire.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

Search The Blog