Out of the various benefits that the Internet has brought for small business owners, the ability to automate some of the otherwise time-consuming elements of running a business is likely somewhere near the top in terms of universal acclaim.
In fact, the entire phenomenon of the modern digital solopreneur could be said to be possible solely thanks to the fact that the Internet provides ways to streamline and optimise operations to the extent that a whole business can be run by an individual.
All the same, there will certainly be areas of your business where things could still be more streamlined than they currently are, and where you could free up a significant amount of time to spend more effectively on other things.
So, here are a few tips for automating some potentially time-consuming elements of your business.
Get physical letters sent to a virtual address, scanned, and emailed to your inbox
If you run the kind of business where you have to be able to receive and respond to emails and traditional post, both, you may well find that this quickly becomes more frustrating and time-consuming than you had ever imagined it could be.
Instead of having to have your letters forwarded to your house, or to collect them from a PO Box, and then go through them all individually by hand, how about using a virtual address as your mailing address?
Virtual address services such as physicaladdress.com allow you to have your mail sent to a professional sounding address, where they can then be collected and forwarded to you directly, or scanned, and emailed to your inbox.
By doing things this way, a quick inbox sweep each day can be all it takes to stay on top of all your correspondences.
Hire a virtual assistant to fill out spreadsheets and put together PowerPoint presentations for you
In his now-classic book on maximising productivity, and living the “digital nomad” life – “The 4-Hour Work Week” — Tim Ferriss describes his experience using a virtual assistant.
Perhaps initially sceptical of the idea, he quickly found that a virtual assistant was able to schedule his tasks for him, put together effective presentations that would have otherwise taken hours, or days to do himself. Somewhere down the line, he even ended up using his virtual assistant to plan his vacations.
Virtual assistant services of all types are still active today, and can help to do a lot of the “legwork” for you in your business, leaving you to handle the tasks that play to your core skill set.
Plan your projects out – and your team’s projects – using a digital kanban system
A kanban board is a system for organising and handling projects in a quick and intuitive manner.
Essentially, the system involves a chart with several columns – typically an “Inbox” or “To Do” column, an “In Progress” column, and a “complete” column, at the very least.
Kanban systems make it easy for you to track your task and project obligations in an intuitive visual format, and to stay on top of things.
Kanban boards are also typically very effective at getting teams to work together collaboratively, without getting in each other’s way.
These days, digital kanban systems such as Trello can allow you to get things up and running in virtually no time, and can automate many of the processes involved, so that all it takes is a couple of clicks a day to stay on top of things.