Headlines about recession, inflation, and hiring woes can make even the most experienced entrepreneurs nervous about their contingency plans.
Scott Lieberman, the owner and founder of Touchdown Money, doesn't think the economy will reach a full-on recession but feels it's better to be safe than sorry. "I'm recession proofing my business as if a recession is a 100% certainty."
I asked entrepreneurs how they're preparing for a potential downturn, and there were lots of recurring themes about running a business in economic uncertainty. But what stood out the most was the emphasis businesses were placing on automation.
How automation can help protect your business during an economic downturn
While entrepreneurs expressed concerns about the future, they aren't planning to sit back in fear. "I think it's important to understand that business is always a little bit shaky. The only thing that's guaranteed in business is change, and whether that change is good or bad depends on how you respond to it," Gauri Manglik, the CEO and co-founder of Instrumentl, told me.
Here's how businesses are using automation to prepare for what's to come—regardless of how things turn out.
Optimizing operating costs with automation
David Ly Khim, co-founder of Omniscient Digital, said: "During economic times, we want to avoid adding more operational costs if they don't contribute to revenue generation. Automation helps us scale without needing to hire."
David shared Omniscient Digital's method for building better processes:
Manually do the process ourselves.
Develop standard operating procedures so that doing the process manually is streamlined. This is the second-best option to minimize time on non-revenue-generating activities.
Automate the process with technology like Zapier. We do this as much as possible to avoid having our team spend time on non-revenue-generating activities.
Last resort: if the process can't be automated, hire someone and delegate the task to them.
Read more: Why automation is worth the investment
Boosting employee retention with automation
Hiring is a clear concern for business owners right now, who aren't sure what funding will look like over the next few months and years.
"As the global economy continues to change, we will likely rely even more on automating tasks to keep delivering high-quality service without having to staff up as we grow, and focus our hiring on more specialized experts that can have direct bottom-line impact," Jesse Rosalia, the CEO and co-founder of Bommer, said.
But the potentially more important effect will be on employee retention.
Tomek Młodzki, the CEO at PhotoAiD, uses automation to create a better work environment: "As a startup owner, I want my employees to feel satisfied with their job and focus on looking for innovative solutions rather than doing monotonous work."
For example, one of Tomek's marketing managers uses Zapier to automate Slack, which has made information-sharing easier and more effective. "Before, it was a tedious copy-paste task," he shared. Now that employee can use their time and skillset more effectively, leading to more job satisfaction.
Creating a better customer experience with automation
During an economic downturn, your focus needs to be on your customers. As Zapier CEO Wade Foster noted: "Often, during a downturn, your customers will rely on you more than ever. Figure out how you can take even better care of them."
"We found that teaming Zapier with our customer surveys meant we received data in real-time and eliminated human error. This has led to our fast growth and more effectively managing our processes to meet our customers' needs," she shared.
Recession proof your business with automation
Recession proofing your business comes down to operating deliberately and always being ready to adapt. Automation can free up time and money when you and your team already have enough on their minds and to-do lists.
"A business ignoring automation is one that ignores opportunities to safeguard operations and gain a competitive edge. We automate many of our day-to-day tasks and operate on a model of continuous improvement—we're open and actively searching for new automation opportunities as they're developed," said John Li, co-founder of Fig Loans.
Looking for ways to automate your business? Start here: