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Automation inspiration

4 min read

Running a business? Resolve to cultivate habits that help you grow.

By Krystina Martinez · December 16, 2020
Man running on rocky hill

2020 taught us that you never know what the year will bring. It was the year of the pandemic, job insecurity, and heightened stress. It's fair to say that everyone's resolutions went out the window in favor of just trying to survive. 

While we say a hearty goodbye to this year (maybe through ceremonial fire), now's typically the time where people look ahead and set some goals, aspirations, or resolutions for the new year. 

If you're a small business owner, you're likely tightening up plans for next quarter, whether that means trying something new, maintaining course, or working to get things back on track.

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We're not going to suggest more things for you to do. That goes against what Zapier is about—helping you reduce manual tasks and boost efficiency. Instead, we're going to suggest a habit to cultivate—with an assist from automation—to help you run your business in 2021. 

You don't need to try all of these resolutions. If there's one that piques your interest, we've included some Zap templates—our pre-made automatic workflows—to help you build that habit. Just click on a template and we'll guide you through the set-up process. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.

Audit an existing process (or find something to stop doing)

You probably have several standard operating procedures in place for your business. (And if you don't, you can start creating one.) They save time, money, and ensure quality control. 

Processes aren't always set in stone. As your business grows and changes, your procedures will have to change along with it. If a process that once saved you time is now more cumbersome, consider auditing it and finding places where you can improve it. Maybe there's a part of your invoicing process you can automate or a more streamlined approach to managing leads. 

On the other hand, maybe there's something you should stop doing. Maybe you're doing all the social media marketing right now, but you know you're not doing it well. 

You, tired business owner, don't need to be spending your energy on tasks that don't move you closer to your goals. Can you delegate a task to an employee, or even better, can you automate it? Make a "stop doing" list and give yourself permission to reduce your workload.

Prioritization can help with this, too. Try these techniques to give you a bit more space in your day:

Follow up with networking contacts

Networking changed in 2020, with many organizations shifting from in-person events and conferences to online gatherings. It's still critical for business owners to establish a strong network. A professional network can help you grow your business, provide personal growth opportunities, and support you through the ups and downs of business ownership. 

All that networking doesn't matter if you don't follow up with the contacts you meet. But when you're facing down your to-do list for the day, sorting through business cards and sending emails is low on the priority list. 

These Zaps will automatically add scanned business cards to your contacts. And if you're struggling to send out that first email, try a workflow that will automatically draft an email whenever you add a new contact. 

Every day (or week), clear out your inbox of people waiting on you

In the midst of all your unread emails, there's likely a person or two who are waiting to hear from you: a lead, a potential client, or even a fellow business pal with a tip. I know I've missed time-sensitive emails for potential freelance work because my inbox is a hot mess. 

I'm not suggesting you make it a goal to get to Inbox Zero. Instead, try prioritizing responding to humans at regular intervals. Need a little nudge? These Zaps will automatically assign you a task for important emails you star or label. 

When you need to respond, each email doesn't have to be original. Create a few email templates, and hit Send. You never know what'll happen. 

Put time on your schedule to meet with contacts or prospects

Folks quickly developed Zoom fatigue in 2020, making it easy to skip calls you didn't feel like taking. But even if we're all tired of hopping on the family video call, the truth is that you're going to get further, faster meeting with prospects on a video call versus an email.

As a business owner, your calendar is already filled up before you know it. With the help of a scheduling app and an automated workflow, you can block out time in your calendar for those important meetings without thinking about it. 

Follow up with customers

The work isn't done once you've acquired a customer. You need to keep them happy. Customer satisfaction influences the kind of reviews they leave and the scores they give you on Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys. Nothing's more powerful than word of mouth. 

There are many ways you can build this relationship. One is to sign them up for a newsletter for updates on promotions. These workflows will automatically add your customers as a subscriber to an email newsletter after they've made a purchase. 

You can also establish a feedback loop with post-purchase surveys. These Zaps will ensure you follow up on form responses in a timely manner. 

Grow your business in 2021

This is just the start of how Zapier can help your small business. Zapier supports thousands of apps, so you can automate almost any task at work. Start building your Zap now and see what you can create. Need more inspiration? Check out our customer stories to see how other small businesses use Zapier to power growth. 

New to Zapier? It's a tool that helps anyone connect apps and automate workflows—without any complicated code. Sign up for free.

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Krystina Martinez picture

Krystina Martinez

Krystina writes about all things automation for the Zapier blog. Previously she was a public radio journalist, so she has a lot of opinions about microphones. When she's not writing or tinkering with Zapier, Krystina enjoys sewing her own clothes and taking long naps in between her many hobbies.

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