The idea of automating various practices has been popular for quite a while now with larger businesses. But as automation becomes more accessible, and it becomes clearer how it can help a business grow, small businesses are getting on board as well. Small business automation can help streamline customer support, process orders and payments, gather and analyze data, and more — ultimately helping them to compete more effectively with larger companies.
As beneficial as small business automation can be though, it’s also a process to put it into practice. In service of that practice, it can be helpful for you as a small business owner to cover some key considerations by asking these questions.
Before you actually start to implement automation technologies, it’s a good idea to ask where you actually need to automate within your business.
Generally, small business automation priorities might include anything from improving customer help, making payment and financial tracking easier, ramping up recruitment, and even improving logistics practices, if it’s relevant to the company.
As your first step, it’s a good idea to think through these areas, assess where automation may save you time and money and increase efficiency, and then approach the details from there.
We noted above that automation is becoming more accessible, and this has to do partially with the affordability of the relevant tools and equipment.
Particularly from a software perspective, there are now numerous programs that help to streamline practices like customer service and accounting — often for fairly low costs.
In some businesses, however — such as those that rely on physical stores — certain aspects of automation can be somewhat more expensive.
Tools like point-of-sale systems that largely operate themselves (and track data in the process) and in-store beacons (which can interact with customers in a variety of helpful ways) will cost at least a marginal amount.
In most cases, it will be simplest to purchase any sort of automation-related equipment. However, particularly with some of the in-store devices just mentioned, a DIY approach is an option.
If you or anyone in your business has a feel for electronics, it is perfectly possible to create printed circuit boards that can power miniature devices to do some of the point-of-sale and/or beacon work you might otherwise pay for.
There are free PCB design software options you can access with ease, and in many cases, you can design or study relevant device blueprints so that you can learn what’s required of your electronics.
It’s a lot of effort in the end, but again, if you or anyone in your business has a feel for electronics, it’s a potential means of bringing about some in-store automation for little to no cost.
Depending on what sort of automated practices you’re considering implementing — and what kind of business you’re running — 5G may be a factor worth considering.
The impact of 5G on small businesses is expected to be fairly profound. Just as automation does, to begin with, these improved wireless networks are likely to help small businesses compete more easily with their larger counterparts. And particularly if you’re looking into options like in-store technologies or logistics improvement, one of the benefits of 5G can be a positive impact on automated practices.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to consider whether or not you’ll have access to 5G before you finalize plans for automation.