There is so much talk of business automation these days that many small business owners may be tempted to just automate their processes – don’t.
You probably read articles like our step-by-step guide on business automation or heard a few business leaders and experts talk about the benefits of automation and thought – I need to reap those benefits and the next thing you start bringing in new apps and tools to “automate your business”.
Now, I am not saying automation is bad, or it will not bring all the benefits you’ve been promised – No. It will.
What I am saying here is simple – Implementing automation in your small business can be premature and that may mean costly consequences for your business, not to talk of getting benefits.
Here’s why: –
1. Automating processes in your business before your business is in order can be a huge disaster.
Because automation is a multiplier, it does not automatically mean that your processes will be more efficient, it only means that your processes whether efficient or inefficient will be multiplied by adding automation.
2. It can be a wasted investment – If you rush into implementing automation to your business before doing a proper analysis of the areas that need improvement and the best solution to implement such a solution.
Just adding automation to solve that problem can be a wasted investment of your time and money.
Small businesses can afford such costly mistakes if they had someone to advise them and hold them accountable.
3. Every business has different needs. If you install a new production tool that is too costly and will not bring you favourable returns even in the long run, then that automation may not be worth it for your business.
If your employees spend an hour working day performing a repetitive task, but the cost of automating is more expensive than what you’re paying your employees to do that tasks, then it may not be worth it.
Except it frees them, say your salespeople to spend time doing more productive tasks that bring in enough yield to offset the cost of automation.
4. Your Automation May Not Add Any Real Value To Your Business. If you automate processes or tasks that don’t bring any value to your customers or improve your competitive edge, then it’s not worth it. Small business owners need to be strategic about the processes and activities that they choose to invest in.
3 Must-Dos Before Automating Your Small Business
One of the first steps to take before automating your small business is to carry out an in-depth analysis of your business and the processes.
Your automation efforts would fail and be ineffective if you fail to this.
The reason many business owners fail to do research is that they assume falsely that they know how their businesses operate.
Good research will share general insights into every aspect of the business; how it works through observation and employee interviews, highlighting areas of excessive waste and bottlenecks to their growth.
2. Improve Business Performance
Automation should not be the first thing you do when you observe inefficiency in your business.
It is not a magical peel that solves all your problems.
You should make sure that your processes are already running effectively before implementing automation to make them run even better, faster and cost-efficiently.
Eliminate bottlenecks causing inefficiency in your business processes, make sure your tasks are properly delegated and responsibility is assigned among stakeholders in your business before you can add automation to make it well.
3. Set Clear Objectives
Make sure you’re clear about the objectives you want to achieve by installing automation in your business.
The information is drawn from your knowledge of your business and the research we recommend from number one above will help guide you to identify the areas that would bring the most value to your business to automate – but the expected value must be written to enable performance measurement during the review.
The biggest mistakes business owners make today is self-prescription without taking time to evaluate their decisions.
They adopt initiatives because it’s in trend and doesn’t bother to check if it is the right decision for their business.
This is why we recommend that business owners, such as you, need to get an SME Coach.
It may just be the best decision you took – but you won’t know if you don’t take action.