Part 8: Managing Your Online Business’s Finances
As your business grows, so will the financial transactions you have to oversee. Automating your business’s finances and bookkeeping allows it to more easily grow without your books becoming a mess or payments getting lost. It’s essential for any company that plans to grow beyond a small business.
Before you start taking payments online, it’s important to have an online payment processor. The most popular payment processor is PayPal. This service handles your sales transactions for you, as well as offering other tools such as its ‘pay now’ button. This button allows site visitors to make payments instantly by clicking it and then logging into their PayPal account.
Signing up for an online payment processor is much easier than getting a credit card merchant account. There are a variety of services beyond PayPal, such as Google Checkout, Amazon Payments and Authorize.net, and the more processors you sign up with, the more options you give your customers. The best part is that transactions are fully automated through the web.
There are also many ways to automate recurring billing and invoicing. This can be done through most payment processors such as PayPal by creating ‘subscription’ payments for clients, customers or services.
You can easily change your subscriptions if their price or frequency changes.
Automatic payments are also offered by comprehensive bookkeeping programs like QuickBooks. QuickBooks is designed to handle all of your accounting so that you don’t have to do it yourself. Freshbooks, Outright, Harvest and Wave, don’t offer comprehensive bookkeeping, but do offer many other features that help you track your money and manage your time. These programs can also be used as payment processors.
If you have employees or are planning to add employees, automated payroll programs are helpful. These are systems that store data on your employees and automatically pay them so you don’t have to. In addition to making your job as manager easier, they also improve your payroll’s accuracy by reducing human
In addition, they keep good records of payment data which you can refer to easily. These can be either software programs or web-based services like ADP or even Wave Payroll.
Not everything can be done through online payment processors or bookkeeping programs. Most banks offer online banking services for businesses to pay recurring bills such as utilities. Banking services and credit card companies offer small business billing plans to make running a business easier.
Automatic payments to your company credit card (triggered once it reaches a certain balance) and automatic payment prior to the due date can reduce interest and penalties, increasing available cash flow.
Setting up automatic payments of company cell phone bills and other recurring expenses will also reduce interest expense & keep your business running smoothly.
Remember to review your reports regularly. Make sure there are no duplicate charges & you’re not paying for services you no longer use.
Receipts and Paper Flow
Using IFTTT.com (mentioned earlier) or Zapier.com to trigger an action that automatically sends any email with the word “receipt” in the subject line, or forwarding all of your paper and electronic receipts to a service like Shoeboxed.com eliminates the repetitive (and prone to error) tasks associated with bookkeeping. The perk is that your records are up to date faster & you’re able to manage your business from a place of knowledge, vs “guesswork”
Automating financial tasks relieves you of a great burden, but it’s something that should be done slowly, one step at a time. Making too many changes at once can cause confusion and problems. Instead, get one system implemented and wait until you and your staff are comfortable using it before you implement the next.
Part 9: Day to Day Tasks
Automating your online business saves a great deal of time, energy and headache. But it can also cause problems of its own when it’s left to run on total autopilot. Before you go wild automating everything, here are the 4 biggest mistakes marketers make.
1. Don’t Automate What Shouldn’t Be Automated
There are certain tasks that simply shouldn’t be automated. The work you do on social media interacting with fans and building relationships with them can’t be done by technology. It needs the human touch.
Content creation and curation should never be automated. You need to give your fans content that’s unique, fresh and relevant. Never copy and paste content for them that they can find somewhere else and don’t let a software program choose content for you to share with them based on keywords or other factors. If you use a curation program, always check out the content it gives you and add some comments of your own.
Finally, customer service should never be automated. Whenever a customer has a question or concern, a real human being needs to be there to sort it out for them.
2. Lack of Due Diligence
Once you have your automation programs in place, you can let them do their thing. But when you’re choosing which tasks to automate and which tools to use, you need to give it your full attention.
Make sure each tool is really what you need. Read reviews carefully and ask people on webmaster forums for advice. For each new program, give its full trial period a spin and make sure it works for you. Don’t just buy the first program you find or the one that’s the most highly recommended by others. And don’t buy one with a slew of features that you don’t need and will never use!
When you do buy, set a reminder in your calendar a few days prior to the end of the trial period. Cancel anything that isn’t working for you before the trial expires.
3. Failure to Monitor
Automation handles mundane tasks for you but this doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. You need to keep an eye on what the program is doing and make sure it’s doing it right. Most automation involves some oversight by you. When you automate back linking, you need to check out the sites to which you’re linking before the links go live. When you automate finances you still need to watch & ensure you’re not being overcharged (it happens often) or falling behind on payments.
4. Failure to Test
Testing is another important part of preventing automation disasters. For example, scheduled email marketing is always automated, but you should run a test for each message to make sure it appears the way it should to your subscribers.
Make sure you’re a subscriber on each of your lists so you can test everything.
In addition, make sure your email lists and segments are organized. If you don’t pay attention to your email automation rules, you may end up with double sends where someone who has already purchased an item gets a message urging them to buy it. You may send two identical messages to the same person through some glitch in your database.
5. Cutting Corners
Automation is a tool that makes life easier for you and eliminates human error (if monitored), but it shouldn’t be used to cut corners. Never compromise the value and quality you offer your market because it’s easier to have technology do it for you. Automation should be used to replace the same tasks you’re doing manually, not as a substitute for good service.
In this report we’ve covered so many different ways to automate parts of your business that you’re probably thrilled and terrified at the same time.
Don’t worry! You’re not going to automate everything at once. It would be a potential disaster to do that.
Instead, first take a look again at each area we covered:
- Website Creation
- Sales Funnel Management
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Analytics and Testing
- Website Maintenance
Next, use your Business Automation Action Plan to start planning which aspects of your business you can start automating. Look through our list of Popular Business Automation Tools, or do your own research for recommendations.
This feels good, doesn’t it? You’re on the path to grow your business.
You’ve got an Action Plan & Tool Box at your disposal. As you continue to grow, remember to document your systems, streamlining as you go.
Automate as much as you can, Outsource as much as you can, do away with things that really don’t matter & focus on the core functions of your business that will bring you the most growth.
You can reach out to me anytime at www.LoraleeHutton.com
To your Success!
The task of remembering passwords for all of the different online portals we access not only wastes our precious time, but the other risk is that we often end up using really simple passwords & repeat them everywhere.
Syncing Document Storage
When you create a file structure on your computer that is also synched to cloud storage and other devices (completely automated in the background) you no longer waste time looking for files and documents. You will always know where you’ve stored them (you have a system in place) and they are easy to access if you happen to be working on your tablet, smart phone or computer without worrying about duplicate copies.
And as you’re building a team, these folders can be shared with team members.
CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)
Remembering contact information, when potential leads should be contacted, or follow up sequences with potential JV (Joint Venture) Partners is fairly easy in the beginning stages of your business. But like the shopping cart feature, it doesn’t scale well. If you want to grow, it’s essential to create a system that will help you remember who to contact, when.
Many other tools will have a CRM built in (like Satori – above). Or you can add features to Gmail like Rapportive, or Contactually, to help.