Small Business and Startup Automation
The enterprise business world is buzzing with activity surrounding artificial intelligence and all the keywords that go along with it like neural networks, cognitive computing, deep learning and machine learning. These ideas have manifested in ways which most of us have heard of or experienced such as self-driving cars, virtual personal assistants, automated customer service support and any recommendation services (like YouTube and Netflix).
Tellers in Tokyo, Japan have lost their jobs to robotic bank tellers that have taken their place. Janitors in hospital systems have been replaced by automated cleaning devices. Retail and Warehouse jobs are being quickly forgotten for warehouse robots. Also in more neural job descriptions, robots data mining robots have replaced paralegals and journalist. How does this industry shift impact small businesses and startups who have a much smaller footprint and, as such, a much lower cash appetite?
The solution for small businesses and startups is not to mimic the large enterprises, but to use the same fundamental premise at the bottom of the pyramid. The fundamental focus of a small business should be getting key functions performed at the right price point and focus on the right business outcomes. Here are some of the ways in which a small business can prepare for the coming wave of automation.
Know What’s Core — Automate and Outsource the rest
Every business has hundreds of activities to perform on any given day. Out of these activities, there are few which are core to the business and right in the alleyway of founder or owner expertise. The others are all the supporting functions to run the business, like HR, legal, Customer Relationship Management, Marketing, Social Media Management, Customer Support, Invoicing and Billing etc. Based on the kind of business you run, some or all of these are applicable to you.
The idea here is to first define non-core activities for your business and then find the most cost effective ways to reduce manual oversight and automate them to get an outcome-based structure. So whether this means hiring a process improvement and automation consultant, outsourcing to a vendor, or using specialty SaaS-based products, these can all be used for brisker running of your business. Time needs to be spent here to understand the ROI and future state of your business.
Analyze your customers — Increase your sales
Every customer touch point with your business can be captured to expand your understanding of the sales funnel. The sales funnel means understanding customer behavior and funneling insights to modify your sales process. “Sales” is an integral function of a business, but it can be fortified with additional insights available to you by crunching the data you already possess. There are no cookie cutter tools to any sales process. You have to have a customized approach that works for your business and your process maturity.
Continuous Simplification — Make the Core Better
Use the data from automating and streamlining your non-core systems, as well as data generated from analyzing your customers, to funnel back into simplifying your product. Once the layers of “stuff” are no longer clogging your day-to-day and you gain insights from customers, you will have more clarity on how you can restructure your product/service design, evaluate more sales and marketing channels, and understand variations of how you can influence the market.
At the end of the day, all of these are unique to your business at hand and requires your buy-in on transforming your business while keeping the future and your ability to compete as a small business, in mind.
If you would like to get insights into how this process can work for you please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for a review of your business situation or check us out at www.dshgsonic.com