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Before Payroll Part 1: Employee Automation

I would like to jump into a topic that I have thought a lot about from the employee side of the equation along with now as a business owner, from a potential employers perspective. I want to be sensitive to different industries, whether service-oriented or manufacturing of some kind, and the scalability of different business models. The questions and challenges I will pose are not applicable to most larger businesses, but my audience is to the small businesses.

The questions and challenges I would like to pose to you are more to get you thinking from a different perspective about being an employer. I want to begin my posts about payroll by asking this important question: “do you need employees?”

Do you need employees to build your business? Do you need employees to perform various tasks? Does your business require a lot of detailed or mundane tasks that you need to pass on to others in order to grow your business?

In some cases, the answer is yes. But I would like to challenge the presupposition of many that for a business to grow, you need to hire employees. I want to challenge this notion from 3 main fronts: employee automation, cost, and alternatives (such as business partnerships/contract labor). I will discuss automation in this post and will go into costs and alternatives in the next two payroll posts.

Automation: Do you have tasks that you could employ someone to do that could instead be automated? Consider certain office tasks such as emailing, customer service, billing, bookkeeping, payables, etc.

These tasks can consume a good portion of your day if you let them, but have you considered streamlining processes and office tasks through setting up systems such as utilizing the functionality and settings in your email (labels, client communication, automated replies or memorized responses, etc). You can significantly reduce your time and client communication through setting up a system in your email inbox.

Are you able to set up automatic bill pay with your payables? Can you set up bill payment through your bank account so that you go online once a week to send out checks? Do you receive your bills through email? – reference above paragraph as you can take those bills, set up automatic labeling and organizing to the appropriate folder.

Invoicing – this is where QuickBooks shines as you can allocate time and labor, costs, and expenses through to your customers on their invoices. You can set up automatic invoicing through email. Building and maintaining a fluid invoicing system will also aid in applying payments to clients… leading to my next point.

Bookkeeping – QuickBooks offers a great feature called online banking. This feature takes a bit to learn, but once applied with all the settings in the right place, this feature can cut time off your data entry and will even apply payments received and bill payments to their respective invoices and bills (considering how much volume you have, that is.)

Customer Service – I will go into this topic more in the future, but customer service can be automated in so many ways. I look at customer service as people finding out about your business, having questions about your pricing and products, needing help working with your business, and following up with questions. My question to you is how well are you utilizing the great resource of the internet? More specifically, how is your website set up to market your business and support your customers on the front end, and manage your workload on the back end? Your website can be the most valuable tool of your business in terms of bringing in new business, supporting existing business, and helping you manage your business without having to go out and hire someone.

The key to automation in replacing your need to hire an employee is setting up a group of systems the right way so that the work is done for you in a way that supports the customer and saves you time and energy. What can you hope to gain from setting up effective systems to run your business? Time, money, the headache of training, managing, supervising, and firing employees, and quality control over your business. Full automation with no employees isn’t for everyone, but everyone can use these tools to better their business and at least reduce the number of employees you have and the amount they need to be paid.

Until next time, keep reaching!

Mark

One comment on “Before Payroll Part 1: Employee Automation

  1. Pingback: Before Payroll - Part 2: Cost of an Employee

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