What counts as a business hack, anyway?
The term “hack” is thrown around a lot these days. From computer hacks to life hacks to growth hacks, it can mean everything from vague advice to an actionable tip. For our purposes, a business hack is a quick tip or trick to save time or improve efficiency. Whatever you call them, hacks can help with business growth and save you money as well as time. You can also use these as personal productivity hacks outside of your business.
While saving a few minutes here and there may not seem like much, those savings can add up fast. Consider changing a task that saves you 20 minutes twice per week. Over a month, that’s more than two and a half hours saved. Over a year, it adds up to 32 hours. That’s like four eight-hour workdays!
Here’s a list of some of our favorite business hacks to save time and add automation in your ecommerce company or other small business.
Best business hacks for ecommerce businesses
Hire an expert team
If you’re hurt and need stitches, odds are you will visit a doctor, not try to stitch it up yourself. The same should apply to areas of your business where you don’t have the expertise (or time) to do it yourself. Accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes are among the most common areas small business owners should find help.
Depending on what you do, lawyers, engineers, computer programmers, content marketing experts, and SEO managers are a few additional roles that could be valuable to ecommerce businesses. Who knows, one of your experts could come to you with business ideas to dramatically grow your profits. Check out this outsourcing guide for more info.
Track your time
Many startup owners waste hours every day and don’t realize it. A free time tracking tool like RescueTime is perfect for automating your time tracking, so you get timely reports telling you which websites and apps you’re using and how much time you’re spending there. Time tracking can be critical to ensure you’re not wasting efforts without realizing it. If you have a co-founder, you can use time tracking to hold each other accountable.
Apply the 80/20 Rule
The Pareto Principle, or 80/20 Rule, states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts, and the remaining 80% of your efforts only yield 20% of results.
Savvy entrepreneurs look for the 80/20 pattern to find areas to double-down their efforts for outsized success. Drop what isn’t working well and repeat what gives you the best return. When you focus on and repeat your high-quality successes, you should be on track to improved results.
Automatic customer outreach
Automated email services have come a long way over the last few years. Capturing customer email addresses is essential in growing your customer base and repeat business. You can automate the entire outreach process with timed email series after signup or purchase, and other email marketing tools. This is a core part of a successful ecommerce digital marketing strategy. Using retargeting and other ads focused on the right target audience, you can maximize your conversions while minimizing your hustle.
Put your social media marketing on autopilot
Save time by bulk-creating social media posts and scheduling them in advance. Using RSS, you can easily automate your content marketing, putting your blog posts and podcasts in your social media feed. Or you can plan scheduled or evergreen content to share again and again. Tools like Buffer, SocialBee, and MeetEdgar are designed just for this purpose.
Outsource low-value projects
As the owner and the expert, you shouldn’t waste your time with easy and low-value tasks and projects. Hire a freelancer, part-time employee, or someone through a website like Fiverr or Upwork to take care of it for you, freeing up your time for more valuable work that only you can do. If it doesn’t generate new business or help your business in other ways, you may be able to drop some tasks completely.
Dropship product and service delivery
In his bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek, author Tim Ferris explains how he hires warehouses to store his products and automatically ship them to customers when an order comes in. This is known as drop shipping and can fully automate physical product fulfillment needs.
Digital products are even easier to sell and deliver automatically, with many competing digital sales platforms available. For services, you can automate billing and some customer contacts, if not more.
Use the right project management tools
Do you use your inbox as a to-do list? There are excellent to-do list apps that do a better job of tracking tasks than your inbox or juggling everything in your memory. Asana and Trello are two well-known options. Hiring an assistant to take phone calls and emails can cut back on distractions and notifications. An assistant and project management software can act as a powerful tool to supercharge your productivity.
When you think of something that needs to be done or an email that requires a follow-up, jot it down on your to-do list and clear your mind to focus on what you’re doing. Automation gurus use tools and apps to send emails to their to-do lists in a few clicks.
Further reading: 12 Ways to Automate Business Processes and Boost Productivity
Automate repeating computer tasks
If you run an ecommerce business, odds are you use a suite of products and online services that offer application program interface (API) features. This is an industry term for a program that lets computers talk to each other. Using APIs, you may be able to automate nearly any task you repeat regularly on a computer.
To tie everything together, check out apps like Make (formerly Integromat) or Zapier. While the setup can be time-consuming and a bit intimidating at first, the ability to set and forget recurring automatic tasks can be a game-changer for any small business.
How Bench can help
While Bench can’t automate every aspect of your business, helping small businesses owners like you manage their bookkeeping, accounting, and taxes is what Bench is all about.
Once signed up with Bench, business owners can rest easy with monthly financial reports and annual tax returns prepared by human professionals looking to help you save time and improve your business results. Learn more and get started with Bench here.
Take it one step at a time
As the adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither were any of the most successful small businesses you know and admire. When you start small and take one step at a time, you can build up your business hacking strategy over time and see positive compounding results.
Of course, do be careful not to spend so much time automating that you neglect other parts of your business. Take a balanced approach to business hacks, so they don’t turn into time-wasters instead of time savers.