30 Things Your Small Business Should Automate


Chris Ronzio


Reviewed by


June 5, 2024

This article is Tax Professional approved


In The Jetsons, George Jetson’s job consisted of sitting down in a chair and pushing a single button. His computer handled the rest.

We’re here to bring you some Jetsons-level good news: these days, you can automate a lot of small business admin that wasn’t possible even ten years ago.

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Automation can make many workflows a whole lot simpler—and the less admin and data entry you do, the more time you can spend making money. That’s what small business automation is all about.

Here are 30 areas of your small business that you can start automating today.

Mileage logging

Come tax season, a lot of entrepreneurs find themselves scrambling to dig up gas receipts and retroactively build a journal of their business mileage. If that sounds like you, give MileIQ a try.

The simple app works in the background on your phone to keep a record of where you’ve been. You can save favorite locations and even set work hours to properly categorize your trips. Everything gets saved into a beautiful, easy-to-read record.


Let’s face it: payroll is a chore. Adding new employees to the system can take hours, collecting and filing paper forms is tedious, and remembering to submit payroll or file tax documents is stressful.

Meet Gusto. Just invite employees by email and Gusto does the rest. Put your payroll on autopilot—you won’t even have to push a button every month (take that, George).

(If you’re in Canada, we recommend checking out Collage for a simple, online payroll setup.)

Invoicing and collections

Tracking and reporting the time you spent working on a job can take as much time as doing the job itself. FreshBooks makes small business invoicing and billing so simple, you’ll be amazed at the time you have to focus on doing what you love and how much faster you get paid.

With FreshBooks you can create professional looking invoices in seconds, and let clients pay them online.


If you’re still doing your own bookkeeping—burning the midnight oil in a staring contest with QuickBooks—it’s time to take a look at yours truly.

At Bench, we do your bookkeeping for you. And we’ll automatically pull your expenses from your bank accounts so you don’t have to constantly send us receipts. At the end of every month, we’ll send you an expense report that shows exactly where your money is going, and an end-of-year tax package for your accountant.

Receipt and document storage

Nobody wants to deal with a Mount Everest of receipts and documents at year-end. The ScanSnap Scanner scans receipts, statements, photographs, and business cards at high speed, so you can easily upload them to the cloud.

Shoeboxed is another powerful tool that turns your records into data. In addition to storing and organizing receipts, filing business cards, and tracking mileage, Shoeboxed can compile reports using your scanned data (such as an expense report), which you can access online at any time.

Password management

When online security is a priority, so much hinges on a row of asterisks. 1Password and Dashlane generate and store secure passwords for every service you use under a single key. 1Password for Teams can help you implement password security protocol for every employee.

Expense tracking

Use Expensify to track business expenditure, and never lose a receipt again. Your employees can also use the app to report their own expenses, while administrator controls allow you to specify which ones require approval—so nobody has to wait to be reimbursed for Post-It notes.

Sales tax

Especially if you do business in multiple states, calculating what you owe in sales tax can eat up the hours and keep you trapped in a maze of spreadsheets.

Kintsugi is a one stop sales tax compliance platform where you can integrate your platforms and automate your entire tax cycle with a few clicks of a button.

Travel plans

Going out of town for business? TripIt can take a lot of the work out of the planning process. The service scans your inbox for reservations with airlines, hotels, rental cars, and events. TripIt then builds an automatic itinerary which you can reference from anywhere. You can also share your travel plans, or invite someone to collaborate on planning with you.


When you need to hire, where should you post the job? Everywhere, ideally. ZipRecruiter automatically submits your job post to over 50 different job sites, and allows you to manage applications all in one place. And Jazz HR and Greenhouse streamline the entire recruitment process from a centralized online dashboard.

Employee & HR Management

Once you start to grow your team, your employee-related obligations and to-do list will grow faster than you think. Manage your entire team, store employee files, track attendance, and build schedules all in one place with a solution like Bambee. With the help of your dedicated HR Manager, Bambee puts your HR on autopilot to streamline your HR, and automate your onboarding, policies, and even employee training.

Employee onboarding

When a new employee joins your business, reduce the time you spend on the training front with Trainual. The platform lets you create an online training course for your team, saving you from having to answer repeat questions when a new hire joins your business.

Staff scheduling

If you juggle employee availability every time youwrite the roster, save time with WhenIWork. The app lets you create a central, online team schedule that employees can use to report their availability and clock in to their shifts.

Email sorting

If you’re still manually deleting or archiving every coupon, newsletter or junk email that finds its way into your inbox, you’re wasting a lot of time. Sanebox collects all of this non-urgent mail and sends you digests on a daily or weekly basis. Your inbox stays clean, and you review the junk once—not dozens of times per day.

One-click email replies

If you write the same reply to different customers over and over again, use Canned Responses. The free Gmail feature lets you create and send template replies at the click of a few buttons.


People judge your business by how it looks. Now more than ever.

If you don’t have a trusted freelancer or agency on retainer, check out Design Pickle. The service allows you to submit unlimited design requests for a flat monthly fee. Adios clip-art.

Social media marketing

Letting your audience know you exist is great. Checking Twitter and Facebook all day is an addiction. If you don’t feel like being chained to social media all day, try using Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your posts. Both tools let you build a queue of information you’d like to share, and schedule the posts for the optimal time. That way, you can put all of your energy into interaction.

Online mention monitoring

List your business’s name in Google Alerts, and you’ll receive an email every time someone mentions it on the internet. Alerts is free and simple to use. The only drawback? The daily updates can clutter your inbox.

Competitor analysis

SEMRush helps you peek inside your competitor’s online marketing strategy. Use the app to view all pages of any website, reveal ad strategies and budgets, and identify the keywords your competitors are targeting to grow their business. And to find your competitor's best-performing content, use BuzzSumo—you can enter any website address and the tool will return a list of the website’s most shared pages.

Audience insights

Want to get familiar with your customer’s thought process? Enter a search term or topic—your industry, your services, the name of a product you’re planning to launch—and Answer the Public will show you the keywords people use when they search for it online.


If you use Wordpress to blog about your business, check out CoSchedule. It lets you plan, write, post, and automate your future posting schedule from a central dashboard. You can also provide your team members access to view, edit, and update your publishing schedule. Perfect for keeping your blog running while you’re poolside, or just focused on other parts of your business.

Email marketing

Connecting with your customers via email has come a long way from the days of BCC. If you want to send a regular newsletter to your audience MailChimp helps you manage your list of contacts and build an email that looks great. It’s hard to beat in terms of features: abandoned shopping cart recovery, order notifications, follow-up emails, and access to notifications.

However, if you’re not ready to take on the ape, there are other, cheaper options available:

  • Drip is one of the most beginner-friendly email marketing setups out there, but still boasts automation tools, smart audience segmentation, and other handy features.
  • GetResponse is a popular tool, with a lower price point than many competitors. It features a drag-and-drop interface for building marketing campaigns.
  • ConvertKit offers a powerful suite of features specifically built for creators—designers, authors, and others who sell digital content.

Email reminders

If you’re bad at email, especially at following up with emails that never got a response, consider switching to Gmail. Gmail has a feature that automatically returns unanswered emails to the top of your inbox so you can follow up. No need to install any fancy plug-ins or anything. Gmail will automatically remind you, and will even remind you to respond to emails you haven’t addressed yet.

Email open tracking

Hubspot’s email tracking feature alerts you every time a recipient opens your email. If a prospect re-opens your email pitch long after you first sent it, the app will nudge you—prompting you to reach out again and ask the lead if they’re ready to purchase your product or service.

Call forwarding

Hire a virtual receptionist and you’ll always have someone available to answer the phone, even when you’re off-duty. Conversational and Ruby Receptionist will forward calls to extensions and voicemail, and set appointments on your behalf. Both services can answer to numbers registered in your local area.

Customer support

You can’t communicate every little detail about your business in your FAQ. That’s where an automated chatbot comes in handy. Popping up on the main page of your website, it encourages visitors to reach out to you immediately, rather than sending an email. That means you can start chatting with them right away, cultivating them as a new lead, without cluttering your inbox.

Tawk is a robust, free option. Quick and easy to set up, it lets you monitor site visitors in real time, and set “shortcut” responses to common questions. And if you don’t have the time or patience to man your chat dashboard 24/7, Tawk will help you hire live chat agents for $1 an hour. Another option is Help Scout, which lets you set up a team help desk and install a searchable knowledge base on your website.


Don’t have the time or resources to field FAQs? Intercom’s Educate tool lets you set up a question and answer knowledge base, and then directs users to your customer service staff when an article doesn’t fully answer their questions. The tool also uses to algorithms to determine what kind of help content you should write in the future, based on what users are asking today.


Eliminate the back-and-forth involved in finding a meeting time with OnceHub or Calendly. Both apps display your calendar availability and allow clients to schedule meetings with you at the click of a button.

Customer relations management (CRM)

When it comes to CRM—overseeing a customer’s journey from first contact, to sale, to repeat business—Salesforce is the industry standard. But due to its price, many small businesses hesitate to invest in Salesforce, and end up using more time-consuming tools, such as spreadsheets, to track their relationships with customers.

Enter Zoho. It offers most of the same functionality as Salesforce at a fraction of the cost. It also includes marketing automation tools you won’t find in Salesforce’s sales CRM.


If you run an ecommerce business, streamlining the shipping process can save you time and money. Two tools will help: Stamps.com, and Shipstation.

Stamps.com lets you print off postage from the comfort of your home or office. It helps take the guesswork out of shipping prices, and can save you from long post office lines.

Shipstation is owned by Stamps.com, and fills out the rest of the shipping process. It plugs into most off-the-shelf ecommerce platforms, letting you track order fulfillment, print shipping labels/return labels/packing slips en masse, and set up customer shipping profiles so you can track customer preferences and streamline future orders.

Omnichannel retail
If you’re an omnichannel retailer, Veeqo can take of the inventory, ordering, packing, and shipping for you. They integrate with Shopify, BigCommerce, Amazon, FedEx, and most other relevant players for delivering your product.

Automating other digital tasks

If you’re a bit of a digital nerd and there’s something else you want to automate that isn’t listed here, fear not. IFTTT is a digital tool that allows you to connect seemingly unrelated apps to automate online business processes. And if you’ve really got some time on your hands, Zapier is another piece of automation software that will allow you to create multi-step automation (whereas IFTTT is simpler and focused on one-step automation processes, for example, “automatically record a note whenever I get a new Twitter reply”).

Part of automating your business includes cutting back on paper clutter. When you move printed material to the cloud, it’s easier to access and less likely to get lost—help you save time in the long run. Learn more with our guide on how to go paperless for small business owners.

Further reading: 12 Ways to Automate Business Processes and Boost Productivity

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.
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