Work Smarter (Not Harder) Using Top Business Automation Tools
As technology advances and machines become smarter, automation is changing the way we conduct business. Startup automation is especially useful for those looking to scale with limited resources and cash flow.
During this critical growth stage, entrepreneurs should be looking to automate as much as possible. Because let’s face it, people are great – but they are expensive.
Here are a few of the best startup tools for entrepreneurs looking to scale their business:
Startup Productivity Tools
In our opinion, GSuite is an automation tool entrepreneurs should invest in right out of the gate. From email to word processing, and spreadsheets to slide decks, this suite of intelligent apps is critical for a scaling organization.
GSuite helps teams stay connected in the cloud in real time. If you’re looking for a tool to promote productivity, GSuite is a great place to start.
Pro Tip: The magic of automation comes when you use the apps together. For example, if you have data living in GoogleSheets that you would like to present to an investor, GSuite allows you to automatically populate a slide deck with that same information. Done and done.
Another startup productivity tool we recommend is Airtable. Airtable is a fully customizable online database that allows you to take your spreadsheet game to the next level. By linking similar spreadsheets together, you can create a 3D view of your data while eliminating errors caused by entering the same data over and over again in multiple places.
Pro Tip: Airtable plays very nicely with automation tools like Zapier.
Startup Project Management Tools
We highly recommend Process.st (AKA Process Street) as a startup project management tool to automate your workflow processes. We’ve been implementing it into our employee and client onboarding to standardize and streamline these processes.
Process.st is a completely customizable tool for creating standard operating procedures for our business. If you want your startup to scale and grow, you need to clearly document every business process, and Process.st helps you do this easily and effectively.
Pro Tip: Check out this video from Catching Clouds, an Acuity company, to learn more about some of the different ways you can start streamlining your startup processes.
Notion is another app that’s similar to Process.st – and it’s getting a lot of attention right now. While we haven’t tried it out yet, it seems like companies are using the app as an internal wiki, or a learning tool to keep everyone on the same page.
Pro Tip: Check out some of these customer stories to get a sense for how companies are utilizing Notion.
Startup Communication Tools
Slack is a tool we use internally at Acuity for efficient team communication. Its strong integrations help us avoid wasted time switching between apps.
We also love that Slack is constantly releasing new and exciting features, like bots to optimize our internal communication. For example, with just a few clicks, we can launch a poll to get answers to questions like, “What new service offering should we release?” or “Where should we go for lunch today?”
Pro Tip: Be sure to set up custom responses to common internal questions in Slack to save time. For example, at Acuity, we set up a custom bot so that if a team member asks, “what’s our rep’s name at XYZ company?” the answer is automated.
Loom is a tool we use to create and share videos with ease. And our CEO Kenji Kuramoto uses it every week in our #announcements channel on Slack!
Use Loom to work asynchronously with others by sharing your screen and emailing a link to the video. You can be notified when the video has been watched, and you can have a comment thread directly on the video.
Pro Tip: Loom also integrates directly with Slack, Google, and Salesforce.
Startup Social Media Tools
Getting the word out about your product or service is an essential aspect of scaling your startup. Startup marketing tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you schedule, publish, and analyze your social media posts, all in one place.
This automation can help you build and engage your audience faster. And Hootsuite allows you to delegate tasks to other users, making it a stronger option for teams.
Pro Tip: Install the browser extension and mobile apps so that you can easily add curated content to your queue.
And we can’t forget about Canva! We use this free tool to create graphics for social media, short animated video clips, and thumbnails for YouTube videos – not to mention pretty slideshow presentations and various designs for company use.
Pro Tip: You can share and digitally collaborate on designs in Canva, so if you’re working on a project with a team, you can easily have them help make changes.
Startup Sales Tools
SalesLoft is a tool we use internally here at Acuity (shoutout to fellow Atlanta-based business). It essentially enables our sales team to better manage communications with a prospect. We love it because it allows our team to have an authentic voice while saving time in managing those relationships.
Close.io is another business automation tool that’s great for outbound sales teams, automatically synchronizing team and prospect conversations across multiple mediums. Whether you’re chatting with a prospect over text, email, or phone, Close.io keeps a repository of all the conversations to streamline your sales process.
Pro Tip: take advantage of these tools’ automated reporting. Scaling a business requires constant optimization and this actionable analytics can help you do just that.
Startup Accounting Tools
If you know Acuity, you probably know that we are major proponents of accounting automation. Traditional, offline accounting can be a major time suck for entrepreneurs looking to scale.
That’s why we partner with Xero and Quickbooks Online, which are both great options for those looking to streamline their financial accounting function.
Another one of our partners is Bill.com. If you want to eliminate the need for printing checks, stuffing envelopes, and filing away vendor bills, Bill.com offers some great automations to help you eliminate that mess. You’ll get paid 2x-3x faster while spending 50% less time approving and paying bills.
Last but not least is our partner, InvoiceSherpa. Getting paid is a crucial part of scaling a business, so if you’re looking to automate your accounts receivable, this tool is a must. InvoiceSherpa plugs right into your existing accounting system to help with your follow up efforts.
Pro Tip: Partner with cloud accounting experts like us to get higher ROI on these accounting automation tools.
Other Automation Tools
Perhaps your day-to-day includes a wide variety of different web apps, and you’re looking to automate a workflow. If the integration doesn’t already exist, check out Zapier or Integromat. These tools make it easy to connect your apps (even for nontechies) to build custom automations and workflows.
Pro Tip: Supercharge your business by using these automation tools to connect to other tools in this list. Use Zapier to connect Process.st to Airtable to Google, and suddenly you have end-to-end, streamlined workflows.
Ready to work smarter?
Scaling a startup isn’t easy, but automation certainly helps. Hopefully these are some great tools to get you started on your journey to scale. Know of a tool we missed? Comment below!
Looking for more help on scaling your startup more efficiently and effectively? Check out our SaaS and Startup page to learn how Acuity serves entrepreneurs like you.