25 Amazing Tools to Automate Your Small Business [Expert Roundup]Written by Bernard on March 08, 2017
When you’re a small business owner, it’s important to save your time as much as possible, meaning you need to find the best tools to help automate your business.
But with so many amazing software programs out there, which ones are the best?
InvoiceBerry of course is great for automating your invoices, but we reached out to some small business experts on what tools they use the most.
The answers fall into three groups: social media management, customer resource management, and other business operations. Let’s see what the most effective tools are to automate your business processes.
Social Media Tools to Automate Your Business
These are the best tools according to our experts to help you automate your social media and gain new followers.
David Lowbridge, Managing Director at TwoFeetMarketing
The importance of a regular social presence is vital. Customers expect at least three to five Facebook posts a week and between six and eight Twitter updates a day. This routine can be disruptive to your operations.
This is why using Hootsuite or SocialOomph to plan and schedule updates in advance can be such a time saver – especially for a small business. When doing it manually, these tasks can take up to two hours a day. When automating the task, it can take less than thirty minutes per social media account.
Hootsuite is even more powerful because it can help you monitor up to three social accounts for free. This saves you lots of time and effort in checking what is going on and who is interacting with you.
Dr. Ellie Heintze, Business Success Coach at Simplify Your Practice
When I first started out I realized that I needed to have systems in place to make everything in my business run efficiently. Since it was just me at the time “wearing all the hats.”
So automation was the key! I created a system where I would write blog posts a month in advance, get them edited, and scheduled to publish on my WordPress site. I used the Coschedule calendar to help me automate all blogs to be uploaded into an automated social media campaign.
This would automatically publish content on the date of being published on my website, the next day, next week, and a month later on all major social media platforms. This created a way for me to be active on social media and share content without spending hours doing so everyday.
It also allowed my blog content to be refreshed and continuously posted on social media for potential clients. I still continue to use this strategy in my other business as it is such an effective way to automate sharing content.
Jessica Freeman, Jess Creatives
The best tool that I use to automate in my business is Meet Edgar. This tool helps me be consistent on social media, by constantly cycling through my curated library of posts and links.
Edgar is so automated that I don’t have to think about posting on social media at all – it posts for me day in, and day out. By freeing up my time, Edgar has almost doubled my following on social media, and 46% of my clients have found me on social media!
Because of Edgar, I’m not having to chase after clients – they’re finding me.
Anita Kirkbride, Head Twirp at
Twirp Communications Inc.
In my business, I use Revive Social.
This is a WordPress plugin that reposts and recycles my blog articles on a regular basis.
This keeps my social profiles full and also shares evergreen content with new followers I’ve gained since the last time it was posted. This saves me a ton of time on rescheduling old content to be reused.
Customer Resource Management & Email Campaign Tools
Use these trusted tools to help how you communicate with your customers and ensure they become loyal to your brand.
Crystal Ignatowski, Marketing Content Developer at Surety Solutions LLC
The tool we use most to automate our marketing efforts is Hubspot. We use Hubspot as our blogging platform, and also as our CRM, emailing platform, etc. We have API’s set up that allow us to connect Hubspot to our custom e-commerce software platform.
Hubspot has helped us grow our online business from 1,500 views a month to over 90,000 views a month. We now are visible online and it is awesome.
Hubspot has also allowed us to focus on being proactive instead of just reactive. Since our Hubspot emails are set up with APIs, customers who click on a link, view a product, get a quote, etc, are sent an email automatically.
We do not have to worry about being reactive and reaching out to them. Hubspot does that for us, and we get to work on being proactive with other efforts. Allowing us to be proactive instead of reactive is one of the greatest gifts automation has brought to our company.
Heather Clark, Brewery Rep at Video Brewery
We use InfusionSoft for our CRM and marketing automation needs.
The flexible campaign builder has helped systematize and automate our qualified lead follow-up, raising our close rate by 10%.
In addition, we’ve built campaigns to follow-up with new potential vendors, allowing us to have a better pool of video professionals to call on and actively remove the ones who aren’t aiding our sales.
The learning curve was a little steep and we’re still not using the system to its full potential, but the initial payoff has been huge!
Ujwal Surampalli, Chief of Interview Buddy
My favourite automation tool is MailChimp. We’re an EdTech company and our target audience is in the age groups 19-24 which makes it imperative for us to keep updating our content regularly at all times.
MailChimp is one of the most affordable email automation tools in the market. We can use the tool to create segments basing on various data pertaining to the campaign being designed such as on the customers’ previous interaction with the brand, behaviour, previous purchases, the stage he’s in as per the of the marketing funnel and so on coupled with scheduling.
All this goodness comes with a pretty clean and simple to use interface which makes it easy for any new business owner with even minimal domain knowledge to easily kickstart their email marketing campaigns.
The icing on the cake here is – MailChimp is free to use for up to 2,000 subscribers and allows us to send in about 12,000 emails per month without having to pay a dime.
Björgvin Benediktsson, Musicpreneur at Audio Issues
A couple suggestions for a more automated business for me would be:
1. Use automated email campaigns using Aweber, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, etc to send value driven emails to your subscribers that they want to learn more about. You can get these topics easily by simply asking them what they’re biggest struggles are in the first email.
Once enough subscribers tell you some of the problems they have related to your business you can create a series of email tackling that problem, giving them solutions while also promoting your product along the way.
2. Use something like Recurpost (free) or MeetEdgar (not free) to completely automate your social media postings. If you have a lot of content marketing articles on your blog you can set Recurpost up to distribute your posts regularly to your social media feeds.
I have hundreds of blog posts and Recurpost regularly sends them out on Facebook for me after I’ve set them up in their content library.
It’s a set it and forget it system that gives new social media followers a lot of valuable content regularly without you having to do anything extra other than monitor the comments, respond to them and engage with your audience organically.
Using these two tools means that both your email marketing and social media marketing is automatic as much as possible, allowing you to focus more on creating and working ON your business.
Scott Layson, Owner/Marketing Director at Layson Group
My wife and I own real estate teams in Nashville and Memphis and one tool that I could not live without is Followupboss, which is our CRM. It allows us to set up automatic drip text and email campaigns.
This means that as soon as a new lead arrives in our CRM, each prospect is sent an email and text automatically that appears to be coming from us, even while we’re sleeping!
This has been a great way for us to contact prospects immediately, which has increased our conversion rate of online leads.
Andrew Legrand, Founder of Spera Law Group, LLC
ActiveCampaign has been a huge benefit for my firm, and I’ve effectively automated the client intake process. Now, when a client submits the contact form on my website, they’re first directed to a landing page that includes the details and pricing for an initial consultation.
If they book right away, then ActiveCampaign automatically sends them information that they need to get the most out of our consultation. If they don’t book immediately, then they’re automatically added into a drip campaign that encourages them to schedule that consultation.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Those contacts are added to my monthly newsletter, I understand where people are in the sales process, and track so much more within ActiveCampaign.
Other Automation Tools
These are some of the other tools you can use to help you automate the most important parts of your business.
Lee Drozak, Digital Strategist at LeeDrozak Biz
Many consultants and coaches rely on that first conversation to vet their potential clients and all prospects. Without automation, this can take a lot of time out of your day. Because time is money, I use several apps to make the process simple without my input until the first conversation.
My vetting forms are created using Gravity Forms for WordPress, and thanks to conditional logic I can vet based on questions asked on the form. Also, it can disqualify those who are not right for me and send a response accordingly.
The next step is to get the appointment scheduled, and for that, I use Acuity Scheduler which allows me to set different appointment types and send automated responses such as confirmations and reminders. I also have a questionnaire set up so that I know what exactly we will be discussing and how they found me.
After the call, I have a series of responses set in ActiveCampaign that allows me to recap and give the next steps based on a tagging system for automation. So for example, those who turn to clients are marked accordingly and those not become touches, warm, no interest, etc.
If the client is a perfect fit, a contract is sent using AdobeSign, and upon the signed return, those are sent to my bookkeeper so she can update the record with missing client information that is provided in the contract.
AJ Saleem, Director of Suprex Tutors Houston
I am the owner of the start-up tutoring company, Suprex Tutors Houston, and I have been automating my business.
The tool that has been extremely helpful for me has been the browser extension, MixMax. MixMax allows me to save templates and schedule emails to be sent at optimal times.
In addition, we have been starting to use a virtual assistant in order to answer phone calls, thus saving us precious human time.
Kevin Mako, Founder of Mako Design + Invent
The single most effective strategy that has allowed the business to function without him is to systemize and record every single interaction that takes place in the business.
This involves writing step by step, easy to understand instructions for each role. For example, MAKO’s quoting structure has step-by-step questions to ask, the sales pipeline has step-by-step instructions to follow and check off and the designing process has key steps to be completed before the next step can be done.
I also have the whole team on the project management software, WRIKE, which allows me to place each of these steps in their projects and view the progress of any client and employee in or out of the office.
WRIKE also allows me to place things as higher priority, which means any job or responsibility that follows the highest priority task cannot be completed until this task is done. Something that is a very helpful solution to one of the most damaging behaviors to fall victim of – procrastination.
Bryan Koontz, CEO of Guidefitter
As a small business owner, my agenda and to-do list is full nearly everyday, so any way I can streamline our operations and efficiently complete tasks is a necessity.
I use a tool called ‘If This Then That’ or IFTTT, which is a free tool that allows users to create ‘recipes’ which trigger actions across web-services such as Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, and Flickr. This tool automates the resources and time needed to maintain our web presence into the click of a button.
For example, whenever I post a picture to our company Instagram, it automatically saves the image to our Dropbox and posts on our Flickr account as well. It can also automate in office communication, quickly posting messages to our Slack message board, and can instantaneously save new contacts to our Google Drive.
With previously time-intensive tasks, IFTTT has allowed us focus on what matters most—running our business and connecting with our clients.
Airto Zamorano, Managing Director of
Becker Ear, Nose and Throat Center
We use G Suite to coordinate much of our reporting. By linking data from one Sheets document to another, we save a tremendous amount of time.
When we import data from one or several reports into another, that data feeds into summary pages which are setup with formulas to report information in a uniform format.
We’ve even developed a way of creating the summary pages so we can replicate the format in the following year without having to rework all of the sheets and/or linking.
All of our data sheets are setup in a way that they can keep growing month by month, and year by year, without a need to change anything unless we wish to expand the report.
This saves a tremendous amount of time, and cuts down on errors. These automated systems apply to virtually every aspect of our business including running KPIs on all departments, managing vendors, etc.
The result is that I can have employees at all levels entering data into any report that will feed into the reporting I need to see as a business leader. With all of the controls and safeguards built into G Suite, I don’t have to worry about having too many hands in the pot.
John Kinskey, President-Founder of AccessDirect, Inc.
I love Stripe’s automated billing features! Once we set up a new account in Stripe the monthly recurring billing is automatic. Monthly invoices are automatically generated and sent, the credit cards run and the proceeds deposited to our bank account.
The customers initial online order and credit card charge is also automatic.
If a customer’s credit card does not run at the next due date, we have automated dunning notices set up through Stripe to be sent at key intervals, with automatic account suspension if all four notices to update the credit card are unsuccessful.
In the past, we spent a lot of time generating invoices through our accounting software, emailing, running credit cards by hand, and sending late notices. Stripe allows that entire process to be automated and hands free!
Jason Parks, President of The Media Captain
We utilize a tool called PitchBox. This automates the outreach process to find relevant websites where you can contribute content for SEO purposes.
It’s a Saas software and you can segment which websites you want to reach out to based off of topic or strength of the site. They also have a scraping tool that helps you find the contact information from everyone on the site.
If your small business is looking to grow, SEO is a great investment. PitchBox can help automate the process for you.
Gene Caballero, Co-Founder of GreenPal
An innovative tool that we cannot live without is Intercom. Intercom is a customer engagement tool that allows you to interact with your customers at any point in time while they are on your site.
With this tool, we have inserted ourselves into our on-boarding funnel and can reach and talk to customers and get real time feedback during critical moments of the sign-up process. With this data and real time feedback, we can make design or copy changes to improve our click-through rate and overall customer experience.
How this has helped our automation is Intercom also acts like a marketing and CRM tool and will automatically send out email reminders for specific events. For example, if a homeowner hasn’t rescheduled an additional appointment after their initial appointment, Intercom will fire a reminder email.
Also, if a vendor has not performed a service that was on his calendar for the day, it will send him a reminder email that the property needs to be completed or it needs to be rescheduled.
With these practices in place, Intercom has saved us countless hours on follow up emails and we have seen over a 40% uplift in conversion after Intercom’s implementation.
Ben Bisbee, Principal & Founder of
There is one tool I use passionately to help me automate a wealth of needs as a small business owner and consultant: Asana.
Asana is a project management tool and allows me to easily and visually track all of my clients, their individual projects, and my work flow. I take maybe an hour a week to just update and include any weekly projects and then spend the rest of the week confirming the projects and tracking my efforts effortlessly.
Coby Pachmayr, Idea Spring
At Idea Spring we use a number of cloud-based tools to help manage and automate our business. In fact, automation is so important to us that any application we choose must have an application programming interface (API) so that we can connect our various tools through automation.
Hands-down one of the best tools we use is Zapier which enables us to create ‘Zaps’ that fire automatically and can move data back-and-forth between all of the cloud applications we use (and we use quite a few!).
I travel quite a bit, but as the primary manager for our small business, it’s important that I keep a good pulse on what the team is working on. One of the ways that we’ve automated is to use Toggl (a timer and reporting application), and Slack (team communication application), tied together with Zapier.
Whenever my team starts a new timer for a project or task in Toggl, they enter a brief description of what they are working on, and every description starts with a 3-5 letter identifier related to the client.
When they start the timer, a ‘zap’ is automatically triggered and automatically posts the name of the team member, along with the description of what they are working on into the ‘#workingon’ channel in our Slack.
This has helped my team and myself tremendously. I don’t have to interrupt my team to ask what they are working on, and when I’m out-of-pocket for the entire day with meetings, I can quickly scan the #workingon channel to get a quick recap of my team’s day—without having to ask them to recap it for me.
What are some of your favorite tools that help you automate your business? Did we miss any big ones? Let us know in the comments below!