How to Make Your Business More Efficient With Smart Automation
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Running a business is hard enough. The more you can automate and not have to remember, the more you can focus on the more important things.

There are many areas of your business you could automate to save time. Log every PayPal payment notification as income for your tax records. Use GPS technology to log business mileage. Or get reminders to renew your business web domains automatically added to your daily to-do list.

If you’re curious how you can set up any of these things to better automate your business, keep reading.

Automatically Log Income

Most small businesses accept payments from payment processing services that send email notifications. PayPal is one example of this.

paypal email notification

Notifications are a great way to trigger other automations.

In this case, you can use the unique subject line this service always attaches to its emails, to trigger adding a new record to your income spreadsheet.

Set Up IFTTT Automation

First, if you don’t have one yet, create an IFTTT account The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro If This Then That, also known as IFTTT is a free web-based service to get your apps and devices working together. Not sure how to build your applet? Follow along with this guide. Read More .

Then, click on My Applets from the menu, and click on the New Applet link on the right. Click This.

Search for Gmail and click the Gmail link. You could use any other email service you want, so long as it’s integrated with IFTTT.

On the next window, select New email in inbox from search.

new email from search

On the next screen, make the search query subject:You’ve got money (use whatever text your payment service uses in its notification email subject line).

“Subject:” tells IFTTT to scan incoming emails for the specified text in the subject field.

subject search in ifttt

Click on Create trigger.

Next, you need to create an Action that loads a new row into your Income logging spreadsheet.

Before you do this, go into Google Drive and create a new directory called IFTTT, and inside of it create another directory called Business.

In the Business subfolder, create a spreadsheet called Income and Expenses. Name the first tab in the spreadsheet Income.

Back in IFTTT, click on That. Search for Sheets and click on Google Sheets.

On the next window, click on Add row to spreadsheet.

ifttt add row to spreadsheet

This will trigger a new row in your Income spreadsheet every time a new email comes in matching the subject line filter.

Fill out the following form using the details shown below.

ifttt new row details

The important field here is Formatted row. The text in that field should be “{{BodyPlain}} ||| ||| ||| {{ReceivedAt}}”

This leaves two fields blank. This will allow you to parse the body from the email into the name of the sender, and the dollar amount (see Google Script below).

Click on Create action to finish this step.

Add Google Script

Now it’s time to customize your spreadsheet. Open the Google Sheet you just created.

When you receive an email, the new row will look like this.

income sheet data

As you can see, the email body gets loaded into A1, two columns are skipped, and the date of the payment goes into D1.

Clean up the sheet by hiding column A. Click on the down arrow at the right of Column A, and select Hide column.

hide-column-google-sheet

Next, you need to write a Google Script 4 Google Scripts That Make Google Sheets Much More Powerful 4 Google Scripts That Make Google Sheets Much More Powerful Google Sheets is great out of the box, but it can be even more powerful if you use Google Scripts to enhance its capabilities. Read More that’ll run every time a new row gets added to the sheet.

This script will insert the required calculations to fill in B2 and C2 with the name and dollar amount from the email body.

Go into the Script Editor by clicking on Tools in the menu, and click on Script editor.

google sheets script editor

In the script editor, paste the following code under the closing bracket for myFunction().

function FindLastRow(){
  var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet();
  var data = sheet.getDataRange().getValues();
  for(var i = data.length-1 ; i >=0 ; i--){
    if (data[i][0] != null && data[i][0] != ''){
      return i+1 ;
    }
  }
}

This code searches through the sheet for the last row.

Now, inside myFunction(), paste the following script.

function myFunction() {
var intLastRow = FindLastRow()
 SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet().getRange('B'+intLastRow).setValue('=left(A'+intLastRow+',find("$",A'+intLastRow+')-11)');
 SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet().getRange('C'+intLastRow).setValue('=mid(A'+intLastRow+',find("$",A'+intLastRow+')-1,(Find("D",A'+intLastRow+')-Find("$",A'+intLastRow+'))+2)');  

This looks complicated, but it’s not.

The first “setValue” command is really just filling in column B with this function:

=left(A1,find(“$”,A1)11)”

This just grabs all of the text in the body to the left of the dollar symbol.

Then it fills in column C with this function:

=mid(A1,find(“$”,A1)1,(Find(“D”,A1)Find(“$”,A1))+2)”

This extracts the dollar amount between “$” and “USD”. The script just replaces A1 with whatever number the last column was.

Save this script by clicking the disk icon in the menu.

Then configure the script to run every time the sheet updates by clicking on Edit, and Current project’s triggers.

How to Make Your Business More Efficient With Smart Automation triggers

Click on the link to add triggers.

Select myFunction, From spreadsheet, then select On change from the last dropdown box.

setting sheet triggers

Now, every time an incoming payment notification arrives, a new row gets added to the spreadsheet.

final income sheet

Your script gets triggered and fills in the appropriate fields with the sender name and the dollar amount.

Track Mileage With GPS

This next automation is easy since you’ll use an app that can do the GPS tracking for you—Everlance GPS tracker.

The in-app purchases are a little annoying, but you can export your trip logs to email for free. The logs arrive as an Excel attachment.

All you have to do is set up an IFTTT automation to catch those incoming emails and save the file to your Google Drive account.

The trip logs from Everlance come in with the subject line: “Your Transactions Export is Ready”. This is what you can use to catch the email.

  1. In IFTTT create a New Applet.
  2. Click on this.
  3. Search for Gmail and select it.
  4. Select New email in inbox from search.
  5. In the Search For field type subject: Your Transactions Export is Ready and click Create Trigger.
  6. Click on that.
  7. Search for Drive and select Google Drive.
  8. Select Upload file from URL.
  9. Leave all fields as default but change directory to IFTTT/Business/TripLogs.

This is what the Upload file from URL configuration should look like.

How to Make Your Business More Efficient With Smart Automation uploading trip logs

Click on Create Action, and you’re done.

Now every time you’re done with a trip, just export the trip data to your email account, and it’ll automatically get logged into your Google Drive account in your TripLogs folder.

logged trips

Download: Everlance for Android (Free)| iOS (Free)

Set Tasks to Renew Your Business Domains

One of the great dangers of owning a website is forgetting to renew your domain name every year or two.

Many domain registrars will let you auto-register domains when they expire, but you may not want to do that. Maybe you’re looking to sell the domain or transfer it to someone else How to Transfer a Domain Name With Zero Downtime How to Transfer a Domain Name With Zero Downtime If you're wondering how to transfer your domain name with zero downtime, you need to do it in a particular order. Read More .

One thing you can do is configure an automation that’ll automatically insert a new task in your To-Do app on the date you receive the reminder.

Go back to IFTTT and set up an automation to catch those notification emails.

In this example, we’ll use GoDaddy notifications which come with the subject line: “Your Godaddy Renewal Notice”.

  1. In IFTTT create a New Applet.
  2. Click on this.
  3. Search for Gmail and select it.
  4. Select New email in inbox from search.
  5. In the Search For field type subject: Your Godaddy Renewal Notice and click Create Trigger.
  6. Click on that.
  7. Search for your to-do app and select it (IFTTT supports ToDoist, RememberTheMilk, and others)
  8. Select Create a new task.
  9. Fill in the Task name field with  {{Subject}} at.

Most to-do apps are intelligent enough to incorporate the due date if you mention a time and date in the task name.

In this case, click on Add ingredient, and choose Received at.

How to Make Your Business More Efficient With Smart Automation ifttt todo action

This will set your task due on the date you received the email.

The next time you log into your to-do app, you’ll see the task either due or overdue, and you can assign it to a time when dealing with the domain is most convenient.

This is especially useful if you have a lot of domains to manage. You’ll never forget an expiring domain again.

Save Time With Business Automations

There are a lot of things to remember when you’re running a small business. Hopefully, the automations above will help reduce the load a little.

And remember, if you’re a freelancer, there are a lot of other tools out there to help you manage your business. If accounting isn’t your strong point, you’ll want to review our list of the best accounting software available for freelancers The Best Accounting Software Every Freelancer Needs The Best Accounting Software Every Freelancer Needs Accounting is a minefield of complexity. Mistakes can be expensive and even a crime. If you're tired of manual bookkeeping, try an accounting software. Read More .

Image Credit: Rawpixel/Depositphotos

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