Turbo charge your business with virtual services
The business environment is changing constantly. No longer can you set up a small business and think that you know all of the ins and outs of making that small business work. Every day someone is coming up with a new way of doing one of the components of running that small business.
Because of these constant changes the small business owner and entrepreneur needs to be constantly on the lookout for ways to improve and ways to make their business more agile and more competitive. One of the best ways of doing this in the 21st century is to make use of virtual services.
While making use of virtual services will assist the new business owner to keep their business ahead of the pack you mustn't outsource all of your business. If you outsource the strategic aspects of your business then you risk having someone else decide the direction of your business. Our advice is to look at outsourcing the non-core aspects of your small business.
How to decide what to push to the virtual world
There are lots of different tasks that you can outsource to a virtual services provider. As a starting point it is a good idea to build a list of all of the various tasks that it takes to run your small business. Try to break down all of the tasks into specific activities that have to be carried out to get the work completed and to keep the operation running.
Some of the tasks will be quite easy to identify such as doing the bookkeeping, maintaining your online marketing or answering your incoming telephone calls. Other tasks may take a bit more time and potentially may require you to think outside the box to come up with creative ways that tasks can be carried out. When deciding on the tasks to outsource it is extremely important that you take time to separate the core tasks from the non core tasks. It is our advice not to outsource your core strategic tasks however if you do decide to outsource some of them then make sure you think through all of the potential consequences.
There may also be tasks out there that you could potentially outsource that you have not even considered yet. Some of these tasks or services could also be things that you are not doing now that could potentially have a significant positive impact on your business. To find out about these types of services it may be an idea to talk to people within your industry and related industry's. Maybe head to a few trade shows and talk to some of the presenters about what types of services you could be using and how they could impact on your business.
Something else that you should take into account when assessing outsource tasks is the opportunity cost of carrying out that task. If you can potentially make $200 per hour working on your business then why would it make sense to be carrying out an admin task that could be outsourced for $30 or $40 per hour.
Who to outsource to?
- With some tasks it is quite easy to determine who to outsource those tasks to. If you are looking to outsource your bookkeeping then you can simply find an external bookkeeper that you are happy with and get them started. Similarly, if you are looking to outsource your online marketing then you need to look for cost effective marketing services providers and you can get them working on your adwords. Similarly, if you are looking to get your incoming telephone calls answered then if you find a good local receptionist service (like Virtual Reception) then you can get them working on your calls.
- Some other tasks may not be as easy to outsource, either because the tasks require some sort of expert knowledge or they are a little more complex. With these sorts of tasks it makes sense to talk to some experienced outsource companies and explore the different ways that these tasks could be handled. Here at Virtual Reception we manage a whole range of complex outsourced tasks. Some of these tasks just require a different structure being put in place and some require specific programming to be done. Either way, we have a number of ways that we can help you out.
Spend more time on the business not in the business
Ever feel that you can't see the woods for all the trees. It is a problem that many of us have when starting a small business that we end up getting swamped with all of the low level admin work and then we can't see the opportunities when they present themselves. This is why it is good to break down all of those tasks and look for the most cost effective ways of handling them.
For some tasks it may make sense to bring in a staff member to handle them, for others it may make sense to bring in external resources. Either way, you need to be able to free up your time so that you can focus on what the key issues are at hand.
Here are some other virtual services you could use
- Virtual AssistantsOne of the all time problems for small business is having the resources available when the work actually comes in. For many small businesses this means that they end up having staff sitting around waiting for that work. There is nothing worse than having to pay for a staff member when all they are doing is surfing the internet or texting a friend. Virtual assistants are a great way around this. With a virtual assistant from Virtual Reception you can have a person available for tasks 24/7 but only pay those people when they are actually working on your tasks. These virtual assistants can be carrying out a whole range of tasks from answering customer queries, giving customers questionnaires or assisting customers with placing orders over the phone. If you only need them for 5 minutes every hour then you only pay for 5 minutes.
- Diary ManagementDo you work in a small business where customers ring in to make appointments? How many times have you been right in the middle of a consultation with another customer when someone rings in to make a booking and you have to drop everything for 5 minutes. It doesn't give the greatest of impressions to your other customer. Why not outsource your diary management? Virtual Reception's trained diary managers can take your bookings while you are focussed on making money. It makes really good business sense.
- Virtual ServersBack in the last century, when you needed computing power you would go out and buy yourself a computer rack, a number of servers, a UPS and data surge protection device plus a fancy cabinet to put the whole lot into. On top of that you would probably need to do a crash course in server management or go out and employ someone who can help you keep your server under control. These days computational power is a commodity and you can simply rent the components that you need. For some businesses a virtual server will probably be sufficient while for others you may still need a full rack of servers however you can upgrade and downgrade whenever you want. It really does make good sense and you can simply use the staff at your chosen provider when you need them (for a fee of course).
- Virtual OfficesIt used to be that the first thing that you would do when setting up a small business was to head over to your local real estate agent and check out what suitable space was available. Unfortunately, you would have to guess in terms of what equipment you were going to need, how many staff members you thought would be needed, what meeting facilities you need plus much more. Unfortunately, many small businesses would get it wrong and then end up having to sublet, renovate or remodel. These days you don't need to worry about all this. A small business can simply start with a virtual office and then make an assessment of what is required. A virtual office gives you many of the benefits of that physical office without the huge price tag. You can still have a prestigious address in the middle of the CBD however you will only be paying a fraction of the cost. With a virtual address you get to use the address of a city based business centre. The business centre will collect your mail and couriered parcels for you and you can either pop in and pick them up or you can have them redirected for a fee. You can use the business address on your website, your marketing materials, your Google places post and your business cards. Many of the virtual addresses available also come with the option of using meeting rooms (for a fee). This means that when you need to meet with your customers you can do so at your business address. All of this for a fraction of the cost.
- Backup ServicesBack when companies started getting computer systems they also needed to think about back up equipment. Often this meant expensive tape drives or Raid systems that someone would have to set up and then keep a log of all of the media. These days backup services can be run remotely and are really quite intelligent. generally, you just need to set up all of your parameters and then push the start button. They are quite cost effective and because they are managed be external companies you backups are almost never stored where your source data is kept.
Business is extremely competitive these days and is becoming more and more competitive every year. Small business owners need to look for clever innovative ways that they can outsource some of their non core tasks and focus on the real money making opportunities. One way to do this is to look at opportunities that the virtual world presents in terms of outsourcing tasks and concepts that previously need to be physical in nature.