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How Entrepreneurs can keep costs down and still afford to outsource

Posted by in Outsourcing, Small business

The problem that many entrepreneurs face when they start up in business is that they try and do everything themselves in the belief that they won’t have enough money to start outsourcing their workload. And yet there are many ways that entrepreneurs can keep costs down when they first set up and still have enough money to outsource those business functions that they don’t have the skills or inclination to do. The reason you create a business is because you enjoy doing something and you want the freedom and opportunity to earn money doing it yourself.  But there are aspects of running a business that you’re either not good at or absolutely hate.  For me, it’s doing the bookkeeping – I loathe inputting my expenses and trying to tally everything up. And I’m sure there are aspects of running a business that you loathe too.  We’re only human and there are some things we are good at and some things we’re not so hot on.  The hard part is to admit that and let someone else do the hard slog. But how can you do that when you’re in the early days of business and don’t have a lot of cash? Luckily there are a wide range of free or low cost tools that you can use to run your business.  This frees up some of your hard earned cash to bring in people to help you on the day to day stuff so you can focus on getting new clients and bringing in the money. So here is a list of tools and apps to help you keep your business costs down so you can still afford to outsource. Google Apps.  This is the main tool I use to run my business. It gives you the ability to view your emails, calendar and documents from anywhere, and share them with other team members.  It’s not free but the business version costs from around £3/month so extremely good value for what it offers. Google Docs.  Why spend a fortune on Microsoft Office when you can get what you need with free software such as Google Docs or Open Office?  In fact if you use Google Drive then any documents you create with Google Docs come within your storage allowance. Google Drive and Dropbox.  Work on the fly with document storage and sharing tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox.  You can access your files from anywhere as well as share them with other members of your team. Google Hangout and Skype.  Keep travel costs down by scheduling virtual meetings online using free tools such as Skype and Google Hangout. MailChimp.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to get...

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How Outsourcing Increases Productivity and Income in Your Business

Posted by in Outsourcing

As I’ve mentioned before, outsourcing is one of the key factors to success in any small business. If you’re spending time trying to perform every single task in your business then it’s going to adversely affect your productivity. So if you’re struggling to handle all the competing demands on your time, then read on to find out how outsourcing increases productivity and income. A lot of business owners complain that they can’t afford to outsource, but the question is, can they afford not to? Remember when you’re doing non-fee earning tasks yourself, you’re doing them at your hourly rate. So if you’re charging say £50/hour and spending 2 hours a week doing admin, then you’re working as an overpaid PA! If you can find someone to do these tasks at a lower rate then you should be delegating the work to them. This both saves and earns you money. It saves you money because the hourly rate you’re paying someone to do your admin is far lower than what you charge yourself, and it earns you money because you can use the extra time to focus on those activities that will generate income for your business. So if you feel overwhelmed by your workload then you need to consider outsourcing. But if you’re unsure what you can delegate to someone else then ask yourself the following questions: What types of tasks need to be done but don’t contribute to the growth of your business? For example, handling email enquiries, setting up and managing your contact database or writing up reports may all be activities that you need to do but don’t earn money for you. They are important tasks, but they can be time-consuming and can take you away from those activities that will earn money for your business. What don’t you enjoy doing? Let’s face it, you work far more productively when you’re focusing on those tasks that you enjoy doing. So if you’re not good with figures then hire an accountant, if you hate paperwork then hire a virtual assistant, or if you’re not creative then hire a graphic designer. What tasks can’t you do? If you don’t know how to create a PowerPoint presentation or design a website then hire the appropriate people to do it for you. Yes, you could spend time learning how to do it yourself but is this really the best use of your time? You can very often spend days trying to do something that a specialist could do in a couple of hours. You may decide to learn some of these skills yourself over time, but trying to do everything from the beginning will just stress you out and slow...

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Are you investing in your time or just spending it?

Posted by in Outsourcing, Time management

I came across a quote the other day from Stephen Covey, the author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It said “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it”. It got me thinking about how much we actually invest in our time and how much we just spend it. There is a difference. We can easily give ourselves a big long ‘to do’ list and then happily spend time being busy while we work our way through it. However, being busy doesn’t mean that we’re being effective. That ‘to do’ list may just contain tasks that we like doing but are not really taking us anywhere. So we are busy but we’re busy on the wrong things. Obviously if you’re running your own business, you could think of this literally by multiplying your hourly rate with the amount of time you spend on non-fee earning projects. This is certainly a good exercise if you’re thinking of outsourcing as it shows you how much some tasks are costing you by doing them yourself. Investing in your time though is not just about money. It’s also about using the time you have more effectively so you’re focused on doing the right things. These are things that will help you and your business to grow, and which will move you towards your goals and what you want to achieve in life. This can be anything from learning a new skill to getting your business to a level where it can run without you. So take a look at your ‘to do’ list and see if the tasks on it are important or not. For each task, ask yourself the question: “Would it make any difference to my goals whether I did this task or not?”. If the answer is no, then delete it or at least put it as a low priority. By investing more of your time rather than just spending it, you will feel less stressed and more fulfilled as you find yourself achieving quicker results in your business and personal life....

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Take a break from your business: Take a holiday on us!

Posted by in Outsourcing, Small business, Virtual Assistant

After speaking to some business owners recently, it seems that there are quite a few who won’t be taking a holiday over the summer period.  In fact, many people feel that they are not in a position to take a break because without them, their business would not survive.  However, in order to fully achieve personal and financial freedom from your business, it needs to be able to exist without you actually being there.  This can be something that a lot of people struggle with in the early days but one of the first steps is to start outsourcing those essential but non-fee earning tasks, such as admin and book keeping. So if you are now feeling that your business is running you rather than the other way round, here are 5 ways a virtual assistant can give you the freedom to take a break from your business. Manage your team.  If your business is made up of a team based in various locations then a virtual assistant can liaise with them while you’re away.  With your instructions, they can co-ordinate team activities to ensure that they stay on track and deadlines are being met. Manage your clients.   One of the main things that a lot of business owners worry about when they’re away is ensuring that their clients are being properly looked after.  A virtual assistant can handle enquiries or issues via phone or email, or forward them to another member of the team.  They can also keep a record of client activities on a CRM system so you can track of what’s been happening. Manage updates.  Having a holiday can result in a hiatus with your marketing activity.  If you’ve spent time building up an online following you don’t want to suddenly “disappear” for 2-3 weeks.  A virtual assistant can continue to post important business-related updates to Twitter and Facebook while you’re away, as well as schedule your regular blog posts.  They can also keep your contacts up to date with the latest news or promotions by sending out newsletters or updating your website. Manage projects.  Don’t put off your holiday just because you’ve got a project or event coming up.  For example, a virtual assistant can handle many aspects of your events, such as liaising with attendees and speakers, organising the venue, handling enquiries, dealing with bookings and payment. Manage your payments.  You don’t have to stop getting paid just because you’re on holiday.  A virtual assistant can raise and send out invoices to your clients and chase up payment as necessary.  They can also manage your expenses and reconcile your expenditure and income with your bank statement.  This means that you can keep the cash...

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How outsourcing can increase profits by 185% !

Posted by in Outsourcing, Virtual Assistant

When I’m out networking, one of the responses that many people give when I start talking about my virtual assistant services is that they are not in a position to outsource at the moment.  Yes, their client work is growing and they’re feeling overwhelmed by their workload, but they’re just too busy to think about it right now. They may have a list of projects that they want to tackle such as starting up a blog, or sending out a newsletter. Or perhaps it’s that pile of paperwork that they know needs to be sorted but they either don’t have the time or inclination to get round to doing it.  So these tasks that could be adding value to their business just get left behind until they’ve got the time to sort it out.  And that time never comes. My response when I hear this is “What is it costing your business by not doing these things?”.  Because what they haven’t realised is how outsourcing can increase profits for their business. You may have business cards that you need to follow up on, or receipts that need to be inputted so you can track how much you’ve spent that month.  Perhaps you’ve promised your contacts a newsletter but just never get round to sending one out.  So think about how it would make you feel if these kinds of tasks were handled quickly and efficiently, leaving you to focus on doing the work that you enjoy. Also consider the financial impact if you’re spending time doing your admin tasks yourself.  It could actually be seriously affecting your business profits.  The illustration below was put together for an online chat I did the other week about how hiring a virtual assistant can benefit small businesses.  This shows how a business that works 30 hours a week at £50/hour can gain a profit increase of 185% by outsourcing admin to a virtual assistant. Your chargeable rate = £50 per hour Virtual assistant chargeable rate = £25 per hour Scenario 1 – Not using a VA 30 hours available Max Billable hours per week = 22 @ £50 per hour = £1100 charged out to customers Admin hours per week = 8 @ £50 per hour = £400 lost time not charged out Max Gross Profit = £700 Scenario 2 – Using a VA 30 hours available Max Billable hours per week = 30 @ £50 per hour = £1500 charged out to customers Admin hours per week = 8 @ £25 per hour = £200 VA cost Max Gross Profit = £1300 Results in 185% potential profit increase! Now you know how outsourcing can increase profits, the question you should be asking...

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Your Business Needs You, or Does It?

Posted by in Outsourcing, Small business

Does your business need you, or should it?  You might think this is a daft question if you’re currently running your own business but then I’d ask you why you set one up in the first place? A lot of people start up in business because they want to be their own boss, and have some kind of financial and personal freedom.  However, business ownership can mean the total opposite in the early days.  You’re working all hours of the day and night, earning very little money and doing all that you can to get clients!   Most business owners expect this at the start but what about further down the line when the client work starts to flow in? You may have started to outsource various functions that you don’t have the time or skills to do, and I’ve talked about the virtues of outsourcing in my previous blog “Why outsourcing is the key to business growth“.  However, you may still see the business as your “baby” which you’ve nurtured over time and are reluctant to let go.  But remember, you’ve only got a business if you can go away for 6 months and it’s still running when you come back.  If you have to be there for the business to keep going, then you’re not running a business, you’re self-employed. There is a difference and I’m not saying that one’s better than the other.  But if you went into business to achieve personal and financial freedom and you’ve ended up working all the hours as you struggle to manage everything yourself, then perhaps it’s time to step back and relook at your goals and strategies. So does your business need you?  Or can you take a break from it, confident that it can run smoothly and successfully without you? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, then we can help you to become more focused and effective in your daily activities so you can spend more time on your client work. Click on the arrow button to find out more about our virtual assistant services and how they can help you save time and money in your business....

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