As an entrepreneur it is in your nature to want to handle all aspects of your business by yourself. Many people struggle to put their trust in someone else to do the job as good as they can themselves. However there comes a time where you simply cannot manage everything yourself and work on growing your business at the same time. If you are struggling to meet deadlines, or find that you have waved goodbye to your social life, it may be time to outsource work to a virtual assistant. Here are three signs that it is time to make a change.
1. You are putting off tasks that you do not enjoying doing
There are always certain elements of your business that you will enjoy working on and those that you dread. The ones you enjoy working on will be the reason you started your own business in the first place. Rather than putting off tasks that you do not enjoy doing, why not outsource them to a qualified virtual assistant? That way you can carry on doing the things you enjoy and have someone else handling the mundane tasks that you dread doing. For some this may be book keeping, for others it may be writing website copy or answering customer calls.
We all have strengths and weaknesses, some of us are better at writing, whereas others are better at numbers, or closing sales. Identify which are your strongest points. These should be the things that are making money for your business. Anything that you identify as a weakness should be outsourced to an individual with expertise in that area.
2. You have to turn down work
Turning down work may sound like a good thing as it means your business is working to capacity right? Wrong! In many cases people working for themselves find that they cannot take on more work as they are having to constantly work unprofitable tasks into their schedules. Rather than turning down a job because you need to update your website or to spend a day catching up on book keeping, why not outsource these non-profitable tasks to a virtual assistant? This will work out much more cost effective for your business as you will be able to take on more work and maximise profits, whilst paying a small monthly fee to your virtual assistant for their services.
3. You have not had a proper weekend off in months
This is perhaps one of the biggest signs that you need help from a virtual assistant. Many people that work from home find it hard to differentiate their work life from their social life. This is no good for you or your family. Having a free time is important as it gives you chance to step away from your work. If you spend seven days a week working on your business you will soon grow tired of it. Hiring a virtual assistant will help you to lighten your work load. They can also help you to organise your time better so that you can see how long it takes you to do certain tasks and ensure that everything is done in the week so you can have your weekends off.
If you are an entrepreneur and have found yourself nodding along to the signs above, then it is time to get a virtual assistant. Make sure that you do your research so that you find someone that is going to add value to your business. The great thing is that you do not have to commit to a lengthy contract as most virtual assistants will work on a month to month basis.
Small, local businesses and those that work from home can benefit from using the services of a mail forwarding company. Rather than giving out their own address to their clients they can give out the address of the mail forwarding company. Their letters and packages are then sent to the address of the mail forwarding company where they are sorted before being forwarded onto them. There are mail forwarding companies based all over the country, but the most benefits come from working with a London based company.
As we are sure you are already aware London is a prestigious location and therefore a great place to set up a business. Unfortunately many small business owners simply cannot afford to set up a physical office in such an expensive area. The solution to this is to use a mail forwarding company in London. Business owners can use the prestigious London address on their business cards and give any potential clients an excellent first impression of their company. London is home to some of the most successful businesses in the world and by using a mail forwarding company there, you too will be perceived as established and successful.
Today many people decide to go at it alone by setting up their own business from home. Despite this being a courageous and impressive thing to do, many find that they are perceived as less professional than other more traditional businesses. Home business owners can shake off this stigma by using the services of a mail forwarding company in London.
Having a virtual address will create the appearance that your business is much bigger than it is and make it look like you have a team of workers, even if you actually work alone. Don’t worry, we are not encouraging you to deceive your clients, we are just helping you to show them that you are just as professional and reliable as much larger, well-established businesses.
Target a new market
Having a small, local business is great, but what happens when you want to expand your business and target a much wider audience? Many small business owners find that they struggle to expand their company as they are associated with a particular local area.
Using a mail forwarding company in London, you can take on their address as your own and make it look like your business is actually based in the big city. This will make it much easier for you to target a wider audience on a national or even international scale. No longer will you just be competing for local trade as instead you will be competing on a higher level alongside some of the biggest businesses in your industry.
A few things to keep in mind
Whilst you may be looking for a mail forwarding company based in London because of the benefits it will bring to your business in terms of success, it is also important to choose a company that can meet your needs and requirements. Before you pick a particular company make sure that you understand their mail forwarding procedures and have checked that their turnaround time is quick enough for you. It would be no good choosing a company because of their prestigious location only to find out they cannot deliver on their mail forwarding services.
If you are a small business or work from home there are many benefits to using a mail forwarding company based in London. Not only will it create the right impression on customers, but it will also enable you to grow your business over time. Although there are mail forwarding companies all over the UK, those in London have the benefit of being located in a prestigious area that is home to some of the world’s best known businesses.
Customer service is an area where more and more value is placed on having a highly performing team. In a competitive market where costs are squeezed to the limit, customers are looking to areas other than the bottom line to differentiate between companies looking to win their business. When there’s not much in it between two firms in terms of price, customers are likely to value customer service even more highly than before and those falling short of the mark will see those customers voting with their feet.
Training your staff at all levels to provide excellent customer service at the core of all they do will have a number of knock-on benefits. The attraction and retention of all-important customer sales is just one of them, but alongside that you can count staff retention, customer and staff satisfaction and an all-round better working environment.
The staff benefits of good customer service
Understandably, the majority of focus when it comes to providing good customer service is on the customer and their satisfaction with their encounter with your company. However, this is not the only group to benefit from a team that has great customer service skills and the ability to carry this ethos into all they do.
While customer care is often seen as dealing with difficult people and turning on the charm to reduce their degree of disgruntlement, the majority of customer-facing roles have very pleasant and rewarding encounters with the people they’re serving on a day-to-day basis. Learning how to find out about customer needs and making them feel valued has its rewards in terms of the immediate feedback staff receive from the customers they’re dealing with. Satisfied customers are likely to make that satisfaction known, and that translates into a satisfied staff member and a more positive team environment.
When things do get tough with customers who have complaints or are just downright difficult to please, customer service training supports staff to handle those people courteously and helpfully while taking care of their own wellbeing. Being unprepared for a verbal tirade over the phone or in person can really knock a person’s confidence, while having the skills to deal calmly and politely with difficult people can help staff better manage some of the more challenging areas of their jobs.
The obvious benefits of training staff to provide a better service to the company’s customers are those of better customer attraction and loyalty. Getting new purchasers and keeping them once they’re on the roster is of vital importance to the on-going success of any business. However, there are other things that may be less obvious at first glance.
Training your staff to offer good customer service, including the promotion of good teamwork and dealing with difficult customers, will make your staff feel supported in their work. No-one likes to be the one to deal with someone who’s unhappy, but by giving your staff the skills to deal with this sensitively and effectively you’re helping build their resilience.
On the more positive side, by enabling your team to develop good customer service skills you’re facilitating the growth of a supportive and convivial working environment. If your people see all the people they work with – including their colleagues – as customers, they will treat them with the same degree of careful listening, respect and helpfulness. This feeds a virtuous circle where happy colleagues provide better service to customers, whose positive feedback increases the feelings of achievement.
Customer service training isn’t just about teaching people to handle members of the public and deal with complaints. It’s a company-wide ethos which, if adopted, can bring better team work and increased employee satisfaction, making your company a sought-after place to work as well as a chosen supplier (such as Creativedge).
Cloud computing is affecting the way that many industries function. With businesses operating in varied sectors benefitting from easy and affordable access to professional software and expert help.
One industry that has possibly been affected more than others is the IT industry. Internal IT support is a long-established part of most companies; many offices would simply grind to a halt without a reliable and knowledgeable IT team.
But with cloud computing fast becoming the norm, how has it affected this essential workhorse of offices around the world?
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the practice of using remote servers to host, manage and process data rather than using local servers to do the job.
As many large internet-based companies only use a small percentage of their server capacity, only retaining the surplus to allow for occasional spike, they can effectively rent out the remainder of their storage space to other companies.
This space is used by other companies for the everyday management of their businesses, that otherwise would need huge servers to operate.
One of the main ways that cloud computing is changing IT support is in its ability to enable collaboration.
The non-geographic nature of the cloud means that many more IT experts can help to solve a given problem.
You no longer have to be sitting in the same office or even the same country to swap ideas and hypothesis on the latest computer glitch.
A company’s in house IT team can quickly and easily collaborate with the IT team of the host provider to identify issues, helping both companies to refine and improve their practices.
This worldwide collaboration also encourages, and gives a platform to, IT innovation. Ideas that are exchanged between continents will help to further develop IT solutions, making the cloud better for everyone.
Cloud computing can also free up time that previously was given over to problem solving. Having a remote team that is dedicated to problem solving, means that an in house team can concentrate on innovating and improving techniques and procedures.
The idea of a standard 9-5 day has long been seen as old fashioned as markets and industries spread around the world, and international business is conducted almost 24-hours a day. However solving problems within the restrictions of a normal working day can still be an issue.
Cloud computing means that technical issues can be addressed and rectified 24-hours a day, seven days a week, whether the office is open or not.
This can help to streamline companies, and make them more competitive on the global field.
The capacity of cloud computing is such that some companies can do away with physical premises altogether.
Businesses that use the internet for the bulk of their activities, can have employees working anywhere in the world that WiFi is available, with remote IT support available to sort out any issues that may arise.
For companies working in IT support, cloud computing can lower their costs substantially. With a reduced need for premises, overheads can be reduced, and by only paying for the server space you require, you’re not spending unnecessarily.
With technology at the heart of daily life, IT support will always be in demand. The advent of cloud computing has, and will, change the nature of the work that IT support will undertake and how they will undertake it.
Gone are the days of the lonely office expert desperately trying to keep up with demand, now IT support can be available wherever and whenever it’s required.
If you are looking for a new IT support partner contact Cheeky Munkey for a quotation.
Many start-up companies and small businesses find it beneficial to outsource work to virtual assistants. It prevents them from having to take on the cost and responsibility of hiring in-house staff, whilst still benefitting from having someone to support them in the day to day running of their business. If you are thinking of outsourcing work to an outside contractor then read on to find out our top tips on how to choose the best virtual assistant.
Fit for purpose
Before you even begin your search for a virtual assistant, you need to have a clear idea of the tasks you expect them to manage. Many small business owners will simply require their virtual assistant to carry out basic tasks such as answering telephone calls, mail forwarding, invoicing and other admin tasks. However others may require their virtual assistant to take on larger projects such as social media management, digital strategizing or project management. Having a good idea of the tasks you expect your virtual assistant to carry out will determine what skills they need to possess. This will make it much easier to narrow down your choice.
Research and references
Whilst the testimonials on a virtual assistants’ website are a great place to start your research into their credentials, it is unlikely that they are going to publish negative comments about their business! If you are looking for an honest review of a virtual assistant, then why not ask them for their references or email a few of the companies that have worked with them. This will give you a better idea of the virtual assistant’s performance and reliability, helping you to decide whether they are right for your business.
Your virtual assistant will be the middle person between your clients and business so it is essential that they can represent your company in a way that you are happy with. A virtual assistant should possess excellent customer service skills and be capable of turning around tasks in a timely manner. Check their qualifications and experience for a better idea of their ability to represent your company.
The idea of having a virtual assistant is to help you manage your work load so that you have more time to spend on other important tasks. Therefore it is important that your assistant is there whenever you need them to be. Find out what hours they are available to work for you and whether they offer extended hours of service, such as evenings and weekends. If you are looking to increase the time that your phone lines are open for customers to call in, then you will need a virtual assistant that is able to commit to those hours.
If you are looking a virtual assistant that can also provide a virtual office address, then you will need to find out where they are located. If you are looking to target a certain geographical area, then you will want to find a virtual assistant that is based in that area. Alternatively you may be looking to enhance the size of your business, through using a prestigious address. To do this you will need to choose a virtual assistant that operates in a major city like London.
With so many people offering their services as virtual assistants, it can be hard to know who to choose. Whilst the cost of their services will play a part in your decision, it is more important to find a virtual assistant that can meet the needs and requirements of your business. By conducting thorough research and checking references you will find it easy to narrow your choice down to a virtual assistant that can provide the support you need.
By Megan Hunt