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How Do You Know When To Outsource

How Do You Know When To Outsource

Smart business owners are beginning to reduce the number of tasks they do. This is why the demand for top class freelancers is escalating. The advantages of outsourcing can be massive! Especially if your business growth has plateaued or you are looking to reduce costs.

But how do you recognise when to outsource?

What does that point look like for your business?

How Do You Know When To Outsource

Below are 3 key ‘watch out’ sign, that could indicate that now is the right time for you to consider looking for help…

1. Routine Detail-orientated tasks Aren’t Your Strong Point.

If you are spending hours on low-value tasks, you are doing both yourself and your business a disservice. Delegating the jobs you hate or are no good at, provides you time to focus on critical goals and objectives.

2. Your Employees Can Not Manage Specialised Tasks.

It may seem counter-intuitive to outsource. After all shouldn’t you be investing and training the staff you already have? Well yes…but if they don’t have the skills, it will take time to teach them, which is likely to delay your work. By contracting out, you can get the skills you need, when you need them.

3. You Need To Reduce Costs.

There is a misconception that outsourcing is expensive; but, the truth is outsourcing is usually cheaper than hiring! When you factor in non-productive time like holidays, illness, plus the cost of pensions, tax obligations, hard & software, training etc, then outsourcing comes out the winner.

To outsource successfully you need the best people on your team, which means acting fast. If you are seeing any of these ‘watch-out’ signs in your small business arrange a call. Together we can get your business back on track

Bravapro | Virtual Assistant, Swindon | VA and Admin Support

It costs nothing to find out more book a call today!

How To Beat The Odds And Succeed In Business

How To Beat The Odds And Succeed In Business

Figures by Forbes suggest that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% in their second year, 50% by their fifth, and 70% beyond their tenth. How can this be when the formula to succeed in business is pretty straightforward? Have a service or product that is in demand, then put in place the infrastructure needed to replicate ‘your secret’. This formula applies to the “one-man” entrepreneur operation and all the way up to the Google’s of this world. Unless you have that formula in place you then your chances o failure increase.

Of course, even without the formula, you may well survive for a period of time. However, in the grand scheme of things, you will be just “spinning your plates”. You will be a busy fool. Somebody else will come along who is a little bit smarter and do what you do, but a little bit better.

Book And Street Smart

Survival in business these days requires not only ‘book smarts’. To succeed in business you also need to be street smarts. Being ‘book smart’ requires you to provide an excellent product or service. It also needs you to provide a good reason for people to buy from you – your unique selling point (USP). This enables you to set up your business in the first place.

However, you also need to be street smart. Which means that you have to be able to foresee difficulties and understand what it takes to expand and grow.

What You Need To Do To Succeed In Business

A growing business requires constant maintenance. As you grow, more and more jobs must be undertaken. Every one of those jobs takes a certain amount of time. Yet each one of us only has a set amount of hours in any given day. So we can boil it all down to a mathematical equation….. As your business grows you personally do not have the time to complete all these jobs. Moreover, if you try to do everything, there is a strong likelihood your service or product will suffer.

To succeed you must put in place a structure to support growth. One of the easiest ways to do this is to outsource!

The problem is many businesses fall down because they fail to identify when this particular moment arrives. Instead, they simply modify their current approach. This means they make sure that they get everything completed that needs to be doing, but no more. It’s not as if they’ve refused to expand, it’s that they create boundaries around their organisation preventing them from growing.

This is known as a failure to outsource, a failure to appreciate that expansion is not physically or practically possible unless you delegate.

The A-maz-ing Results Of Delegation

It’s amazing what happens when you finally decide that you have to delegate. Look at it like saving for retirement. If you put a little bit away on a regular basis it can compound and before you know it you have a substantial nest egg. In business terms, if you allocate some of your funds to outsourcing to a Virtual Business Manager Virtual Assistant you’re investing in your future. You release valuable time enabling you to expand and grow.

You may not end up with a Google sized organisation, but when you finally realise that delegation is crucial, the sky truly is the limit.

How To Onboard a Virtual Assistant

How To Onboard a Virtual Assistant

Excellent news! You have decided that you are ready to take the leap, free up some of your precious time and outsource some of your work to a Virtual Resource. But, how do you get started working with them? How do you onboard a Virtual Resource*

(*A virtual resource could be a Virtual Assistant -VA or Virtual Business Manager-  VBM? To understand the difference, please see my blog “Virtual Business Manager or Virtual Assistant, Which Do You Need”)

 

Questions To Ask Yourself

Usually, when someone is considering outsourcing the question, they ask themselves is “exactly how do I find a Virtual Resource that will best suit my company?” But that is only half the story!

Right from the start, you should also be asking yourself “exactly how can I successfully onboard them to ensure they are equipped to best support me?”.

You definitely need to follow up your hiring process with a structured onboarding process; otherwise, you could limit the advantages that using a virtual resource will bring to your business.

In my experience, an excellent Virtual Resource will usually take the lead with regards to the onboarding process and proactively ask for the information they need. However, it would help if you prepared in advance to provide this in a timely manner. If your budget limits you to the lower end of the virtual resource spectrum, then you would need to think in more detail about the information that will be required and the onboarding process.

 

Onboarding Your Virtual Resource

At this point you will have already had an initial discovery call, or maybe even had a formal interviewing process. Either way, you have decided on the specific person you want as your new Virtual Resource. Likewise, it would help if you had spent time looking at your business goals and determining the tasks you want to outsource. So, now is the time to provide the tools they are going to need to do the work—Now is the time to start the onboarding process.

The process you use when onboarding a Virtual Business Manager (VBM) or Virtual Assistant (VA) can make or break your working partnership with them. As such, it can determine how successful your outsourcing will eventually be.

While an experienced Virtual Resource will guide you, it is still essential to think about the process in advance, make sure you get it right.

Your VBM or VA will have the qualifications, skills and also experience you require; however, they will not be qualified to help you with your company’s needs immediately!    Why not?   Because to truly fulfil their potential to support your business, you need to provide a helping hand. You need to equip them with the correct tools, knowledge, and information that make your business a success.

Your outsourced support needs three vital things—

  1. The right tools to do the job,
  2. Your time and
  3. The knowledge they need to succeed.

 

The Right Tools

Let’s start at the beginning…. The first step of the onboarding process is to make sure YOU are clear about the tools your new virtual resource will need. This includes every relevant tool, platform or system they need to do the work. This could consist of any or all of the below. As well as any bespoke tools you use in your business or industry.

  • Email accounts
  • Calendars
  • Productivity suites, for example, G Suite or Office 365
  • Office collaboration tools, for example, Microsoft Teams, Slack or Trello
  • Online storage space and access to back-up systems, such as Dropbox, OneDrive or SharePoint
  • Business administration systems or CRM platforms be they bespoke or off the shelf systems like HubSpot, Zoho or Capsule.
  • Social media accounts – including
    • Scheduling tools
    • Resource websites, such as those for stock photo collections
    • Research portals you may use for example Feedly
  • Internet sites and link to any relevant training courses or training software.
  • Email management systems, such as Leadpages or Mailchimp
  • Any specialist platforms, systems or tools that they will need to use.
  • A safe and secure password management system, such as LastPass.
  • Templates

Your VBM/VA will most likely need access to several of these tools. So, make sure you set them up with profiles and provide both the accounts and login details in advance. However, you should always be mindful to only give your virtual resource the minimum level of access they need; you should always maintain ultimate control of your accounts.

 

 Give Them Your Time

Although you may want your Virtual Resource to hit the ground running, you need to accept they are going to need time to learn precisely how your business operates. They need to understand how the systems you use work, plus the processes you wish them to utilise and follow.

While it is advisable to can prepare onboarding materials such as

  • Standard operating processes,
  • Step by step instructions,
  • ” How-to” videos or have
  • Zoom calls to talk through the various software and processes.

They will undoubtedly need time to settle in the role. It takes time to work out and understand precisely how you prefer to work and communicate. Your working partnership with your Virtual Business Manager or Virtual Assistant ought to be a long and beneficial one. Hence, it’s worth your while giving them the time to fully understand exactly how you do things from a business and personal point of view.

Depending on the level of virtual resource you employ, there may be an additional requirement for them to work closely with you on business essential projects. If you are working with a Virtual Business Manager or specialised Virtual Assistant, they are likely to be able to offer suggestions to improve your processes, systems and workflows. Hence, if your business plan is to have your virtual resource be an integral part of your overall team, you need to give them time at the beginning of the engagement to learn. They need to truly understand the nature of your business, the operating processes within your business and the role they are expected to play in the future of your business before they can offer ideas.

 

Give Them The Knowledge.

While you can give new Virtual Resources time as well as the right tools and systems to do the work, it is the knowledge and understanding that acts as the glue to making the relationship successful. If you do not provide them with the relevant information to do the job, then they are not going to succeed!

So the next question is, what information do they require? There is no one size fits all answer for this as it will depend on the nature of the work you are outsourcing. However, some examples of typical requirements are below:-

  • Passwords to all the systems, platforms and websites they will be using.
  • Personal information, such as credit card information, addresses and contact details, if they are making purchases on your behalf.
  • Your objectives in outsourcing, as well as the company strategy for the work they are performing
  • Your business values and culture. What your business stands for a why (your mission and vision statements) and your USP in the market
  • Any policies or procedures that they need to adhere to, e.g. if they are sick is the expectation they notify you.
  • Data-processing information. Even if you are utilising an experienced virtual resource with ICO accreditation, it is still worth re-iterating your expectations and discussing safe storage and information disposal.
  • Branding Standards and tone of voice

The more information and details you can provide to your VBM or VA at the start of the engagement, the more equipped they will be to support your business objectives in the longer term. While they are not an employee per se, a virtual resource can end up being an essential part of your team. Someone that shares your business vision and supports you to reach your business goals. Therefore, it makes sense to make this initial time investment and be as open with them as you can.

 

 The Onboarding Process is Vital To Success

Put simple, the onboarding process is vital to the success of your outsourcing investment.

If you onboard your new virtual resource successfully, they will soon understand your personal needs, as well as the broader business needs and objectives. They will be able to provide you with essential support and potentially introduce new ways of working and new systems that will propel your business to the next level. Hence it is well worth investing time and resources at the start to get it right!

Based on an article from VACT owner Amanda Johnson

 

Bravapro | Swindon Virtual Business Manager | Contact

To book a no-obligation Discovery Call with Joanne from Bravapro click below.

How To Maintain Your Sanity At Christmas

How To Maintain Your Sanity At Christmas

Summer is well and truly over, and with the lockdown, it was a bit of a ‘wet weekend’. So, while it is a little early to be mentioning Christmas at least, it gives us something to look forward to. For many as the holiday season approaches the amount of “pressure” they feel increases exponentially.

Of course, it shouldn’t be this way. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of year when we take time to celebrate and get together. Perhaps the overt commercialism of the season is what causes the blood pressure to rise.

However, the fact is there is a whole lot more to do at this time of year. One of which is finding time to communicate with all the people in your life, business and personal.

Whether we like it or not, we are really “expected” to reach out to others in all walks of life at this time of year, which means that we have to think about what gift is the most appropriate for business contacts. We also have to try and remember what gift we have previously given to other family members so that we don’t make the mistake of getting them something that they already have!

 

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

The holiday season can be a great draw on your most valuable commodity – TIME. You might have to make special dinner reservations, special travel plans, send out gifts and greeting cards to all of your customers and even plan an office party. Even preparing your holiday to-do list can take the time you just haven’t got. All in all, this can lead to stress and to other people asking why your behaviour is more like Scrooge than Santa Claus.

 

Your Very Own Christmas Elf

A Virtual Business Manager can be your virtual “Christmas Elf” in many respects. They can help you to source unique and thought-provoking gifts for your customers. Hence, enabling you to present yourself well in the eyes of business contacts.

Ask the virtual business manager to manage your Christmas this year. To do all the research necessary to find and then order your personalise gifts and cards. Once you have set a budget and given directions all those gifts for friends, family, colleagues, employees, customers, and suppliers can be outsourced, leaving you to relax and enjoy the fact you will be everybody’s good books.

 

Office Christmas Party

Now Christmas is sorted, and all those gifts have been taken care of, what about the office party?

After a tough year, you will want to reward your loyal staff for their hard work. However, who is going to answer the phones when the office party is taking place? Who is responsible for decorating the room and for ordering the food and drink? How can it work if some employees are still working from home? Again, your virtual business manager can save the day, after all, it’s been a tough year, and your employees will appreciate that extra thought.

 

A Virtual Business Manager Is Not Just For Christmas

Of course, you don’t only send gifts during the holiday season. When you have an excellent working relationship with your virtual business manager, they can continuously be on the lookout for that special type of gift that’s very difficult to source. They can be an additional resource to help you find a truly inspiring gift for someone special in your life. Do not underestimate the look in the eyes of the recipient when you present them with such a gift. They don’t need to know that your trusted virtual assistant was the one who came up with the inspiration – it can be your secret!

Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager: What’s the difference?

Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager: What’s the difference?

If your business is to scale up, you will almost certainly need to be  hire or outsource some of the repetitive administrative tasks and managerial tasks. This will allow you to focus entirely on the growth of your business and bringing in the money. Once you have made the decision to outsource some of your workload virtually, then the biggest question is whether to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) or a Virtual Business Manager (VBM).

If you are not sure what the difference is between a Virtual Business Manager and a Virtual Assistant, I have outlined below the top 7 comparisons to help you determine which would be best for your business:

 Virtual Business Manager vs Virtual Assistant

1. Roles:

Virtual Assistants are assigned work or projects by the client, and they work remotely to complete the project within the agreed timelines.

Virtual Business Manager assists with the day to day operation of the business. They take over the managerial role of the business owner in performing the assigned roles and act in their place. This can, therefore, involve:-

  •  Management of the entire workforce including virtual assistants,
  • Overseeing all projects,
  • Tracking progress,
  • Analysing reports,
  • Contacting clients, and
  • Organizing deals, among others.

2. Duties:

Virtual Assistants handle specific administrative work, which may form part of a wider project or strategy. Examples of typical tasks include:-

  •  Personal assistance,
  • Content creation,
  • Email management,
  • Calendar management
  • Social media management,
  • Customer service,
  • Research

Typically, VA’s only manage themselves, however some VAs do have associates that they can call when necessary.

Virtual Business Managers handle various managerial duties. For instance their responsibilities can include:

Project Management:

Virtual Business Managers can organize and plan projects, create budgets & schedules, monitor the projects against the baselines, generate analytical reports, and make managerial decisions.

Team Management:

The Virtual Business Managers typically has prior managerial experience. Hence, can be tasked with supporting you during the whole employee cycle. From recruiting your team, outsourcing to experts, orientate new members, track the team members’ progress & outputs, organize team meetings with the business owner, among others.

Business Management:

Virtual Business Managers can review and automate business systems & processes, outline new systems and procedures of operations, manage financial expenditures and income, handle tax, licenses, and insurance issues.

Launch Management:

Virtual Business Managers can oversee the organization of virtual business events and product launches. This includes creating plans, sales and landing pages for the launch, and mobilizing the responsible teams.

Management of Public Relations:

The Virtual Business Managers can oversee the public relations for the business, such as coordination with event organizers, preparing press releases & bios, highlighting new networking opportunities for the client, creating itineraries, and any required materials.

Time Management:

Creating alternative efficient systems to save time, implementing lean operations, and preparing schedules to maximize productivity

Management of Income Streams:

They manage and create new opportunities & systems for multiple income streams such as memberships, loyalty programs, and autopayments, among others.

Website & Social Media Management:

They oversee, review, and analyze data on your social media platforms for consistency, relevance, and performance. They also oversee updates on your blogposts & websites, as well as search engine optimization.

Marketing & Customer Relationship Management:

The Virtual Business Managers can handle the creation & automation of newsletters, email marketing campaigns, implementation of the marketing strategy on all platforms, and identify new marketing opportunities.

3. Work Approach:

The approaches to work between a Virtual Assistants and a Virtual Business Managers are certainly different.

A virtual assistant work is reactive. They follow instructions provided by client in order to complete the assigned project. Over time, they may understand the clients needs in their specific area and hence make suggestions for improvement in that area. However these suggestions are limited to the scope of thier work.

Virtual Business Manager’s approach is proactive. Actively providing suggestions of directions and solutions to the client based on the business’ vision and goals. The VBM identifies new opportunities for the business in the various aspects they oversee, as opposed to the VA who only delivers on the client to assign the work or project.

4. Area of Focus:

Virtual Assistant’s area of focus is in the completion of the tasks or project assigned to them in time. Their scope only lies within the duties assigned to them.

Virtual Business Manager’s focused on a wider scope of work within the business. VBMs is usually multi-skilled and hence can carry out the work themselves, if required, however, there true value comes from their prior management experience. Hence are able to also plan, strategize, organize, coordinate and monitor all aspects of your business. Ensuring your goals are met within time, budget and to the required standards. VBMs are overseers, as well as doers, and thus focus primarily the management and strategy as well

5. Level of Responsibility:

A Virtual Assistant only takes responsibility for the work assigned to them.

The Virtual Business Manager is a right-hand person to the business owners. The actions and decisions of the VBM impact the entire business and its operations.

6. Measure of Performance

Performance is based on quality and timely completion of the assigned tasks.

The success is measured based on the performance, efficiency and general success of the business.

7. Maximum Number of Active Clients

Virtual Assistants have a lower level of responsibility and work on projects of a lower complexity. As such, they are usually free to work with around 10-12 clients at a time. However, this would depend on the tasks and projects allocated, as well as their speed of delivery required.

As a result of the wider scope and level of responsibility borne by the Virtual Business Manager, they usually have to limit themselves to a maximum of 3 clients or businesses at a time. Dedicating themselves to a smaller number of clients enables a VBM to understand the intricasies of the business and bring valuable suggestion to drive the business forward to the owner .

 

Virtual Business Manager or Virtual Assistant….The Verdict

In conclusion, the decision to hire a Virtual Assistant or a Virtual Business Manager depends on the structure of your business, the kind of responsibilities you wish to outsource and the level of input you want to dedicate to the outsourcing.

If you are looking to simply outsource a few tasks to be completed remotely by an independent contractor with specialised skills, then hire a Virtual Assistant.

However, if you are looking for a strategic partner to oversee your business operations, manage your all your projects, proactively move your business form and potentially manage your staff or VAs then hire a Virtual Business Manager.

Either way, the decision lies with you, you know your business best and what resource you need to move you forward.

 

 

Have you decided a Virtual Business Manager is what you need?

Then book in a no-obligation consultant call and we can talk about how I can support you.

How To Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed

How To Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed

As a business owner you possibly find yourself managing all kind of jobs, often with moving priorities. You may get to end of your day and wonder whether you have actually made any kind of progress, or achieved anything! This can leave you really feeling aggravated as well as overloaded. Here are some tips to help beat overwhelm as well as achieve efficiency…

 Top Tips To Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed 

 1. Know How You Spend Your Time

Lost time is the significance of inefficacy. This commonly happens as a result of procrastination, distractions or inefficient working practices. The primary step to coming to be a lot more effective is to understand just how you spend your time. This can be analysed quite quickly, by tracking the moment you spend on jobs as well as in between jobs. Tracking can be done either by hand or with a time-tracking application such as Toggl. This simple exercise can also be executed by your team and will certainly help you find where time is wasted in your business and also where enhancements need to be made..

 

2. Processes

Recorded procedures throughout many areas of your business will certainly help boost effectiveness. It saves you and your team ‘re-inventing the wheel’ each time you complete a task. For example, ensuring customer-facing processes are in place, such as customer on-boarding and after-sales care, will vastly improve your efficiency. How? will it means you are able to follow procedure, and use defined templates rather than spend time thinking through and implementing your actions and responses each time, so all that’s necessary is to quickly customise, where necessary.

 

3. Tools

Readily offered online software application will greatly enhance the everyday functional performance of vital areas of your business. There are tools that streamline numerous business areas, for example, client support, project management, accounts, payments and also group communication

 

4. Prioritise Your To-Dos

Focus is in, and multitasking is out! Trying to do too much will just cause you to get stressed out and feel overwhelmed. Leaving you feeling like you have achieved very little. You need to work with your priorities and focus on the most important tasks. Take a look at your to-do list and pick three main tasks to achieve each day. You’re likely to get more done in this manner, as it’s less overwhelming and it’s then a bonus if you manage to complete more.

Another very simple yet effective habit is to plan your to-do’s for the next day, as the last task you do each working day. This means you set your intention and awake with a firm plan for the day ahead.

 

5. Break It Down

People feel overwhelmed and can become inefficient when faced with a large task. However, breaking the task down into smaller achievable steps makes everything more manageable. Additionally, it helps you strategise and see your direction clearly, which can increase your motivation in a big way 🙂

 

 6. Embrace Change

If the method chosen to complete a task continues to achieve the required outcome, oftentimes people resist changing it. However, if the same outcome can be achieved with considerably less effort, in a fraction of the time, therefore making you much more efficient… change should be encouraged!

 

7. Delegate

Many entrepreneurs find delegation challenging because at some point they’ve carried out all the roles.

But, you need to let go – for the sake of your business, for team retention and to allow you and your business to grow!

As a proactive resource dedicated to supporting your business with the exact level of service you require, you can be ultra-confident that your Virtual Business Manager or Virtual Assistant will take on individual tasks, projects or entire roles as necessary to improve your business operations, increase efficiency and help you grow your business.

 

Book a 30 minute no-obligation consultation today to dramatically improve the efficiency in your business.