The Benefits of Outsourcing for Small Businesses

Posted in Outsourcing with tags on November 24, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Please see just a few of the advantages that can be gained from outsourcing below:

Control capital costs.

Cost-cutting may not be the only reason to outsource, but it’s certainly a major factor. Outsourcing converts fixed costs into variable costs, releases capital for investment elsewhere in your business, and allows you to avoid large expenditures in the early stages of your business. Outsourcing can also make your firm more attractive to investors, since you’re able to pump more capital directly into revenue-producing activities.

Increase efficiency.

Companies that do everything themselves have much higher research, development, marketing, and distribution expenses, all of which must be passed on to customers. An outside provider’s cost structure and economy of scale can give your firm an important competitive advantage.

Reduce labour costs.

Hiring and training staff for short-term or peripheral projects can be very expensive, and temporary employees don’t always live up to your expectations. Outsourcing lets you focus your human resources where you need them most.

Start new projects quickly.

A good outsourcing firm has the resources to start a project right away. Handling the same project in-house might involve taking weeks or months to hire the right people, train them, and provide the support they need. And if a project requires major capital investments (such as building a series of distribution centers), the startup process can be even more difficult.

Focus on your core business.

Every business has limited resources, and every manager has limited time and attention. Outsourcing can help your business to shift its focus from peripheral activities toward work that serves the customer, and it can help managers set their priorities more clearly.

Level the playing field.

Most small firms simply can’t afford to match the in-house support services that larger companies maintain. Outsourcing can help small firms act “big” by giving them access to the same economies of scale, efficiency, and expertise that large companies enjoy.

Reduce risk.

Every business investment carries a certain amount of risk. Markets, competition, government regulations, financial conditions, and technologies all change very quickly. Outsourcing providers assume and manage this risk for you, and they generally are much better at deciding how to avoid risk in their areas of expertise.

http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/workforce-management-hiring/1084-3.html

Outsourcing To A Virtual Assistant

Posted in Office Management, Outsourcing, Virtual Assistance with tags , on November 23, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Outsourcing is the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources. Small business owners can outsource non-core functions to specialized and efficient service providers. The difference between simply subcontracting and outsourcing is that outsourcing involves the wholesale restructuring of the corporation around core competencies and outside relationships.

 As a consequence, a new class of skilled entrepreneurs has emerged — the virtual assistants.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative and/or technical services. Utilising advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his/her area of expertise from his/her own office.

A VA completes your projects using his or her own equipment, and carries out the work through e-mail, fax, telephone and postal service. Therefore, the location of your VA is not important. This gives you the liberty to look for professionals best suited to your needs located anywhere on the globe. Since they’re paid only for time-on-task, businesses can hire several VAs in dispersed locations and have 24-hour support — paying far less than what a permanent or temporary employee would cost for such comprehensive assistance.

The services offered by each VA differ according to his/her skills. The list of services includes general administration services, database and Website development, graphic design, Internet research, sales support, presentation preparation, telephone answering, bill payments, travel arrangements, bookkeeping, desktop publishing, computer training, medical/legal transcription … the list is endless!

Why outsource the work to a VA?

The primary benefit of outsourcing is economising since the VA can do it cheaper. VAs only charge for actual time worked.

By outsourcing to a VA rather than hiring an in-office assistant, you will never need to pay employment insurance, vacation pay, sick pay, or contribute to retirement plans and worker’s compensation. A VA has his/her own hardware, software, training, etc., thereby reducing your capital investment. So there is no wear and tear on your office equipment or a need for special equipment.

Engaging a VA gives you time, allowing you to do what you do best. You can focus on delivering the higher value and service to your customers. As skilled VAs are chosen to perform particular tasks, they can do it better because they do it all the time. It is their business.

Like you, VAs are entrepreneurs and understand the needs of businesses today — ensuring the success of their clients. VAs value each and every client; it is because of these clients that VAs can ensure the success of their own businesses.

The resources of the VA can give your business access to technical advances you would not normally have access to. With modern day communication, projects can be accomplished without ever having to meet the client face to face. With the growing ease of the Internet, finding a VA almost anywhere in the world is quite simple to accomplish — more so in the developed nations like USA, Canada, Australia, UK and many other European countries where the VA industry is highly organised.

http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20031027_va.htm

The emergence of Virtual Assistants

Posted in Outsourcing, Virtual Assistance with tags , , on November 19, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Virtual Assistants are typically professional level people who have left the confines of corporate business to start their own businesses. Virtual Assistants are independent contractors who work from home providing a variety of services to businesses.

This trend allows these highly skilled professionals to bring their knowledge to bear for a whole range of companies that would otherwise not have access. While VA’s were once limited to more administrative tasks, they now encompass the entire spectrum of professional skills. If it can be done from home, there is a VA doing it.

What companies are starting to appreciate is that Virtual Assistants cost companies a fraction of the cost of actual hires. A company employing Virtual Assistants can utilise the services of a whole range of professionals instead of having to choose which specialty is needed most as the company grows.

For the cost of one salaried Administrative Assistant, a business owner could utilise approximately 1400 hours of assistance divided among any number of top professionals. Utilising Virtual Assistants allows businesses access to the exact services that they need, it also allows businesses to shift gears more quickly and efficiently by investing in growth rather than payroll because they are paying only for the time spent on their project. There is no longer a reason to worry about taxes, benefits, vacation pay, and time wasted by the water cooler.

More and more businesses are coming round to the idea of Virtual Assistance; it’s a win-win for everyone involved. It gives businesses the help that they need without the hassle of hiring a full-time employee.

www.powerhomebiz.com/082005/va.htm

Office organisation tips

Posted in Office Management with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by virtualcitypa

With the ever increasing workloads that companies are putting on employees, staying organised is vital. Here are some tips on how you can have better office organisation, more productivity and a little peace of mind.

1. Know the times of day that you’re at your best

We all have times of the day that we’re more productive than others. Use those better periods of the day to spend on the toughest tasks you need to accomplish. Leave the easier things for the times you’re less energetic.

For example, if you’re not a morning person then don’t schedule an important meeting early in the morning if possible. Push it back to 10:00 a.m. or later. Using your time wisely is one of the keys to better office organisation.

When you’re not feeling your best it’s nearly impossible to get anything of substance accomplished. This is where flex schedules can be a big asset. If your office doesn’t have that, talk to the boss about it and try selling him on the idea.

2. Deadlines are good

Set deadlines for yourself on important tasks. By doing this you’ll notice yourself getting more done in less time. Even if you really don’t have a deadline for a certain project, set one anyway. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you can be with just this tip.

3. Control your day instead of your day controlling you.

Think about how much time you lose every day due to office distractions. Perhaps its emails that co-workers send, others who pop into your office and proceed to camp out for 15 minutes and the list goes on.

Let others know that unless their needs are an emergency, that you’re busy and don’t want to be disturbed. That’s not being rude, it’s being productive.

Every time you become distracted, not only do you lose the time during the distraction, but it’s difficult to get re-focused again. When this happens throughout the day it makes getting anything accomplished nearly impossible.

4. Cut the fat.

No, I’m not talking about a diet. Good office organisation is going to require the elimination of these things which are not of any value.

For example, if you are writing out reports that other co-workers don’t need, then stop doing it. Put out one report and send it to everyone by email.

Get with your boss and discuss the areas that you are spending unproductive time in. Let them know you could be utilising that time on the areas you are strongest in.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/123924/office_organization_tips_to_being_more.html

Office essentials checklist

Posted in Office Management with tags , , on November 12, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Whether you’re equipping your first office or just re-stocking your current one, this checklist will help you determine and track which furniture, equipment, technologies and supplies you need to help your business run more smoothly.

Office Furniture and Equipment

  • Desk
  • Comfortable chair
  • File cabinets
  • Overhead and work lighting
  • Client seating
  • Fireproof safe
  • Desktop and pocket calculators
  • Bookcases
  • Postage meter
  • Worktable (s)
  • Office decorations
  • Labeling machine
  • Wall whiteboard and markers
  • Radio
  • Paper shredder
  • Photocopier
  • Wastepaper basket
  • Recycling bin
  • Alarm system
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First-aid kit

Computer Hardware and Accessories

  • Desktop computer and monitor
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Printer
  • Modem
  • Notebook computer
  • CD writer
  • PowerPoint projector
  • Digital camera
  • Handheld organiser
  • Surge protector
  • Computer locks
  • Scanner

Computer Software

  • Word processing software
  • Virus protection software
  • Accounting software
  • Desktop publishing software
  • Contact management software
  • Website building and maintenance software
  • Payment processing software
  • E-commerce software
  • Inventory management software

Communications

  • Telephone line
  • Internet connection
  • Toll-free line
  • Desk telephone
  • Fax machine
  • Cordless telephone
  • Answering machine/service
  • Cordless headset
  • Speakerphone
  • Tape recorder
  • Mobile phone(s)

General Office Supplies

  • Business cards
  • Envelopes
  • Stationery
  • Imprinted advertising specialties
  • Postage stamps
  • Printer cartridges
  • CD and USB memory sticks
  • Pencils and pens
  • Printer paper
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Fax paper
  • Notepads
  • File folders
  • Stapler
  • Scissors

This checklist was revised from 202 Services You Can Sell for Big Profits by James Stephenson.

PR for small companies too?

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , on September 4, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Size really doesn’t matter when it comes to PR. Any size company can benefit from publicity, but the practice is commonly misunderstood in the business arena. Most entrepreneurs think of it as something that only large corporations have a budget for and don’t realise the power of publicity and what it can do for a business to blow it through the roof.

Marsha Friedman of Event Management Services, says that when a story is written in a newspaper or magazine, it lends credibility to you and your company’s products and services beyond anything you could attain with advertising. And, it provides immediate positioning of you as a recognised expert in your field.

Give away information that people normally would pay you for and submit it to daily and weekly newspapers as well as other newsletters in your area.

You may think that giving away valuable advice will hurt you by tipping off your competition, but it is quite the contrary. It will establish you as someone who is a specialist on the subject and you will find that people will start to seek you out for business. People will be more likely to hire you if the media is writing about you or quoting you as an authority.

“Anything written is perceived to be true,” she advises, “therefore articles you’ve written that get published or articles with quotes from you, give you immediate positioning as the “go-to guy” in your field.”

A few different ways to approach the print medium are:

1) Write a “tips” or “how to” article – this is one of the best ways to get free publicity in newspapers and magazines. Offer lots of valuable advice and make sure it’s written well enough for a publication to run it without having to make any edits. Be sure to include your credentials and other boastful information to support your position as an expert – but be careful not to make the article a promotional piece. Editors are looking for content that will be informative to their readers, not a brag piece about you or your company.

2) Write an “opinion letter” – take a stand on a controversial issue or comment on an issue in the news and sent it to the Editor of your local paper – or to the Opinion Editor at other newspapers around the country. Don’t forget to put your credentials at the bottom of the letter so you get the recognition of being a published expert.

3) Create photo opportunities – local newspapers are always looking for interesting photos and images. Create a local event – a fundraiser, an art show, a local or national contest, etc. Then make sure to invite the local press to attend. But even if they don’t show up, get them a photo and press release right away while it’s still news!

4) Recycle your print coverage – turn one media hit into multiple hits by sending a reprint of a weekly newspaper story about you or your company to an editor at a daily newspaper, along with a pitch letter offering an angle different from the angle the weekly pursued. Send articles in trade publications to editors anywhere. Post articles on your website.

Marsha Friedman is the CEO of Event Management Services, Inc., (www.event-management.com) a leading US publicity firm.

Karla Jo Helms is the Vice President Public Relations for PostcardMania, (http://www.PostcardMania.com) named one of the fastest growing privately-owned companies by Inc Magazine

Budgeting effectively

Posted in Finance with tags , , , on September 2, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Business budgeting is very important in every company regardless of its size. Good business budgeting plan can business owners and executives achieve their goals and stay in competition despite difficult or unexpected financial situations.

Business budgeting is basically financial planning. It can be simple or complex depending on the nature of your business but it is best if you keep the budget presentation simple and clear. Above all, use caution when creating your budget. Make sure all information is accurate and up-to-date for effective business budgeting.

Below are several budgeting tips that you can try:

• Be realistic

Business budgeting should be based on numbers that is backed up by sensible expectations. These expectations should be based on both previous business financial performance and projected business developments.

• Business budgeting should be time-bound

Business budgeting should be prepared under a specific timeframe. The budget is most of the time based on the company’s fiscal year or you can also project a budget on a monthly or quarterly basis.

It is recommended that you break down your budget on a monthly basis even if you have already prepared it on your business’ fiscal year. To make your business budgeting easy, consider using a financial program or software.

• Make an estimate on your income and expenses

Business budgeting relies on your expenses and income within a specified timeframe. Your income should include the payments gathered from sales, interests, accounts receivable and other sources. For the company expenses, all funds that leave the company should be included. Such expenses include payroll, materials, utilities, real estate so on and so forth.
Regardless of how cautiously you plan, there is not doubt that you will come across with unexpected expenses as you run your business. This makes it very important for you to save some allowance for them in your business financial plan.

Also, it is a good thing to consider the time when both income and operating costs will be incurred. For instance, if you run a business that is seasonal, there are months wherein your sales will definitely go down. In this case, it is important to make sure to adjust the budget accordingly for the lean months.

These are just some business budgeting tips that you can try. To be honest, business budgeting is not easy but if you master it, you can be sure that you will encounter lesser financial problems in your company.

http://www.linkroll.com/budgeting/tips-for-an-effective-business-budgeting.php