One of the pitfalls of entrepreneurship, is that the entrepreneurs try to wear too many hats. Many find themselves juggling the tasks of a full time receptionist and account manager whilst they are snowed under with administrative tasks – and that’s before they do the work that actually brings in the money at the end of the month (we won’t mention the never-ending invoice-chasing).
On the other hand, hiring full time staff can come with its own paper work and legal headaches. In addition, if your work is seasonal or just unpredictable, it can seem like a waste of money to take on, for example, a full time receptionist.
There is of course an alternative – outsourcing. Touted by Tim Ferris in his famous book “The 4-Hour Work Week”, outsourcing tasks such as data entry, scheduling and research to a virtual assistant is a great way to free up more time to get on with the work that actually pays the bills at the end of the month. You can also pay virtual assistants per task, rather than with a monthly salary, making the whole process highly efficient in terms of finances.
The key to hiring a virtual assistant for administrative tasks, is to start with 2 or 3 on a trial period and then after vetting them extensively, choose the one who you feel performs the best. Once you have invested a few hours researching and trailing potential virtual assistants, you will free up a significant amount of time each week, for getting on with what you do best.
Once you have a trustworthy virtual assistant on board, you are able to do less work yourself, whilst providing a better service to your clients and customers. For example, using a virtual assistant you could provide a 24/7 contact point. With assistants available to hire all over the world, you can hire one in a different time zone, available to answer emails and even calls whilst you sleep.
Outsourcing Marketing Tasks
Assistants are typically used to carry out administrative tasks such as filtering out unwanted emails, scheduling appointments and handling travel arrangements. However, you can also hire a freelance expert to carry out tasks related to marketing, including social media. Again, it is important to make sure you are hiring someone who is able to represent your business accurately and appropriately on social media.
A good starting point might be a website such as PeopleperHour which has a large inventory of social media experts from across the U.S. as well as the rest of the World. In fact, any aspect of your online marketing can be done, with outsourcing. Rather than hiring an agency, using a freelancer can result in the same quality of work, for a much lower cost.
Phone Answering Service
Using a phone answering service can significantly increase productivity by reducing interruptions during the working day. Without having to worry about missing important calls, you can focus on the work at hand. A high-quality virtual receptionist should be able to handle all of your calls in the same manner as an in-house receptionist would. At Moneypenny for example, they ensure that your dedicated receptionist knows your business to the finest detail, so that they can handle customer calls and sales inquiries in a polite and highly professional manner.
Using a 24/7 answering service is also a great idea, if you want to be able to ‘switch off’ after a hard day’s work. For example, you can instruct your virtual receptionist to only put calls through to you, in case of an emergency – giving you the peace of mind that everything else will be dealt with; so that you can spend quality time with your friends and family; or just get on with some additional work!
Mobile Phone Apps
As well as using outsourcing, using mobile phone apps can have a huge impact on the efficiency of the working day. For example HelloSign is able to handle critical business contracts with its e-signing solution that uses SSL encryption. In addition, apps such as Wave are fantastic for sending invoices and keeping track of overall finances.
Whatever you decide to outsource, remember, with technology, you can work smarter, not just harder!