Just about every business today needs every competitive advantage it can get, and every tool available to help with its success. This is especially true for small businesses and those run out of a person’s home, and these can truly benefit from a 24-hour answering service. It’s easy to dismiss the need for a 24-hour answering service for your company if it’s small or you’re self-employed, and if you assume that a voicemail on your cell phone is enough for you.
But fewer people want to listen to voice mail greetings and prompts, deal with repeated password and PIN entries and leave voice messages, when they are making calls on their mobile phones.
Customers who need your product or service are important contributors to company growth. Missing their call is not an option. A live answering service is a reliable way to make sure every incoming call is answered and every customer is given prompt customer service. You need a phone service that fits your company dynamics. A live answering service will handle your incoming calls that you otherwise would not be able to answer. A live telephone answering service can be so much more than just telephone agents taking your calls in a distant call center. That’s one of their expected duties, but today’s answering solutions have moved well past that simple definition and can now perform a multitude of useful tasks, just falling short of making your early morning coffee. Costs have tumbled too, and the quality of customer service has risen significantly, which is always a welcome direction as far as both matters are concerned.
Our answering service for small businesses allows businesses to keep their costs low without losing touch with their customers.
The success of the virtual office in recent years has been quite remarkable and many companies are changing from the traditional office set up to a non-traditional one. Businesses are run in different styles, people have different preferences and so each business is likely to have a favored style of an office set up. However, in order to make informed choices as to which kind of office setup business owners should best use, it is necessary to have a deeper understanding of how the two styles of office management work. Both office concepts have different advantages and suit special circumstances.
The traditional brick and mortar office is located at a central physical address and every morning employees have to report to the office, take up their positions and get to work. In the evening, the office usually closed and everyone is dismissed. A virtual office, on the other hand, is located online and may be operated from anywhere. Taking advantage of a virtual office service provider means that you can get potentially prodigious address at a fraction of the cost of having your own premises. Here, employees work from their homes, deliver work online and follow everything else regarding the office from their remote locations.
The traditional office setting implicates that employees report to work at a set time and leave at another specified time. For many businesses, it is usually 8 am to 5 pm. The employees are expected to have finished the work that was assigned to them within this period of time. This a sharp distinction to the virtual office setting where the employee has a personal customized working schedule. As long as the work is submitted within the period of time as specified by the employer employees are able to set their own working hours. They can work during the day and engage in other activities other than work, and this would worry the employer the least. As employees are able to prioritize their working hours and produce quality at their best available times, this will result in higher productivity.
Traditional brick and mortar offices keep their information and data in physical files that are kept on shelves in the office. In virtual office settings, in comparison, the information is stored as data files in the online office systems (usually backed up with hard drives) and made accessible to those people who are authorized. It is therefore easier to access information in a virtual set up.
In the traditional office set up, clients and business partners have to come to the office to sign up papers and to discus face to face with their other partners to agree on several things. In a virtual office, the clients mainly engage in conversations with their service providers and business partners through technology systems such as email and telephone. Their queries are responded to by the relevant subdivision and responses sent to them within shorter periods of time. People do not need to travel to any locations to discuss anything and do not have to show up at offices to finalize deals.
The use of a virtual office is not a universal panacea but there are many good reasons why they really make sense for many kinds of business. Please feel free to contact us for more information about our different virtual office and business service packages!
Many attorneys come out of law school and do not join a large law firm. In fact, 68% of all attorneys in private practice in the U.S. are sole practitioners or in firms with ten or fewer attorneys. These small practices, along with accountants, entrepreneurs, and other startup companies are always looking for that competitive edge that will help grow their business into something renowned and distinguished. One of the biggest obstacles these small businesses have to overcome is the need for bringing in new clients all of the time while still maintaining the needs of all current clients. All of the time spent talking to potential clients on the phone and in meetings trying to sell yourself is time that will not be billable. Larger firms have a lot less time that is not billable because of the full-time office staff that help with mundane details like scheduling and routine questions and allow the lawyers to spend more time in the courtroom and maintaining current client’s needs. All of that time spent by the attorneys is billable, resulting in a higher revenue stream while not losing and potential clients. As opposed to a sole practitioner, who needs to spend a lot of time on both the maintenance and the recruiting, so one of those crucial aspects of a growing business is going to suffer, if not both.
One very helpful solution for those sole practitioners and entrepreneurs is a virtual office. Virtual offices provide these small businesses with the appearance and the functionality of a large, fully staffed firm. A virtual secretary alone would be able to handle all incoming phone calls, answering questions any current or potential client may have, leaving much more of the attorney’s time to take care of clients in a way that only he or she can. Also, virtual offices can provide you with a physical conference room in a big building, charging you hourly for a meeting room or an office, while giving the client the impression of a very successful and credible business person. This is a great alternative to paying for a full time office because being a sole practitioner, you can pay for the space you rarely need on a by-need basis. No wasted money, no wasted space. This is a very efficient alternative to staffing a full-time receptionist, with whom comes a bunch of paperwork and training hours and other turnover costs. The virtual receptionist and virtual assistants will greatly increase the efficiency of the money you are saving and the time you are saving.
All of this new technology is allowing small startups of many kinds to have a competitive edge over other small businesses, and even the larger ones. The virtual office allows these startups to only pay for the exact office amenities that they need nothing more and nothing less. If all you need is a conference room once a week in a big fancy building for 6 hours, that will be all you pay for. You don’t have to pay for that spot for the other days it would be sitting there with nothing in it. If all you need is the receptionist to handle calls, that is what you will pay for and that is what you will get. The virtual office service providers will use that space for its other businesses and they will all be getting the same conveniences. The advantage the virtual office provides these startups with has converted many small businesses to do it. This will all continue and the numbers of startup companies will continue to grow, as is the vision of Cameron Hassid, the founder of www.ABCVirtualOffices.com. Saving time, saving money. What more could a startup ask for?
People respond differently to the idea of working full time from home. Some find it to be the dream, wishing they could get paid while still in their pajamas and being the head of a major startup company. Others believe it will detract from the professionalism and be increasingly hard to manage. Both parties have a fair point.
It would prove to be much more efficient if you could avoid your hour and a half long commute one way (3 hours a day) and put that time toward completing actual work. That is 15 hours a week that would be saved, almost two full work days. Teleworking obviously provides many advantages to the employee, the main ones being the convenience factors. People who already work from home say they have increased productivity because of their ability to focus without those office distractions. There would also be more flexibility to alter your schedule for the demand of different occasions.
However, with all of the benefits come significant complications. Employees working remotely will not have the constant, nearby support from colleagues and managers. Workers can begin to feel less involved and not as substantial to the team. Also, the lack of a clear distinction between a workplace and a home can wear down employees as they have trouble escaping their jobs. All of the technology that is allowing them to work remotely in the first place creates a constant connection to work that is hard to escape. These virtual offices are so convenient, they become almost too convenient. Some strategies to avoid these negative repercussions include building strong relationships with teleworkers, having strong connections among teleworkers themselves to collaborate on ideas and strategies for remote working, and even creating some kind of reward system to sustain the individual initiative and motivation to complete tasks without a manager nearby.
Despite your stand on whether or not working from a virtual office is a viable option, a recent study shows the number of people working remotely has almost doubles in the past decade. While the number is getting higher, a little over two percent of workers currently take part in the method. A small percentage now, but with the increasing number of people deviating from the traditional practices, and the growing number of startups (especially in Los Angeles, California), the demand for virtual offices will rise. Notably, this vision is held by Cameron Hassid, the founder ABC Virtual Offices. Whether it will eventually completely take over the traditional office, or just become a huge integrated part of how we do business remains to be seen; but it is certainly aiming in that direction.
Having sufficient time is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for many people who want to start their own business. One of the most important skills you need when balancing a day job with running a small side business is good time management skills. Learning to prioritize tasks is difficult, but if you fail to do so, you may end up alienating customers and vendors that you need to work with. Learn to take care of jobs that must be done immediately as soon as possible, and delay doing the projects that you know can wait.
Prioritizing business tasks is key, but it doesn’t stop there. Prioritize personal tasks as well to make sure you can carve out sufficient time in your busy day to devote to your startup.
Starting a business requires cash (or credit) up front, and buying an existing business often requires a large lump sum payment. Unfortunately, many people want to start a business precisely because they don’t have any money. This can lead such unprepared entrepreneurs to bury themselves in debt.
It’s simply a fact that your business will need capital, and while investing more money in a business can’t guarantee its success, you can pretty much guarantee the failure of a business that doesn’t have enough. To avoid this situation, thoroughly assess how much you need to start your business and maintain operations. Then, treat that as your baseline, knowing that you will likely encounter several unexpected expenses along the way.
A few basic business expenses include:
Drive and ambition aren’t enough – sometimes the early bird gets the worm, and other times slow and steady wins the race. Be patient, and don’t fall prey to these common misconceptions:
An idea doesn’t need to be unique to be profitable – as long as there’s sufficient demand for your product. In fact, a unique idea won’t necessarily translate into big sales. There’s often a reason nobody sells a product like yours, and that reason may be that nobody wants one.
However, researching and developing your business idea is only the first step – you need to do additional research to find out how to make your idea a reality.
Creating a basic business plan can be tedious, but it is very important, especially if you seek financial backing from investors or a bank. It’s also a great litmus test of sorts to see if you’re really interested in running a business – if you can’t take the time to write a basic business plan, even if it’s just a single page, you probably are not prepared to undertake the running of a real business.
Home-based businesses with a sole owner can only grow so much, right? Wrong.
With a little creativity you can keep expanding your home business, without hiring employees or renting an office. Here are seven tips for increasing revenue at your home business while keeping it a one-person show:
1. Use technology. From scheduling newsletters and social-media dispatches to issuing blog-post notifications via email, automate as much as possible. Collaboration tools such as Citrix Systems software can also help you readily pass off or work in the same document with colleagues and consultants without having to send giant email attachments or deal with a courier service. Additionally, video conferencing or call forwarding technology can do wonders for helping your little company appear much bigger — and more professional.
2. Outsource. These days, freelance marketplaces such as Elance and vWorker.com make it easy — and relatively inexpensive — to find contractors for a wide variety of roles, from accountants to virtual secretaries. There’s no law that says you have to make official, full-time hires to grow. Increasingly, I’m encountering high-revenue, fast-growing companies that have few, if any, official staffers and are driving growth entirely through contract labor.
3. Watch for opportunities. Entrepreneurs’ prime advantage over big companies is the ability to be nimble and shift gears quickly if a new opportunity emerges that might lead to more business. That’s what home-based franchisor Patricia Beckman did when she saw a need for a standardized virtual-assistant chain. Now her VA business, Cybertary, has 25 franchisees and is growing.
4. Treat your business like a business. Don’t neglect the back-office end of your business. For instance, consider using an online invoice system such as FreshBooks or Intuit’s Bill Manager. Being able to systematically track your payments and expenses will not only save you time, it’s also more professional in the eyes of customers or clients. Keep regular business hours so clients can rely on you.
5. Invest for growth. Yes, being home based can help reduce overhead, but you still need to put money into the business to keep it thriving. After all, you’ve got to spend money to make money, remember? And that’s true no matter where your business is based.
6. Don’t forget your plan. Know your goals for the business and keep your focus on the steps you need to take to achieve those goals. Beckman recommends keeping your business plan nearby and referring to it often. And as plans change, update it.
7. Get out there. Some solopreneurs use being home-based as an excuse to never meet with clients in person. That’s a mistake. Get out of that home-office cave — you can build stronger bonds with clients in face-to-face meetings. Attend networking events to keep growing your rolodex and gain exposure to new ideas.