When you picture a business professional’s typical office scenario, what comes to mind?
A classy man or woman, dressed in a high priced business suit, an overflowing briefcase sitting on the corner of the desk, dictating memos and delegating tasks to a very overworked secretary?
How about a home-based business owner, sitting in their basement office, kids pulling at their pant legs while they are spending far too much time dealing with their correspondence and other administrative tasks?
Either of these sound familiar?
Well, these may be true but, with our ever-changing business environments and with the ease of using the Internet, more and more business professionals, especially small business owners, are altering how they conduct their daily activities.
Sure, they still have their offices, sometimes in their homes, but they also have more time to spend on generating revenue or to be with the kids than ever before.
How, you ask? Well….they outsource some or most of their non-core tasks to professional, reliable fellow small business owners who take pride in helping other businesses succeed by providing them with a helping hand.
These days, almost any normal (or even not so normal) task that a small business owner usually does, can be accomplished by an outside source.
Let’s take a look at the typical daily (or so) tasks that are usually needed to be done:
- Read and respond to incoming mail and email
- Enter account payables and receivables into accounting software program
- Prepare a quotation for a potential new client
- Order flowers for the spouse’s birthday
- Reserve a spot in the local industry trade show
- Update pages on the company website
- Clean the office
- Update your contact database
- Book airline tickets and make hotel reservations for an upcoming seminar
- Attend a networking breakfast
This list gives you some idea of the many tasks that need to be done each day by most small business owners. And, this is only a portion of what is usually required to be done.
Some of these small business owners run their businesses from their homes, which means there is the added activities of dealing with “around the house” things (that everyone seems to think you have all the time in the world to do), running errands (ditto), tending to the family, and accepting those calls from telephone solicitors who somehow know you are at home to answer the phone.
It’s all kind of like a math equation… the tasks ADD up, which SUBTRACTS from running your business smoothly, which EQUALS a less successful business and a more stressed out business owner.
So, let’s look at our list above again and see how many of those tasks can be accomplished by someone off-site; and who would be the best person or business to help you out.
Of the 10 items listed above, only two need to be handled, or at least started, by the business owner.
#3 – (Prepare Quote) This task should be developed by the business owner. Now, this doesn’t mean they have to do it all. They can put together the specifics of the quotation and then have a Virtual Assistant format and produce the final outcome.
#10 – (Networking) Again, this is something that can’t be outsourced, although, if the company is large enough, a representative can attend the meeting in the place of an owner.
#2 – (Accounting) This task is a perfect candidate for outsourcing. There are many companies that provide exceptional bookkeeping services. If you are lucky enough, you can find one that can take care of all of your accounting tasks, right down to your yearly income taxes.
#7 – (Clean office) Once again, this can be handled by a reputable office or house cleaning service, and for relatively cheap.
#6 – (Update website) This is something that can be accomplished by an experienced web designer, and usually by way of a contract or retainer agreement for ongoing maintenance.
#4, 5 & 9 – (Flowers, tradeshow, seminar arrangements) These are all best handled by a professional concierge service. They can take care of everything from booking a limousine to arranging hot air balloon rides to corporate event planning.
#1-10 – Except for #10 (which is best handled in person), and #7 (which is not something that can be done from afar), the remaining tasks can all be handled by a Virtual Assistant (VA). Now, not all VAs provide all of these services but, more than likely, they can either recommend someone who can or get the details from you and ensure that a fellow colleague will do the work according to your needs.
As a fellow small business owner, being able to provide a full-service benefit to a client is something that most VAs take pride in. If they do need to subcontract work to someone else, they make sure that the contractor is aware of their level of professionalism and that it is the VAs reputation that is at stake, something most will go to great lengths to ensure is held in the highest regard.
Outsourcing is a relatively new concept to most business professionals but, as more and more of them begin to realize the benefits that they can take advantage of by utilizing the off-site services of Bookkeepers, Concierge services, Virtual Assistants, and more, the more successful and less stressed out or overworked our business communities will be.