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Should Virtual Assistants Have a Secret Identity?

Virtual assistants are not only great in rendering administrative work. Today’s virtual assistants have more skill and ability and not just limited to typing, calendar management and appointment setting. You can hire a Virtual Assistant for any service your business needs.

A virtual assistance service that is gaining popularity is outbound marketing. This covers sales, surveys, appointment setting, after- sales service and customer support.

Some of the best talents you can find are Filipino virtual assistants. The Philippines is considered the world leader in outsourced outbound services because the quality of English is very high and Filipinos by nature are gracious and respectful.

However it appears to be standard practice for virtual assistants to modify their accent and change their names. Virtual assistants are often required by clients to copy the accent of the host country and to make their names more “foreign sounding”.

There are actually schools and in-house training programs that help Filipinos change their natural English speaking accent to that of an American, a Briton or an Australian. “Roberto” becomes “Bob” and “Leonora” becomes “Ellen”.

But are these absolutely necessary? Does becoming someone you’re not guarantee success?

The answer is “No” and for the following reasons:

“Fool Me Once…” It’s very difficult to hide a foreign accent even if you’ve spent months honing your craft. And even if you do sound American, British or Australian, your fellow virtual assistants may not be as skilled or gifted.

A customer can easily find out if you are a native English speaker or not. And the consequences are great if your cover is blown. Pretending to be someone you’re not is not the best way to establish trust and credibility with the customer.

You Can’t Be Yourself – The key to making a successful sale, extending great customer service and resolving issues lies in the Virtual Assistant’s ability to establish a relationship.

It is very difficult to establish a relationship if you have to speak in a fake accent, assume a different persona and read through spiels and scripts.

The best way to succeed is to allow the VA to be herself. She has to be allowed to empathize with the customer so she can give an honest feedback.

There is nothing honest about a fake accent, a bogus identity and prepared scripts.

Outsourcing is an Accepted Practice. Outsourcing has been a go-to strategy for businesses that want to reduce cost. It is not a novel idea. In fact, the global outsourcing industry is estimated to be worth $250 Million.

Foreign companies that want to outsource and cut costs further turn to service providers in the Philippines and India; the perennial top 2 nations in global outsourcing.

So why hide it?

If a customer asks, “Are you a Filipino Agent?”

What do you think his response would be if your Filipino Virtual Assistant says, “No sir. I’m from Long Island, New York.”

It’s obvious already that the customer suspects. Do not take further risks by continuing the charade.

Companies have virtual assistants speak in foreign accents, assume fake identities and read scripts because they are afraid of making mistakes. But the more you hide the truth the greater the probability of mistakes happening.

Keep everything simple. Ditch the smoke and mirrors and be upfront and transparent with the customer.

Tenancy Application Check – Everything You Need to Know

tenancy application check

Owning property in Australia is a great investment. Demand for real estate remains high while supply continues to be tight. One way to generate income from the property is to rent or lease it out. On the part of the landlord, renting it out means entrusting the asset to someone he or she has never met before. This is the importance of conducting a tenancy application check; it helps the landlord screen prospective tenants for his or her property.

In Australia, looking for the right property is just one half of the rental process. It’s not enough that you have expressed interest in leasing the property or shown the financial capacity to do so. The landlord or property owner must conduct due diligence procedures to know which party to lease the premises to. Thus, once you’ve identified a property that interests you, the next step is to fill out a tenancy application form.

Many property owners will provide prospective tenants with their own tenancy application form. If they have a real estate agent managing the property, he or she can give you the form or direct you to a website where you can download it.

It is highly advisable to have all required documentation with you during your initial meeting with the landlord. In a tight rental market, you have to move fast. If there are 10 applicants eyeing the same property, you have to make sure you are always one step ahead of them.

Here is a checklist of documents normally requested for the tenant application check:

  • Personal details
    • Birth Certificate
    • Australian Citizenship Certificate
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Degree, Diploma or Certificate of Higher Education
    • Vehicle Registration Certificate
  • Photo identification
    • Drivers License
    • Passport – Either Australian or from another country
    • Proof of Age Card
  • Medicare Card/Health Card
  • Previous rental history
    • Address
    • Previous agent
    • Rental referees
    • Copy of last rate’s notice if you owned your previous residence
  • Rental ledger or rent accommodation receipts
    • Present payment history
    • Present copy of the front page of your lease
  • Provide selling agent details if you are selling your property
  • Utility account for your current address
    • Electricity
    • Phone bill
    • Rates notice
  • Latest bank statements
  • Employment details
    • Pay Slip – 3 consecutive pay slips
    • Employment Certification from your employer or Centrelink
    • Australian Bank or Credit Union Statement
    • ATO Tax Return – if self-employed
  • Details of any pets
    • Type
    • Number
    • Existing illness
    • Veterinarian’s health clearance
  • Emergency contact information
  • At least 2 personal references
  • Details of people who are applying for the property with you

It is very important that you are able to submit personal references. Failure to present references will seriously impact your chances of being awarded the premises. If you are able to secure references, advise them to expect a call from the landlord. Trust that the landlord will contact the names you provided.

The required documents for a student who wishes to rent property are different. If you’re a student, here are the items you have to submit as part of your tenancy application check:

  • A copy of the Acceptance Letter from the university you will be studying at.
  • If you are receiving Government or Centrelink Assistance, provide a copy of the original documentation as proof.
  • If you are receiving financial support from your parents or a guardian, you have to submit a letter from them confirming the assistance including indicative amounts and frequency of payment.

A tenant who is able to submit complete documents at the earliest possible time gains a tremendous advantage. Oftentimes the landlord or the agent will employ a scoring system to identify which tenancy applicant is ahead of the race. The points are based on the types of documents submitted:

30 points:

  • Passport
  • Australian Driver’s License
  • Proof of Age card
  • Pay slips – 3 consecutive months
  • Rental Ledger – Mandatory

20 points

  • Birth certificate
  • Australian Citizenship Certificate
  • ATO Tax Return
  • Medicare card
  • Council rate notice

10 points

  • Gas or electricity bill
  • Telephone bill
  • Employer/security ID card
  • College Diploma
  • Marriage certificate

The landlord will move to have these documents and the information indicated in the tenancy application form verified. It is also to the landlord’s interest to have the property leased out as soon as possible so it can start generating income.

The landlord or most likely, the agent, may hire the services of a tenancy application checking company. It is very easy to use these services. All the agent has to do is upload the tenancy application form to the website portal. In 4 hours, results of the tenancy check can be made available to the landlord.

If you have been approved and accepted as the tenant, the attention shall now shift to the tenancy agreement which outlines the conditions of the arrangement and protects the rights of both parties.

If you have been declined, do not hesitate to ask the landlord why your application was not accepted. It is possible you may have issues in the past that have not been resolved.

How Real Estate Virtual Assistants Are Boosting Agent’s Profits

how real estate virtual assistants can help

The life of a real estate agent can be quite exciting. A typical workday is packed with “things to do” from meeting clients to visiting properties to negotiating contracts. In between, there are the phone calls, MLS updates, social media feeds and presentations to prepare for. With all the things an agent has to do, it’s highly probably tasks get overlapped or overlooked. These oversights can affect the agent’s bottom-line. It may be time to get help. Here is how real estate virtual assistants are boosting agent’s profits.

Profit = Sales – Costs

The profit equation is easy enough to understand. The lower your costs for generating a unit of sales the higher becomes your profit.

What are the monthly expenses of a real estate agent?

  1. Software – $250
  2. Utilities – $150
  3. Office Supplies – $20
  4. Gas – $150
  5. Website Maintenance – $500
  6. Online Marketing – $500
  7. Print Advertising – $500

All told, a real estate agent may spend up to $2,070 per month to support his profession. Keep in mind the costs for updating licenses, payment of association dues and MLS fees have not been factored in. Collectively and when capitalized over 12 months, these fees can add $60 to monthly expenses.

For the real estate agent, these expenses are part of the job. If you want to earn big, you should be willing to invest in your business. And in real estate, commissions can be lucrative.

Selling a house worth $500,000 will yield a commission of $10,000 to $15,000. If an agent can seal a deal every 3 months, he will be in good financial shape. But what happens during lean periods?

In order to remain profitable, a business must operate at its equilibrium point. This means costs should be at a point whereby the level of productivity or output is not compromised. In order to this, the business must focus on operating efficiently.

Hiring a real estate Virtual Assistant is a proven way to achieve efficiency. When you are generating consistent output with the least resources, you will be profitable.

Here are 4 ways real estate virtual assistants are boosting agents’ profits:

1. Increase Productivity

Ask yourself this question, “How many goals do I accomplish every day?”

If your answers are:

  • One
  • Less than one if you average the goals accomplished over 5 days
  • I don’t know

Then you are not being productive. If you want to know why, take a look at your calendar and review the tasks or reminders you lined up every day. Find out how many of those tasks are administrative, supportive or require technical skills.

These tasks are non-essentials because they do not contribute directly to your sales. You should outsource these tasks to a Virtual Assistant. The VA will make sure these tasks are done on time and never overlooked.

Once you relieve yourself of these responsibilities, you will have more time to attend to the work that relates directly to your business. Your productivity will go up and you will be able to accomplish more goals every day.

2. Lower Manpower Costs

Hiring a Virtual Assistant will cost you much less than a full- time employee for the following reasons:

  • Virtual assistants are self-employed; they are responsible for their own costs of business.
  • Virtual assistants are paid only for the hours worked and are not entitled to receive benefits.
  • The work schedule of a VA is flexible.

The average hourly pay of a full-time employee ranges from $16 to $20. Assuming a 48 hour work week plus benefits, total compensation of 1 full-time employee could amount to $5,824 every month.

You can hire VA’s at $10 per hour; lower if they are from remote locations like the Philippines or India. And because their work schedule is flexible, you can just schedule them for 20 hours every week. Without benefits, total cost of hiring a real estate Virtual Assistant is $1,100 every month.

That’s a cost savings of $4,724 every month. As a matter of fact, the total compensation cost of 1 full-time employee is comparable to hiring 5 virtual assistants!

3. Streamline Overhead Costs

Other than payroll, hiring a Virtual Assistant can streamline your expenses in these areas:

  • Software – Many virtual assistants have their own software unless you have specific or proprietary programs you want them to use.
  • Utilities – Once you delegate tasks, you should spend less on utilities such as power and water. Virtual assistants are accountable for their own expenses including Internet charges.
  • Office Supplies – Hiring a VA means transitioning most of your work online. This should reduce the amount of paper and printing costs every month.
  • Gas and Transportation – One of the core strengths of a VA is organization. A VA can schedule your daily activities so that you travel less and still accomplish more.

The last 3 items are marketing-related. A real estate VA can manage these tasks for you including designing marketing collaterals. It may not save you the $1,500 entirely, but for sure you can significantly reduce this amount.

4. Increase Conversion Rates

A real estate VA can increase your conversion rates the following ways:

  • E-mail Marketing – The VA can send e-mails to generated leads and existing clients keeping them updated of property listings.
  • Referrals and Repeat Business – The VA can also focus on your existing clients and try to procure referrals or encourage repeat business.
  • Follow Up Sales Calls – Studies show sales are closed between the 5th and 12th calls. If you don’ t have time after the 2nd call, let the Virtual Assistant take over.

Real estate virtual assistants are boosting agents’ profits by helping them reduce costs while increasing the probability of generating sales. It’s a double- edged benefit that will take your real estate business to the next level.

Trend-Spotting: Outsourcing in 2017

For the last 15 years, outsourcing has been on an upward growth trajectory. The global outsourcing industry has increased in size from US$45 Billion to US$105 Billion in 2014. It is estimated that the global outsourcing industry is worth US$250 Billion.

The growth of outsourcing corresponded with increasing global uncertainty beginning the new millennium. From 9/11 to the Eurozone Crisis of 2009 to global recession in 2014, volatility ushered new demand for outsourcing services. Businesses were looking for ways to streamline costs without affecting productivity.

Now we are nearing the end of 2016 and the world has been thrown in chaos once again with changes happening everywhere.

Does this mean outsourcing will reach greater heights in 2017?

Greater Integration of Virtual Assistants

Businesses will continue to contract the services of virtual assistants in 2017. Having virtual assistants onboard your company is the most cost efficient strategy to moderate risks while expanding your business.

Virtual assistants will reduce your cost of business and improve business flexibility. By delegating non-essential work to virtual assistants, you can focus more on your core business and increase productivity. US companies are expected to increase the allocation for virtual assistants in the workforce by another 15%.

The Rise and Rise of India

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to shift foreign policy away from the United States and Europe and toward China has rattled the Philippines’ outsourcing sector.

The largest beneficiary of Pres. Duterte’s foreign policy is India which will seek to reclaim the markets it had been losing to the Philippines since 2013. The Philippines stands to lose out on an estimated US$25 Billion income from export receipts in 2017 and US$48 Billion in 2020 if Duterte’s administration does not address diminishing investor confidence and the increasing outflow of capital.

In the first week of November 2016 alone, US$800 Million worth of capital outflows hit the Philippines’ equities markets.

Greater Demand for Remote Teams

More businesses will be seeking to set up remote teams. There are composed of virtual assistants that have specific skill sets.

Offsite operations have been on the uptrend for the last few years. It is an effective way to outsource services because margins can accommodate negotiation. Clients can improve profit margins while service providers can build their portfolios.

Offshoring on Hold

Donald J. Trump’s unexpected win of the US Presidency has thrown a curveball on international business relations. While Pres. Trump’s policy remains unclear, his campaign promise of “Let’s Make America Great” may put a damper on offshoring.

Many US companies offshore to China, a country by which Pres. Trump has had a contentious relationship. It may also affect US companies that initially outsourced to the Philippines with a plan to transition to offshore in the near future.

It seems that foreign policy would determine the future growth of outsourcing. Given the uncertainty of US and Philippine foreign policy, it is highly possible that new markets for outsourcing would open up for clients and service providers.

Put simply, outsourcing is too valuable strategy to pass up. It is the only business development strategy that can potentially reduce costs, increase revenues while decreasing the risk of expansion.

FSBO 101: How to Negotiate with Potential Buyers

FSBO 101: How to Negotiate with Potential Buyers

FSBO or For Sale by Owner is the process of selling your home without the representation of a licensed real estate agent. More property owners are resorting to FSBO in order to keep most of the sales proceeds intact. Also, FSBO allows more focus and attention to the sale of the property.

Many people have found success with For Sale By Owner. Initially most of your efforts will be focused on getting the contracts done and marketing your property. Hiring a Virtual Assistant can get these tasks done for you so you can focus on the real challenge at hand: negotiating with buyers.

After all the hard work in pushing your property in the market, getting calls or inquiries from interested parties is a wonderful feeling. But that is only ¼ of the work that needs to be done. The next steps involve:

  • Scheduling the property visit
  • Negotiating the price
  • Finalizing the sale

As a rule, do not close out the sale with the first buyer. You should have a number of bids submitted in order to make an educated selection.

Before meeting with any potential buyers, you must have done the following things:

Prepared the Contract of Sale

  • Conducted minor repairs and improvements
  • Had photos taken and uploaded unto an FSBO site
  • Calculated the price range for your home

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of having a real estate agent onboard is their ability to negotiate with buyers. They are familiar with the industry and know how buyers think. But successful negotiation starts with your frame of mind.

In the words of one of the greatest minds in sales, Joe Girard, you should view negotiation from the perspective of a protagonist. Negotiation is not a zero sum game where one emerges a winner and the other a loser.

Both parties enter a negotiation with a specific interest to protect. The buyer wants to get the lowest price possible while the seller wants to extract the most money that he can for his property.

But what successful negotiation is all about is finding the middle ground where both parties attain the greatest value.

The buyer is not the antagonist; he or she is not your enemy. In fact, the buyer is here on his or her free will to help you earn from the sale of your property. In a negotiation, it is unrealistic to expect that a party will get everything he or she wants. You have to be prepared to make compromises if you want your property sold.

The great thing about FSBO is that by removing the real estate agent from the equation, you automatically improved your margin by 6% to 8%. The cost savings is because you don’t have to pay commissions and have better control over marketing expenses. You can use the 6% to 8% cost savings as a range for negotiation.

When a buyer visits your home, you have to be grateful that he or she took the time to view your property. After the buyer inspects your home, you should expect a preliminary discussion on pricing.

You should not pluck out a price in mid- air. Always do your homework and research on the average sales price on similar properties in your neighborhood. You can visit home value and FSBO sites to get ideas on the price range or have a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) done on your area.

Price your home near the high end of the range if its features are similar to properties that sold at that price level. Then use the 6% to 8% cost savings to adjust your offer price.

In the end, choose the buyer that comes closest to your criteria in terms of price, terms and mode of payment.

Negotiating with buyers is not as difficult or nerve- wracking as some people make it out to be. For the most part, it’s all about establishing a common ground and working your way to it as 2 parties with a shared interest.

 

5 Tips on How to Improve Communication with Your Virtual Assistant

Communication is a vital component for any business to succeed especially if you hire a Virtual Assistant. You have to make sure instructions are well understood and there are no questions on the project. Otherwise, miscommunication could lead to very risky and costly mistakes. Here are 5 tips to improve communication with your Virtual Assistant.

1. Establish the Scope of Work

Miscommunication arises if there is misunderstanding. It’s one thing to verbally dictate what the scope of operations is and another to have it formalized as a formal document.

Once you’ve hired your Virtual Assistant, provide a copy of the Scope of Work. Discuss each item in detail and give the Virtual Assistant opportunities to ask questions or clarify.

2. Set Up the Best Communication Systems

When you are working in the virtual world, close collaboration can be a challenge. It’s different when you don’t share the same space as the person you are working with. You have to trust that the Virtual Assistant is clear on the project details or scope of work.

Occasionally you should check in or set a schedule during the day or the week where you can discuss the progress of work with the Virtual Assistant. If an audio-video meeting is not possible, make sure other media will be available.

As a rule always have 3 communication media accessible for the Virtual Assistant. This should be e-mail, chat support and audio-video services.

3. Ask For Feedback

You could have a Virtual Assistant who tends to be on the quiet side. He or she may not request for clarification on your instructions even if these were not properly understood.

At worst, the Virtual Assistant may continue to work based on his or her understanding of the instructions. This may cost you more time and money.

The best approach would be to request feedback from the Virtual Assistant. Ask the Virtual Assistant to relay the instructions back to you in sequence. While the Virtual Assistant is taking you through the process, you should point out any misunderstanding.

Feedback is like role-playing or role- reversal. But it is an effective way of ensuring the instructions are clear.

4. Follow Up with a Written Summary

After you meet with your Virtual Assistant, ask him or her to send you a written summary of the meeting. This is like the “minutes of the meeting”.

It is another way of securing feedback only this time it is in written format. Review the minutes and call the attention of the Virtual Assistant for any mistakes in the summary.

5. Get to Know Your Virtual Assistant

Probably the most effective way of minimizing the incidence of miscommunication is get to know your Virtual Assistant better.

This is especially true if your Virtual Assistant is from a remote location such as the Philippines and India; 2 of the leading countries for outsourced services, but where social and cultural nuances may lead to frequent miscommunication.

It will take more than one informal discussion to have a deeper grasp of the language and culture. Thus, the more often you engage the Virtual Assistant in an informal setting the better your understanding of how he or she thinks and behaves.

A Virtual Assistant will make your work easier and less stressful. You can definitely become more productive. The key is to make sure there is clear understanding between you and the Virtual Assistant on the things that have to be done.

 

How a Virtual Assistant can Manage Your Life

If you’re an entrepreneur who works 14 hours a day, did you know a Virtual Assistant can help you manage not just your business but your life?

First off, if you are working more than 8 hours a day are you:

  • Productive?
  • Accomplishing goals consistently?
  • Attending to all areas of your business?
  • More tired than usual?
  • Getting enough exercise?
  • Spending time with your family?

Most of all, are you happy or miserable?

If you answered “Yes” to at least half of these questions, you need a Virtual Assistant!

How can a Virtual Assistant manage your life?

The first thing you need to do is to make an accounting of your current schedule and how you would want it to be.

An example would be as follows:

Current Schedule:

Total Hours in a Day – 24 hours

Less:

  1. Work – 14 hours
  2. Travel Time – 2 hours
  3. Family – 2 hours
  4. Errands – 2 hours
  5. Sleep – 4 hours

Balance – 0 Hours

In this example, if you have 14 hour work days, you only have 2 hours for family and 4 hours of sleep. You have no time for exercise or anything else.

4 hours of sleep isn’t even healthy. You need at least 7 hours.

So why do people work for more than 8 hours?

  • Tight budget; cannot afford extra help
  • Lack of time management skills
  • Fear of relinquishing control
  • Lack of faith in the ability of others to render good work
  • Belief that quantity work leads to quality work
  • Belief the hard work should be quantified

Hiring a Virtual Assistant is your best option for the following reasons:

Save Up on Costs – You only pay a Virtual Assistant for productive time spent on your business. Second, you don’t pay benefits to virtual assistants because they are only contracted and not full-time employees. Third, virtual assistants are responsible for their own costs of business.

Great Time Management Skills – Virtual assistants are known for their ability to manage time. They can help you schedule your meetings and appointments and keep you abreast of approaching deadlines.

Highly Talented – Virtual assistants are highly talented; many have undergone additional training or certification in specific skills. You can be assured of quality work.

Well Experienced – Many virtual assistants did not start out as virtual assistants. They crossed over from the office world to the virtual world. This means they know what it’s like to work for someone and meet deadlines. In time, you should be able to trust your VA well enough that you can delegate some of your responsibilities to her.

If you had a Virtual Assistant, your daily schedule may fit in to what you want to do:

Total Hours in a Day – 24 hours

Less:

  1. Work – 4 hours
  2. Travel Time – 2 hours
  3. Family – 7 hours
  4. Exercise – 2 hours
  5. Errands – 2 hours
  6. Sleep – 7 hours

Balance – 0 Hours

Can you do quality work in 4 hours? Tim Ferris did it. So did others who hired virtual assistants such as Michael Hyatt.

Now you can spend more time with your family! What can you do with 7 hours? The possibilities are endless!

All of this will be possible if you hire a Virtual Assistant. You will be able to achieve life and work balance.

3 Key Oversights in Outsourcing

 

Outsourcing is business strategy that continues to gain popularity on a global scale. More companies are entering into outsourcing services agreements because it has been proven to lower costs while improving productivity. But there are engagements that fail because of these 3 key oversights in outsourcing.

1. Contracts

Contracts are often looked as a “necessary evil” in business. When a client meets the outsourcing service provider for the first time, relations are pleasant and professional. However, discussions always become more serious in tone when it comes to contracts.

A contract contains provisions intended to protect the interest of both parties which is why it goes back and forth in the negotiation process. The purpose of the contract is to have a legal reference point as bases to resolve issues that have been raised in the duration of the engagement.  

Your contract should contain details on the following provisions:

  • Scope of Work
  • Obligations of the Client
  • Obligations of the Service Provider
  • Mode of Payment
  • Grounds for Pre-Termination of Contract

The contract is issued by the Client to the Service Provider. It has to be signed by an authorized representative from each party. Attachments include copies of valid passports from each signatory and the bank coordinates of the Service Provider. The signed contract will be notarized by the Client and a hard copy provided to the Service Provider.

2. Research

One of the biggest mistakes by first-time clients of outsourcing is lack of research. It’s not enough to read online material and feel secure of your knowledge on outsourcing.

You should extend your research methodologies to actual interviews with companies or people who have experienced outsourcing. If you are able to arrange sit- down meetings with them, bring in key personnel from your group and procure as much information as you can.

They will share their pitfalls, oversights and other common mistakes. They may even offer advice on how to shore up outsourcing operations. Make sure you bring personnel designated to handle recruitment, training, operations and IT during the meeting.

The information you get will be used to firm up your comprehensive project study on outsourcing. It should include studies on the market, the feasibility of the project and financial benchmarks.

3. Due Diligence

You will often come across a few former outsourcing clients who will discourage you from the planned venture. They will say outsourcing did not deliver the expected results and in fact led to huge losses.

If you breakdown the reasons the outsourcing arrangement did not work out, it will come down to one thing: lack of due diligence.

The global outsourcing industry is a business with an assessed value of US$250 Billion. Its market value has grown by as much as 142% over the last 15 years. Many businesses want a piece of that outsourcing pie; even unscrupulous, shady companies.

Before you even meet with any outsourcing services provider, you have to conduct due diligence. Contact the regulating agency in its state and ask for referrals or a list of members in good standing. A simple Google search may yield surprising results.

Outsourcing is a great strategy for developing business despite periods of economic uncertainty. But it is still an arrangement between 2 parties with distinct business interests. Do not be complacent; make sure all stones are overturned before finalizing the outsourcing arrangement.

 

3 Benefits of Outsourcing Services for Small Businesses

 

Running a small business has its own unique set of challenges but these can be managed simply by outsourcing services. When you are starting out, you have to make sure you can manage risks because the future remains greatly uncertain. There are many benefits that you can realize by outsourcing services but these are the top 3 that will have a productive contribution to the success of your business:

1. Manage Your Capital

Small business owners have limited capital and access to funding. They have to keep track of their outflows while the business is still trying to gain traction.

By outsourcing services such as administrative tasks, back office support and more specialized, technical work the small business can stretch out its budget.

Outsourcing saves you more money because you are capitalizing on comparative cost advantages that exist. Labor is the most significant cost advantage and you can save 40% simply by outsourcing services to third party providers.

2. Focus on Core Competencies

Small business owners should focus on functions that work on generating revenue. If you are in real estate, you should spend more time meeting prospective clients and showing them properties for sale.

You will not be able to allocate time on these activities if you are tied down in the office filtering e-mails, updating lists, taking phone calls, preparing presentation materials or contracts and scheduling the payment of your bills.

At the same time, you will be able to improve on the quality of work especially if the outsourced tasks do not fall under your core competencies. For example, social media marketing is a skill that requires time, effort and expertise. “Time” alone disqualifies you from managing your social media campaign.

3. Level the Playing Field

If you want to be number 1 in your industry, you have to match up with the best. These are usually the more established giants who have been in the business for a long time. Due to their success, they have the resources to explore new territory and expand their business.

When you outsource, you level the playing field. You are able to expand your operation and scale the business faster while incurring manageable expenses.

For example, you are a retailer of fashion apparel. You can outsource these services to scale up your business:

  • Outbound services
  • Telemarketing
  • Surveys
  • After-sales support
  • Customer support
  • Inbound support
  • E-mail support
  • Chat support
  • Back office services
  • Accounting
  • IT
  • Digital marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • E-mail marketing
  • SEO

The cost to your operation will be minimal. If you were to outsource these services to a remote location like the Philippines, you would only spend US$9 to US$12 per hour and this includes salary, benefits, rent, power, Internet and contingencies.

In developed countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, average wage rate alone is already at US$18 to US$20 per hour.

All in all, small businesses should consider outsourcing services because it reduces your risks while improving your outlook for income generation. It is the best and definitely, most efficient way of running your small business.

How to Achieve Balance in Life and Work with a Virtual Assistant

 

A Virtual Assistant is proof positive that technology can never replace humans. Despite its evolution and light year advances, there has not been a single creation of technology that can add more hours to the day. You will always have 24 hours.

Technology has succeeded in making it possible for you to do more things in one hour. Thus, technology has presented a dichotomy: it has made work efficient but people are busier than ever before.

Case in point: the phrase “multi-tasking” came about as technology became more compact, convenient and mobile. The mobile phone wasn’t just for calling; now you could run your entire business with it.

So you will often meet people who say (or complain) about the following:

“I missed my son’s soccer game and my daughter’s dance performance.”

“I put on so much weight because I don’t have time to exercise.”

“I can’t make it to your wedding because I have so much work to do.”

Time has become the crux of your situation. Even with the latest smart phone or tablet, time remains at 24 hours. And unless you don’t sleep, you only have 16 to 18 hours to do everything that needs to get done in one day.

If technology can’t help you find life and work balance the Virtual Assistant can:

1. Delegate work

Hiring a Virtual Assistant will free you up valuable time to directly attend to the things that need your immediate attention. This way your day becomes more productive. The more tasks you accomplish in 1 day, the fewer tasks you will have to do for the week. This will leave you more time for non-work related activities.

Your health is very important and you should always find time in the day to exercise. Business icons such as Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg always find time to exercise and so should you. Delegating work will find you the 1 hour you need to visit your local gym.

2. Manage your business.

Do you have an anniversary to attend to? Is your child about to perform her first piano recital? These are milestones that you should not miss out on. Once gone, you can never get them back the following year. When events such as these present themselves, simply trust your Virtual Assistant to manage your business. You’re only talking about a few hours. Authors Tim Ferris and Michael Hyatt leave their businesses to virtual assistants for weeks and look how their businesses turned out!

3. Conduct personal services.

Even though virtual assistants are tasked to perform business responsibilities, you can ask them to assist you in personal matters from time to time. For example, you could ask the Virtual Assistant to search for the best steak house in your state and make a dinner reservation for the family. You could also ask the Virtual Assistant to book your flight including lodging accommodations. These are a few personal services that you can request on occasion.

When you have a Virtual Assistant onboard, you will finally get to breathe and experience life once again! If you have only 16 hours in a day, you should get to live in it and not simply exist.