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Is it Possible to Run Your Business Entirely with Virtual Assistants?

Virtual assistants have been in great demand the last few years. Businesses have been able to expand and thrive despite the absence of shared space collaboration. Why are virtual assistants so valuable to business?

Reduce Business Costs – Virtual assistants are self- employed; they run their own business which offers virtual assistance services. Thus, you only pay them for the hours they render for your business. In addition, you don’t pay them benefits neither do you incur other costs because they are accountable for their own expenses.

Increase Productivity – Business owners and entrepreneurs contract virtual assistants so they can delegate some tasks and free up their time to attend to more pressing business matters. By contracting virtual assistance services, you are no longer tied down with non- essential tasks such as e-mail filtering, phone handling and appointment setting.

Improve Work Quality – You can find a Virtual Assistant to fill in any job your business needs. More regular office workers are becoming virtual assistants because of the high demand and convenience the career offers. Many virtual assistants have the experience and expertise to assure you of top quality work.

Given these 3 advantages, would it be possible to run a business entirely with virtual assistants?

The answer is “Yes” but it will take time, effort and plenty of planning.

Review Your Numbers – If you plan on contracting virtual assistants, it must mean business is looking good and you feel an expansion is in order.

But don’t pull the trigger until you are absolutely sure the conditions are there to validate the need for expansion.

The first thing you need to do is review your numbers. Are sales increasing according to projections? Is your current infrastructure sufficient to handle more volume? Will your output suffer if you don’t scale up?

In business, strategy follows numbers not the other way around. If your numbers support an expansion, prepare a budget plus projections on income and cash flows.

Review Your Business Model – Are you adding new departments to your business? For example, if you are planning to focus on new business development you may want to set up an online marketing team.

If you want to retain markets, you could hire virtual assistants to manage customer support.

Determine the Required Skills – Once you’ve firmed up your system and inputted the new frameworks and processes, you can now focus on the specific talent.

Write down the types of skills you are looking for in virtual assistants. An example would be:

Marketing – Digital marketing, content writing, social media, lead generation
Sales – Telemarketing, E-mail campaign management, phone handling
Customer Support – Outbound sales support, chat support, e-mail support

Create a Development Time- Table – You don’t have to hire all of these virtual assistants at the same time. This is where a development time-table comes in handy.

Here’s an example of a development time-table:

Month 1 to 2 – Marketing
Design marketing campaign
Set up online accounts
Run campaign
Follow posting and blogging schedule
Engage as often as possible
Target 2,000 new followers
Generate leads list

Month 3 – Sales
Call on leads
Convert 20% to sales
Install Customer Support facilities

In this example, you would only need the marketing VA in Month1. But by Month 2, assuming your numbers are on track, you should already qualify candidates for Sales VA.

In Month 3, you should already have sales and customer support working to bring in more revenues for your business.

There are many entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses with virtual assistants. It will not be easy as it will take time for operations to run smoothly. Remember even the best virtual assistants have a Learning Curve they have to negotiate. But if you stay the course, your business could be thriving purely on the power of virtual assistants.

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How a Virtual Assistant can Maximize Your Social Media Campaign

One of the most important tasks you should delegate to your Virtual Assistant is social media marketing. Many people associate social media with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But social media marketing is an entirely different endeavor than just posting images of your dessert or the latest meme on Donald Trump.

With a clear purpose and a correct strategy, your social media accounts could help increase sales for your business.

Just because you are active in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram does not make you a social media expert. A successful social media campaign needs thought, design and implementation. It also requires time which as a business owner, you do not have.

This is why many business owners or entrepreneurs delegate social media marketing to virtual assistants that have experience and expertise on running campaigns.

How will a Virtual Assistant maximize your social media campaign?

Design the Creative Brief – The strategy design summarizes the purpose, objectives, vision, courses of action and time-table of your social media campaign. These are compiled and presented to the client as the Creative Brief. The content of the Creative Brief shall be based on research conducted by the Virtual Assistant. Research methodologies include online references, surveys and interview.

Choose the Social Networks – Not all social networks are the same. Each network caters to a specific community and has its own culture. Your Virtual Assistant will identify the best social networks for your business. The decision will be based on research done for the Creative Brief and should support the campaign. A typical strategy for startups would be:

  • Twitter – Market Acquisition
  • Facebook – Content Distribution
  • LinkedIn – Content Distribution and Networking

Organize the Team – A Virtual Assistant may ask you to bring in other virtual assistants who could micro-manage specific areas of social media marketing. For example:

  • Content Writer – Write blogs, articles for the website, Facebook, Linked.
  • SEO Professional – Optimize website pages and all content for publication.
  • Graphics Designer – Come up with catchy designs for the social media pages.

The Social Media VA will attend to the posting schedule of all blogs, direct engagement with respondents and qualifying potential connections.

Implement the Schedule – Social media networks have their own set of nuances. The frequency of posts, length and content will widely differ depending on the network. Here are a few examples:

  • Twitter
    Length – 71 to 100 characters
    Frequency – 3 Tweets per day
  • Facebook
    Length – 40 characters
    Frequency – 2 Posts per day
  • LinkedIn
    Length – 25 words
    Frequency – Once a day
  • Blogs
    Length – 1,600 words
    Frequency – 3 times a week
  • Google Plus
    Length – 60 words
    Frequency – 3 Posts a day

The Virtual Assistant will prepare and strictly follow a posting schedule. All content will be prepared by the Content Writer.

Provide Consistent Analysis – Online marketing including social media is an evolving process. It is not realistic to expect your campaign to hit a home run right away. Your Virtual Assistant knows changes on the selection of social media networks, scheduling and content may have to change until such time your business gains consistent traction.

The Virtual Assistant will be studying online analytics to have a clearer picture on how the social media campaign is shaping up and performing.

Social media marketing is an efficient and effective way to create greater exposure for your business. It may take time to bear fruit but surely you will end up with more followers and enhanced awareness on your products and services than when you first started. Converting these into sales will be another matter that can also be done by a Virtual Assistant.

What is FSBO and Why are People Using it to Sell their Property?

What is FSBO and Why are People Using it to Sell their Property?

If you are planning to sell your own home, chances are the first thing you will do is to find a licensed real estate agent. Truth be told, hiring a real estate agent is the safest thing you can do to sell property.

After all, they are certified professionals with the experience and know- how to have your home sold in the market without inconvenience to you.

But does safest mean the same as smartest?

There is a growing trend of property owners who are ditching the real estate agent when selling their own home. This approach is called FSBO or “For Sale By Owner”.

FSBO removes the real estate agent from the sales equation. The property owner does everything the real agent would do in a standard real estate sales transaction:

  • Market and Promote the Property
  • Create Marketing Collateral
  • Update all Content in Social Media
  • Take Incoming Inquiries
  • Schedule Home Visits and Inspections
  • Price the Property
  • Negotiate with Prospective Buyers
  • Prepare the Contract of Sale

If FSBO seems daunting, it is not. With a bit of planning and organization, you can pull off selling your own property and generate higher returns.

When you remove the real estate agent from the sales process, you automatically save between 2% to 3% in commission payouts. In addition, you have better control and management of your money.

The sum total of the other services provided by the real estate agent as summarized above can easily increase your total expenses to 6% to 8%.

What does a 6% cost savings look like? If your property’s final negotiated price is $500,000 by going FSBO, you improve your net return by $30,000!

In addition, going For Sale By Owner increases your chances of selling your home on time.

What does “on time” mean in a real estate transaction?

If your property isn’t sold within 4 months, its perceived market value will drop exponentially. You will be leaving thousands of dollars on the table if you cannot sell your home right away.

But doesn’t a real estate agent have all the connections and a large network of prospective buyers?

Yes, but he or she also has a lot of clients.

When you ask a real estate agent to sell your home, you will be required to agree and sign an Exclusivity Agreement. This means only the agent has the authority to sell your property.

It may seem all well and good. You might think the agent has your best interests at heart and you’re probably right. But this is also the agent’s livelihood and source of income.

If your property is located in an area of sluggish demand and stagnant prices, the agent will place more attention on selling homes in fast- moving locations such as Sydney and Melbourne.

So doesn’t the Exclusivity Agreement seem onerous?

By going the FSBO route, you can devote 100% more time and effort in selling your own home. If you have a full- time job, a family and the list of tasks are overwhelming, why not hire a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant is a professional who can manage administrative jobs and carry out support services.

You can delegate the following tasks to a Virtual Assistant:

  • Set up an account for your home at a reputable FSBO company; these are online sites dedicated for property owners who want to sell their own home. Hundreds of followers can view your property and submit offers.
  • Promote your property in social media and link these accounts to your FSBO page.
  • Take in all calls and inquiries.
  • Schedule home visits.
  • Prepare and review contracts.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant will not cost you much and will get a lot of things done for you.

So if you are planning to sell your own home, consider going FSBO. It will save you both time and money.

 

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4 Unconventional Ways to Qualify Your Virtual Assistant

When hiring a Virtual Assistant, many business owners are content with just the interview and conducting a few basic tests. While these are tried and tested methods, they may not be sufficient in helping you find the best Virtual Assistant for your business.

To do that, you have to think outside the virtual box. Here are 4 unconventional ways to qualify your Virtual Assistant:

Trial Period

Would you buy a car without test driving it? What if there is computer error or defective brakes? Your life is literally in your hands by not opting for the test drive.

In the case of a Virtual Assistant, the life of your business could be in virtual hands if you don’t opt for the trial period.

It is standard procedure for VA candidates to agree to a trial period. This is paid time anyway and usually does not take more than 2 hours. The purpose of the trial period is to see how the Virtual Assistant performs in an actual work situation.

It is not a guarantee that you will find the best candidate. But at the very least, you will get a glimpse of how it is to work when outsourcing services.

Check Their Social Media Pages

Is it snooping around? Is checking someone else’s social media pages unethical? No. As a matter of fact, 60% of hiring managers would check a candidate’s social media account as part of the process.

Over the years, more businesses are placing greater value on the behavioral component than technical and fundamental competencies. After all, anyone can be trained but values have been ingrained by a lifetime of experiences. Among the factors hiring managers look into are as follows:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs
  • Images of drinking or drug use
  • Discriminatory comments on gender, race or religion
  • Negative remarks on previous employer
  • Poor spelling and grammar

Make Work Uncomfortable

A Virtual Assistant is technically contracted not hired. This means you can terminate the contract any time. You should continue to qualify your Virtual Assistant especially during the first month of the working engagement.

Put the VA’s commitment and dedication to the test by making work uncomfortable. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Schedule his or her work shift during late night or graveyard hours.
  • Schedule work and meetings on weekends especially on Sunday.
  • Give unrealistically tight deadlines.
  • Ask the VA to preside over meetings and to cover presentations in Power Point.

Do this for a period of 2 weeks. If your Virtual Assistant passes with flying colors, implement a normal working schedule.

If not, hire another one and repeat the process.

Contact References

Another standard procedure in the hiring process is for the candidates to provide references. This includes former clients, employers and associates. But some business owners do not check up on these references.

If you want to know how your candidate performs, talk to someone who has worked with him or her. Take the time to contact the references and if possible, reach out via phone.

You also need to check on the background of the reference. He or she could just be a bogus character “hired” to give you a good review.

Are you going overboard by implementing any of these strategies? Ask yourself, “How much do you value your business?”

Going back to the analogy about the car, would you trust your car to someone you don’t know?

Your business is your livelihood. You should tightly scrutinize the people you allow to be part of it. This is especially true when the person works from the virtual world where close, shared space collaboration is not possible.

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Virtual Assistant Transcription Services: Accuracy and Productivity Guaranteed

One of the fastest growing segments in the Virtual Assistant market is transcription services. Accuracy and precision are needed to ensure quality of work and services. This is especially true in the case of the medical and legal fields where flawed information could influence life or death situations. It is not enough to have information recorded; there have to be copies in black and white.

Transcription is the process of converting audio files into text files. Doctors and lawyers can either e-mail audio files or speak through software that automatically records, files and categorizes information. The audio files are stored in highly encrypted file sharing programs which can be accessed only by authorized transcribers.

It used to be that transcription services were done in-house due to the confidential nature of some of the files. Patients’ medical records for one are very confidential especially if the patient is influential. The same goes for legal information which could potentially jeopardize the position and strategies of the firm.

But in 2006, an enterprising virtual assistant by the name of Aretha Gaskin felt it was impossible to accurately oversee or manage all of the documents and administrative work required by a law firm. She started a virtual legal transcription company that managed the documentary and administrative needs of law firms in New York City.

Medical transcription work used to be done within the hospital. But soon, hospitals realized that it was more costly to maintain an in-house transcription team. The software programs were also expensive to maintain. A viable solution was simply to outsource medical transcription work to agencies that could guarantee accuracy, timely delivery and security.

Another branch of transcription is close caption work. This is basically sub- titling which you see in many cable network shows, film and videos. The purpose of sub- titling is to accommodate the needs of the hearing- impaired.

Other industries that have reached out to transcription service providers are business and education. Companies often have their meetings and seminars audio recorded while schools may allow students to record lectures.

Virtual assistants are very capable of providing accurate and timely transcription services. What qualities should you look for in a Virtual Assistant transcriber?

Excellent Level of English – While having a background in the field of study is important, it is more valuable to have excellent command of the English Language. The Virtual Assistant transcriber must have excellent grammar, spelling and knows how to use punctuation marks. The incorrect use of punctuation marks can change the content of a legal document.

Works in a Quiet Area – Set up a Skype call with the Virtual Assistant candidate for transcription and pay close attention to background noise and the quality of the audio. In order to be accurate, the transcriber has to be able to focus 100%. Background noise will be a source of distraction and may affect quality of work.

Meticulous; Detail-Oriented – The best transcriber is the one who is mindful about deadlines but takes the time to review the details of the transcription before submitting them. In medical transcription, patient names could sound the same but have a different spelling. Even a name as popular as “Smith” could be spelled as “Smythe”. The transcriber has to take steps to make sure all information is accurate.

A Virtual Assistant can deliver transcription work with an accuracy rating of 99%+. And because a Virtual Assistant operates from home and manages his or her time, punctual delivery and more focused work should be expected.

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Is Outsourcing Services Under Threat from the New World Order?

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Since the new millennium, the global outsourcing industry has grown by leaps and bounds. The availability of the Internet in 2000 further established globalization. Meanwhile, events were changing the world as we knew it. Over the last 15 years, political, economic and social barriers were torn down as consequences of globalization.

While uncertainty and economic volatility create the ideal conditions for outsourcing to thrive in, it may seem that the process is under threat by the changing political climate.

In 2013, the Philippines became the number 1 destination for global outsourcing supplanting India, Mumbai and Bangalore. Since 2004, the Philippines’ outsourcing services industry has been growing at an average of 20% per annum. From $3M in 2004, the Philippines outsourcing services sector generated US$18M in 2015. It is expected to earn US$20M to US$25M in 2016 with the upside at US$48M by 2020.

These numbers are now at risk since President Rodrigo Duterte came into power in 2016. President Duterte’s administration has taken a 180 degree turn in foreign policy away from the US and toward China, a perennial competitor in outsourcing. According to outsourcing analysts, millions of dollars worth of business from the US and Europe have been put on indefinite hold.

A few months later, in 9 November 2016, America elected Donald J. Trump as its 45th President. During his campaign, Trump vowed to bring jobs back to America by imposing stiff penalties on companies that did business with other countries. Trump’s vitriol was primarily targeted on Asia which was the focal point of the Democratic Party’s foreign policy.

Will these changes in political structures and ideologies signal the end of outsourcing?

The answer is “No” for the following reasons:

Outsourcing Does Not Live or Die with the US – The US is not the only market for outsourcing. Other countries such as Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Singapore and Germany are emerging markets for outsourcing.

Even if Duterte’s incendiary rhetoric turns off US investors, there are countries that look beyond politics and focus on the availability of talent, comparative advantages and economies of scale.

Offshoring is NOT Outsourcing – The source of Trump’s consternation is offshoring not outsourcing.

In his first 100 days, Trump plans to discontinue the Offshoring Act which allowed US companies to set up shop in other countries to lower their cost of production.

Trump wants to discourage offshoring because it takes jobs away from America. Outsourcing does not take jobs from America.

Outsourcing is a Process – Did your business just sign up a Virtual Assistant? If so, guess what? You just outsourced services.

Outsourcing has been a go-to cost cutting strategy since the 1970’s. It is more prevalent now because the Internet has made it possible to do business with other countries without climbing aboard a plane.

You can outsource services from the comforts of your own home. Need a Content Writer to manage your blogs? Sign up a freelancer from the Philippines.

Do you want to outsource the payroll and benefits management for your 300 employees? Outsource them to a third party service provider who can provide you 10 encoders and 1 Account Manager to do the job.

Globalization is a beautiful thing. Any President who tries to suppress it will be doomed to fail because globalization is the new economy. Instead of fighting it, you should embrace it and all the possibilities.

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How a Virtual Assistant can Increase Your Productivity by 300%

Productivity is an everyday concern of many entrepreneurs. Hiring a Virtual Assistant will not only ensure consistent productivity but with proper planning and the right business model, you can even increase output by 300%.

Here are 4 actionable tips to increase business productivity:

Identify Your Core Business Functions – Before you go through the process of finding a Virtual Assistant, review your business model. If you don’t have a system in place, create one and indicate the areas of responsibility, frameworks and processes.

Identify your core business functions. These are the ones that translate to money in the bank. You have to dedicate most of your time managing these functions if you want your business to succeed.

Delegate Non- Core Business Functions – The other tasks which don’t fall under your core business functions are your non- core business functions. These are often referred to as “non- essential tasks”. They are important to keep the business organized but are not directly related to output.

The non- core business functions should be delegated to your Virtual Assistant. By identifying these tasks, you will have an idea of the qualifications you need for your VA.

Having a VA handle these tasks will free up time for you to oversee core business functions.

Identify 4 Goals Per Day – Studies on the behavior of regular office employees showed that the average worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive work per day. That is only a productivity rating of 20% given that there are 450 minutes for productive work per day.

Using 90 minutes as your baseline, it is realistic to accomplish 4 goals per day. Dedicate 90 minutes of effort per goal. By effort, this means 110%, laser guided focus on accomplishing the task. There should be no distractions.

This will translate to 360 minutes or 6 hours of productive work per day. Give yourself a 30 minute break after 90 minutes. The break will be used to recharge; rest up and clear your mind before you work on the next goal.

By following this business model, you would be able to increase your productivity from 20% to 300% everyday. Across the week, you would increase your accomplishments from 5 goals to 20 goals. Thus, you exponentially accelerate the growth of your business.

Track Your Progress – Every end of the week, meet with your Virtual Assistant and do a review of business performance. Do a summary of tasks that were accomplished and those that were left pending.

Discuss difficulties, issues and other concerns that inhibited progress. Review statistics, figures and website analytics to have a reliable basis for recommendations and courses of action.

Is this a perfect business model for productivity? No because not all tasks are the same. You will encounter tasks that are more complicated and require more time. Perhaps on some days you will only accomplish 2; maybe even just 1. Then again, it is within the realm of possibility to even accomplish 5 or 6 goals on certain days.

The important take-away is that having the time to work directly on your core business functions would not have been possible without hiring a Virtual Assistant.

Unless you can efficiently manage your time, it will be difficult to keep your business moving forward.

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5 factors to consider when investing in an overseas property market

More people are now investing in overseas properties. But they often have to face with lots of challenges. Here are the important factors you should consider when investing in properties abroad.

Funding options

The securing fund is a challenge in a foreign market. You are subject to international laws, and things are discussed in terms of local currencies. You should get an ‘Agreement in Principle’ before finalizing your purchase. This will act as a protection in case you cannot extend your loan or cannot reclaim your original deposit.

Tax liability

Every country has its law regarding tax. In some countries, home owners have to pay land tax as a prerequisite for getting a mortgage. You might have to pay for stamp duty, title transfer tax, etc. You must incorporate all these tax-related costs in your budget.

Local money and exchange rates

It is necessary to understand the local value of currency and exchange rates. You need to get a Certificate of Incorporation to open a bank account if you have to bring money from your home country. This will help you to pay legal fees and tax debts.

Get an independent valuation

Even though the task may be difficult, you should obtain an individual evaluation of your property. This will guarantee the integrity of the property.

Research the location

You should research the location, amenities, transport system, etc. If you want to live there, this factor is very important. For example, if you have children, you need to find out if there are good schools in the region.

Before investing in a foreign property market, you should first decide why you want to buy the property. This will help you to stay focused and take steps carefully.

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Top 4 places in Europe to invest in the real estate market

European property market now is a highly lucrative place to invest in. With the economic growth and various government initiatives, investing in the real estate market in Europe will give good returns. Here are the top 4 places in Europe to invest.

Birmingham

1

The properties are cheaper in Birmingham compared to London. The city is attracting employers like HSBC. There is growth in the market, making it a good place to invest in.

Berlin

2

Germany’s capital is one of the best places you can invest in. Growth in the technology sector has made it a good option for getting office space. The living cost is low here. It’s culture and location has increased its housing prospects.

Hamburg

3

There has been more than $5 billion investment in the properties over the last few years. It has a diverse group of occupiers. There is a huge demand for offices from the business services, trade sectors, small businesses and the media. Construction in these sectors is expected to increase.

Dublin

4

Those who have already invested in the Dublin real estate market or will invest soon will see highest total returns. There will be rental growth for offices. The retail sector is expected growth in the coming years.

If you invest in one of these cities soon, you can expect high returns due to the property sector growth of these cities. So, do some research and enter these markets as soon as possible to get the best deal. If you want to check the real estate market from Australia, check FSORBO.

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4 reasons to invest in properties abroad

Many investors think this year as the best year for investing in the real estate market. There were 11% returns on global property investment in 2014, and the trends seem to be upward every year. Here are some reasons for investing in properties abroad.

European Growth

Americans and people from other countries are looking forward to investing in Europe. Most of them are finding properties in London, Paris, and Frankfurt. They are investing in holiday homes, offices, luxury retail spaces and shopping centers.

Protecting capital

Those who have cash in hand investing in property may be a good option to get some good return for their money. They can benefit from the exchange rate. This business is secured as the real estate market has high demand now.

Buy beachfront property

Beachfront property always has demanded. Europe is a great destination for holidaymakers. There are resort builders and other developers who will help you in selling your property.

Cash Flow in Alternate Currency

By investing in Europe or other international real estate market, you are generating income in another currency. So, in case your home country has an economic crisis, you can have alternate funds.

Investors are turning to the European real estate market to get a good income return. The European real estate markets are huge with great liquidity. The economy of Europe is improving. The return of investment is higher in European markets. So, if you are thinking of investing in the foreign market, it is the best time to do so.

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