Thought you might enjoy a link to an extended interview I did with NBC Nightly News. What their site says: Small business owners are ‘American heroes’ July 13: Rich Sloan from Startupnation.com explains why a recession might actually be the best time to start your own business. Click “play video” on image below. The most exciting part [...]Continue Reading
Archive for 2009
We’ve partnered with DYMO to bring you a high-octane, FREE webinar (on July 22) to increase productivity for your business. Panelists include: Kendra Todd: The first woman, as well as the youngest competitor to win the popular NBC show, “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump. Rich Sloan: StartupNation’s own Chief Startupologist and co-founder Cynthia Shapiro: International Best Selling [...]Continue Reading
Hello from the engine room deep in the belly of StartupNation! We’ve been working on a major community upgrade and website re-release for the past year as some of your may know. I’m happy to provide a preview of some of the new Community features for you. Before jumping into the fun stuff, I wanted [...]Continue Reading
Do you really need a newsletter? Well, if you don’t have one, you are missing out on a cost-effective way to attract new business and provide loyal customers with valuable information. Here’s how it works it three simple points: 1. Think about what your customers want. How you can provide your customers with new and worthwhile [...]Continue Reading
StartupNation members who’ve opted in for our newsletters are receiving periodic PR Opportunity Breaking News Bulletins. This is all part of how StartupNation is helping its members get recognition and become more successful. (You can sign up to receive these bulletins here.) We’re really excited to share with you the most recent PR triumph that we’ve facilitated for [...]Continue Reading
For small businesses that sell products online, creating compelling product pages on your website is critical to driving sales. To that end, here are 7 tips for developing better product pages on your website, leading to a better experience for the site visitor and more revenue for you. Make the Product Stand Out Designate an [...]Continue Reading
Hi Everyone! I hope you had a great July 4th! It’s always nice to celebrate our independence! On that note, are you starting a new, independent lifestyle working for yourself? I’m taking a little holiday break, but in the meantime, you may want check out my new article, “How to Build Buzz for Your Services Without [...]Continue Reading
Update for information previously provided in my blog post below: This just in from the NBC Nightly News producer: “We finally have an airdate. July 13th. I’ve been scrambling with other projects in the meantime. Scott is out til next week so after the holiday we’ll get serious about shooting someone starting a business. I [...]Continue Reading
Yes, my incredible, ever true, best friend has met his end. Max has died of cancer at nine years old. This photo of him was snapped on Friday, tumor obvious, at a favorite spot of his – the creek behind my dear friends Brent and Teri’s ranch. I am also including links to blog entries I’ve written here at [...]Continue Reading
A website that does not drive your small business revenue is a lost opportunity. When building a new website or updating an existing website, many small business owners are focused on the design, technologies (Flash, for example), or the number of pages of the site. What is ultimately important to focus on, though, is your [...]Continue Reading
I recently found out about this business called Klymit, www.klymit.com. If you’re a scuba diver like me, or just like to spend time outdoors, it’s pretty cool stuff. With this in mind, I tracked down some insights from Klymit’s CEO, Nate Alder. Here’s what he had to say: Tell us how and why you started [...]Continue Reading
With over 70% of the economic experts expecting a last quarter uptick in the economy, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the extra business. I am a big fan of using virtual assistants to help build out my team during peak seasons. This is an especially useful business strategy in today’s market place. One of the best lessons a recession can teach us is that in many circumstances variable costs beat fixed costs any day. To survive the feast or famine rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, you need to make sure your expenses mimic those same ups and downs.
Benefits of Virtual Assistants
Adding virtual assistants to your workforce is a terrific way to turn a traditionally “fixed” expense, like payroll, into a more cash flow friendly variable expense. Let me explain how it would work. For example, most business advisers suggest that payroll expenses should average 20-30% of your sales. This would mean that when sales are flush at $250,000/month that translates into payroll expenses of $50-75,000. When sales hit a downturn at only $50,000/month, your payroll would then move back to a more manageable, $10-15,000. As a business owner, how closely you adhere to this ratio means the difference between bleeding red and staying in the black.
Additional Benefits Include:
- No payroll taxes or employee benefit expenses
- No “on site” office space requirements
- No costly training programs when hiring experienced VA’s
- No long term commitment
- No morale draining lay offs during slow seasons
Understanding the Relationship
When considering virtual assistants to help manage business tasks, there are a couple considerations to keep in mind. For starters, they are not your employee but independent contactors. This means they will most likely have other tasks and deadlines on their schedule while they are working for you. READ: They are on their clock- not yours. Make sure you are respectful of time constraints and provide as much advanced notice of tasks, deadlines, and special circumstances as possible. As with many business relationships, communication is critical. You can’t blame a virtual assistant for not living up to your expectations if you never made those expectations clear. In other words, don’t just say you need something “right away”, make sure you define “right away” as within two hours.
I also think it is wise to start slowly when building a new relationship with a virtual assistant. For example, instead of requesting that they create a new website for you, start by having them update your blog template first. As each task is completed satisfactorily, and communication strengthens, you can then proceed to larger and more complex tasks. Also, be sure to discuss with potential VA’s their strengths and weaknesses to ensure the best experience possible. If you are in the real estate field, consider searching for VA’s with backgrounds in real estate. If you an entrepreneur looking for marketing help, be sure to search for VA’s with a background in marketing or who are currently active in social media.
Tips from an Experienced VA
For more tips, I turned to Dawn Martinello of Monday Morning VA. As an experienced virtual assistant herself, she had some great insight to share. She can be found at MondayMorningVA.
- Be sure to have an exit strategy. Does your contract give you an out if you don’t mesh well? This is especially important for first time clients. For example, our services are non-refundable, but for first time clients we give a 7 day grace period in which they can bow out of the contract if they aren’t working well with their VA.
- When you’re considering outsourcing keep the price in mind. My rule of thumb is that an entrepreneur shouldn’t be doing anything in their business that doesn’t earn them at least 2/3 of their regular rate. That means if you’re a bookkeeper who charges $30.00 per hour, you should consider outsourcing anything that doesn’t earn you $20.00 per hour. The reasoning behind this is that business people need to spend their time and energy on what generates revenue for them. Spending 4 hours trying to update your website doesn’t earn a bookkeeper anything!
If you have never considered hiring a virtual assistant to build out your team, I strongly suggest taking a second look. As technology continues to advance and better networking platforms are built, virtual work relationships will only become even easier. A couple great places to start your search for virtual help include Guru.com, Freelance.com, RentACoder.com, or a simple “virtual assistant” search on Google.
Business Owners, feel free to leave any questions or experiences you would like to share in the comments. Virtual Assistants, be sure to leave any additional tips and your contact information including your area of expertise.
With over 70% of the economic experts expecting a last quarter uptick in the economy, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the extra business. I am a big fan of using virtual assistants to help build out my team during peak seasons. This is an especially useful business strategy in today’s market [...]Continue Reading
In Western culture, the word “control” has an undeserved bad rap. It conjures up the image of a type-A personality gone wild with power, who, headed down the road of personal self-destruction, cuts wide swaths of anxiety among all those encountered. “Control freak” is a term that often surfaces. But if hyper-control is a bad [...]Continue Reading
Hi everyone, I am the other face you see in the picture on the far left. My name is Sarah Benner and I am a Senior Marketing Manager at VerticalResponse. I’m going to be contributing to this blog along with Jenna Jantsch. Summer is here, believe it or not! The sun is shining (in most [...]Continue Reading
With social marketing vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all the rage, blogging has become somewhat of a forgotten stepchild. But this doesn’t make sense. Blogging can be one of the most effective marketing tools for the small business owner. It’s easy to start, it’s easy to maintain and it’s easy to leverage in [...]Continue Reading
Twitter, http://twitter.com/, is a great way to build buzz about your products and services. But if you are using it for media relations activities, here are a few tips to keep in mind: 1. Keep it professional. Although you want to reach out to followers on a personal level, keep it professional and provide valuable information. [...]Continue Reading
On Tuesday, we heard from David Durick of gotoBilling, www.gotobilling.com. This business experienced a 307% volume increase during the recession so I sat down with David to get his insights for other small business owners. Here is the rest of that interview and more of David’s tips: What kind of marketing and publicity activities have helped GTB [...]Continue Reading
Adding personalization to your email marketing campaigns is just one of those extra steps you can do to connect with each of your customers, especially if you have kept good records on your recipients actions. And we all know how far that extra step can go towards increasing your bottom line. A simple example of [...]Continue Reading
We’re approximately halfway through the year. Do you know how your website is performing? Do you know the site visitor trends? Do you know the most important site fixes or upgrades that need to be made? June and July are great times of the year to review and evaluate your website’s performance, and to give [...]Continue Reading
Some companies are doing well during these tough economic times. That’s why I sat down with David Durick of gotoBilling, www.gotobilling.com, to find out the secret to their success (and how marketing has played a role in their significant growth over the past year). Here’s what David had to say… What do you do at [...]Continue Reading