10 Steps When You Need Help in Your Business

10 Steps When You Need Help in Your Business
By: Martin Haworth

Need help?You start off alone. Be it as a solo business owner or a manager looking after a part of a larger business. It gets busier, you get distracted from what you want to do, because there’s only one of you and you’ve only got one pair of hands.

So you need to find help.

Sometimes you need to find help fast, but there are things you can do to prepare.

If you think ahead and plan, many of those nightmare situations can be overcome.

By ensuring that you have a great group of people around you, there will be more to fall back on when the going gets tough – because that, as they say, is when the tough really do get going.

Big challenges can be very difficult to face – and they can be fascinating and exhilarating. So here’s some thoughts on how to make the best of these times, by getting ready in advance and making it work.

1. Plan Ahead

Look out for what you might need in the future and plan to make business life far, far easier for yourself. Decide what your business will be when it’s the best it can be and focus on getting to there. Think then about whether the resources are within or outside your business, which will depend on the size of it.

2. Size Doesn’t Matter

Even if you are small, tiny even, don’t think you can’t afford a specialist – it will often make sense, both in relieving stress and financially. I mean you didn’t get into your business to always do your books did you? (And if you did, maybe you want to try bookkeeping as a business!). Chris Barrow aka The Million Dollar Coach always reckons the first thing any self-respecting entrepreneur should do, is get a PA. In these days of VA’s (virtual assistants) it’s becoming a do-able option for all.

3. Look For Talent

With your mind set on what you want, look out everywhere for people who can help. If you are a small business owner, that might not be for a little while, but keep your eyes open, both within your own business, your family and your acquaintances. Anyone, anywhere – be alert!

4. Build Networks

Get out there and make sure that you listen to people who might use some of the experts you need. This means that if you have to choose, you have already got testimonials up front. This makes it a lot easier. Recommendations work! Many local specialists, when they are worth their salt, get more than enough clients through recommendations rather than need to advertise.

5. Seek Recommendations

Again, it’s about keeping your eyes and ears open. You need a whiz with computer experience. By talking about it and listening hard, you may well find the help you need. Didn’t you know that your cousin Myrtle’s step-brother is learning all about HTML at college? Shame on you!

6. Set Quality Standards

By being very clear about what you want from the help you get, you are much more likely to get it. You will save yourself a lot of time and probably money by getting really specific (so, dot ‘i’s and ‘t’s very carefully). It’s very interesting how what comes out of our mouths is interpreted in so many different ways than we might expect (hint – it’s always your fault, not theirs – so get over it).

7. Measure Performance

Along with the standards you agree upon with your help, be they a member of your own team, or an external contractor, it is vital that you have a way of measuring performance on a regular basis. Keeping your requirements SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time Scaled) will make this much easier. And don’t be afraid to require penalties from external contractors if the fail to deliver.

8. Take Some Risks

Sometimes you have to wing it. So, if you take as much care as is practical, you can take a few risks with those who you have to help you. So don’t be afraid to give more responsibility to one of your team, especially if they show promise – give them the opportunity, support and your confidence and often they will deliver way beyond what you expect.

9. New Blood

If you are missing an ingredient with your internal or external help, don’t be afraid to get someone new in. It helps everyone if the right person is in the team, and there are a lot of folks out there who can do a great job. Anyone doing a poor job knows it and is not helping you at all. For outside help, if you have even a hint in your gut that it isn’t working, be tough and get it fixed – or get out – dragging bad deals on is a very bad deal for you.

10. Give Accountability

And finally, make it very, very clear who you are holding accountable for the help you hire, whether it is in your business of from outside. You have a name to an accountability and that’s that. They are where the buck stops. Internally, it can be through one-to-one meetings and milestones, externally, well, much the same although maybe a little more formally. Set them up with agreed timescales and make them stick.

Being aware of the help you need well in advance, will make a big difference for you – you can focus on the aspects of business you bring value to and, while we’re on the subject of value, have fun and get a life for yourself as well.

©2006 Martin Haworth is a Management Coach. He has hundreds more at his website, http://www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com Coaching Businesses to Success.

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Drawbacks to Offshore Virtual Assistants

Disadvantages of Outsourcing to Offshore Virtual Assistants
By Rita Cartwright [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Rita_Cartwright]
Published: November 18, 2008

As an onshore Virtual Assistant and entrepreneur, I feel it is necessary to address the disadvantages of outsourcing to offshore virtual assistants (VAs), as well as discuss what some of these disadvantages are.

When you outsource offshore, you are going to encounter virtual assistants who are not familiar with our culture and language. Although they speak English, generally it is not their first language. This causes language barriers, communication gaps, and lack of understanding. It can also be very time-consuming to have a regular conversation. All languages have nuances, which can’t be taught in foreign language lessons. Is the frustration worth the money you save?

Another disadvantage is if you choose to outsource confidential personal data offshore, it may not be protected. Firms in India currently are not equally subject to any extensive legislative or regulatory data-protection controls.

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Patient reminders? Delegate them!

Various Patient Groups Prefer Different Appointment Reminder Types
Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Of course the computer today is a ubiquitous instrument; it’s very simply found everywhere. Hospitals, of course, use it to give their patients an automatic appointment reminding message. This practice has many benefits but probably the best of all its benefits is that medical appointment reminding messages have virtually halted all patient “”Did Not Attends”.” This is, of course, highly pleasing to hospitals that can make new appointments instead of having an empty room because of that particular no-show. There are in actuality three different kinds of appointment reminders, and these are the email, SMS, or telephone.

Email reminders. Your computer can send out emails to patients whose appointments are coming up. Emails are easy to input personal information into. For instance, each email should give a salutation from the office staff, followed by a description of the name of the person who has the appointment, the exact appointment date, and the time. Email reminders should also include a phone number or site address if the patient wishes to change the appointment. Personalized information from your custom database (such as the name of the person, appointment type and length of time) can be included in your appointment reminders. Many younger people frequently check their emails all day and into the evening, and thus prefer getting these reminders as emails, which also make it easy to respond to if they cannot honor the appointment.

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Still Don’t “Get” Twitter? It’s Time to Try

Still Don’t “Get” Twitter? It’s Time to Try
By Ira Kalb | March 9, 2011

Despite the fact that millions of people are using Twitter, too many still do not seem to grasp its power. Upon asking marketers if they use Twitter, the common replies I hear are:

* “Why should I care if you are having a latte at Starbucks?”
* “I already get status updates from LinkedIn or Facebook.”

These reactions demonstrate that some marketing professionals still don’t know what Twitter can do for their business or the brands they manage. In fact, last year social media pundit and blogger Brian Solis noted that on google, the second most popular query that begins with “I don’t get…” is “I don’t get Twitter.”

Twitter users have more power

Those that do get Twitter seem to have more influence online. A 2010 study by Exact Target showed that consumers active on Twitter are three times more likely to impact a brand’s reputation than the average customer. In fact, the study goes on to say that Twitter users are the most influential online consumers and that “Twitter offers marketers an unrivaled opportunity to instantly and personally interact with customers on behalf of a brand.”

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Try Remote Customer Service

Remote Customer Service Can Help Keep Your Business Lean
Author: Kurt Duncan, Articlesbase.com

In today’s economy, businesses are constantly looking for ways to cut or reduce expenses. A great way to do this is to outsource your customer service function. Having an in-house customer service team is a costly venture. The overhead is incredible with salaries and benefits for agents, office space, computers and phone equipment, not to mention the specialized, automated systems used to ensure customer service teams can run as efficiently as possible. And, you need tech people to make sure all the high-tech equipment and software is operational whenever your customer service team is on duty.

Hiring a remote customer service team can save your company a lot of money, and ensure your customers receive the excellent service they’d receive if they were calling your company directly. In fact, customers don’t even need to know that they’re not speaking to an employee of your company, especially if you are able to train the call center staff to understand your products and services, and enable them to make the decisions necessary to provide customer satisfaction without needing to put the call on hold “to check with their supervisor.”

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Why Use a Remote Assistant?

Why Should A Business Outsource?
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Typically businesses will find at various times that they have a lack of resources to deal with non-core functions such as bookkeeping payroll and IT. At such times extra help can be very useful.

Perhaps the Financial Controller or Finance Director is on extended leave. Maybe your company isn’t large enough yet to justify a full-time Controller but needs some financial oversight. Perhaps you are opening up in a new country and need people on the ground. You may have plenty of accounting staff, but they lack the skills to complete their responsibilities.

Or you may be starting a new business from scratch or overhauling an existing one and need some guidance on accounting protocols, structure and software. By outsourcing your accounting needs, short-term or ongoing, you can concentrate on taking care of your business.

Human resources management is a crucial function once a business has more than a few staff. There will be starters and leavers to deal with, sickness and maternity, not to mention disciplinary issues. If these issues are not set out at the start in contracts of employment and staff handbooks then problems can arise in the future. Few smaller businesses will have the expertise to deal with these matters themselves and so help is needed.

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