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Making Your Small Business More Efficient
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Making Your Small Business More Efficient

Making Your Small Business More Cost Efficient

Starting up or operating a small business is time consuming and costly. Fortunately, in these modern internet days there are a whole range of ways that you can make your small business not only more efficient but also cheaper to operate. Every day there appears to be a new app or a new piece of technology that claims to be able to save you time and money. In the following article, we look at a few that we have personal experience with and which are easy to implement.

If you are contemplating starting a small business or if you are already operating one then it may be an idea to try some of these options (if you haven’t already). Here at 123 2 Web we are constantly on the lookout for ways to make our lives or our customers lives easier.

Make use of the cloud

Lots of people talk about the “cloud” however the cloud itself can mean a number of different things. In the context that we are talking about here, (which is loosely called “Cloud Computing”) we would define the cloud as making use of the internet to use other peoples resources.

The resources that we would recommend using on the “cloud” are other people’s servers plus other people’s storage facilities.

Servers

In terms of servers, a cloud server can provide you with many of the benefits of a physical server without a lot of the heartache or expense.

Here at 123 2 Web we have a number of cloud servers that we use however our main servers are sourced from Digital Pacific in Sydney. The digital pacific servers are actual physical servers that are located in a server rack in Digital Pacific’s facilities. The servers are used exclusively for our purposes and are connected directly to the internet via a fast connection. Digital Pacific maintain the servers, take daily backups of the servers, ensure that the server rooms are clean and secure, plus they guarantee to fix anything if it goes wrong. For all this we pay a monthly fee.

A huge benefit of making use of virtual servers is that you don’t have to worry about obsolescence. When your server gets too old you simply upgrade to a newer model and you don’t have any issue with capital expenditure. In addition, facilities like Digital Pacific are built specifically for connecting servers to the internet. They have disaster recovery plans in place and guarantee more than 99% uptime.

Storage

There are a whole range of storage options out there nowadays including Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive and a bunch of others.

One of the biggest benefits of using a cloud based storage service is that you can have people in various locations working on the same file. For instance, you could be updating a spreadsheet in your office in relation to leads that are coming through while a remote virtual assistant sitting in their home office 200 km’s away could be ringing these leads and then updating the same spreadsheet.

Similarly, you could be working on a collaborative design project that requires people with different skills to complete different components of the project. Each person could be accessing the same file and could be completing their component of that project without actually leaving their home/home office.

Another great benefit of a cloud storage facility is that you can keep secure backups offsite. No longer do you need to worry about your PC dying or your laptop being stolen you can always have a secure copy of your files in the cloud.

Outsource your accounting

In the bad old days you would need a separate computer for your accounting system. You would then need to keep that computer updated with all of the latest upgrades that come out every time there is a change in tax law or a change in accounting standards. You would also need to keep regular backups of that computer as inevitably the computer would crash on a regular basis and would generally crash at the exact point in time you wanted to do the year end roll over or you wanted to print out the month’s P&L for your manager.

Fortunately, the bad old days are gone and we now have the possibility of using cloud based accounting packages.

While there are a number of cloud accounting packages out there on the market two of the better ones to choose from are MYOB and Xero.

Both MYOB and Xero will allow you to link your accounting package to your banking provider and import transactions. They can also assist you in lodging BAS and GST.

Cloud accounting means that your offsite backups are happening routinely, your staff have the ability to work from wherever they want (as long as they have an internet connection), you can easily give access to your bookkeeper or external accountant and the software is constantly kept up to date with new/updated legislation. Brilliant!

Get a virtual assistant

A virtual assistant is really just like a regular assistant except they are working remotely and are not on your payroll.

Generally, with a virtual assistant you only use them when you need them and you only pay them for the time that they have spent on your tasks.

From my perspective having a virtual assistant makes a lot of sense. Firstly, when you have an internal staff assistant it inevitably happens that you run out of things for them to do and they end up just sitting around surfing the internet or messing around with their smart phone.

While you may feel like reprimanding them for wasting your time and money it is not particularly fair on them if you do not have enough work there to keep them busy.

With a virtual assistant you only use them when you need them. If they are sitting around on their smart phone then they would be doing so on their own time and not yours.

There are lots of companies out there both in Australia and overseas providing assistant services. One of the better ones in Australia is Ruby Receptionists whose staff are based on the Gold Coast in Queensland and who can provide you with quality assistant services on a per minute basis.

Outsource your telephone answering

How many times have you picked up the office phone when you are busy/in a bad mood and given the wrong impression to the caller on the other end. What if that caller was a new potential customer and was put off by your bad attitude. Or worse still, what if you just left the call to go through to your automated answering service and the caller simply hung up and rang the next business on the list.

A telephone answering service can solve a lot of these problems. With a good telephone answering service they will answer your call within 5-6 rings, present the caller with a professional greeting that has been agreed with you and then send a message on to you or your staff. This gives you the opportunity to prioritise the messages that have come in and to call back the urgent ones ASAP.

Another good feature of top notch telephone answering services is that they can act as a gate keeper for all of those annoying telemarketing calls from SEO companies and sales people. You can get on with work and generating more income for your business while the answering service filters out the important calls from the not so important calls.

Here at 123 2 Web we use a telephone answering service from Virtual Reception and we are really happy with it. The service ends up costing us around $120 per month however it probably saves us around 50% of a staff member.

If you have a small to medium sized business and you are looking for ways to either make it more efficient or to save money then I would definitely recommend trying out a telephone answering service.

If you are reading this from the US or UK then Virtual Reception has sister companies in both. You can try a phone answering service like VirtualHeadquarters.com in the USA and VirtualReceptionist.London in the UK. Both companies will give you a 7 day trial to test them out.

Get a virtual address

If you don’t know what a virtual address is then let me explain. A virtual address is where you have a mailing address in a particular city without actually having a physical address. Similar in some ways to a post box a virtual address in usually set up in a business centre and quite often gives you a range of other benefits like access to meeting rooms, hot desk facilities, mail forwarding etc.

OK, so say that you have started up a small business in Adelaide however you want to target customers around the country and want to give the impression that you are much larger than you actually are. The way that it would work is that instead of heading out to each of those capital cities around Australia you would simply sign up for a virtual address in each of those cities. You could then list those addresses on your website, your business cards or your marketing materials. You end up getting many of the benefits of that address without having to outlay all of that money. Many of the virtual addresses on offer (check out VirtualOffice.Melbourne) are in grade A CBD buildings. These are really prestigious addresses that a lot of business people will know.

Think of all the money that you will save by going virtual instead of getting a physical address. You won’t have to spend up on deposits, bonds, furniture, receptionists and utilities. You can also work from wherever you feel the most comfortable and not be a slave to the peak hour traffic!

All of these internet/cloud related options are available now for you to make use of in your business. Each one of them is a cloud related service that I have personally made use of in the past and many are services that I use today. Using these services will not only save you money, they can also make your business more secure and help to promote a positive image to the business world.

Date posted: 2017-06-23 | posted by: 1232blog



Comments

Hi, You raise some really interesting points especially in terms of outsourcing roles. The last thing you need when you start up a small business is to be locked in to employment agreements. From my experience, the staff that you have when you start out are not the staff that you need in 3 years time.
Date: 2017-06-28 | comment by: Mike


Business is so competitive these days and employing people can be really expensive. You really need to look for any opportunities available to reduce costs and make more money.
Date: 2017-07-27 | comment by: Sydney


I have been using a virtual receptionist for around 2 years now and it has made a huge difference to my business. I would definitely recommend it to other small businesses.
Date: 2017-07-27 | comment by: Hannah


Businesses need to work as efficiently as possible and in a lot of cases this means outsourcing your non core tasks to other businesses that can handle these tasks in a more efficient way.
Date: 2017-07-27 | comment by: Jamo


With modern technology there are lots of ways to make small businesses more efficient. It then gives the business owner an opportunity to focus on more strategic issues.
Date: 2017-08-22 | comment by: Beekeeping Equipment


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