In the past, outsourcing was a strategy used by big business, but thanks to technology and the rise in virtual services, outsourcing has become accessible for SMEs too. It’s now possible to outsource almost every part of your business from general administration and accountancy to marketing, sales and even customer service. The main aim is to save time and money. When you’re working with a small team and limited resources, it’s a great way to tap into new skill sets that might not necessarily be accessible to you otherwise. Most importantly, it will allow your company to grow and keep up with the competition.
Here’s How It Works
Professional virtual services companies usually manage a team of highly skilled employees, who they monitor for quality control and security. So for starters, you’re getting to skip the laborious recruitment phases and then you don’t have the stress of managing an extra employee. Virtual employees usually work by the hour or you can sign up to set packages so that you only pay for the time actually worked. When you work with an in-house employee, you’re paying for the time they waste on social media, chatting in the kitchen and for their holiday and sickness leave. So virtual services tend to be more cost effective too.
But It’s More Than That
Virtual services give small businesses the opportunity to reach beyond their means, without paying a premium. As a small business owner, your time and concentration is spread across hundreds of different tasks a day. Hire a virtual personal assistant and they can take care of your diary, help to manage your time more efficiently, answer your emails, organise your files and make sure you don’t forget any social responsibilities; a virtual social media manager can take care of your company’s online presence, building a consistent strategy and ensuring that content is regularly posted across multiple platforms; a virtual bookkeeper will keep your accounts up-to-date, send out invoices and pay bills, the list goes on. Essentially, it means you can use expert knowledge without actually having to permanently employ the expert.
Working With A Virtual Employee
The biggest concern my clients have when they consider using virtual services is how they will be able to build a professional relationship with someone they’ve never met. Whilst it can take some time to adjust to using solely online communication tools such as Skype, FaceTime and Whatsapp, most of us are already well practised at virtual communication. In our busy lives, most of socialising takes place online and international businesses requires effective virtual coordination and management. In fact, communicating remotely can end up saving you time too as you don’t get sucked into lengthy meetings or discussions. Applications like Google Drive, Dropbox, PlannerPro and Trello, have made sharing files and feedback with a virtual employee easy.
It’s usually safer to go with a professional services company rather than a freelancer (unless the freelancer has been recommended by a friend or client) because quality and security is guaranteed. The big virtual companies usually require their employees to get background checked and to sign confidentiality agreements so that your sensitive data is protected. It’s also worth thinking about language and cultural differences. Different countries have different ways of working and it will save you time if you employ someone who understands business from your perspective. Most importantly, test it out. Lots of virtual companies offer free trials to new clients, which is a great way to experience the benefits first hand.