8 Tasks to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

8 Tasks to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

As we’ve noted frequently, St. Augustine business owners and managers are some of the busiest people we know.

Unfortunately, busy sometimes doesn’t translate to efficient. While juggling various tasks might seem the typical life of an entrepreneur, it can be tiring, frustrating and downright alarming when one or more tasks slip through your hands.

That’s why delegating tasks to a virtual assistant can be one of the smartest things a business owner or manager can do.

Recently, we shared the advantages of outsourcing.

As a follow-up, we’d like to share 10 tasks you can use a virtual assistant for to simplify your business life.

  1. Keeping Up with the Bookkeeping

As one of the most important tasks for any business, bookkeeping is also one of the most avoided. It can be complicated, frustrating and interruptive. It’s also one of the best tasks to outsource. Let someone else take on your invoicing or unpaid bills while you run your business (or take a much-needed break on a Sunday afternoon).

  1. Conduct Online Research

While the internet offers a wealth of information at your fingertips, it can also become a huge time waste. It’s amazing how the hours can slip by when you’re just wanting to look up some information. Virtual assistants can do the online legwork for you.

Research Prospects: Task them for looking up prospect contact information.

Research Business Opportunities: Have them conduct market research for a business idea or product.

Vet Potential Employees: Let them do an online search on employee candidates.

Keep Abreast of Industry Trends: Ask an assistant to keep up with industry news, trends and other topics that will benefit your business.

  1. Update Databases

Your database of client information can be one of your most valuable assets. Entering data into it can be one of the most time-consuming parts of any business. What a great candidate for a virtual assistant. Take that stack of business cards from your latest tradeshow and hand them over to an assistant and have them enter the contact information.

  1. Create Presentations

If PowerPoint presentations are a part of your business, outsource it. A virtual assistant can update current presentations or help you create new ones. Let them do the work of creating slides, charts and find the right graphics that will impress your clients.

  1. Manage Your Emails

If you’re like us, your email inbox gets filled pretty quickly. Sometimes it’s a chore combing through your emails, prioritizing responses, even removing unwanted promotions. A virtual assistant can manage your emails with your guidance. Plus, they could respond on your behalf.

  1. Adding the Personal Touch

Social chores are another important component to your business. Sending out thank you notes and holiday cards can add a personal touch worth its weight in gold. Let a virtual assistant take on these keeping-in-touch tasks.

  1. Research Travel Options

Looking up hotels, flights, rentals and mapping out an itinerary can be time-consuming. Save time and let a virtual assistant be your personal travel agent.

  1. Schedule Your Appointments

Large companies have administrative assistants to help manage executive calendars. A virtual assistant can handle this task easily. They can set up appointments, meetings and send out reminders for you.

These are just a sampling of tasks you can delegate to virtual assistants. We’d be happy to help you brainstorm ideas on what you can outsource. If you ever have any questions about outsourcing, we’re your experts. Give us call at (904) 429-4588.

4 Outsourcing Advantages You Should Consider

4 Outsourcing Advantages You Should Consider

In our crazy busy world, we’ve found small business owners to be some of the busiest.

Like many business owners, they tend to wear many hats. Beyond their primary business activity hat, owners can wear an accounting hat, human resources hat, IT hat, marketing hat and more.

While we can admire that entrepreneurial can-do spirit, being busy—or overwhelmingly busy—can make it hard to get work done. More specifically, doing the work that will maintain and grow your business plus increase your income.

Wearing too many hats on your head can be unwieldy. It can take a stressful amount of energy to keep all those hats from falling off your head.

Energy that could be better focused on your core business activity.

Time to Share Those Hats—Advantages of Outsourcing

Outsourcing some areas of your business can be an efficient way to improve the running of your business.

Here’s a list of our top four outsourcing advantages:

  1. Focus: Keeping Attention on Your Core Business a Priority

Smart business owners know they have limited time and attention for details. When that time and attention is consumed by peripheral day-to-day tasks, your primary business can suffer from neglect.

By outsourcing, you can shift your focus from outlying tasks to activities that:

  • Maintain and improve the quality of products or services your business delivers
  • Better serve your customers
  • Make your business more successful
  1. Save Money: Increasing the Efficiency of Your Financials

As your business grows and becomes more complicated, so do the tasks of maintaining and keeping track of your business finances. There comes a point when performing these accounting tasks at a consistent and reasonable cost becomes a challenge.

Outsourcing can be a lifesaver to your business’ bottom line.

Accounting: If you’re spending nights trying to do the books, hire someone to handle your bookkeeping and billing. They can handle these day-to-day tasks efficiently while you focus (see above) on your business.

Reduce Overhead: If you’re a growing business, you’ve maybe encountered a need for more office space to handle more staff. Expansion costs money. Instead of incurring additional overhead costs, look at the simple tasks an expanded staff would perform and locate a vertical assistant/service provider that can fulfill them for you.

Reduced Labor Costs: As a follow up to reducing overhead, outsource staffing. Hiring and training new staff can be an expensive endeavor. Some of your staffing tasks might be better performed through a business that specializes in your needs. Consider hiring out for your IT, human resource management and janitorial needs.

  1. Competitive Advantage: Leveling the Playing Field

Let’s face it, bigger companies that can hire in-house support have an advantage over smaller businesses. Outsourcing is one of the only ways a small business can compete financially.

You Can Act Bigger: Outsourcing can provide your small business with the same economies of scale, efficiency and expertise as your larger competitors.

Staffing Flexibility: If you have seasonal or cyclical staffing demands like most of us in St. Augustine, outsourcing can be the solution. Work with a virtual assistance firm that can bring in additional staffing resources when you need them and release them when not needed.

Start New Projects Quickly: By outsourcing your peripheral tasks, you’re able to better focus on your business needs. That means you can put more attention toward new income producing projects. What’s more, a virtual assistance firm could help you ramp up new projects right away.

  1. Reduce Risk: Let Others Worry and Solve It For You

It’s no secret that we live in a business world of change. Market and financial conditions are always shifting. New government regulations are always just around the corner. Technology changes quickly.

Outsourcing to providers with expertise in areas outside your core business arena can help keep you away from sleepless nights. Let these outsourced partners assume and manage these risks for you.

If you are ready to take advantage of our virtual assistant services call us today at (904) 429-4588 to learn more.

The Economics of Sleep

The Economics of Sleep

They say that time is money.

During the day, that statement makes sense (or cents).

If you’re an hourly wage earner, each full circle of that big hand on a clock is more money in your pocket. If you’re a St. Augustine business owner, you want that hourly money you’re paying to also generate a profit.

Now, have you ever thought about the economic value of your sleep time? After all, sleep amounts to a third of our life. It should have some worth don’t you think?

Recently, the staff at Business Solutions Unlimited listened to the Freakonomics Radio podcast “Economics of Sleep.” We highly recommend listening to the entertaining and informative broadcasts yourself as it’s definitely influenced our view on the value of a good night sleep.

Part 1: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/wnyc/freakonomics-radio/e/43341371

Part 2: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/wnyc/freakonomics-radio/e/39738374

If you want a rundown on what we found fascinating (and alarming) about the economics of sleep, read on!

Lack of Sleep and Health

Lack of sleep has been linked to health problems, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lack of sleep may result in an annual cost of $16 billion in health care expenses.

People who sleep an average of six hours or less have a 13 percent higher mortality rate than those who sleep at least seven hours.

Lack of Sleep and Productivity

Sleep deprivation (six hours or less a night) can lead to a variety of unproductive and even dangerous effects:

  • Cognitive processing speed slows down
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased memory
  • Mood changes
  • Workplace contention
  • Workplace absenteeism
  • Increase in alcohol consumption
  • Increased Industrial and car accidents

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lack of sleep may result in an annual cost of $50 billion in lost productivity.

The U.S. loses approximately 1.2 million working days each year due to lack of sleep.

The Value of an Extra Hour of Sleep

People who added an extra hour of sleep gained a 16% income boost. That statistic came from researchers compiling data from the American Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Early Birds vs. Night Owls

Morning-type people earn 4 to 5 percent more than evening-type people.

How Much Sleep Should We Get?

The National Institutes of Health recommend people get between seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of Americans do not get enough sleep on a regular basis.

Unless there are health-related issues causing a lack of sleep, most of us can get in a good night’s sleep just by changing some habits and your environment:

Consistency: Go to bed same time each night & get up the same time every morning. That goes for weekends too.

Atmosphere: Make sure your room is dark (wear an eye mask if necessary) and relaxing. Plus set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.

Remove Electronics: That’s a hard one for some of us addicted to our smart phones or Jimmy Fallon. However, there’s plenty of research showing the electronic glow from our devices can impact our ability to sleep and the quality of sleep. So, put your phone away, remove your bedroom TV and don’t drag your laptop to bed.

Avoid Indulgences: Large meals, caffeine and alcohol before going to bed. And that means tobacco and nicotine as well.

Exercise During the Day: Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep easily at night.

So, paying attention to your sleep can pay off in better health and increased income. That extra hour or two of sleep is a price worth paying.

To find out how we can help give us a call at (904) 429-4588 during the day. At night, we’re going to be getting some sleep so we can be more productive for you during the day.

Celebrating 10 Years

Celebrating 10 Years

Six months into 2015 and so far I am still as excited as I was on December 31, 2014.  This year is such an exciting year for me and Business Solutions Unlimited, LLC.  So forgive me for taking about myself and my company in this blog.  I did ask myself if such “self-promotion” was appropriate and in this method, but I truly hope this blog, as all the others I write, have a positive meaning for you as well.  As Small Business Owners we can and should all learn from each other’s experiences and I know I am always up for hearing and sharing of good news.  So, back to my excitement… LOL

This year is Business Solutions Unlimited, LLC’s 10th Year Anniversary!  Yay!  Boy, have we seen some times since incorporating in 2005.  After much hard work and determination we have finally reached many of our goals this year.

  1. Making it 10 years, LOL!
  2. Growing from one person with a passion to help others grow small businesses to a team of experts willing to help others grow small businesses! The fact that I have found others with the same passion for small businesses and the concept & mission of BSU, LLC is an amazing accomplishment within itself.
  3. Launched a new website.
  4. Grown our Accounting & Tax Services Division over these past years to:
    • Backed by Intuit QuickBooks Online for AccountantsReserved space on Intuit’s underground server to transfer secure data between us and our clients
    • Became Certified QuickBooks Pro-Advisors
    • Now offer clients discounts on many QuickBooks products
    • Accepted by IRS as an e-File Service Provider
    • Grown to three tax return preparers & signers with more prepares planned to be hired part time for next season
    • Utilize Dropbox to collaborate with clients or help them obtain important documents that we and their other advisors may need access to, all secure and all via the internet, which helps us and our clients be paperless. In most cases this doesn’t cost the client anything more and they have access to their documents from anywhere in the world, with internet access
    • Expanded to add payroll services, expanded payroll services to add Pay-as-you-go Workers’ Comp via Intuit.
  5. Started blogging for ourselves. LOL.
  6. Continued to expand our marketing service division. What does that mean? We have experts to help with all of a business’s marketing needs – from developing a logo, website to promotional products, content & strategy, photos, videos, social media, blogging, marketing budgets & management, ad layouts & negotiations and so on. While we have been happy with this expatiation we have truly always wanted to put it all together and be a Full Service “Marketing Agency”. As 2015 approached and the experts in our Marketing Services Division got together to plan and discuss trends, upcoming challenges, changes and more the opportunity we have been waiting for appeared. Now more than ever marketing cannot be done best in silos. Meaning, it is no longer a best practice to have a web person, a social media person, ads designed by multiple people and so on. With the importance of storytelling and being digital only growing in marketing you are best served and therefore best practice is moving to working with a true “Marketer” or a “Marketing Agency”. We understand the markets we serve very, very well and we have created what we proudly call a “Local Marketing Agency”. Want to learn more about what this means in your market as well as what we can do for you let me know, bridget@bsullc.com, I’ll be happy to discuss the details with you further.
  7. We have grown our Human Resource Services Division from a reactive, call as you need service to an ASO, Administrative Services Outsourcing. ASO is a combination of several business processes outsourced to a single provider. Such business processes outsourced to an ASO include payroll processing, Human Resources and exit interviews. We also offer up-to-date HR compliance posters, customized handbooks and other documents.
  8. Held the first ever expo of its kind in St. Augustine, FL on May 13, 2014, the St. Johns County National Small Business Week Expo, in celebration of the high population of amazing small businesses in Johns County. It was a one stop shop for business owners. With everything a business owner needs from employees, financing, payroll processing, telecommunications, marketing to accounting. This year the event was held again in conjunction with National Small Business Week. To participate and for up to date information visit the website, stjohnscountysmallbizexpo.com. Thank you for your support of this effort.
  9. Opened the Business Academy located at 904 Anastasia Blvd. Suite B, St. Augustine, FL 32080. We found ourselves doing so many speaking engagements, which we still do. We also needed more office space and once we launched our Hospitality Training Course we decided to look for space for both the expandation of our office and to open a Business Academy so that local business owners and managers, for non-profits too, could keep on top of the latest from Consumer Behavior & Pricing to Gaining the right Board Members & Volunteers, Social Media and so much more. To see up-coming classes visit, bsullc.com/academy.
  10. With all this we were able to continue our community involvement.
    • We donated to & attend the ASSISTS Annual Awards Celebration
    • happily shopped for three children in the ASSISTS program, Christie, our Office Manager, now is our representative on this board
    • Christie was also accepted to St. Augustine Junior Service League – way to go Christie!
    • I still sit on a few boards such as:
      • The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce & its Small Business Council
      • The St. Johns County School District’s Head Start Policy Council
      • St. Johns County School Districts Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Advisory Board
      • Raised money through the St. Augustine Junior Service League’s Annual King & Queen Fundraiser & Gala for Northeast Florida Early Learning Coalition

Wow, we have come a long way and are on an even better path today than we were yesterday!  How you might ask.  I would say it comes down to three main areas you must get right from the start and at the core of the business. For me, personally, first would be the grace of God. Starting the company we were off to a great start in 2005. However, the economy quickly downturned. I not only survived, but have been able to grow.  Second, would be some of the most amazing, talented, loyal, trustworthy, I mean I could go on and on, staff.  I created an enterpurnurial environment with flexibility and options. We are all equal teammates working toward the same goals. It’s an environment that luckily enough the core of us have worked together for so long that we created a fairly well-oiled machine, putting out the work of a large corporation on the staff and sometimes the budget of a small non-profit. Amazing! Third would be our upfront, honest, loyal clients that have been with us through all of our growing pains. Thank you for all you continue to do to help us continue to strive to be the best we can be.

Have questions about how to build the kind of culture you’re hoping for, when & what to outsource or other operational topics covered in this blog feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.

Cash vs. Accrual Accounting

Cash vs. Accrual Accounting

Accounting is a vital part to any business, no matter how big or small it is. When deciding what type of accounting to use, you must see what works best for you and your company. Accrual base accounting and cash base accounting are two very different types of accounting, both work but you just have to decide which is better for your company.

Accrual base accounting is when revenues are reported when they are earned, which tends to occur before the cash or payment is received from the customer. The same goes for expenses, they are reported in the period for which they occurred which can be a different time than when the actual payment is made.

Cash based accounting is when revenues are reported in the period in which the cash is received from customers. Again, the same goes for expense, they are reported when the cash is paid instead of the time the expense occurred.

Both accrual and cash based accounting has its benefits and its drawbacks. Cash based accounting is great for many small businesses because it’s an easy type of accounting and does a good job of tracking cash flow. However, as businesses grow many tend to switch to accrual accounting in order to better track revenues and expenses. Accrual based accounting is far better at tracking revenues and expenses but does a poor job of tracking cash flow.

Accrual vs. cash

Accounting is important and just because you start with one type of accounting does not mean you have to stick with it. You have to find what works best for your company, do you have a stronger need to track cash flow or track revenue and expenses?

Still not sure which is right for your business, have this discussion with your CPA. We are here to help guide you all year long not just during tax season.