Small businesses don't usually waste time doing their own accountancy, and other time-consuming tasks can be outsourced as well. Photograph: Alamy
Administrative tasks can be time consuming – especially if you aren't an expert – and while they're all essential, they can stand in the way of running your business. While turning to specialists is one solution, we have made full use of new software and technology that allows businesses to free themselves from the mercy of expensive consultants.
Every business needs to undertake ongoing tasks such as accounting, web development, customer service. As a small business owner you could probably learn how to do all of these yourself, given enough time, but while this might lead to a few small savings, it isn't going to lead to business growth. The Unix philosophy – "do one thing and do it well" – is a way of working we have believed in right from the start. Most business owners aren't accountants-slash-web developers-slash-IT professionals and we'd probably want to keep it that way.
Take accounting for example. Traditional accounting software is complex and hugely time consuming. We have found modern hosted accounting packages that allow easy entry of invoices, and allow a remote accountant to check over the accounts and make corrections. Since both business owner and accountant can use the package in real time, there's no need to keep sending files back and forth and no need to employ an accountant full time.
Customer service can be another very time-consuming business task, and one that you cannot afford to overlook. Internet-based phone and computer systems now mean it's entirely possible to outsource even a very small customer service requirement to a virtual assistant. These smaller telephone services will get to know your business and culture so any customer will feel they have had direct contact with a competent member of the businesses team without a call centre in sight.
Another way we have found to gain positive customer contact time and come across professionally is to use live chat on your website to offer support. If you are not confident in adding live chat to your site or cannot because you sell on a marketplace such as eBay, you can always use social networking sites such as Twitter. Even large companies are increasingly using social media very effectively to deal with service issues and questions from customers. Most of these services cost nothing and can hugely reduce the number of phone calls to the office.
We have taken advantage of the benefits of cloud computing from the start. If you are not an IT professional and expert in maintaining servers and backing up data, you really should not be attempting to do it. By using cloud services, even in a disaster all your information will be safe and secure. You do not need to employ IT staff to maintain your local network and back up your data. It is also more cost-effective to store your data in the cloud – providers have their own staff to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Internet telephones, Google hangouts and email ensures you can manufacture products anywhere in the world without ever have to go there. We often take advantage of the worldwide market to gain the most competitive pricing. It is perfectly feasible to outsource marketing, branding and design – it can be to anywhere in the world. We are currently setting up a new client who is based in Denmark, with web developers in India, storing products for worldwide distribution in the UK. Technology ensures location is not a barrier to getting the best service at the best price.
For certain tasks you don't even need a workforce. It is possible to outsource work to online services such as Amazon Mechanical Turk,through which human intelligence tasks can be completed for you for a small cost and you will never even see the people doing them. They can be based anywhere in the world, and if you are worried that they may not perform the task, you can set qualification requirements and even a test.
Embracing the opportunities technology-based outsourcing provides allows us time to focus on the most important tasks within our business. It does take time and there are costs associated with this, however the result is a solid, scalable base to support continued growth. We don't do anything at which we are not experts.
So you may be wondering what it is that we soulless outsourcers actually do? Why do we advocate pushing so many aspects of your business to third parties? At James and James we offer technology-based outsourcing of storage, picking, packing and dispatching of online orders for ecommerce sellers. That's our area of expertise. While few business would claim to be expert in logistics, many continue to handle inventory themselves and some even aspire to owning a huge warehouse in the future, yet none would train as an accountant to do their own books.
We outsource to specialists while also being the fulfilment specialist for our clients – never a jack of all trades, but supplier and consumer in a network of connected masters.
So you've had your website built with your telephone number prominently on display.
You've spent a lot of money on marketing to generate traffic to your website.
Now, sit back and let your website and the marketing take effect? Hmmm.
That roughly 98% of the traffic that you've worked hard and spent hard to get simply drives away without a trace...
Who are these people? Why did they go? Could you have done anything to convert them into a customer?
Well, how would you know when you never approached them to ask.
Live Chat not only gives the people visiting your website a simple, quick, easy method of communication, it also encourages them to engage with someone via Live Chat.
Sound familiar? That's because it is. You experience this every time you go shopping.
When you walk into a clothes shop, are you not approached by a member of staff asking if you need any help?
When you walk into a jewellers, are you not asked if you are looking for anything in particular?
So why have you forgot to do this on your website? The principle is the same.
If after reading this you are curious to the answers, give Chat Converters a try today and see just how much traffic we can direct to your product or service converting to a sale.
For those of you that have already realised that your company can seriously benefit from providing Live Chat on your website, the next thing to consider is whether or not to OUTSOURCE it.
Generally, when we think of outsourcing, we immediately think offshore e.g. INDIA.
Although this is true for most outsourcing companies, outsourcing doesn't always mean a cheap watered down service from abroad.
As you may have already guessed, at Chat Converters we only provide UK based Live Chat Operators. This ensures we can deliver a genuine high level of service to all of our clients.
The next question is price.
Again, the answer is NO.
Our pricing structure ensures that your website can be monitored for 40 hours per week at a fraction of the cost it would cost you to hire a full time member of staff to do the same job.
What's more, as we have multiple Live Chat Operators available to chat to your website visitors, it's clear to see the extra man power outsourcing Live Chat gives you over an in house solution.
So why outsource your companies Live Chat?
Email is great. In fact, it is so great it was one of the first main uses for the early internet which has stood the test of time with literally no change in its original design.
If you are using or relying on email to generate business from your website, you need to understand the modern consumer.
The modern consumer has very little time. So little, that they barely have time to string together a couple of messages together to your business.
Mix that in with the fact emailing is a long drawn out process which can have gaps of hours/days between replies and you will already start to see the problem.
During this time delaying process, you're giving the consumer more and more opportunity to change their mind.
Or, worse still, sway towards another competitor.
What if you could give the consumer a method to communicate that's INSTANT and never too busy or off sick.
I'm talking about as close as you can get to a real conversation.
If your business doesn't already have Live Chat in place, think about everything you have read in this blog and ask your self... could Live Chat generate more business from website?
If you answered yes, contact Chat Converters today to find out how we can help your business grow using modern methods of communication that tick all the boxes of the modern consumer.
Although the phone has served us all well for many years, there is one major problem when using it as your companies main point of contact...
Most small companies will only have one dedicated phone line as well as one person that operates it. But there lies the problem. What happens when you're busy chatting away to an existing customer when a NEW potential customer is trying to call you?
Well, they will just keep trying won't they until they get through?
Due to the internet and search engines, any new prospective customer considering using your company will also have your competitors right in front of them.
Live Chat, however, gives new and existing customers a method to contact you that is never engaged or too busy.
With Live Chat, you can multitask your customer service to give each and everyone connected to your company someone to speak to in real time.