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Go Virtual And Cut Costs

Making money from your small business is hard work these days. Many of the old business principles don't apply any more and every day people are coming up with new innovative ways of doing things to cut costs and achieve efficiencies. For the small business owner this means that you have to really stay ahead of your game and constantly look for ways that you can cut costs, cut time and make your business work more efficiently.

An area that is constantly providing new opportunities for saving money and new possibilities for doing things in a better more timely way is via the internet. These cloud based services provide a great opportunity for small businesses to scale their operation quickly and effectively. Outlined below are six areas that small business owners can consider when looking for business processes to outsource to "the cloud".

1. Get a Virtual Office

One area that consumes a huge amount of a small businesses cash these days is the actual physical office. If you are a professional service type business then it is likely that you are going to be spending a lot of time with your clients in either their offices or in a cafe. The office that you have will quite often just be a storage spot for all of your files plus some pieces of furniture and some technology. For the privilege of having this office space you will have had to pay out a bond, paid for a fitout of the premises, paid to have all of your utilities connected, paid for a cleaner plus a whole range of other cash consuming expenses.

There is a better way! Instead of outlaying all of that cash for your physical office why not consider getting yourself a virtual office. A virtual office gives you many of the benefits of the physical space at only a fraction of the cost. When you sign up for a virtual office you get the right to use the address of that office on all of your marketing material. This would include your website, your Google location listing, your business cards and your promotional material. Many of the addresses that are on offer are prime A grade CBD buildings so there is also an element of prestige that goes with the addresses. Any mail or courier items that are delivered to the address can either be held by the business centre staff for you to collect at your leisure or for a small fee those items can be forwarded on to another address anywhere in the world.

Having a virtual office means that you are not tied to a specific location. If you feel like working from home then you can, if you want to head down to the beach and work out of a cafe because the weather is good then that is also a definite possibility. A virtual office gives you the freedom that you have been looking for.

If you do need to meet with your customers then many of the business centres available have meeting room and board room facilities available at a small fee. This is a great way to meet with your clients in the building where you actually have your address. If you also need to work in the city for a while many of them also have hotdesk facilities for virtual customers to use.

2. Make use of Virtual Servers

Back in the old days, if you needed a computer service for your business operations you would need to buy yourself some hardware. What this would usually mean would be buying servers, buying routers, getting a cabinet to house everything in and potentially having to get an air conditioner to keep everything at a controlled temperature.

These days, setting your business up with its own server takes just a few hours and is really cost effective. If you don't need a serious amount of computer power then you can get what is known as a VPS or virtual private server. These servers are actually a subset of a larger server however still have a substantial amount of power and can handle a significant number of transactions. If you have a larger business with a considerable number of transactions then you can opt for a dedicated server.

The great thing about outsourcing your computing requirements is that you can generally upgrade or downgrade your requirements with very little notice. The cost is significantly cheaper than doing it yourself and in the majority of cases you have professional companies who are responsible for looking after the equipment.

3. Cloud Based Backups

Previously, if you had your own on-site server and you needed to set things up for daily backups there was a whole range of equipment that you had to buy. Depending on the media that you were backing up to you might need tape drives, raid systems plus racking and cataloguing systems. If you ever needed to restore a backup then there would be all sorts of work involved and hoops to jump through to get your backup restored.

4. Hire a Virtual Receptionist

Unfortunately, for most businesses the telephone calls don't arrive in a linear manner. If you knew that you were going to get a call every six minutes during a business day then it would be easy to resource your office with the the required people to manage those calls. With the majority of businesses the calls happen in fits and starts. One minute your receptionist could be overwhelmed with incoming calls while for the next hour they could be sitting around checking their social media accounts.

A virtual receptionist is much more cost effective than having an inhouse staff member. With an answering service you are charged when the receptionist is answering calls but not charged when things are slow. Many of our customers have reported to us that going virtual has saved them in excess of 40% of the cost of having an internal staff member.

One of the great things about our answering service here at Ruby is that you don't need to lock in for a set period of time. You can use us when you need us and then scale things back when you don't need us. That way your costs are very much linked to your call flow.

5. Video Conferencing

Having to travel around the country (or world) to have meetings can be pretty expensive. Not only do you have the cost of the travel and accommodation itself but you also have the opportunity cost of all of that time that you spend in airports, taxi's and train stations.

A much easier option is to video conference with your customers or business contacts. Video conferencing has come a long way in the past 10 years and companies like Skype have made it really affordable and really effective. It is even possible now to have multiple people involved in your video conferences so you can actually have fairly large scale meetings.

5. Get a Virtual Assistant

We are all culprits when it comes to spending too much time on non productive admin style tasks and not enough time on the revenue producing tasks. Unfortunately, in the modern business world it is estimated that the average manager spends at least 25% of their time on non productive admin tasks including answering the phone, giving out basic information to callers and entering information into spreadsheets.

Fortunately there is a better way! With a virtual assistant you can offload a whole range of non productive tasks and really focus your time on what you do best, making money for your small business. The VA's here at Ruby can perform a whole range of tasks including answering your calls and attending to relatively simple customer queries, taking orders, maintaining your diary, carrying out surveys plus a whole load more. Our VA's are charged on a per second basis so as soon as they stop working on your project you stop paying them. Brilliant!

The way our virtual assistants work is really quite straight forward. You can either divert calls to them when you need to or forward calls to them directly. You can then give them a range of instructions in terms of what you want them to do and how you want them to do it. You can even give them a web page to work from for different scenarios. When a call comes in they can then work through the customer queries, gather information for you or whatever other instructions you have given them.