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Posts tagged ‘virtual assistant’

How Instagram Can Help Build Your Audience (Even If You’re a Service-Based Company)

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog (sorry about that!) I’ve been so focused on building the businesses of my clients, I’ve ignored my home, I’ll try to be better, I promise.

I’ve been on quite a journey these past few months. Some amazing things have been happening in Chez VersaTel Solutions, which I can’t wait to share with you (soon enough). Within this journey I’ve also become aware of things that I had taken advantage of and really didn’t realize until someone else mentioned it. What am I talking about, you ask? Instagram of course!

Originally, I joined Instagram because it was new and I could see the potential of the benefits of marketing through this new social media platform-I didn’t really know how just yet, but I liked it! Eventually, my pictures became less about the food I was eating and more about the meetings I was having. I’ve received more interest than I thought I would get just for snapping pictures at meetings and events I attend. It’s made potential clients turn into real clients, and garnered enough interest to make me busy enough to well, have to let my blog go (at least for a little while).

How can Instagram work for your business? In various ways. Take a picture before a meeting to show you are out and about; snap a shot of your work environment to give people an insider’s look; if you’re attending a networking event, take shot of the event and make sure to hashtag it. If I can make office management exciting, believe me, so can you.

If you sell products, this is a great forum in which to show off your wares. Take pictures of your products being created, of your products being delivered, or, if you deliver them yourself, take a picture of your happy clients. Ask your clients to hashtag your business, or if they can tag you if they post a picture of you or your products.  There are so many ways to take advantage of Instagram; its a matter of making use of it.

Here at VersaTel Solutions we want to help you get your business, your products and your services out there to people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you; if you’re on Instagram, follow me: http://instagram.com/sevanastone

Or, if you’re on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/versatelsolutions

Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/Versa_Tel

The Difference Between a Virtual Assistant and VersaTel Solutions

I do a lot of networking, and recently I met a Virtual Assistant (VA). That’s very uncommon because, well, they’re virtual and generally don’t venture into the wild (i.e., networking events). I was intrigued by her as one would be with say a peacock or a Richmond Birdwing Butterfly(yes, I know what that is!) and asked her what her skill set was. “Well, I don’t do bookkeeping, and I won’t cold call. I don’t do or even understand social media, and I won’t get involved in marketing material. Oh, and I don’t do notarizing. Who does that anyway?” As she told me all of the things she doesn’t do, I couldn’t help but say (in the most eloquent way I could), “So, you’ve told me all things you don’t do, is there anything  you do do?” She looked at me blankly, probably wondering if it would be appropriate to slap me. It was a valid question; how would it benefit a company to pay separately for a VA, separately for a bookkeeper, and separately for someone to do their social media? That’s a lot of money if you ask me.  At this same event, I happened upon a gentleman who I had seen a few months before who had brushed me off with “Yea, I could hire you, but I’ve got this girl doing everything for me out of the Philippines, and she only charges $10 an hour. I just don’t see the value in what your company offers” (yes, he really said that).

 

I reintroduced myself to said gentleman and asked how things were going with his Filipino VA. He complained about how much time he spends just trying to get her to understand what he needs, and how many times he has to send things she writes back to her because they just don’t make regional sense. She speaks perfect English, don’t get me wrong. She just doesn’t speak Northern Virginian. People don’t get how important that is! Yes, of course you can spend pennies on someone overseas to do the same things you could pay an American to do, however, just because they speak English, doesn’t mean they speak Tyson’s, or Richmond, or Maryland. The words we use here, and the way we intercommunicate here in the DMV is vastly different than people back home in Michigan. I don’t communicate with people in Massachusetts they same way I do here, and how would someone halfway across the world know that where you live it’s called the Metro, and elsewhere it’s called the subway (in Michigan it’s called a People Mover-go figure!)

 

At VersaTel, we keep things local on purpose. Not only does it feed the American economy (which is EXTREMELY important to me), it also ensures regional intercommunication (basically, when you say something specific to the area, we know what you’re saying. Or, if you need scheduling, we know the area and where to take you first so you’re not driving all over the state). We don’t pretend to know what we’re doing, or say “Oh yea, we can do that” and hope for the best. We are highly skilled professionals, CPA’s, with a plethora of experience ready to service your needs. Our flexibility is the beauty of our business, and because WE are a small business, we have a vested interest in YOUR small business. It’s small business that built this country, and small business that will rebuild this economy, so the next time you think “Oh, I’ll save money if I cut corners here and there” remember you ALWAYS get what you pay for, and with VersaTel Solutions, you get a ‘Justice League’ of telecommuters at your service!

How To Choose The Right Bookkeeper For YOU!

As a business owner, we tend to think we can handle it all, I mean, we own a BUSINESS, what’s a little office work, right? That’s like saying being a stay at home mom is easy (it’s NOT). A successful business owner understands her (or his) limits, and knows to hand off the things they struggle with (and takes the most of their time). Bookkeeping is one of those tasks that are best left to the professionals.

 

But, what should you expect from a bookkeeper? What qualifies someone to keep your books?

 

First, they must be detail oriented. You need someone who is able to focus on the little things. Someone who can do this will allow the big things to take care of themselves.

 

Second, they must have a really good understanding of your big picture. If they don’t know what your overall goals are, they won’t know how to allocate expenses. assets, or liabilities. Your bookkeeper should have a basic understanding of terms at the very least. They should know the difference between asset, liability, equity, income and expense accounts.

 

Although it seems like a no brainer, it’s not easy to find someone who will follow through. Make sure you have someone who will ensure your projects and questions are followed through to completion. Monthly financial statements-balance sheets, P&L statements, cash flow statements, etc.

 

You know how important job costing is to your business, which makes it just as important for your bookkeeper to understand job costing as well. They need to understand all costs need an item and job detail to make certain the information you have is reliable. Does this mean they have to be authorities on your industry? No, but it’s certainly helpful if they have some understanding.

 

Of course there are so many hat come with on the job training , but helping your bookkeeper (for example, providing them with the information they need to properly keep your books) and answering their questions in a timely fashion will certainly help them, and YOU to set your business up for success!

 

 

Spring Clean Your Business!

Ok, so it’s almost summer-we’re only a few days away! However, it’s never too late to spring clean, especially when it comes to your business. Regular evaluations will help you stay on point and focused on your ultimate goals. How do you spring clean a business?

 

Start wtih updating your website and social media by taking stock of what your online presence looks like. Is there something on your site that could be updated? Are there pictures you could remove because they’re too old, or has the vision of your business shifted since you created your site? Tighten things up, fix the details and update everything you see fit. Keep your website relevant to where your business is today.

 

When I worked in retail, once a year we would have a staff meeting to address issues we had allowed to stay stagnant as opposed to resolving them. The same should go for your staff. It’s important to remind them where they are headed and to reflect together on what the common goal is. Address issues on both ends-yours and theirs-to make sure everyone stays on the same page.

 

If the vision of your business hasn’t changed, or, you just haven’t had time to do anything about it, you may want to take the time now to touch base with your business plan. Revisit it and update it once a year to keep pace with the rest of your company. Go back to basics to keep you chugging along the track you want to stay on!

 

We all hate emails that just sit there don’t we? At some point we look at our inbox and think “How did I acquire 12,000 unopened emails?”  Pour a cup of coffee, push up your sleeves, and clear out your afternoon to organize and delete emails. If you just can’t afford to do that, consider hiring someone to do it for you (*hint, it’s one of the options we offer!) The minor cost to take care of this is worth its weight in gold.

 

Lastly, literally, clean your office! Clean off your desk, dust, and vacuum. It’s important to do this at least once a month, but hey, I get it, you’re busy! If you can do this at least once a quarter, you’re still in better shape than most people.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Get cleaning!

 

 

How To Convert a Client Meeting Into A Secured Client

Ok, so you’ve done the networking, and you did so well, you got someone to want to meet with you to learn more about you and your services. YAY! Don’t celebrate too soon though; before you start imagining your future together,  you have to make sure you nail that first meeting with these crucial steps, or else, the time and focus you put towards that meeting will be all for not.

Before meeting with the prospective client, do a little homework. Google them to learn as much as you can about their industry and about them as well. You may find information that will help you build  a rapport with this person. Finding that common thread will build trust and commonality-the first step in closing a deal!

Although you normally keep your smartphone no more than 3 inches away from you at all times this may be the best time for you to put that phone away. You wouldn’t interrupt a potential employer with your phone, would you? Don’t do it with a potential client either. It leaves an impression that you are not fully engaged. Securing a client should be your top priority-everything else can wait.

As much as I would love to think this person is at least 80% committed to you, chances are they’re really at more like a 50%. They can really go either way. Try to keep the conversation light, positive, and a fair give and take-almost like a first date. Ask them questions, and make eye contact; talk about your business in a way that may interest them, and do your best to find more commonality to further thread you closer together until that person is a secured client.

Lastly, a successful meeting will always lead to a second meeting-give them all the information they need to help them decide whether your business is the right fit for them, but leave the detailed specifics for the next meeting-taking you to that next step.

Good luck on securing that client!

 

So, What Do You Do?

How many times have you heard this question? It can essentially make or break an introduction, and depending on how you answer, can either peak a person’s interest, or have them look over you to find someone else to try connecting with.

 

Networking isn’t easy. It’s time consuming, and can be disheartening when your networking is just NOTworking (see what I did there, heheh). A lot of why you may be in a networking rut may have to do with how you begin your conversation.

 

When someone asks you “What do you do?” How do you normally answer? Do you say, “I’m a commercial real estate agent” or do you say “I assist and consult clients in finding the ideal location for their businesses” ?

 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with saying you’re an XYor Z, but there are likely thousands just like you in your area which doesn’t quite differentiate you in the asker’s mind. People will likely also wonder to themselves “Do I need that service?” I know I don’t need a commercial real estate agent, but if I were to hear the description instead of the title, it would instantly get my brain storming to think of the right referral for them-and I would most likely follow through with it as well.

 

The flipside of this can be just as deadly-telling someone TOO much of what you do. There’s no need to detail every aspect of your business. For example, if you were to visit my Services page, you would find a long list of what my company offers. But, when I’m networking, and someone asks what my company offers, I tell them “We offer office management virtually, we offer bookkeeping, and we offer social media maintenance needs including blogs and newsletters.” Keeping it short, keeps the door open for a possible meeting. That would be the place to expand on your details. Not in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone.

 

One of the great parts of networking is the referral possibilities, but how can someone refer business your way if you say “Oh, anyone looking to buy a place for their business!” No, people don’t want to have to think -be specific, “I’m looking to connect with those in the medical field who want to branch out and open their own offices or those in health and wellness, wanting to dedicate a space for their clients.” This will help the person you’re talking to think of a possible referral or prospect for you.

 

Communicating effectively will save you time (and sometimes money) when networking. Make the time you spend connecting with other businesses more efficient and perfect your networking savvy!

Avoid These Common Tax Mistakes BEFORE Tax Time!

The deadline for taxes has long passed, and those who needed to file an extension surely have done so by now. Many of us have already received our returns, and were a little underwhelmed by what we got back (if anything at all).  Don’t get caught at the last minute next year-avoid these common tax mistakes to stay ahead of the curve!

 

Just because you’re a sole proprietor or are self-employed doesn’t mean  you don’t have to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Of course, the first year, you get a free pass, however, there are certain exceptions based on how much you make. Get into practice of automatically setting aside a percentage of each payment or revenue, then take stock of your P&L statement each quarter. Pay the taxes each quarter to avoid a hefty payment at the end of the year.

 

Speaking of keeping track, it’s incredibly important to keep track of all of your business expenses, including your miles to properly deduct during tax time.  If you don’t already, consider using an accounting program like Quickbooks to let you record and manage expenses. If you don’t have the time, or the wherewithal to do it, hire a bookkeeper who will enter in and reconcile these transactions on a monthly basis.

 

When tracking your expenses, be sure to determine them accordingly in your Chart of Accounts. What this means is when you have expenses like supplies (printer ink, paper, etc), account for them accordingly. Office Expenses are generally equipment. Why is this important? Because you can write off a portion for each year the appliance is in use or write off the full amount (up to a certain maximum) for the year you purchased. For example, if you bought a new laptop this year, you can write off the full price in your 2014 return. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take the actual home office tax deduction; but do so wisely. There has to be a certain portion of a room, or a dedicated room for your business in order to qualify for writing off a percentage of your home expenses including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and insurance costs.

 

Speaking of deductions: it could be that part of the nature of your business requires you to give gifts to your clients, which is fine. But remember that you can only deduct $25 per recipient. If you give gifts readily, make certain you keep all of your receipts.

 

Discuss your legal structure with a tax advisor or a CPA to help you figure out if your structure is still legitimate. For example, you may have started out as a sole proprietor and are paying too much in self-employment taxes. Creating a C or S Corp, or a LLC could help lower your tax bill.

 

Lastly, and I’ve said this a million times. NEVER, EVER, EVER make business purchases with a personal account! Doing so can lead to a considerable amount of confusion, and lead to legal infractions. Do yourself a favor and open a business account the same day you start your business to get it right from day 1.

 

Are there any mistakes you’ve made in the past that you’ve learned from?

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