Four years ago, I employed four people full-time at OnPoint Sales, but when the market slowed down the hardest change was letting our in-house assistant Sue Ann go. Sue Ann did everything for us, from bookkeeping to telemarketing, customer inquiries to travel arrangements; she was the go-to-person for our company.

As we re-grouped and started to grow again, the luxury of adding another assistant appealed to me, but I have discovered new lower cost ways for getting the help we need. One way is using a Virtual Assistant (VA). A VA is a person dedicated to helping you with all of the little tasks that don't make money.

Here is a list from a VA site of all the duties their folks perform:

Bookkeeping and tax ledger maintenance; payroll processing; customer billing; expense management, pricing research and comparisons; accounting data entry; executive support provided includes bulk emailing, sending reminders, customer relation management, maintaining service records, calendar maintenance, appointment setting and reminder service; e-mail and chat support; online chat for your web site; customer relationship management; follow up calls to your clients; capture, storage and analysis of customer information; maintaining service records, concierge services like answering customer queries by phone, email, making telephone calls, setting dinner reservations, researching travel arrangements; call taking and forwarding; invoice follow-up, online research, data entry, online database; Craiglists postings, lead generation; bulk emailing; telemarketing, B2B / B2C appointment setting; sending follow up or reminder emails; Excel spread sheet- creating, updating, professional Powerpoint presentations; marketing e-mail content writing and design changes, booking tickets, travel planning, correspondences with letters and friends etc.

VA's are available on several web sites for very little money. I prefer to use American sites instead of the cheaper Indian sites. American sites don't have the heavy accents that sometimes make the assistant hard to understand, and they provide jobs locally. I also prefer sites that assign a dedicated person to your account. A dedicated person starts to understand how you work and becomes your best asset.

Remember, outsourcing to save time and money is not just about components and parts, it is about using your strengths and delegating the rest.

Good Hunting,

Rick

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