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Three Reasons Why You Should Outsource Payroll Services

in Beginner / 1 Comment

outsourcing-payroll-servicesAs a business owner you will know that time is precious and the more you can free up the better.

Essential tasks can slow you down leaving you little time to focus on tasks that would benefit your business more but aren’t essential to the running of it.

This can be frustrating as you can envisage where your business could be if only you had the time to carry out the work you need to do to get it there.

Free up precious time by outsourcing monthly tasks that need to be done but are leaving you unable to focus on what you want. Here are five reasons why you should outsource your company payroll services-

Reliable And Professional Services

Payroll is essential in any business that employs any members of staff. It is extremely important that mistakes with pay aren’t made and kept to a minimum. Staff must always be paid on time and the right amount no matter the nature of your business. Just like everyone else staff have bills to pay and outgoings that are often set up around pay day. Using a professional payroll company means you can rest assure your staff will always be paid on time with no hiccups causing them problems or upset.

Save Money

If you decide to manage your own payroll you will need to spend money on software and training to manage it properly. Save money by choosing to outsource from day one and avoid wasting money on expensive software. If you own a big company you may need to employ someone to manage your payroll. Cut out this cost by outsourcing

Free Up Time

The most precious thing of all to any business owner is the time you have to spend on improving and growing your business. Often this can be limited as the tasks to maintain your business take over. Almost every business owner will have a dream and a vision of where they want their business to be, some may even have a plan of how to get there, but it’s finding the time to work on your business plan that can be a problem.

Outsource small jobs that are essential to the running of your business but would offer a lot of extra time if you didn’t have to manage them. Your company payroll services can be easily outsourced leaving you with one less job to manage. The more time you can free up from repetitive tasks that could be carried out by somebody else the more time you can spend being productive and proactive.

The benefits of outsourcing payroll are clear. Unfortunately it is one of those jobs every business owner has to manage one way or another whether they like it or not. Cut repetitive tasks out of your working week and make the most of the time you spend on your business. Productivity is essential to any business but it can be hard to be productive when small daily managerial tasks get in the way. Outsource these and spend your time on what really matters.

Taking the Plunge as a Freelance Writer

in Beginner / No Comments

man on beach with laptopWhen you’re looking to make that big leap from an employed person who likes to write to a certified self-employed freelance writer who from that moment forth will be 100% in charge of their own career and destiny, you are bound to feel a multitude of emotions ranging from utter fear to pure elation.

It’s an exciting time, and the decision is likely to be one of the biggest of your life – certainly of your working life.

I recently went self-employed, and for some reason I chose to do it with two weeks to go before I moved house. It was a challenging time, but I escaped with my sanity intact (just about). By the time I moved into the new house I had been without the internet at home for a total of 4 weeks, and it was a killer. It makes me ashamed to admit it, but living without the internet is damn hard. Making a living as a writer without the internet is almost impossible.

I spent a lot of time at the library (which was lovely because libraries in the UK are being closed all the time at present), in cafes and anywhere I could soak up Free Wi-Fi and get my caffeine fix at the same time. It was workable but what I really needed in order to gain any kind of momentum was to have a designated writing desk at home, with an internet connection that worked.

My First Weeks as a Freelancer

In the last few weeks as an employee, I started putting together a solid portfolio, saving a nice amount of money to keep myself ticking over and started putting together a list of contacts (I had already begun to make contacts with agencies and would-be clients in my last few weeks at my job) that I would be in touch with once I found myself waking up every morning on my own time.

Suffice to say, it was more than a little surreal when I woke up on the first day of being self-employed writer. I had always dreamed of being “a writer”, although my version of a writer was much more Hemingway like: Hunt a wild boar, drink three gins, have a fight with a bear and then write ten pages of a novel. Just kidding, I would never hunt a boar.

I woke up, looked at my contact list and started to send out emails. Then I started writing the stories I wanted to write and the guest posts that I thought would help improve my profile. I also signed up to numerous sites like My Blog Guest and People Per Hour (which have both been very useful and come highly recommended by me – if you use them in the right way!)

A self-employed, freelance writer lifestyle is strange, and one that the majority of people will never understand. I’m not even sure I understand it myself! I have days where my feet don’t touch the ground. I’m writing like a mad man and my clients keep me on my toes with a mixture of writing and editing. Other days I’m a dead man walking, shuffling around in my sweatpants and hoodie, drinking coffee and babbling to myself. A living, breathing writer cliché. But luckily, the days balance out. Explain this lifestyle to a nurse or a coal miner and they’d probably call me a bum. Maybe they’re right? Who knows?

My advice – if it’s worth a damn – is that the best way to get to grips with a freelance writing career is to keep busy at all times and to not beat yourself up when you hit the wall and procrastination calls. The 9-5 brigade all have lulls in activity, the difference is they are doing it with a guaranteed salary, and you’re doing it in your own time where time is money. Finding a balance between writing yourself into despair and having a life is as important as making a living. Remember that and you will be a lot more productive. It’s working for me and I hope it will for the rest of my working life.

5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get a Job on oDesk

in Beginner, Fundamentals / No Comments

cant-get-a-job-on-odeskWith over 3.1 million registered contractors and 1.5 million paying clients, oDesk sure sounds promising for someone who wants to start an online career.

But a lot of these registered contractors are still having difficulties finding jobs – or at least well-paying ones. Others have been lucky enough to land a regular gig but it might take them months or even years to get the next one. Others, with no luck, have lost interest and moved on.

Considering the number of contractors compared to the number of clients, you certainly get a lot of competition. Still, why do some fellow newbies get jobs, and why can’t YOU get a job at oDesk? Here are some reasons why…

You did not COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE

Excited to find work, you tend to skip the part where you need to fill out all the additional information needed for your profile.

Take note: creating an impressive profile is the key step in getting your very first job. Unlike regular employment, oDesk’s employer-contractor relationships are solely based on trust, and this will be communicated by your profile as a whole.

Fill in everything, upload a nice professional photo, add your employment history, your educational attainment, and any other experiences such as seminars you’ve attended.

Use a title that best describes you, create a brief and creative overview, upload some samples of your work and take some tests. The most important test you need to take is the oDesk readiness test, it’ll equip you with oDesk basics and it will also give you an additional 5 job application quota.

Last but not least set up your hourly rate. For newbies, it’s best to set a low rate. Obviously employers will opt to hire contractors with lower hourly rate. Depending on where you’re based and what your skillset is, $1 per hour is low enough. You can set a higher rate if you’ve proven your skills by getting good feedback and earning a lot of oDesk hours. In addition, if you’ve been patient enough and reached 100 hours, high paying and long term jobs will be more accessible.

Creating a good profile will also maximize your job application quota. Odesk users start with a quota of two that can be raised to 25 after completing your profile, reaching certain job hours and earning a 4-5 star rating.

You submitted a GENERIC COVER LETTER

I’ve come across a number of posts on oDesk from people looking for someone to write their cover letter template.

You will never get a job if you can’t even create your own cover letter! You don’t need to be a good writer to be able to create a presentable one. Good cover letters are catchy and brief. Write your basic information and recent achievements. Remember clients review your cover letter before checking out your profile, so don’t bore them with long nonsense and generic cover letters, make it interesting and direct, and sell your talents and achievements.

Once you’ve got a general cover letter format you’re happy with, save it somewhere accessible for future use. Now when you apply for new jobs be sure to customise the letter specifically to the job. You will make yourself standout from all the generic letters by mentioning something specific such as the client’s name or something they mentioned in the job listing. You’ll be amazed how much of an impression this can make – just by taking the time to add a few specific details to show you read the job, you’ll put yourself head and shoulders above all the applicants with copy and pasted cover letters.

You’re not spending ENOUGH TIME looking for work

Since you have a 2 or 5 job application quota, most likely you’re going to be online 2-3 hours a day. That’s not going to help you get a job at oDesk. Now, keep in mind that before everything else, before your client reviews your cover letter and checks out your profile, you need to make sure you’re client actually SEES you first.

How can the client see you?

  • Apply to the MOST RECENT job postings. For a newbie, the most recent will be 30 minutes ago, for someone who has accumulated more than 100 hours it will be 10-15 minutes ago.
  • You have a great chance of being hired if the applicants for that job are LESS THAN 10. Moe than 10 is too risky, you might want to save your quota in that case because it takes a day before it’s returned after being declined for a job.
  • You can still send your application if the applicants are more than 10 if the previous applicants are also newbies or don’t have strong profiles. This is where your cover letter kicks off. If you have that great photo and a kick ass letter you’ll surely get shortlisted and hired soon.

You don’t have reliable internet or even INTERNET at HOME

If you’re planning to have a long-term online career, you should invest in a reliable internet connection at home.

The top 5 countries spending for oDesk contractor services are US, Australia, Canda, UK and UAE. If you want to get a job, you might want to sync your time with them. This may mean you’ll have to spend time looking for work during unexpected hours, that’s why it is more advantageous to have internet at home.

You can also get to job postings and apply faster if you have good connection. Just make sure to always refresh and check your job feeds.

You’re IMPATIENT

Yes, you’ve done those 4 steps above and still you received that notification saying your application has been denied. Don’t lose hope! Don’t be discouraged. Remember the number of contractors is twice the number of paying clients. You really got a lot of competition out there – some of whom are very experienced.

Keep sending applications, take tests and improve your profile. You will soon get your chance and that will never come if you give up now.

Share your own experiences with getting a job on oDesk or other freelancing sites in the comments below.

Why Business Owners Are More Dependent On Virtual Assistants Than Ever Before

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virtual assistantA virtual assistant is a lifeline for any business that would otherwise struggle to complete its professional and administrative tasks on time.

They are additional sources of support that can provide invaluable services during busy periods, staff shortages or technical problems that can put teams under immense pressure.

Some cynics are openly critical of virtual assistants (often referred to simply as ‘VAs’) because, much as their name suggests, they remain detached from the rest of the business and are usually only contactable over the phone, Skype, or via email. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a VA is less accessible than an average onsite employee. Granted, many employers prefer to have a PA or receptionist onsite simply for the sake of being able to monitor their activities, but business owners who adopt this fairly outdated view are missing out on the wide range of practical and financial benefits that hiring a VA can bring to their firm, especially as communications technology is continuing to evolve and more and more employees are choosing to work remotely.

Virtual assistants are only paid for what they deliver

One of the most fundamental financial benefits of hiring a virtual assistant as opposed to a full time employee is that they are significantly more cost effective. You are not legally obliged to pay them when they are on holiday or sick, and are not responsible for any tax, benefits, insurance or other obligations that would be associated with a permanent employee. On the contrary, virtual assistants are the people who protect your business and keep it operating at maximum efficiency when you are on holiday or have fallen ill.

Common reasons for hiring a virtual assistant:

Invoicing support

Whether you are submitting an invoice or handling a long list of invoices from your clients, invoicing can be a very tedious process, particularly when you have to submit attachments to dozens of clients at the end of each month. Virtual assistants can take this weight off your shoulders and handle all of your invoicing for you. This gives you time to focus your attention on other administrative tasks in your business. Assistants can also help you keep track of your payments and inform you of any problems, such as late billings or special requests.

SEO support

Virtual assistants can help you build and maintain a strong web presence by keeping your business in a prominent position in the search engines. They can perform a variety of tasks, from blogging and social media posts to rewriting content, link building, and keyword redistribution, all of which will help your businesses attract new customers online.

Outsourcing your SEO services can also be much more affordable option than hiring a full time copywriter or SEO technician because of the reduced overheads involved.

Help with organising your day-to-day tasks

From organising client meetings to booking hotels and flights, virtual assistants can do all of the important tasks that you simply don’t have time to do otherwise. By being fully prepared for your daily schedule, you can improve the efficiency of your team and demonstrate a consistently professional, respectable attitude to your clients and customers.

Virtual assistants can help your business survive the recession

As the cost of commercial property continues to increase, particularly in the London area, hiring a virtual assistant is becoming an increasingly viable, and in some cases, essential decision, for companies struggling to increase their revenue and maintain their competitiveness in the world of business.

6 Ways to Manage Anxiety in Outsourcing

in Beginner, Intermediate / No Comments

Entrepreneurs want to cut corners and increase the bottom line.

They are constantly looking for creative avenues to fulfill their goals with the least cost. Anxiety and stress comes in when businessmen are staring at a blank wall not knowing which action steps to take.

Outsourcing has become a viable answer to bring down the cost without sacrificing much in executing related business processes. However, this could be a reason for businessmen to be anxious since some business processes will no longer be handled in-house.

Let us take a look at ways to bring anxiety down and enjoy the benefits of outsourcing.

Define the scope of work

When engaging with an outsource contractor it pays to have a scope of work which basically is a statement of the things what you want to be done. Before heading for any endeavor to be outsourced, it pays to have the rules of engagement laid out to avoid finger pointing when a mess crops up. Tell the outsourcing contractor what your requirements up front. It is best to set realistic expectations and put metrics in place that the contractor needs to hit.

Never choose by basis of price

Tempting it may seem, but choosing a contractor based on price alone is an anxiety generator. The price should not be the sole consideration why you are picking a contractor. Buying the services of a contractor should be based on a wide spectrum of considerations and there should be a balance of value and quality results. Price is often the worst thing to consider when choosing a service provider. Not only it reflects that it can use price matching as a way to attract customers, it is a serious indicator that it is willing to cut corners to make the contract feasible. Just think of the ways a service contractor will cut its costs. It may not be able to give the workers just compensation and neglect some benefits. It may not be able to provide adequate security infrastructure needed to safeguard customer data.

Look at the contractor’s experience

Look for a service provider with an excellent experience on the business process that you are looking to be accomplished. The last thing you need is to become a lab rat for the contractor. Choose a contractor that will surely generate results. There is a chance that your contractor will just take you to get more experience on your business space. Take a look at their track record on your industry. For example, if you are a financial institution wanting to outsource the payroll side of the business take a look at how long the contractor has been engaging with payroll systems management. Know what are the positive and negative feedback that other clients have to say on a particular contractor.

Evaluate a contractor like a regular employee

When you are evaluating a contractor, ask a lot of questions to contractors as if you are asking an organic employee.  Choosing a service provider is always subjective but it should not stop you from being objective. Ask for references and ask about the performance of the contractor on their own accounts.

Always start small

When you are engaging with an outsourcing contractor it pays to start small. This will enable you to pull back easily when things don’t turn out well. This will save you from a lot of anxiety since you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. Also, this strategy will give you more idea how the provider performs before you can think of possible expansion.

Always get everything in writing

Documentation is crucial when you are outsourcing business processes to a contractor. This is important as you move towards entrusting “mission critical” processes to a service provider. The payment schedules, the risk and rewards and any change in the service agreement including service levels should be listed down.

Outsourcing can be a great way to bring down costs. It is important that you maintain your business independence despite outsourcing some processes. Anxiety comes when surprises spring along the way.

Finding Your Perfect Virtual Professional

in Beginner / 1 Comment

Anyone who’s new to hiring contractors on sites like Elance, oDesk and Guru, finds himself or herself often wondering what exactly they’re supposed to be looking for.

This is a great question. Each of these sites, as well as other less popular ones, have great options to help clients and business owners evaluate their potential contractors.

However, it’s still possible to pick the wrong guy. What do you do to make sure this doesn’t happen? There are a few tactics to keep in mind when hiring your virtual professional.

Research Thoroughly

The most popular contractor sites have several methods of evaluation. You can see past reviews of the contractor, as well as how many jobs they’ve taken on the site. You also have access to a portfolio they’ve submitted, and you can see their test scores if they’ve taken any. Make sure you look at these.

You also want to go above and beyond, and check out the contractor’s website if at all possible. This will give you a good idea of their brand, and give you the opportunity to see if it matches that of yours. Don’t just look at the reviews, but take a look at the details of the past jobs they’ve worked, and see if any are at all like yours, and then check the reviews for those specific jobs. This micro-researching technique will help you not have to micromanage later.

Use A Rating System

The competition’s heavy for almost any job posted, and you may find yourself sifting through 40+ proposals for any given job you promote on a contracting site. Use a rating system to help you quickly weed out those who aren’t good enough.

The system you create is up to you. You can develop a point system, or you can use an easier, checklist type system that’s all in your head, and will help you quickly run through the proposals. Whoever has the most checks stays.

Keep Your Options Open

Never put all of your eggs in one basket. Don’t be afraid to hire two or three of your top perceived contractors to figure out which one works best for you. This especially works if you ever find yourself wanting to hire a business. Most businesses themselves outsource, and you may find the quality you receive to be different from the quality other ratings have you looking forward to.

Be sure to hire more than one person and give them small tasks to test them out and see what you’re working with.

Now, go post your job and make sure you use all of these strategies when choosing your perfect virtual professional to handle some of your business needs.

Elance vs oDesk – a Comparison of Outsourcing Sites

in Beginner / 3 Comments

elance-vs-odesk-comparisonIf you’re looking to outsource some of your more time-consuming tasks in an effort to better manage your workload, you’ll need to decide on the best platform for focusing your outsourcing efforts.

Virtual outsourcing is a booming industry, and you’d be surprised at how many tasks can be handled via the internet with a virtual helper. Overall, outsourcing your tasks is convenient, and allows a great opportunity to put your time and energy into more important pursuits.

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