Tag: cloud tools

It takes more than one person to run a successful online store. There’s just plain too many things to do and not enough hours in the day to get them done. While you might find yourself cringing at the idea of handing over any of the reins of your company to a virtual stranger, the time wasted by micromanaging your web store is limiting the rate of growth your company’s experiencing, not to mention the toll it’s probably taking on your personal life.

Running a business in the cloud

Here’s just a few all-too-important daily online store tasks you can outsource to your VA with the utmost confidence – all done remotely in the cloud:

Online Order Processing

As a business owner, you might feel like it’s your job to handle every order that comes into your store personally. However, this is a repetitive task that you can have someone doing for pennies-on-the-dollar when compared to the time deficit they cause. You can use the additional time saved working to improve your online storefront, secure more vendors, and seek out new and profitable product/service lines to help expand your business further.

Teach your virtual assistants to sniff out up-selling and cross-selling opportunities when they interact with customers via phone, live chat and email, to rake in even more profits.

Customer Service

Service level is a factor that’s monumentally important to nearly all customers. There are so many time-consuming elements required for an online store to be profitable while still gaining a reputation for offering good customer service.

Whether presale or after the sale, a virtual assistant can handle all your frontline customer service requests, in real time, via all cloud tools available. They can deal with customers who’re on the verge of buying but still have questions, handle returns and exchanges, along with managing all other customer questions and complaints while you do more important things.

Inventory Management

Inventory is a huge concern in any retail business. Let your VA use cloud collaboration tools to monitor stock levels and update your inventory to reflect what’s truly available in real time. Once certain agreed-upon thresholds are met, give them authorization to order more to keep levels where they need to be. Let them be your virtual lifeline between you and your dropshippers, monitoring the supplier’s stock levels and adjusting your store’s online inventory to avoid ordering issues with your consumers.

Website Admin and Maintenance

Basic web admin tasks like making blogposts and responding to comments in the comment section of your store can be done by almost any virtual assistant, regardless of their experience level with a minimal amount of training needed. More sensitive tasks, such as coding, design and maintenance can be still done by a qualified VA, such as the one from 247VirtualAssistant.com, much more cheaply than if you were to hire office staff or freelancers for the same tasks. Let them deal with the hassle of updates gone awry, clean up broken links, deal with sourcing and editing images, and make sure all copyrights, disclosures and coding is up to date on the site.

Marketing

Spreading your brand all over the Internet is a monumental task. One that can take up a lot of your personal time, in addition to money. Let VAs do all the down-and-dirty work like creating and submitting social blasts, press releases, guest posting, blog commenting, forum interaction, and video editing. Find the right assistant who has experience marketing in your niche and they’ll often have a large list of influential contacts that can help them market your business better than you could on your own.

Of course, you could keep doing all these jobs yourself. But why would you? How much is your time worth? Nearly every successful entrepreneur that exists today has got to where they are by learning to delegate and use cloud software to automate and simplify things, not micromanage. Hire yourself a virtual team and you might just become the next Internet success story!

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Managing a Virtual Assistant or virtual team doesn’t require hours and hours of reading emails fielding questions and feedback requests, asking (and waiting) for revisions, dealing with lost data when they take off without notice or their computer crashes. Nor does VA management require spending time you don’t have on instant messenger programs.

Virtual assistant

Knowing what you want and how to get it from a VA does have a learning curve, but you’re in luck: The ever-present cloud technology, as well as our own experience in hiring VAs, can help you get things right.

Always Use Cloud Services

Cloud storage, paid or free, gives you the flexibility to provide quick and easy input to the projects they’re working on rather than wasting time being sent an attachment, then sending feedback to them – and the time each of you wastes waiting for the other to respond. The cloud also allows you to restrict/remove their access to important files if need.

The cloud also ensures that if they flake out on you, never to be heard from again, that they won’t take a timely project with them. Last, if their computer crashes the night before a deadline, leaving them without enough time to redo the project, the data will still be right where they left it.

Here are the things you should do with the help of the cloud services of your choice:

1. Start Small, and Use Tools to Assist you

No matter what experience they claim to have, always start with one small project. Preferably a project that takes approximately 30 minutes or fewer. Immediately check their work after the time’s up, to make sure they’re on track with the project’s goals.

This is a good way to test a potential VA before hiring them too, but even after the initial project meets your approval, you should continue slow and steady for a few days at least. Failing to do so leads to more time spent editing and revising, and financial loss if important deadlines are missed.

Using cloud-based project management tool can help you manage the small projects, allowing you to try multiple VAs’ services at once. This will speed up the whole VA “recruitment” task.

Alternatively, to cut your ‘trials-and-errors,’ you can hire VAs from a personal assistant company, like 24/7 Virtual Assistant.

2. Communicate Project Guidelines and Deadline Expectations

There are certain times when it’s prudent to allow your VA some creative freedom. Allowing a designer to work with some basic suggestions and see what they come up with can lead to a better website or logo design. Allowing an experienced writer to let their creativity flow on a given topic will lead to less-wooden and share-worthy content.

However, for most tasks you need to be as specific as possible and demand edits and redos if expectations aren’t met. Generally, if you let your VA run wild and do things their own way, the finished result won’t match the picture in your (or your client’s) head. Be as detailed as possible while keeping your instructions succinct. Deadlines must be met without exception, unless there are dire extenuating circumstances, and even then: let them know they only get one generous bye before you say “adios amigo!”

3. Be Smart With Email Practices

Over-emailing with your remote assistant can quickly get out of hand, with them sending you email messages that resemble a high-school term paper, or dozens of small little emails of which a few can easily get missed if you’re busy, or if they accidentally hit “reply” to an older message instead of adding a fresh one to your communication thread. Insist they only send one email per day and ensure they consider each communication they send carefully before hitting the “send” button.

4. Instant Messaging (and Chatting) for the Win

Set expectations with your VA as to when you might choose to IM with them. Their time is valuable too and communications will go much smoother if you don’t pop onto their desktop at random times, usually when they’re trying to get important time-consuming tasks done for you.

At the same time, they need to respect your time-constraints and you need to make it clear what times you’re available, and that it must be important if they deviate from those timelines. Use Skype or an instant messenger for communication. If they work for an agency, use the agency’s built in messenger.

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The availability of cloud tools today has made entrepreneurs’ life easier to quickly launch a business and/or product. Indeed, they made “lean startup” possible. But what is it, anyway?

Lean startup is an approach to shorten product development cycles, progress measurement, and feedback collection. Initially developed with tech startups in mind by Eric Ries back in 2008, the lean startup principles can be now adopted by any businesses and individuals to quickly launch new products/services into the market.

More often than not, tools required to adopt the philosophy. Cloud-based tools are great companions to launching a business adopting the lean startup philosophy due to their inherited perks: Web-based, scalable and (mostly) adopting pay as you go/utility-like plans. Plus, you can work on the go, as long as you are connected to the Internet – this in itself enables entrepreneurs to speed up progress of their startup phase and address any issues almost immediately.

What tools and services available for lean startup?

I follow this well-maintained list from Listly containing hundreds of cloud tools and services you can use in helping you launch your startup and product quickly. Check ’em out!

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