What is the secret to running a successful business? A wise man once said to me that it’s all about surrounding yourself with people who are better than you!
Thinking about this, it actually makes a lot of sense. Just because you may be absolutely fantastic at what you do, it doesn’t mean that you are a whizz with the accounts, a brilliant time keeper, on the ball with your HR or the first to organise and outstanding promotional event. It takes a true business mind to delegate and admit when a task is beyond their skill set and can be done more effectively with outside help.
I’m sure Nicky Thomas would whole heartedly agree with me. Nicky is a partner with SmartPA, the leading providers in outsourced PA, secretarial and administrative services to businesses of all sizes. We asked Nicky all about outsourcing, and what it takes for business owners to finally hand over the baby!
“As a small business you’ve probably got a lot on your plate. It’s not just the general day to day running and growth of your products and services; you might also have accounts, social media, marketing, HR, administration and a whole host of other activities to attend to as well.
How many of us are working more hours than are healthy and how many of those hours are productively impacting the successful growth of our businesses?
Outsourcing might seem like a daunting option but many smart businesses are already reaping the benefits of having more time to devote to their primary roles, whilst gaining the positives of working with a wider range of skills than they could afford to employ through hiring permanent staff. However, handing over any part of ‘the baby’ to an outsourced supplier can feel like a big step, so it is important to ensure that suppliers are chosen through an informed process.
Outsourced PAs come in many different shapes and sizes from small home office based Virtual Assistant (or VA) or market leading providers of PA, secretarial and administrative services, like SmartPA.
So, if you’re thinking of engaging an outsourced business support expert what are the top 10 questions you should be asking?
- Do you need face to face interaction with your PA? In this technological era, outsourced services can be very successfully delivered via skype, email, phone etc.
- How stable is the VA/PA’s business. How will you be supported if your PA cannot work? Market leading business support (VA) organisations often have a larger pool of PAs who can offer a wider range of skills and consistency of service.
- How do you gain confidence in outsourcing? Use LinkedIn to research your proposed supplier. Testimonials from other satisfied clients can offer you confidence in your choice.
- What hours do you need your PA to be available?
- What service levels can they guarantee? Seamless integration into your business is a must, as is professional and consistent delivery. Remember they are dealing with your customers and suppliers. Do they need to work within an NDA?
- What tasks could a PA do for you? Many suppliers will offer a free one hour trial to give you an indication of their ability and how the partnership would work. It’s hard to let go of the baby at first, so start with just a couple of tasks and work from there.
- Does your PA need to have specific industry knowledge, or are you happy for them to learn this on the job?
- Are you being tied into a long term agreement? Package deals tend to be the most efficient and least costly and provide greater flexibility in line with the peaks and troughs of your business.
- How well trained is your PA? It is not your responsibility to provide training unless it is very specific to your business.
- Does your PA have a robust reporting system to provide you with adequate progress updates? This will help you keep on track of your spend and give you a greater feeling of control.
If you made a New Year’s resolution this year to work smarter, not harder, then outsourcing could make a real difference to the success of your business in 2017. Whichever service you choose to use, you are bound to see real benefits in flexibility, cost saving and quality expertise. Take a step back and consider which tasks you are doing that are actually impacting the bottom line. Could someone else do the other tasks more efficiently than you?”
For more information about outsourcing, click on the SmartPA website
With a career spanning over 20 years in marketing, copywriting and business documentation, event management, proofreading and employee communications and engagement, Nicky is an expert in business support and adept at quickly understanding client requirements and assimilating herself into their business. As a successful business owner for over 12 years she fully understands the challenges that come with growing a business and is passionate about providing a flexible and scalable approach that can add real value and support cost saving aspirations too. Connect with Nicky on LinkedIn, and follow SmartPA on Facebook and on Twitter.
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