- Research what Internet-based programs are out there that suit your business
- Start using project management software to organise your work
- Explore hiring subcontractors online to turn things around quickly and efficiently
- Stay up to date with technology by reading blogs and engaging in online forums.
From virtual assistants to cloud storage, there are many ways digital technology can boost efficiency in your business. Gail Layh, owner of Virtual Assistant and Booking Solutions (now Plesk), runs her business entirely online. Here, she shares her tips on how it works.
‘As a virtual business, we do away with all the staff overheads. There’s no training, equipment, superannuation, work cover – clients are only paying for the time that we work,’ says Gail.
With no hassle of recruiting in-house staff, Gail reduces business expenses typically associated with a ‘bricks and mortar’ office. This means she can deliver her service to clients at a much lower price.
Ramp up business capability
Her ability to reach out to anyone with an Internet connection has enabled Gail to ramp up business capability through subcontracting, quickly and easily.
‘There’s really no limit. You can take clients from all around the world and match them with suitably qualified subcontractors. Sometimes you can expedite tasks to be done overnight or after hours, which is a huge advantage as well.’
Efficient project management
Gail rarely meets with her global client base. Each client is given a dedicated project hub that can be accessed from anywhere. Clients can check progress, add tasks and upload files from anywhere at any time. Even emails are directed straight to an inbox specific to each project, so all team members are notified and the email is automatically stored. There is also the provision for team and client comments.
Having everything for each project in one specific location for everyone to access easily has made co-ordination of jobs, teams and clients a breeze. The project management software Gail recommends is My Client Spot. For everyday communication and administration, she suggests programs such as Skype, Google Calendar and Google Docs.
Boost client confidence
Gail says, ‘Working virtually is great for consultant-type businesses, where you’re working with multiple clients and multiple jobs at the same time.’ But clients can be hesitant to partner with you if there’s no face-to-face contact.
According to Gail, it’s all about showing to clients that your systems can be trusted: ‘If you can tell clients that they’ve got a system which they can log into at any time that allays a lot of their concerns. It proves that you’ve got processes in place, safe storage areas, and that you are readily accessible – and that makes people more confident.’
Stay updated with trends
According to Gail, the biggest challenge is keeping up with technology.
‘Online is such a fast moving industry, you need to be constantly aware of what’s new and what’s changing. You can do this by subscribing to blogs, product updates, and forums. Remember the industry is very supportive. You’ll get a multitude of answers to your questions, and they will usually tell you what product or software they’re using. It’s really easy to stay up to date that way.’
Digital technology has revolutionised the way Gail does her business. She is now able to support clients around the world 24/7, while being responsive to their queries even though there's no face-to-face contact.