Turn your challenge into a solution

One of the biggest challenges when thinking of whether to outsource is to break the connection between one hour worked and one hour of value created. A successful lawyer who gets paid £250 an hour for each billable hour worked, for example, may think that’s the highest use of their time.  But in fact, it’s the time they put into securing a new client who will bring in hundreds of billable hours over the relationship, or deciding which niches to focus on, or which to ignore, or growing their legal team to be able to systematically get more valuable work out the door faster and at a higher quality.

So, when catching up on admin or diary management, finding venues or meeting rooms, liaising with all parties before you’ve even got that client in the door. If all of that takes 10 hours of your time per week. 

£250 x 10 = £2500 per week (lost billable hours) = £10k per month

Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant at a typical hourly rate of £27 per hour:-

£27 x 10 = £270 per week = £1,080 per month

£10,000 minus £1,080 = £8,920 of billable time which would otherwise have been lost.

Not to mention, over the course of a year, by having someone on hand to take your tasks when you need them to be done, you don’t pay for unused time, no pension/holiday/sick pay costs, no office overhead.

When faced with the business dilemma, you have to think of that in terms of highest value. You don’t get paid for the hours you work. You get paid based on the value you create. So, you have to ask yourself – is that loss of billable time really worth it?

What is a VA?

You’ve heard the phrase “virtual assistant or VA” and are unsure what that means exactly. I am an admin professional who works behind the scenes for businesses where tasks are outsourced to me on an ad-hoc or regular basis. I typically work from my remote office and connect with clients via phone, email or skype and am lucky enough to meet some of them face to face for a coffee if they are located locally.

I recently was selected by the Society of Virtual Assistants to become one of their VA volunteers helping them to coordinate VA diaries with exciting and topical events they should attend.

Why not take a look at the video to find out a “wee” bit more about what we do….

5 Quick steps to a paperless office

Shelves upon shelves of dust-covered documents, hours spent perusing folders looking for a single piece of data, desks piled high with contracts from 3 years ago—half a century after IBM claimed the paperless office was the next big thing, almost 1/3rd of offices are still overrun by their docs. If you don’t start going paperless at work, you are losing time, money, and your sanity. Use these 5 quick steps to eliminating waste and boosting your company’s flexibility, productivity, and profitability.

 According to Nitro Software, 31% of companies are “piled high with paperwork.” Which is strange since half of all CEOs say creating a paperless office is a key priority. Moreover, whatever the cost of eliminating paper, most companies recoup it within 18 months. 28% even achieve full ROI in less than 6 months!

OK, so, key priority, big money benefits, basically saving the world — why is “create a paperless office” still the business equivalent of “lose weight” as a New Year’s resolution?

Creating a Paperless Office – What’s the problem?

The problem is businesses don’t know how to do it and usually follow bad advice. Forget all of the big investments, how-to guides, or companies promising to help you usher in the 21st century for big fees. Here are 5 quick steps that are guaranteed to work:

1) Track Everything and Make a Report

Start by auditing your company’s internal printing procedures. Doesn’t matter if you’re a small florist or a larger organisation, finding out what you’re printing now is the first step to a paperless office. Track printers, copiers, shipping information, and anything else that comes through the door.

From there, determine what is and isn’t necessary. Set small goals to reduce consumption and ask yourself “do I really need to print this?” before clicking that printer icon.

2) Make it Harder to Print

This is one of the simplest and least expensive measures you can take. Making it harder to print should be step #2 once you create a report and set your company on a mission.

First, remove the printer or if you must keep it, minimise the amount of time you use it (this won’t be a problem because you are going to digitize your documents—see #3!).  Set the default on your printing settings to “save to PDF” and follow the digitise steps on where to save the PDF doc.

Now let’s move on to some heavy lifting.

3) Digitize Your Documents with PDF Software

 Taking all of your documents and digitizing them provides major benefits. Companies that exchange filing cabinets for digital files:

  1. To Save time
  2. Save space
  3. Save money
  4. And Save the planet

 There’s even increased security of password protected files.

Once you have all the documents you actually need to keep, get yourself some PDF software with optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities. OCR is able to recognize text within scanned images and documents. All you have to do is:

  1. Gather your docs
  2. Scan them into the computer
  3. Open your PDF software
  4. Activate OCR
  5. Save the files to your computer

 That’s it! Now that entire filing cabinet is just one computer file with the same capabilities of a paper document.

4) Go Paperless with Suppliers and Banks

 Now that you no longer print much at all at work, it’s time to stop any new paper from coming in the mail. Tell your suppliers to send all your bills via email and sign up for eStatements from your bank. Don’t forget purchase orders (POs)! And by now, if you send invoices you should be doing this electronically. If not, we need to talk !

That should put a damper on the flood of new documents coming in.

5) Use Cloud Technology

The final step toward a paperless office is to equip yourself with the technology you need to stay paperless. A few programs that MUST be on any small business’ radar are:

  1. Google Docs – Allows you to create documents and collaborate by sharing links with each other. Also storage is basically infinite.
  2. Dropbox – Send files to anyone with an account instantly.
  3. Xero – Cloud accounting software for tax season.
  4. Soda PDF – Soda PDF is the revolutionary new way to create documents, scan paper ones, secure them, and share them with the entire company.

A paperless office is within reach for every business no matter how big or small. Don’t pay attention to complex procedures or hire a company to help. Just follow these 5 steps and you’ll be able to see over those stacks of documents in no time.

The summer solstice : 6 things to know about the longest day of the year

Why do we have a summer solstice, anyway?

If you’re enjoying summer’s extra hours of day light then make sure you make the most of it as the days will get shorter after Thursday. (sigh)

It is Summer Solstice on Thursday, otherwise known as the longest day of the year, as the sun reaches it’s most northern most position, so we get more daylight than any other day.

From Friday, the sun will move southwards, and the nights will start to get longer.

The good news is we have some sunshine to enjoy on the longest day of the year.

So what is the Summer Solstice, why does it happen, and when does it end?

Summer Solstice takes place on Thursday, June 21. The world has roots in the Latin words sol and sistere, meaning sun and standing still. Why? Because it’s the day the sun stands still, as it is seen from earth. Instead of moving north or south, it hovers over the Tropic of Cancer. On Friday, the sun will head south again.

Does it always happen on June 21?

Summer Solstice can actually happen on June 20 or June 22, but that’s very rare. The next June 22 Solstice is due in 2203, while the last one was in 1975.

So will the days be shorter now?

Yes, daylight hours will drop until December 21, when they get longer again.

So is summer over?

Believe it or not, summer has not even started yet, according astronomers. They say summer begins on the day of the Summer Solstice, and ends on September 22.

But weather forecasters say different, they define summer as between June 1 and August 31.

Make your summer count, how do you plan to spend yours?

Remember: Never get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life!