The Truth About “Low-Cost” Outsourcing

Champion Assistants Virtual Assistant TeamYou’ve probably seen the ads yourself, “Quality Virtual Assistants, $3 per Hour.” Wouldn’t it be great if those ads were true? The truth, however, is that in outsourcing as in most other things, you get what you pay for.

Let’s look at the kinds of tasks being outsourced by small business owners and Internet entrepreneurs. They’re finding new freedom to build their businesses by using Virtual Assistants for a variety of needs. They’re trusting “VAs” to do things like responding to client email, keeping their schedules straight, making appointments and travel arrangements, and updating their websites.

A well-trained Virtual Assistant is someone who’s committed to helping a client grow a business by minimizing the owner’s involvement in day-to-day tasks. Not only do these virtual wonders handle tasks with little supervision, they’re also motivated to suggest improvements that save you time and money. They can help you find additional markets for your products, ways to streamline product delivery and better solutions for business automation.

Is it reasonable to expect the same from someone making less than minimum wage? Here’s the reality, based on feedback from frustrated business owners who tried “cheap” first: the time they spent redoing poorly done work and constantly supervising virtual support outweighed their original savings.

Great VAs will look for ways to increase your business while saving you money. But they don’t work for three dollars per hour! They’re highly-trained professionals running their own businesses, and they charge rates appropriate to their expertise.

As you’re looking for someone to help run your business, consider the benefits of outsourcing to a well-trained Virtual Assistant. Why waste valuable time wondering if the work’s being done correctly? Make the investment in a quality VA and spend your time growing your business, instead.

You can learn more about using a VA by listening to a teleseminar Heather Nelson did about outsourcing: Champion Assistants Virtual Assistants teleseminar

How Have Business Networking and Communications Changed?

Business NetworkingOh, the good old days of doing business!  And I am not talking 20-30 years ago I am only talking 6-7 years ago.  There was always an expectation that business people would join business groups like Lions or Rotary to network with other business owners, but that necessity is changing rapidly.

In fact if you are relying on those networks for your business in 2009 you are almost considered ‘out of the loop’.  Business these days is conducted on the internet via social sites and emails.   Interesting that they call them social sites because people who join these sites for business are not  in many of cases, very social.  Often it is a matter of targeting specific clients or groups and building relationships for business purposes only.

It is a fact that even company meetings have changed.  More and more companies are changing to having meetings on the internet with attendees being anywhere from down the hallway to half way across the globe.

How is this affecting your business?  Are you losing that personal contact with staff or with your customers?  Obviously virtual business is infiltrating our systems more and more, but business owners need to be extremely careful that they do not lose touch with their clients.

One step that major companies have taken because of this factor is to improve their customer service divisions.  Even in only the last 2 years there has been a noticeable difference in customer service.

Champion Assistants NEW International Division

Champion Assistants globalteamChampion Assistants is proud to announce its new International division dedicated to international clients expanding their businesses to the US.  We’ve always enjoyed working with our overseas clients in the UK, Poland and New Zealand, so we are very pleased to be expanding and offering our services globally.

Our International division is dedicated to “Connecting Businesses with Opportunities”.  To us, this means building relationships, offering executive support and representing our international clients here in the US as their satelite office.  Our service offerings include:

  • Executive Office Support – Virtual US headquarters for foreign companies, trade mission assistance, trade show follow-up, correspondence, scheduling, lead and inquiry management.
  • Business Analysis – Business process analysis, process optimization, change management.
  • Sales Strategy – Sales strategy definition and implementation, prospect identifying and targeting, CRM software management, affiliate management.
  • Marketing Strategy – Direct mailings, press releases, newsletters, online networking, blogs, customer forum maintenance and moderation.
  • Web Design – Web design based on strategic business requirements, online shopping carts , website localization, Web 2.0, SEO Search Engine Optimization.
  • Business Translations – Spanish, Chinese, Japanese (manuals, websites, documents, meetings, interviews, correspondence, proposals).

Champion Assistants has the aim of supporting international business efforts to ensure long-term success in the American market.  From our strategic sales and marketing to our executive support, we work with our customers to customize services to their needs.  Please visit our website or contact us today to find out more specific information.

Best,

Heather

Seattle Businesses – Don’t miss this brand and marketing workshop!

Maria Ross - Marketing and Brand Expert

Maria Ross - Marketing and Brand Expert

Defining a brand strategy is essential for all businesses and a task that many small business owners find daunting.  To be successful in any economy or market, businesses need to have a defined niche and a sound strategy for how they are going to position themselves in the market place.  Regardless of how good a product or service may be, positioning and perception make all the difference.

Taking the time to define a marketing and brand strategy are a wise time and money investment that will pay off quickly.  Two of Seattle’s big brand and marketing dynamos, Maria Ross, Marketing Director for Red-Slice and Whitney Keyes of Whitney Keyes Productions, are holding a workshop to guide you through the marketing maze and help you find practical and creative ways to attract new customers  – and keep the ones you have loyal to you.  The workshop is being held February 11th, 2009, and is an excellent opportunity to get practical strategies from Seattle marketing dynamos.  For more information about the workshop, just visit: Branding Workshop.

Best,

Heather

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Microsoft cuts jobs – time for entrepreneurs to flourish!

lightbulbsglobeThe news that Microsoft is making its first mass layoffs in its 34-year history (according to the The Associated Press) is big news here in the Seattle-area as all of us are directly or indirectly impacted by the job cuts.  Microsoft is one of the Northwest’s largest employers and everyone in Seattle either works for Microsoft or has a family member, friend or neighbor working at Microsoft.  Whether or not someone we know loses their job, we know how difficult it can be working for a company undergoing an unprecedented internal transition. Champion Assistants is headquarted in Kirkland, just a 15-minute drive from Microsoft’s Redmond campus and we greatly value the impact the company has had in our region – providing jobs to so many and boosting the level of technological-savvy and development in the region.  Champion Assistants is a registered partner with Microsoft and we’re always keeping an eye out for what Microsoft is innovating.

In addition to Microsoft, the Puget Sound region is also known as being a region where entrepreneurs flourish – especially for minority-owned businesses according to Prosperity Partnership.org.  According to Washington State, women are considered minorities in business and therefore 51% majority women-owned businesses qualify for special loan rates as well as business counseling services from organizations such as the Community Capital Development Washington Business Center.  There are a number of free resources available to small business owners and entrepreneurs both nationally through the SBA and in Washington State.  I always recommend starting with free resources and exhausting them before paying for advice.

With layoffs being announced across various industries and company sizes, I think this economy will present innovators with an excellent opportunity to develop their ideas and go into business for themselves.  Being layed off can be discouraging, but realizing creative talent and ambition while working from home is tremendously rewarding.  I strongly believe that home offices will become micro-power centers of innovation over the next couple years.  Good talent rarely sits idle.

With the convenience of the home office and low barrier to entry for online sales, there is tremendous opportunity for small business to capture niche market share and sell online with extremely low overhead costs.  It isn’t all doom and gloom with layoffs.  Now is the time to fulfill dreams and stay productive at what we all do best and are passionate about.  Carpe diem!  If you are one of the many being affected by restructuring and layoffs, now is the time to develop your ideas and sell online.

Best,

Heather

Free Promotion: Increase sales with an online shopping cart!

Online Shopping Cart ExpertAchieve more sales in 2009 with the help of an online shopping cart! If you have a website, you need an online shopping cart!

Did you know most online shopping carts include autoresponders that you can set up in order to send “personal” messages to each new customer? Imagine easily automating your sales process and making your contacts aware of all that you can offer them!

Online shopping carts are inexpensive, a great marketing tool, and a fantastic way for businesses of any size to easily sell online. Our clients include solo-preneurs and small businesses selling all kinds of products from information materials to business seminars to gift products.

I would be happy to offer you a free 30-minute consultation about online shopping cart options, how they can be used for your business, and how to use them for optimal sales.

Best,

Heather