Virtual Office Advantages

The Advantages of a Virtual Office for Small Business Owners

In the ever changing world of modern business, the traditional concept of office space is undergoing a transformative shift. Small business owners are increasingly turning to virtual offices as a strategic solution to enhance productivity, reduce costs, and improve flexibility. Here are some of the benefits for small businesses of using a virtual office.

  1. Cost Efficiency. One of the primary attractions of a virtual office for small business owners is the significant cost savings. By eliminating the need for physical office space, businesses can redirect funds towards essential operational aspects. From reduced rent and utility expenses to lower maintenance costs, virtual offices enable business owners to allocate resources more strategically.
  2. Flexibility and Work-Life Balance. Virtual offices help to break down the barriers of a traditional 9-to-5 workday. Small business owners can enjoy enhanced flexibility by allowing team members to work from various locations. This not only fosters a better work-life balance but also opens up opportunities to tap into a global talent pool, bringing diverse skill sets to the virtual workspace.
  3. Professional Image. Even without a physical office space, small businesses can maintain a professional image. Virtual office services often include a prestigious business address, mail handling, and personalised telephone answering services. This creates an impression of stability and credibility, crucial elements for building trust with clients and partners.
  4. Reduced commuting stress. Eliminating the daily commute can contribute to a happier and more engaged workforce. Small business owners can enhance employee satisfaction by offering the flexibility to work from home or other preferred locations. This reduction in commuting stress can result in improved morale and overall well-being.
  5. Business Continuity. Virtual offices inherently offer a level of business continuity. In the face of unforeseen events such as natural disasters or public health crises, business operations can continue seamlessly. With data stored securely in the cloud and teams equipped to work remotely, small businesses can weather challenges more effectively.

In conclusion, the benefits of a virtual office for small business owners are multifaceted. From cost savings and flexibility to access to top talent and enhanced productivity, embracing a virtual office model can be a strategic move that propels a small business to the next level. As the business landscape continues to evolve, virtual offices are a powerful tool, reshaping the way business owners approach work and collaboration.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Virtual Office services click here for further information or give us a call on 0113 8500385


Top 5 Skills You Need To Master To Successfully Run Your Business From Home

So you’ve made the decision to run your business from home.  Whatever type of business you run there are a number of key skills that you need to master to ensure you stay on top of your work, whilst enjoying the balance of being at home.

Here are the 5 essential skills that you need to master to run your business from home and importantly the steps that you need to take to easily learn these skills, even if you don’t have them already.

1. Great organisation skills.

Getting organised not only helps you get through every day and help it run efficiently, regardless of whether or not you’re feeling motivated, it also makes your day easier.

The first step to getting organised is to ensure you always have a plan in place, every single day of what you need to be doing.  Spending just a few minutes at the beginning of every day planning out the things you need to achieve that day, can save hours of time wasted focusing on things that aren’t that important in the scheme of things.

organisation skills

Spending a few minutes at the end of the day as well determining what you need to do the next day will also help your next day get off to a quicker start.  Spending 5 minutes at the end of the day thinking about the next day can also help you think if you need to prepare anything for the next day – for example if you have a meeting the next day making sure your outfit is ready the night before and you have everything you need for the meeting, including petrol in the car etc.

Preparing in advance will not only make your next day run smoother, it will also mean that the next day you stay calmer as things are less likely to go wrong if everything is organised beforehand.

2. Good timekeeping.

Strongly linked with general organisation skills, good timekeeping is essential to getting the most from your working day and striking the balance between making sure you work hard enough whilst simultaneously ensuring you don’t work so hard you burn yourself out.

Having a set time to start and finish every day as though you were in an office not only ensures you get started every day and have a time that you know that you need to achieve certain things by is hugely important to your productivity.  I’m not saying that you have to work 9 to 5 – find a time that works for you and stick to it.

Timekeeping skills

Within this, you should also factor in time to take your lunch break and other shorter breaks throughout the day.  When you are planning out your day, you should also factor in when you are going to have some down time which will help to keep you refreshed to carry on with the rest of your days work. This helps to keep you moving forwards and enables you to perhaps look forward to some of the benefits of home working such as maybe being able to have lunch together with your family or being able to nip out to take the dog for a walk.

You can have all of this so long as you plan this in, it will not interfere with your working day.  If you’re also the type of person who enjoys the company of others it’s important to schedule in meeting with friends for coffee, or even arranging time to speak on the phone.  This will both prevent you from feeling isolated as well as encouraging friends to call at a time which will not interrupt your work schedule.


3. The ability to avoid distractions.

Running a business from home in some ways is no different to anyone else who works from home in that you are open to a whole range of distractions and temptations that are simply not there when you base yourself from any other location.

The TV, household chores, temptation of snacks in the kitchen, other people in the household. Finding yourself an appropriate work space which contains minimal distractions is crucial.  You may be lucky enough to have an office, but equally you may find yourself working at the kitchen table.

Look around your work environment and determine what your key distractions could be.  It may not always be something so obvious as the television, it could be that you can see a pile of laundry and that’s making you think about doing that rather than focusing on your work.

It could also be the other people in your household if they are likely to be at home at the same time as you.  Make sure that they are aware of your boundaries and understand when you are working and when you are not working.

Also make others aware who may not be in your house, but could potentially call for a chat.  It can be difficult for some people to understand that even though you’re at home, you are still actually working, so as well as talking to people to manage their expectations as best as possible.

Avoid distractions

You will to discipline yourself when it comes to looking at your phone.  A simple solution can be to turn off the notifications, so that you are not looking at your phone every time you get a text message or email alert which may break your concentration.  You may even want to put your phone inside a drawer so that you can’t see it at all.

4. Good communication skills.

You may think that working from home by yourself you will come into contact with less people, you will therefore be communicating less, but this is not necessarily the case.  First and foremost, if you share your home with other people you will need to communicate with those people.

It’s important before you start working from home that you sit down with the people in your household and openly discuss with them the pros and cons for both of you of you working from home.  You need to talk openly and honestly about how you working from home will impact on everyone in the house.

For example, if you don’t have an office and want to use the kitchen table as your work space, could someone else want to use this area during the day?  Sit down with everyone else who could be impacted, tell them why your business is important and your reasons for wanting to run your business from home.

Communication skills

In turn listen carefully and respectfully to the opinions of all those in the household.  It’s important to understand and respect where they are coming from so that you can come up with a win win solution.

Regularly discussing how working from home is panning out for everyone is also a good idea as the last thing you want is a misunderstanding over whose turn it is to use the kitchen table to turn into an argument.

5. Develop self evaluation skills.

When you’re working by yourself there’s no one there to give you feedback during the day, spur you on or tell you how you could have handled something better.

At the end of every day, look back at the day and consider the results you have had compared to what you thought you were going to achieve.  Has it panned out how you expected?  Better or worse maybe?  Look back honestly, and not judgementally look at what has happened during the day.

Self evaluation

Is there anything that you could have done better?  Consider what you can learn from today so that you implement it tomorrow, after all doing the same thing will get the same results.  If you have done something well, it’s important to recognise that too, give yourself a pat on the back and think about some small way that you can reward yourself for doing well.

Running a business from home, is for many people a dream come true.  If you’re in this position, make sure you master these 5 skills to continue enjoying your business and lifestyle.

Achieving Work Life Balance When You Work From Home

One of the most popular reasons for anyone wanting to work from home is to achieve greater work life balance.  Managed properly, you can definitely achieve this, however, it doesn’t just follow that working from home without making proper plans to achieve it.

If you’re not careful, the blurring of boundaries between work and home can mean that either you never really switch off from work, or that you never really get started. There can also be an impact on the lives of others in the home and your relationships with them.

Follow these simple, but essential steps to achieve the work life balance that you dream of when you run your business from home.

Have a designated work space.

When you’re basing yourself from home, for the benefit of both you and the others around you, you should definitely have a designated work space. This helps everyone delineate work from home a bit more clearly.  You know that when you go to your office space, wherever that may be, that you are working and similarly your family understand that they will give you the space to carry on with your work.

Set and agree guidelines.

Working from home is a decision not to take independently as it affects not just you, but also your family and other members of your home. It’s important that you regularly communicate with them and you agree boundaries that everyone is comfortable with.


Be flexible.

At the same time as agreeing your guidelines you will need to be flexible to a degree, and really this is one of the benefits of running your business from home, that you can be so close to family life.

You can get away for half an hour to go and watch that assembly, walk the dog, be there for family mealtimes, maybe even do the school run if it works for you.

Understand though that there may be other occasions where for example, children have friends over to play who may be noisy, perhaps an ill child at home and these things will impact on you to some degree if you work from home.

Set regular working hours.

As far as possible try to stick to a regular schedule of working hours. Just as having a regular work space helps everyone understand the difference between you being at work and at home, so do regular working hours.

Obviously as mentioned in the previous post there will need to be a certain degree of flexibility with this, but in the main if you can stick to regular hours it will help you to focus when you are at work, knowing that you are finishing at a certain time.

Leave the work space at the end of the day.

Now depending on your home and the space you have available, you may have an office within the house that you can work from. This is ideal as it allows you to physically leave the work space and close the door on work at the end of the working day.

If you’re basing yourself, for example, from the kitchen table, make sure you pack everything away at the end of the day.  If you don’t you’ll find that you don’t get the same quality down time when you finish work.

If items that could remind you of work, the laptop, the paperwork, the calculator, are on view, instead of relaxing you’ll find that your mind is drawn back to work.

You won’t be able to fully rest and your home just won’t be such a relaxing place to be, so it’s well worth five minutes at the end of the day clearing everything away so that your home becomes home once more.

Eliminate distractions.

As far as possible, remove the distractions. There are distractions wherever you base yourself from, they are just different at home.  Watch out for the TV, the fridge, housework.  They can all distract you from getting focused.

Get organised.

It’s often easier to plan the full week with not just the work tasks that you need to complete, but also the things you need to do in your home life.

If you’re not used to making a plan for the week, you’ll definitely need to get in to this habit.

For years I avoided making daily and weekly plans, I felt as though they were constraining me, but actually what I’ve found is those plans give me the freedom to make sure I have time to do the things I want to as I finish all the things I have to get done in good time.

Make time for yourself.

One of the things that is often not considered when you work from home is that as work time and family time become more integrated you are often conscious of making sure that you devote time and attention to them, but time for you as an individual is often neglected.

It’s crucial that you prioritise your own self care.  Factor in time to exercise, socialise with friends, pursue your own interests and do things that take you outside of the home/work environment.

A final word.

If you follow all of the above you will be well on your way to achieving true work life balance.

Appreciate it. Enjoy it.

Appreciating these things can help you feel better about yourself and your business and that inspires you to continue working to make it work.

Is Your Home Suitable To Run Your Business From?

Running your business from home is a low cost alternative to hiring commercial premises to operate your business from.

But before diving in and taking the plunge it’s worth considering if your home is in fact a suitable base for your business.

If you haven’t already read our first blog in this series on the Pros And Cons Of Running Your Business From Home I recommend you go back and read it as it provides a good general overview of the benefits and drawbacks that you will want to consider in the first place.

This blog will talk primarily about the specifics of YOUR home and help you determine it’s suitability for running a business from.

First of all, there are three main types of businesses that I will talk about in this post.

A premises based business, this is a business where your customers or clients will come to visit you.

A client based business, this is where you will be mainly based on customers premises.

A virtual business, this is a business where you don’t really need to meet your clients at all.

Each of these businesses will have different needs and considerations.  You may find that your own business overlaps a couple of the categories and that’s fine, these are not hard and fast rules, they are more guidelines as to what could or could not be suitable in different circumstances.

You will need to consider the following factors no matter what type of business you run, though some of these may be more relevant than others to different businesses.

1. Location.

First of all, consider the location of your home.  This is most relevant for premises based businesses and client based businesses, less so for virtual businesses, though it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.

If you are a premises based business where your clients will come to you, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

Is your address within a reasonable distance of your ideal customer?  Don’t just assume that people will be prepared to travel to you.  You have to make it as easy as possible for your customers to get to you if you want sales.

Check your home is in a suitable location

Are you in the centre of the area of your ideal customers? Are there good transport links to get to your location?  Is there adequate parking?

The nature of your business and it’s uniqueness will affect how far people are prepared to travel.  If you do offer something that’s truly unique your customers could well be prepared to travel a little further to get to you. On the other hand, if your customer would find other people doing what you do in a location that is closer and more convenient to them they may be tempted to go there instead.  People often make buying decisions based on convenience so don’t underestimate the location of your competition either.

Does your address match with the image of the business?  For example, if your business is in the high end, luxury sector, customers will most likely expect a high end address.  Before they even get to your address a potential customer could be put off by an address being the wrong side of town.

Is there likely to be a big increase in traffic of people visiting your premises and parking on the street?  If so, it’s possible that you may need to apply for planning permission so check on your local council website for further details.

If you are a client based business ask yourself these questions.

How far are you from your clients? How far are you prepared to travel?  Again, depending on the nature of your business, this could be something that could win or lose a sale for you depending on customer perception, even if they would never have to visit your premises themselves.

Close proximity to customers is a major plus point for many people, whatever type of business you’re in.  If you’re further away and need to travel regularly to your client’s premises, even if you know you can make the journey, a potential client can still be put off by you having to travel a long distance on the basis that you may not be able to make it at some point in the future.

Certain locations are synonymous with certain industries and an address in a particular location can build confidence, even if they never attend those premises.  (For example a doctor on Harley Street or a tailor on Saville Row.) It’s often worth considering the potential sales vales of a good address.

If you’re a virtual business, your address matters less, but it still matters.  Always go back to thinking about your ideal customer.  Would they be happy to pay money to a business at your address?

2. Your Premises.

Next, consider the premises themselves.  This may be your home and therefore difficult to look at objectively, but try to view if from a potential customers eyes.

Go outside your premises first of all. Imagine you are looking at your home for the first time.  Look at it, not as your home, but as your business.  Does it look presentable, well maintained and welcoming?

Your potential customers can be either enticed in or put off depending on the curb appeal of your property.  If it’s in a bad state of repair or overgrown with weeds you could find yourself losing business and not even knowing why if customers don’t want to knock on the door.

Approach the front door and walk inside the property, again imagining yourself seeing your home for the first time.  A customer is not going to see the whole of the house but look at the bits they will see.


As a minimum you’re going to have to have somewhere to speak to your customers. To make them feel welcome it’s always good to have somewhere comfortable for them to sit.  You’re likely to need to be able to make a drink for them, they may also ask to use the bathroom.  Make sure that any areas of your house that your customer would either enter, or pass through are appropriate.

Are you going to have a separate room that your customer that your customer will come in to or are they going to be in the main area of your house?  Think what your customer would reasonably expect to do on a visit to your business premises and ask yourself if your home fulfils that criteria.

Even if your customer is never going to come to your home you still need to consider whether the premises are suitable. Do you require just an office space, or are you perhaps making something?  If so do you have the necessary space to make the product, store your materials, any tools or stock?


The outside of your property is still important even if no one is visiting.  Many people will do a Google search on a business before making contact.  A photo of your premises on your business listing on Google goes a long way to building trust, particularly if you are a client based business or a virtual business.  Seeing the premises gives you credibility, the customer can see you are real, so use this to your advantage if you can.

3. Your Neighbours.

Whether you run a business from home or not, the importance of being on good terms with your neighbours can’t be underestimated.  When you do run a business from home good neighbourly relations are of HUGE importance.

A friendly neighbour will happily sign for packages and smile at your customers as they arrive.  A disgruntled neighbour on the other hand can be extremely obstructive.

When you are assessing your home for suitability, factor in also the neighbours and the impression they give.

You could keep the house in immaculate condition, but if your neighbours are blaring out music at top volume or having a full scale row, the chances are this is going to scare off potential clients.

Asking a neighbour to modify their behaviour is never an easy task, but if you are on bad terms with them to start with, forget it.  Asking them to turn the music down when you blocked their drive the day before will never go down well.

You have to be prepared to give the neighbour the same courtesy you expect of them and if you’re running a business it’s really going to be worth going the extra mile to nurture that relationship.  Show them your appreciation.

If your business is one which makes a lot of noise it’s worth talking to them honestly about it in advance and seeing how they feel.

Say thank you

The odd little present or thank you card does a long way to help cultivate a good relationship and people are often more understanding if they feel appreciated.


4. Your family/the people you live with.

The decision to run a business from your home, if you share your home with others, is never one you should take by yourself.

You need to consider the implications running your business from home will have on the whole family, not just you.  Equally you need to consider the impact your family will have on your business.

Before you go ahead, sit down and talk with everyone about your business and give your reasons for wanting to run the business from home.  (See the Pros and Cons of Running Your Business From Home for some ideas to start with)

Tell them exactly how it will impact on them.  It’s important to tell it exactly how it is, warts and all and not to attempt to oversell it.  When reality sets in if the situation is worse than they were led to believe for the others around you this can lead to resentment of both you and the business.

Let them know what’s expected of them, i.e. not plating loud music between certain hours, being courteous to visitors, tidying up after themselves etc.  As with your neighbours, show them appreciation for everything they do to support your business.

A united family supporting your business can be a real asset, but a customer being met with an annoyed, scowling teenager can cause you problems.

Set out what you agree to do as well, for example, particular working hours and stick to it.

Be realistic about what you can expect from your family.

It’s a good idea to have regular reviews with the family about what’s working and what could be improved.  Be prepared to listen and take on board other people’s feelings, even if it’s not really what you want to hear. Constant communication is the key.  It’s important to be united, don’t let basing your business from home cause problems between yourself and your family.

So now you have a good idea whether your home is suitable to run your business from.  Later in this series we’ll be examining the top 5 skills you need to master when you run your business from home, how to cultivate the right focus as well as how to achieve work life balance when you work from home.

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pros and cons of running your business from home

The Pros And Cons Of Running Your Business From Home


Welcome to the first of a series of blog posts about running a business from home.

For the first installment, we’re kicking off with the pros and cons of running a business from home.

The Pros and Cons of Running A Business From Home

Before you decide whether running your business from home is right for you, you should weigh up the various pros and cons of running your business from home as opposed to an office or other premises.

Every business is unique, just as every home and premises is so give careful attention to all the contributing factors before you make your decision.

The Pros of Running Your Business From Home

1. It’s low cost.

In any business you always need to be mindful of costs and keep your overheads to a minimum.  Premises are often a significant expense for business owners  and running your business from home can cut that out.  Furthermore, you may even be able to claim expenses for it.

2. There’s no commute.

No getting stuck in traffic jams, no missing the train, no standing at the bus stop in the rain. You’re already there.  No time taken out of your day to get to work and no expense to get there.

3. It’s flexible.

You’re not tied in.  If you decide at any point that you want to move to another premises, you don’t have to give notice to yourself to move.  For this reason running your business from home can be a good temporary solution if you know that your business could be going through a period of change in future.

4. There are less distractions.

Although there are distractions at home, often these are things which are more within your control, for example less people walking in, likely to be less noise.

5. You’re closer to your family.

One of the reasons most people cite for working from home is getting to spend more time with family and improving work life balance.  Be sure to have guidelines in place though when you first start about family time and work time which everyone needs to stick to, otherwise this can end up on the list of cons as you’ll read shortly.

Combine work and family life

6. You can set your own schedule.

Not having a premises to go to often also means that you aren’t constrained by particular opening hours of the premises, so in theory you can adapt your own schedule to suit you.


The Cons of Running Your Business From Home

1.It can be isolating.

Running a business from home often means you are working by yourself. Depending on the nature of your business, you may go days at work without seeing anyone else.  Make a conscious effort to stay connected with people.  Arrange to meet people for coffee once or twice a week to keep up your social interaction, if you can combine it with a bit of networking so much the better.

meeting friends for coffee

2. You’re always at work.

Just as when you go to work you’re always at home, when you are at home you’re always at work.  It can be hard to switch off at the end of the day.  Set yourself boundaries just as you would if you worked in an office.  Have a clear dedicated work space, ideally in a separate room that you can close the door on at the end of the day.  If that’s not possible at least make sure you tidy your work things away at the end of the day so you’re not always reminded of a nagging to do list.  Have a set time to finish, leave your work behind as much as you can at the end of the day.

Sometimes when you work from home you never escape the office

3. You are less visible.

If you don’t have a premises that can effectively act as a shop window you’re unlikely to get business from people just turning up at your place of work. These days so many people carry out internet research before they buy anything so make sure you have an online presence.  List your business on Google My Business to help with your Google rankings.  If you don’t want to use your home address you can always use a virtual office.

4. It can put a strain on family life.

Ironically, although spending more time with the family is one of the most popular reasons for running a business from home if not managed properly running your business from home can actually put more of a strain on relationships and family life.  Communication is key here and making sure you are all in agreement on what’s going to work for everyone.  Also look out for our later blog post in this series on how to achieve work life balance when you work from home.

5. You can start slacking off.

Just as it’s possible to not switch off from work, it’s also possible to feel a bit too comfortable in your surroundings and begin to slack off.  Make sure you have a dedicated work space in your home to work from.  Train yourself that when you’re in that place, you’re there to work.  In this series there is another blog post coming on determining if you have the right personality to work from home.

Weighing up the pros and cons of running a business from home is definitely a good place to start.  Next week we’ll start by delving a bit deeper, the subject is Is My Home Suitable To Run A Business From. Sign up here to get this post delivered direct to your inbox to make sure you don’t miss it.


12 Productivity Tips for Work Wise Week

As you’ve probably noticed already, productivity is pretty important to us at Virtual Head Office.

Getting productive makes a huge difference to the success of your business, not to mention your stress levels.  Work Wise Week, which runs from 14th to 20th May 2017 is all about helping people to work smarter rather than harder.

When I was asked by QuickBooks to contribute to this graphic that they were compiling, I jumped at the chance.

Take a look here at the tips that have been compiled, not just from me, but a wide range of contributors and start implementing some of them today.

If all of this has you inspired to get more productive, then why not sign up for our FREE 5 Day Productivity Email Course?  CLICK HERE to sign up and start becoming more productive today

Productivity Tips For Work Wise Week

These tips will make a huge difference to your business productivity and definitely make your life easier, so I would recommend you make them habit, not just something you try out for Work Wise Week.

None of these things are difficult, you may even know some of these things already.  But are you doing them?  It’s one thing to know something but only actually acting on it will make a difference to your business.  Try and implement at least one of these things today and see what a difference it makes.  You’ll soon start seeing results.

Do you have any other productivity tips that you’d like to share?  I would love to hear them if you do. More often than not it’s the small tweaks that make the real difference rather than the huge changes.

If you’d like to join for our FREE Productivity Mini Course to get more idea for small changes that make a big difference then sign up now.

Outsourcing: The Ultimate Guide for Small Business Owners

Outsourcing: The Ultimate Guide For Small Business Owners


Outsourcing is the practice where companies large or small use resources outside of their own company to fulfill certain functions.  Small businesses in particular, who seek to keep headcount and costs down will tend to outsource a lot.  In fact, I’ll be willing to guess that you are probably already outsourcing at least one function of your business already.

Outsourcing is on the increase.  It’s no surprise really.  There has been  increase in start up businesses in recent years, combined with tough market conditions. Businesses are seeking to keep costs down and this has led to a demand for outsourcing. Add to that an increase in the technology which enables people to work from anywhere and share information. Outsourcing has become easier. This trend looks set to continue.

Why should you outsource?

It’s Low Cost. 

The number one reason businesses choose to outsource tasks is that it’s the most cost effective option.  The cost to a business of an employee on the payroll is high. As we as their pay, you will have to pay them salary, holiday, sick pay, National Insurance contributions and other benefits.  If that person works in your office you will need to have the space to accommodate them, a desk and a computer.  You may well also need to invest in training to keep their skills up to date in line with the changing demands of the role.

With outsourcing you will only ever pay for the work that is actually done.  Unlike when you have an employee during the quieter periods who is sitting there with nothing to do.  Typically when you outsource the person that does the work for you will just concentrate on one type of work, such as bookkeeping.  Concentrating on just one type of work means that tasks are completed quicker. For example just concentrating on bookkeeping, rather than trying to answer the phone and deal with enquiries as well as bookkeeping.


You utilise a specialist skillset for each task.

Using a bookkeeper for bookkeeping, a social media specialist for social media etc. means that you are utilising someone with a more in depth knowledge of their job. A specialist therefore performs better in their role than someone fulfilling a diverse range of tasks as they have learned their craft.  A specialist skillset therefore results in a higher quality of work.

Outsourcing Helps Build A Team of Specialists

Outsourcing frees up time.  

So you’ve started your own business, you’re an entrepreneur, but how do you actually go about fulfilling your goals for your business?  Whatever your business goals,  you need to keep a firm eye on them and spend time every day working towards those goals in order to achieve them. Sounds great in theory, but it’s not always the reality.  Often finding the time to focus on something you are trying to achieve in 5 years’ time can be shunted down in the pecking order to deal with an urgent deadline. Sound familiar?  If you’ve outsourced the task to someone else you don’t have to be bogged down by the mundane but necessary tasks.

It increases productivity. 

Everyone gets on with the thing they do best and what they are most efficient at. As a business owner you can concentrate on growing the business and driving it forward.

It’s a flexible solution. 

Some months you may find you utilise an outsourcing partner quite intensively, the next month you may find you don’t use them at all.  It can adapt to your business needs.

All of the above points are well documented, measurable benefits of outsourcing. Something I believe in addition, which is not so easy to measure is the impact on performance of enjoying what you do. 

Naturally delegating activities to other people frees up your time to spend on doing what you do best, what you enjoy and what you can earn your money from.  Imagine how you would feel about your working week if you were spending more of your time doing what you love.  Would this make you feel more positive and motivated about your working week?  If you answered yes, would feeling more positive also make you more productive and potentially more profitable?

Not only that, for the businesses that you outsource to, that particular task is their core business, and what they love doing. By outsourcing to specialists, you are freeing up your own time to concentrate on what you are passionate about.  You are also ensuring that all aspects of your business are run by those with both the skills, enthusiasm and motivation to do it. You are bringing enthusiasm you need to ensure your company is performing at it’s best.



What should you outsource?

Broadly speaking anything which is not a core activity of your business, however, you can break that down in to two categories:

Repetitive tasks:

This may include things such as data entry, book keeping, answering the telephone, credit control or other administration.  In other words time consuming tasks which prevent you from focusing on what is important. What is important for you as a business owner to focus on? Business owners should concentrate on profit generating core business activities and working towards business growth. Everything else can be delegated.

Specialised tasks:

This would include activities such as accountancy, IT support, web development, graphic design, HR or any activity that you don’t have the skills to carry out yourself professionally.  These are the kind of tasks that if you attempt to do yourself it would be time consuming to learn how to fulfil them. Furthermore, the chances are if your core skills are in another area you risk not doing a professional job.

To decide what to outsource first you can conduct an analysis.  Make a list of all the tasks that you are spending a lot of time on, as well as those which you feel are not being fulfilled properly at the moment and then seek out some help.

Consider outsourcing these tasks:

Outsourcing - 20 Tasks To Outsource

When should you outsource?

The truth is the time is different for every business.  Some may outsource from the start, bookkeeping for example is quite a common task to outsource from the outset.  Similarly, many businesses will outsource the development and updating of the website from the beginning.

For most small businesses, what tends to happen is outsourcing is something that happens incrementally as time goes on.  When you find that a particular task is taking up a lot of time and is getting in the way of more productive and profitable duties, then it’s time to look at outsourcing.  The trick is to see the progression of the amount of time spent on a particular task and find an outsourcing partner before you get too busy.  You need to plan in time to both find an outsourcing partner and then briefing them.  You do need to expect to make an investment of time at the outset with outsourcing, before everything can be handed over.



How to find an outsourcing partner?

Who do you outsource to?

Recommendations are always a good place to start.  Ask trusted business associates if they outsource any tasks and if they can recommend anyone.  If not, LinkedIn and Facebook groups can be a mine of information, as well as networking and of course a good old Google search. You can also consider using resources such as and

Should you outsource services internationally?

This is a subject of some debate.  Undoubtedly there can be cost savings by getting things done overseas.  This does not necessarily mean that the quality will be better or worse.  There are things you do need to consider though.  For example, a VA in another country will be working in a different time zone. Does this matter to you? Some business owners like to be working at the same time to react to things throughout the day. Others like the fact that they go to bed and wake up to a ticked off To Do List.

Ultimately I would say it depends what you are planning on outsourcing and if it really makes a difference to that particular service. For example, you may be happy to have documents created overseas, but would like to have all of your calls answered locally.

How to get the best from the relationship when you outsource.

The single most thing in the relationship with an outsourcing partner is communication.  You need to communicate clearly, very specifically and honestly.

Never assume the outsourcer knows what you are thinking.  Give them the information they need to fulfil the task, but no more than necessary.

The most effective way to communicate the tasks is to have a very clear documented process for everything you need them to perform.  Don’t attempt to hand over any work until you have a system in place that you can hand over to someone else.

outsourcing and good communication

Make sure you discuss:

  • Exactly what they need to do and what the deliverables are.
  • The ultimate project deadline date as well as dates of any key milestones along the way.
  • How the two of you will communicate, i.e. will you have a weekly catch up to discuss progress? By email or phone? This is your opportunity to ensure work is staying on track and if there is anything you need to bring to their attention you can do it here.  Always be completely honest if there is anything you are not entirely happy with.
  • Price and payment terms.
  • Whether you would like them to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Do you find it hard to let go?

Many business owners do.  It’s understandable. Your business is your baby. However, to grow your business, in fact for it actually to become a proper business and not just a job for you, you will need to delegate to others. Whether you are delegating to an employee or outsourcing if you really struggle with letting go, make that clear to the outsourcing partner from the start.

Outsourcing providers work with a variety of different people and they will certainly be used to being nervous about handing work over.  Tell them from the start how you feel, if you would describe yourself as a control freak make them aware right from the start, so they know that you need to be kept well informed along the way. It set’s the expectation from the start and results in a much better relationship from the outset.



How to develop specific instructions for your outsourcing partner.

Follow these steps to take each task and develop a process for it.

  • Break each task down into a series of mini tasks/instructions.
  • List each step of each mini task.
  • Use screenshots if possible.
  • Be very specific, i.e. include font, font size, image sizes, file formats etc.
  • Detail the frequency of the task, i.e. every Monday or last day of the month etc.
  • Attempt to follow your own instructions before you hand over. Do nothing but what is detailed on the instructions. Can you follow them and get the desired outcome? If not, add in more information until you can.

Effective Outsourcing Instructions

Working with an outsourcing partner will require some investment of time initially. You will need to both source the appropriate supplier and then properly brief them on the work that needs to be done.  You may find that at first you need to work quite closely with your outsourcing partner to ensure they fully understand your requirements.  This is time well spent though. If you work with them and provide regular feedback the outsourcers will soon learn.

Freeing up your time from low level tasks as well as those you don’t really have the skills to do enables you to focus on your core areas of business.  It enables you to push forward with working towards goals.  Done effectively, outsourcing can help you build a flexible, highly skilled team at low cost. Use it to free up your time to enable you to grow your business and your profits.

Take our FREE 5 Day Outsourcing Challenge now to become an outsourcing pro!





Self Motivation

Managing Your Own Motivation

There’s no doubt that whether you run your own business or not, one of the keys to success is having the right mindset and a huge amount of this is down to motivation.  When you run your own business there’s no one else to come along and gee you up, so you have to do it yourself.  This is not always easy, particularly if you’re going through a tough time in your business, but approaching managing your motivation as a priority will soon start to pay dividends.

The first thing you need to think about is exactly what motivates you.  You need to understand this fundamental before you can actually move on with motivating yourself.  This is something unique to YOU. Your key motive may not necessarily be the first thing you think of.  For example, a lot of people may say they are motivated by money, but dig a bit deeper and you realise it’s usually not actually the money but what that enables you to buy, be that the ability to spend more quality time with those who are important to you, perhaps it’s being able to afford that dream house.  Whatever it is that you dream of for your life, that is what you need to focus on.

The next step is to set yourself goals, both personal and business goals.  These goals need to be big, but at the same time realistic.  Think about where you want to be in 5 years’ time in your personal life.  What would you need to achieve in your business to enable that?  Once you have a long term business and personal goal, you then need to break these major goals down into smaller goals and milestones for both business and personal achievements. Read more about setting SMART goals and how to break them down into actionable steps here.

Every single day you need to understand why you are doing what you’re doing and how that fits in with the overall strategy.  Spending an hour out of your day today sending a marketing email may seem completely unrelated to buying that farmhouse you’ve always dreamed of, but if you understand how it fits in to the bigger picture and how these tiny steps will ultimately lead you to your goal then all of a sudden the smaller tasks feel a lot more exciting.

Creating mini milestones along the way is crucial.  These mini milestones help you to both ensure that you are on track with achieving your ultimate goals and are cause for celebration in their own right.  Decide on key milestones and what you should do as a celebration when you achieve them. Make sure you reward yourself properly.  These celebrations act as incentives in their own right to spur you on to achieve the next reward and the next.  They also drive you on and ensure you keep moving towards the ultimate goal as well as having some enjoyment along the way.  Uplifting moments that cheer you up have a massive impact on motivation, so allow yourself to enjoy your successes.

Whilst it’s important to keep progressing towards your goals it’s also important to acknowledge that there will be setbacks along the way, probably quite a lot of them.  Managing motivation when things are going well is one thing, but it’s a lot more difficult when things don’t go to plan.

This is where you really need to remember your ultimate motivation and why you are doing what you are doing. You need to understand the importance of overcoming the obstacle in front of you and how that will take you closer to your goal. The more you start to think in this way the easier it becomes to develop the right approach to these situations and deal with problems quickly.  Solving a problem, however small, can in itself give you a boost and feed in to your motivation.

It’s really important not to fear failure.  If you do this you will never move outside of your comfort zone and progress personally or professionally.  Thomas Edison famously had over 10,000 attempts at creating a lightbulb before he got it right, but in spite of these ‘failures’ he continued to innovate and still motivated himself. He considered each of his earlier attempts as another method he had learned of how not to make a lightbulb.

Having someone else to help you with your motivation and helping them with theirs is a massive spur on.  For one thing making a commitment in front of someone else about what you want to achieve is an extra incentive to progress and work towards your milestones.  Helping them to achieve success as well, or even just seeing them succeed and knowing it’s been part of them following their own plan is also hugely motivating.

It’s important that you surround yourself as much as possible with positive people who will also encourage, motivate and inspire you.  Try to steer away from negative people who will bring you down as they will certainly have a counter productive effect on your motivation.

The most important thing, as with most aspects of business is to get on and do it. Realising at the end of the day that you have taken another step towards achieving your goals will certainly compel you to do the same tomorrow.

Feel free to share if you know anyone who could do with a burst of motivation to help them achieve their goals.

Small Business Blogs

5 Small Business Blogs To Read Regularly

5 Small Business Blogs I Love

It’s nearly Valentine’s day so in keeping with the love theme I’m spreading the love and sharing my 5 favourite small business blogs.  These are in no particular order.

  1. Hubspot. I’m a big fan of Hubspot all round really, their free CRM is amazing, and through using that I found their blog. The blog is crammed with content on sales and marketing related topics and full of useful ideas to implement.
  2. A useful website for all small businesses, not just startups. The blog is a useful collection of articles which range from tips and how-tos to inspirational stories from entrepreneurs.
  3. Again a useful resource on a whole range of topics of interest to the small business owner ranging from law, finance, marketing, human resources and much more
  4. Google Small Business Blog. If you read my blog reasonably frequently you’ll often see me make reference to Google. Let’s face it, every business needs to get their website found by Google.  This blog, although not particularly regularly updated gives useful insights for small business owners to make the most of the various Google tools that are out there.
  5. Birds On The Blog. A blog written by business women for business women on a variety of topics in a friendly, down to earth style.

Are there any blogs you read regularly?