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5 Areas Of Your Business You Should Be Automating Or Outsourcing

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Many business owners fall into the trap of micromanaging every aspect of their business. If you’re one of these people, you probably feel that you’re the only one who can do the job properly or maybe you’re not comfortable assigning work outside of your core team. However, if you want your business to grow, you need to start delegating tasks so you can focus more on the more important aspects like generating revenue.

Gone are the days when the only solution is to hire permanent employees because the advancements in technology has allowed entrepreneurs many options to lighten up their workload. There are now many platforms and products that you can use to automate your business processes and make your operations more efficient. If you need additional manpower for your projects, you can now outsource work to extremely qualified professionals anywhere in the world. Outsourcing work can give you the flexibility to hire specialists minus the burden of shouldering overhead expenses associated with hiring an in-house employee.

If you’re considering these options but you don’t know where to start, here are five areas of your business where you should be outsourcing or automating tasks.

1.    Digital Marketing

Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

Having an online presence for any business has turned into a necessity. If you want your business to be discovered and seen, you have to have to utilise digital products like websites, blogs, social media, ecommerce platforms, review sites, emailers, online ads, and many more.

A lot of entrepreneurs try to do these tasks themselves thinking, “How hard can it be to create a Facebook business page or an Amazon shop?” Of course, there’s really nothing wrong with learning a new skill and turning yourself into a digital whiz, however, you have to ask yourself if this is truly the best use of your time. The tricky part with doing this is that digital media technology is evolving in such a frantic pace that before you manage to get your head around something, chances are, it has already changed.

The more practical step is to outsource specialised tasks to digital experts who do these things day in and day out. These experts are updated on the best practices to make your business stand out over the competition. Some of the digital marketing tasks you can outsource include social media management, running digital ads, content marketing, and SEO services.

2.    IT and Data Security

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Whether your company is a huge corporation or a modest SME, you are vulnerable to cybercrime. This is a threat many business owners fail to recognize thinking that they are way too small for cyber criminals. This misconception can put your business at risk because according to a Verizon report, 58% of malware victims are small businesses. Cyber criminals target smaller organisations because these companies typically do not have the most rigid IT security controls. For a small business, a cyber-breach can be a huge blow and can even ruin the company’s reputation and financial security.

While you can implement IT security practices like installing malware protection and encrypting your data, outsourcing these tasks to a professional IT security company or expert can give you the peace of mind that your data is protected. This is highly recommended if your business deals with a high amount of customer information, confidential data, and financial records.

Outsourcing this service is cheaper than hiring an expert in-house but you’ll get your money’s worth. The fee is a small price to pay to secure your business data and reputation. 

3.    Back Office

A company’s back office is made up of administrative, support, and technical personnel that are not client facing. They carry out tasks to support employees that deal directly with customers and clients. These tasks typically involve documentation, data management, maintaining financial accounts, logistics, human resources, and many more.

For most companies, it is beneficial to have a core team of back office employees like an office manager and a head accountant. However, you can automate and outsource many back office tasks to make your business operations faster, more efficient, and secure. Employees can also focus on higher value work instead of drowning in repetitive tasks.

What you can automate:

Data and File Management

Having a data management software can save you a lot of time when it comes to storing your data, retrieving information, and making sure your data is organised. This can also prevent duplication of data and save storage.

Print Services

The office printer is probably the most overlooked piece of equipment in the office until it stops working. When the printer is broken down or you run out of toner, this can cause disruptions and lower the efficiency of employees. You can avoid this by utilising managed print services or MPS. Using an MPS provider can help automate the process of ordering printing supplies and ensuring that your office printer is always well maintained.

Report Generation

You can now use computer programs to process your data and generate reports. This can save time in analysing data and using the information to benefit your business.

What you can outsource:

Virtual Assistant

You can hire virtual assistants to work on clerical tasks like sorting through your emails, managing your calendar, and responding to your calls and messages. You can work with remote employees, which will save you overhead costs. 

Human Resources

Outsourcing HR to manage hiring, payroll, benefits, insurance, and other functions can help you reduce significant non-revenue generating back office expenses.

Legal Services

Legal work requires a high level of accuracy and expertise. By outsourcing, you can choose to assign the work to a specialist legal firm and have the flexibility to change law firms if you need to. 

4.    Creative Services

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

If your business needs creative work done such as marketing campaigns, graphic design, written content, or entertainment services, outsourcing these to professionals is the best way to go.

If you think that outsourcing these tasks to an advertising or design firm is beyond your budget, you can outsource to freelance professionals who have left the corporate world. These professionals spent years honing their craft so your business will definitely benefit from their expertise.

5.    Customer Service

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

In today’s consumer market wherein anyone can get anything with a click of a button, customers have generally become quite demanding and impatient. If a customer sends you a message on social media or mentions you in a tweet, you have to take action ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll lose that customer to a faster competitor or worse, you’ll face the wrath of a one-star Yelp review.

By automating your customer service processes, you can lower your response time and improve your brand’s customer experience. Some examples of these products include chatbots, live chat, emailers, and online help desks.  These tools can help you save time and lessen your workload. You won’t need to hire employees to work round the clock because they can run 24/7 unattended. These automated products can also help filter out legitimate requests from spam.

Improving Your Business Efficiency

Business owners today can enjoy the many advantages technology can provide through automated and outsourcing solutions. These practices can improve a company’s efficiency but also help business owners accomplish more in their professional and personal endeavours.

About the author: Nathan Sharpe 

Nathan is a business advisor and business writer at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too.


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Business

Aussie Author Pens a Get Rich Slow Guide

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Whilst being a multi-millionaire entrepreneur is the dream, financial author David Allen believes that anyone can become a millionaire without the challenges of starting a business empire.  But the catch is that it will take at least 10 years of aggressive investing and living below your means.  

David has released a new book this week, titled “How To Buy Your Happiness” where he outlines strategies on how to achieve FIRE Sooner (Financial Independence Retire Early).

David states that efficiency is the magic word.  As an example, so many investors focus on passive cash flow, but this is a horribly inefficient way to become rich.  If you are earning a passive income whilst you are still employed, you will have 1/3 of your gains taxed away.  However, if you invested in growth assets, such as shares that don’t pay dividends, you will not have to pay tax until you are financially free, and then your gains will be taxed at a lower rate as the gains will not be added to a large salary income.  

Furthermore, many companies pay large dividends to attract investors, but this is always at the expense of future growth for the company.  They may be a good investment for a few years, but you will find that after 5 years, the stock will not have grown compared to its competition.  

His book is very strategy intensive, with 10 rules for investing, along with a 101 class for all the asset classes to choose from.

David was frustrated with other books that stated that investors should all be in a single asset class.  In reality, there is no one size fits all portfolio, as the correct allocation depends on your age, profession, skills, and psychology.  He is also a firm believer that you should not be invested solely into a single investment class.   He outlines the pros and cons of each investment medium so the readers can decide on the most appropriate investment allocations for themselves.   

His book can be purchased in paper, kindle, or audio format on Amazon.

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The Most Effective Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Attacks

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cyber security concerns

Cyber-attacks have proven to be a big threat to all owners of small businesses. Small businesses have had to fall victim to these attacks in recent times as a result of their admittance of the fact that they could be attacked as well. Yes, any business irrespective of the business scale or size remains a potential target of cyberattacks. 

What would be the result of a launched cyber attack on your business? Would the attack fall through or unsuccessful? Once you are unable to proffer the right and affirming answers to these questions, it is then certain that your small business is at the risk of cyberattacks. 

You need to pay huge attention to your business’s cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is everyone’s concern and not only for the top organizations or businesses. Cyber attacks keep having disastrous implications on both large and small businesses. Specifically, it has been found that about 60 percent of small businesses or ventures are forced to go out of business within six months of being faced with a cyber attack.

The only way out of this is for you to take the appropriate steps that will ensure that your business stays in the safe zone. Ignoring these would mean that your business may have to suffer for your negligence. Not only that, customers who have trusted you with their confidential data may hold you responsible in case there is a breach of vital customer profile. This further undermines the need for you to stay conscious of cybersecurity.

Effective Ways To Protect Small Businesses From Cyber Attacks

You have learned how deadly cyber-attacks could be on your business. Moe certainly, you need to know how to go about tightening and strengthening your cyber attacks against attacks.

1. Secure Your Wi-Fi network

Your business’ Wi-Fi device comes with a default password. To protect your business from being infiltrated via Wi-Fi, ensure that you change the password and also to encrypt the Wi-Fi network. An example of Wi-Fi encryption that is easy to use is the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) Code. By doing this, only your employees and other authorized clients should be given access to the Wi-Fi.

2. Set up a firewall and antivirus system

Malware and viruses aim at deducing information from your website without your knowledge. A firewall then serves as a digital shield that protects your business from malware, phishing and other forms of cyberattacks. 

Viruses could either be sent to your system through hardware or software. Ensure that you regularly install antivirus software that removes any form of virus, and that also notifies you when there is a breach of your firewall defense system.

3. Enhance your email Security

You should ensure that all your employees see to it not to open suspicious email attachments or links. Only verified and trusted emails should be viewed on your business’ systems. Also, while sending personal data to clients, ensure that you encrypt such mails with passcodes to prevent unauthorized access.

4. Use Smart Passwords

Dora breaches happen often when you use passwords that are too weak or easy to guess. To prevent this, make use of smart and strong passwords with both alphabetical and numeric characters.

5. Educate your employees about the importance of cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity must remain at the forefront of your business and it must be imbibed into all your employees. With these essential and effective safety approaches, your business can be said to be protected from potential cyber-attacks. 

Remember that your website’s protection and safety has to be done regularly so that all vital business records, customer’s profile, and financial transactions will not fall into the wrong hands. Be cyber-security conscious.

Author’s Bio: Lori Wade is a content writer for DealRoom who is interested in a wide range of spheres from business to entrepreneurship and new technologies. If you are interested in M&A or virtual data room industry, you can find her on Twitter & LinkedIn. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

Featured image by Soumil Kumar from Pexels

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Should an Entrepreneur Get an Advanced Degree?

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advanced degree

You’re an entrepreneur. Do you need an advanced degree?

Whether it be for external credibility or for internal confidence, an MBA, master’s degree, or PhD can be a great asset to an entrepreneur. That said, it takes a significant investment of time and money to get one. Is it worth it? Is there a positive ROI? This ultimately must be answered by you. However, if you’re wrestling with the question, here are some thoughts that might help.

Technical Degrees

There are advanced degrees in many fields including the hard sciences, business, and liberal arts. You may be thinking of adding a graduate degree on top of a similar undergraduate degree or moving in a different direction. Ultimately as an entrepreneur the return on investment must be positive.

One of the first things to consider is the type of business involved. An entrepreneur dealing in highly technical products or services might be well served with an advanced degree. 
For example, if you have created a new medical device based upon complicated engineering or physics concepts, then having an advanced degree can lend you credibility when dealing with customers who most likely have advanced degrees themselves. 
In the pharmaceutical industry, most new ideas are generated from those who have advanced degrees and access to university labs, so advanced degrees can be helpful here.

Business Degrees

An MBA can benefit entrepreneurs on two fronts. If you are looking for technical information in areas like marketing or finance, then something like an MBA (or an MS in a specific discipline) could be helpful.

However, most business schools do not offer deep coursework for entrepreneurs, as many academics think that entrepreneurship is very difficult to teach. The traditional disciplines are covered, but out of the box thinking needed by an entrepreneur is typically not a strength of most advanced business degree programs. To put it simply, a business degree can train you in the skill you’ll need to implement your idea, but it won’t turn you into the type of person who has the idea in the first place. 

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs can be a better approach for many entrepreneurs as you can take classes in just what you need. A number of schools have begun to unbundle their degree programs and allow people to take two to five courses in a specific discipline. This way you get much of the technical information without the courses that don’t interest you.

Soft Skills

The other major thing that can come out of an advanced degree has to do with completing the process. Many people find confidence in making it through something difficult as well as skills like project management, writing, presentation skills, etc. There are many things that can be done with the skills acquired while getting an advanced academic degree. These tangential benefits can accrue to those who complete advanced degrees in any field.

The Costs of a Degree

However, many people argue that taking any time away from developing your business is a waste of time. You should channel all of your energy into developing and growing your business. In the long run this investment will payoff more than time away working on a degree.

The cost of a degree in dollars must be considered as well. Money spent on school may take away from investment in your growing business. This argument has some merit, and starting and growing a business takes focus, drive and dedication. Pursuing an advanced degree may bring conflicts. For example, you may have a big presentation for a potential client and a large school project due during a similar timeframe. Competing demands for your attention may generate less than optimal results in both areas.

Summary

In the end, the decision to get an advanced degree as an entrepreneur is not an easy one. There are many factors to consider including internal rewards and costs. Ultimately the decision is yours. Whatever you decide, do it with conviction and dedication and you will win.

About the Author

Steve Tippins, PhD has been a professor and entrepreneur in various forms for 30 years. His true passion lies in helping people achieve their goals, which he does as a Career Coach at BeyondPhDCoaching.com.

Photos by Muhammad Rizwan Austin Distel on Unsplash

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