This post was part of the #12DayGiveaway
This post is part of the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway series – Small Biz Essentials. Just leave a comment below to enter to win todays prize.
Read on to find out how you can manage a virtual team & enter to win 2 Fiverr gigs from me.
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Note: This post contains affiliate links (disclosure). If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through one of my links I may earn a few dollars. There will never be any additional cost to you, and I’m very grateful when you do! Thanks
Read on to find out how you can manage a virtual team.
Many solopreneurs really aren’t interested in building a large team. I know I’m not. But there have been times in my business career where I have had as many as 6 full & part time staff. Honestly, I have no desire to go back there, but I did learn some valuable lessons about managing a team. You can learn more about outsourcing in my “How to Outsource” course, free in the Portable Biz Club
I hired my first Virtual Assistant (VA) in 2003. She was really more of a project manager, as time went on. Yet, we only worked together 10 hours per month.
It’s so much easier now with the advancement of online tools to keep in contact, easily train and get a team up to speed, or even outsource small, specialized tasks through the gig economy.
As an entrepreneur we wear many hats, including that of the project manager. It’s much easier to manage projects (daily tasks, product launches, creation of a new product, website redesign, client work) with some kind of tool.
- Asana (free for up to 10 team members)
- Basecamp (paid)
- Teamwork (free for 2 projects, plans starting at $12/mo)
- Producteev (free unlimited team members) Apps for iPhone, Android, iPad, Mac & Web
- Trello (free & paid) – drag and drop project boards.
- Satori (free for 3 clients & paid starting at $19) -coaching tool that creates a workflow – initial session, free or paid, payment processing, contract signed online, client area, appointment scheduling and more
- TimeDoctor.com (free limited plan, and $5/mo for solo plan) Track time for team members, integrates with Asana, dropbox and many others. See their great article about virtual team management (21 strategies)
Virtual Assistants (VA)
A virtual assistant is someone that performs work for you and your business but does so from his or her home office. They are responsible for their own equipment, training, taxes, vacation and medical benefits (among other things). Virtual assistants can generally assist you with website changes, social media updates, copywriting, e-commerce, Internet marketing and more.
Some things you might outsource to a VA
1. Upgrade Social Media Profiles
It is hard, as a business owner, to keep up-to-date with all of the social media sites. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are constantly changing their regulations, layouts and abilities. Your virtual assistant can advise you of these changes, keep you current and show you how to use each tool as a business growth center.
2. Setup Sales Pages to Sell Products or Services
Some virtual assistants, work with HTML and other website technologies (ie: WordPress, Optimize Press, etc.) and can help create your sales pages. When having your virtual assistant setup your sales pages, also get them to connect your e-commerce and the associated autoresponder messages.
3. Handle Your Customer Support
There is nothing worse than going away on vacation and coming back to a full inbox. Also, most business owners shouldn’t be representing themselves in the space where a gatekeeper should be. Instead, hire a virtual assistant to respond to your customers on your behalf. Efficiency levels on your end will be higher because you won’t spend your time reading and replying to e-mail.
Learn more about Customer Support, and Live Chat Plugins
4. Write Blog Posts and Post to WordPress / Blogger / etc.
If you are a busy entrepreneur like I am, you know that it can be difficult to keep content generation happening and keep your blogs up-to-date and fresh. With your virtual assistant at your side, he or she can write blog posts for you to review and then post those blogs to your blog of choice. You can even have your assistant scope out the best keywords and add a photo or two.
5. Create and Schedule Social Media Updates
One of the biggest time sucks can be social media websites. Facebook and Twitter can take up so much of your time when it comes to adding fresh content and engaging in conversation. Your virtual assistant can not only construct your Facebook updates and Tweets, but they can also pre-schedule them using Hootsuite (or another similar tool) and then monitor the conversations around these updates.
Get your Virtual Team up to speed
- Jing (free) – open up your Jing application and record the steps your team member should take to complete the task in short, 5 minute videos. Upload to your free screencast account & share with your team.
- Join.me (free & paid) during a join.me session you can request permission to access a team members computer remotely.
- UberConference w/G+Hangouts (free or $10/mo) – have regular meeting with your free Uberconference account. Use screensharing, video chat or simply talk as though you’re on the phone
- Screencast-o-matic for video screencasts longer than 5 minutes I’ve purchased the Pro version ($15)
- Mural.co – collaborate on ideas with Mural.co sort of like using a virtual whiteboard
Securely share a password with a friend, family member or co-worker hassle-free. Any password changes are instantly synced to all members while keeping you in control of password visibility and editable settings.
I set up a group within my LastPass account called Admin, and share the entire folder with team members.
- LastPass (free or $12/yr)*
- PaswordBox (free for windows, mac & mobile)
- RoboForm ($10/yr)
Some things really don’t need to be outsourced. Wherever you can, automate processes. Some tools to use to automate tasks are:
- IFTTT.com – connect online tools for any repetitive tasks (like, welcoming new members when they’re added to your Facebook group, or saving a copy of a tweet to a google spreadsheet every time you use a specific hashtag)
- Zapier – connect online tools for repetitive tasks (like, adding a new subscriber who signed up for a free offer to a specific group in mailchimp)
- Hootsuite – schedule social media posts
- Social Oomph – schedule social media posts & even recycle old messages with a simple click
- Buffer App – schedule social media in a buffer. Keep adding new posts/shares & buffer will send them out at intervals that serve your community the best
- Coschedule – schedule social media posts, group posts, and blog post tasks
Learn more in my course Automate Your Biz
- WaveApps.com (free) – manage both business and personal with one tool. Especially great for sole proprietors.
- Outright (free and paid – now GoDaddy Bookkeeping)
- Freshbooks (paid) -track time, create invoices and accept payment easily with Freshbooks
- Shoeboxed (receipt storage)
Phones & Long Distance
- Google Voice – completely free long distance to any US or Canada phone number (smart phone aps, and access through Google Chrome browser)
- Skype Online Number (approx $30/year) –
- Skype Long Distance $2.99/month for unlimited long distance in US and Canada
- eVoice – similar to a business phone system, but virtual. Customers call into a business number, greeted by a professional message & patched through to you, on any phone you’ve set up (cell phone, google voice#, or just a temporary number)
- Ring Central – similar set up to eVoice – virtual business phone system
Places to find help with smaller tasks or “one off projects”
These are sites where you can have freelancers bid on work that you need done.
- TaskRabbit – Tackle your to-do list wherever you are with our mobile app.
- Elance – Only pay for work you approve, plus Elance takes care of all invoicing and taxes.
- Freelancer.com – Post any project you need done and receive bids from our talented freelancers within minutes.
- Guru.com– global network of over 1.5 million gurus are eager to help with any technical, creative or business projects you have on the table. Explore each freelancer’s profile and browse their previous work so you can hire with confidence.
- oDesk – Anything you can do on a computer—from graphic design to software development—can be done on oDesk. Our freelancers can tackle a wide range of projects.
- Rentacoder.com – any website or coding project can be outsourced here
- Fiverr -small projects that all start at $5, although many Fiverr sellers will do larger projects too, for a set extra fee.
Here are a few other places to look for help:
- Google – You can easily search for someone to help you with a specific task or you can even search the words “virtual assistant”. This however is not always the best method.
- Word of Mouth – As you’re talking with other like-minded business owners, take note when they talk about service providers they’ve used in their own business. If someone has had a bad experience with a company, it’s almost certain you’re going to hear about it and you can make a mental note to not contact them.
- Recommendations – Ask mentors, partners, and others in your line of work who they recommend.
- Websites & Freelance Directories – There are several websites online that list service providers via directories or forums. Take the time to search places like Shelancers.com, HireMyMom and VA4Hire.com to find the perfect person for the jobs that you need done.
- Craigslist.com, Kijiji.com or online classifieds: Some people find it overwhelming to post in online classifieds. They worry about the quality of replies, or the volume. But my friends and colleagues have had great success with this apporach & so have I. If it’s your style, try it
Giveaway for December 20, 2014 Two Fiverr Gigs
Free Gig for anyone new to Fiverr
and for one person who leaves a comment below will receive an extra 2 gigs from me (value $10).
- an ebook cover
- transcribe audio (for a blog post, maybe?)
- fix something on your WordPress website
- write social media updates for you
- and so much more…
To enter the contest:
- Leave a comment below.
- If you want an extra entry, share this post with a friend and ask him/her to say you referred them. 1 entry for them, and an extra one for you.
On December 24th I’ll draw a random name (through random.org) from the comments left on this post, to select a winner of two Fiverr gigs.
Great! Thank you so much for doing this
Thanks for another great list! I am learning about so many new resources and tools! Technology is a timesaver when you really take advantage of many of the resources you mentioned.
Woo-hoo! Thanks, again, Loralee for all these super-helpful resources. Nice to have everything in one place. Right now, I’m focusing on designing and developing my new WordPress site, as my current site is ye olde HTML. 🙂
Thank you so much for doing this, you are fantastic! I love hearing about the resources, and so useful. I’m a geek at heart and always love discovering new things especially technology oriented resources that are packed with usefulness. Very grateful for all the resources that are available now.
Me too…. bit of a tools junkie, sadly 🙂
Hey Loralee! Thanks for this awesome list and the giveaway! I’m definitely lagging in the VA/Virtual team area 😀
Honestly, I am right now too.. I’ve been flying solo most of this year… I’ll get back in gear in the new year. You too?
Even more useful now that I am running THREE businesses! Definitely bookmarking this!
3 business! Wow! That’s a lot of juggling 🙂