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Davinci Virtual Blog

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S NEW WITH DAVINCI

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Invaluable Services Owners Need to Help Their Small Business Thrive

You may hear that running a successful small business is harder now than it ever was — but there’s another way to look at it. Sure, competition is fierce in the internet-connected age, and your business model has to be as bulletproof as possible to push yourself to the top of the crop. This is undeniable. However, you also have access to more services that can help you succeed than any time in history. In many ways, it’s a great time to own a small business if you’re smart about employing the right services. Here are some suggestions. 

To Help You Pay to Play…

Making investments in your business is never going to be cheap, and you should count any paid tools that help you engage customers, generate better marketing, and register feedback as just that — a major investment. You should also know that there are good ways to snag outside funding for these critical tech investments. 

Small business lending isn’t scary or dangerous if you’re smart about where you’re investing (making sure your chances of ROI are strong on every investment). Look into Small Business Administration loans, term loans, short-term loans, and business lines of credit (among other types of financing). If you’re lost, start with a handy small business lending guide.

To Increase Customer Engagement…

One surefire way to increase online engagement with your customers/clients is through email. It’s the tried and true method — the backbone of customer communication in the digital age. Good email automation will send out personalized communications when, for example, “a contact gets added to a list, submits a form on your website, clicks a link in an email, views a page on your blog, clicks on one of your AdWords ads, or becomes a marketing qualified lead.”

You must also make sure that your actual email client is doing what you need it to. Free options like Gmail for Business work for some, but there are other paid options that may offer more.

To Get Better Customer Feedback...

Improving customer satisfaction is hard if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong (and what you’re doing right, to some extent). Communication with your customers and clients is vital to growing your business and adapting to an ever-changing market. The value of a post-interaction survey cannot be overstated. “Do you want to test out a new product or service idea? Measure consumer sentiment of your business versus your competitors? Create surveys to get a sense of what consumers want,” says WebpageFX. 

There is both free and paid survey software for small businesses. Some of the best include Zoho Survey, SurveyMonkey, and TypeForm. You may even be able to get customer feedback through your point-of-sale (POS) system.

To Step Up Your Marketing Game...

Online marketing is incredibly important to a growing small business. Without focusing on it (and yes, throwing some money at it), you will fall well behind other businesses in your sector. It’s no longer a luxury these days — it’s a necessity. 

The king of online marketing now is content — email, social media, blogging, and interactive website content, for example. It pays to get some help (and automation) with this. Good internet marketing software can help. You can get this from Adobe, HubSpot, iContact, and more. 

Even small business owners with an old-fashioned mindset are coming to terms with the fact that online services, tools, and software can help them expand and sustain their companies. Most of the best tech for small business boils down to this: better connection with your customers and clients. Because, just like it was hundreds of years ago, good business is about good relationships. That hasn’t changed — how you go about it has.

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5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need a Virtual Office

Virtual offices offering the flexibility and technology that make it possible to work from just about anywhere have come a long way over the last two decades. Indeed, they have matured enough that all sorts of businesses can benefit from using them. As early as 1995, virtual offices were making their foray into corporate spaces where companies such as Digital Equipment and Microsoft adopted the concept of virtual offices. Soon after that, other companies realized the immense capital savings offered by virtual offices and adopted them. 

Starting from the early 2000s, virtual offices have become the norm, with companies offering virtual office services to businesses at a fraction of the cost of traditional offices. With virtual offices, employees can work from wherever with access to their work files, emails, and even telephone extensions. For small businesses, a virtual office eliminates the need for investing in a physical address and its associated costs. Here are 5 reasons why small businesses need virtual offices. 

1. Prime Office Addresses for a Fraction of the Price

While it is desirable to get an ‘A’ grade office space for their business, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a small business or a startup to invest in an office. That’s why most small businesses and startups are home-based. Small business owners, such as those operating custom essay services, would rather operate from their garage in the early stages of their business so that they can re-invest their revenue in the growth of their business. Therefore, investing in an office at that stage is not on the list of priorities of most business owners. 

With small business virtual office services, however, owners of small businesses and startups do not have to break the bank to get their very own offices. As a matter of fact, a virtual office offers the small businesses owner a distinct opportunity to get prime address that plays well into their marketing efforts. Just think about it. What would it mean for your business if you got an address in one of the most prestigious addresses in your city? What would it mean for the revenue of your business? You’d expect an influx of new customers and a constant growth in profits.

2. Keep Your Home Address Private

Tightly tied to the benefits of getting a prime address for your business is the fact that you get to keep your home address private when you get a virtual office. Instead of sharing your home address with your clients, you share the address of the office with them. You can place the address on your website, business cards, brochure, and even advertisement campaigns. Customers are more likely to work with you when you have an office address. It would take some convincing to encourage a person to do business with you or invest in your business if the address you provide leads them to your garage door. One of the biggest virtual office benefits is that it allows you to appear formal and professional, boosting the confidence of your customers.

3. On-Call Staff 

When you set up an office, you inevitably have to hire a few people to help around. You need a janitor to make sure everything’s squeaky clean, a secretary to handle the day to day activities, and perhaps a receptionist. With a virtual office, you don’t have to worry about staffing, let alone the furniture and other amenities for your new office. Staff are available around the clock, ready to handle the daily office tasks and you’ll never have to pay them. 

4. Increased Productivity

Believe it or not, a virtual office increases your productivity. Operating a virtual office means you and your employees are not tied to the stresses that come with being tied to a desk every day. Think about it this way. Instead of spending an hour commuting to work every day, you and your workers can spend that precious hour focused on work. What’s more is the fact that getting to work from virtually anywhere in the world leads to increased work motivation. IBM and other companies noted that virtual offices increased the productivity of their workers by as much as 68%. Such an increase in performance will transform the fortunes of your small business. 

5. Work-life Balance

Another benefit of getting a virtual office is the work-life balance you get. With typical offices, you are tied to your desk for 8 hours a day, for the entire week. When you get home, you’re too tired to spend time with your family. With a virtual office, you get a terrific work-life balance. Spending time with your family rejuvenates you, meaning you’ll have greater enthusiasm in your work. 

Want to learn more about the benefits of using a Virtual office? Click here!

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Virtual Meeting Rooms: 5 Essential Tips

A Virtual Meeting Room is an online space where multiple participants can join a video call and participate in a real-time meeting over the internet. To ensure that your virtual meeting goes on smoothly here are 5 essential things you should keep in mind:

1. Be Prepared

For a  virtual meeting to be effective it will require a little more preparation than a regular meeting. Where in regular meetings you can be more casual with the agenda and the materials you provide, on a virtual meeting this can be disastrous. Luckily, some preparation can go a long way: 

- Send the agenda ahead of time to all participants. 

- Create visuals to reinforce your message and forward them to everyone before the meeting. 

- Select and invite the people who need to be involved. 

- Send log-in information (access codes, URLs, and call-in numbers) at least a day in advance. 

- Test for connectivity 15 minutes before starting.  

The actual room from where you are going to conduct the meeting should be ready to go. We suggest booking a conference room in advance to make sure you have a private, quiet space that will help have a better, more productive meeting. 

2. Choose the Right Technology

For a virtual meeting to take place all you need is an internet connection, audio and a webcam (and others to join in on the call). For large online meetings, you might consider keeping all cameras off to prevent the internet connection from slowing down. All of the above can be found at any one of our meeting rooms, so the only thing left to do is to make sure you choose the right software to host your meeting.

Have you ever spent the first 5 minutes of a remote meeting trying to figure out if everyone can hear everyone else or if someone disconnected? If the answer is yes, then you know how much time unreliable technology and bad connections can waste. Consider using new platforms like Skype for Business, Go to Meeting, and Zoom. 

3. Remove distractions

Virtual meetings can be held practically anywhere in the world; a meeting room, coffeehouse, airport lounge, coworking space,  home office, etc. When you pick a space, make sure you are picking the one with the least distractions and background noise.

You sHould also consider opting to mute all attendees and only take questions via the chat box, in order to reduce the background noise from all participants. 

Another great strategy is to keep the focus of the meeting on one or two topics. If there are more items to be covered make sure you give people a little break so they can stretch, go to the bathroom or get more coffee. 

Keep each segment of the meeting short - no longer than 30 minutes, 25 minutes being ideal. This ensures that everyone stays focused and distractions are kept to a minimum. 

4.  Etiquette

Remember that you are in a meeting, even if it is virtual, proper etiquette must be observed:

- Start on time. 

- Give your full attention to the participants. 

- Don’t get distracted by e-mail, texting or internet surfing. 

- Suggested reading: Etiquette to Remember During a Virtual Meeting

5. Keep Participants Engaged 

You can engage remote participants and keep a personal connection going by asking questions frequently.  Make sure your questions are specific, asking open-ended questions can lead to silence as these tend to result in “dead air” followed by multiple people talking at once. 

Another strategy you can use to keep participants engaged is to collaborate on documents in real time or use chat rooms to share important links and files. 

With the right techniques and tools a virtual meeting can often be more productive than a regular meeting!

 

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Etiquette to Remember During a Virtual Meeting

Telecommuting comes with a lot of advantages and freedoms. For example, you can work from the comfort of your own home (or even bedroom), you can wear whatever you want to work, and there’s no bothersome commute. That said, when you interact with other professionals, standard rules of engagement apply, whether you’re conscious of it or not. 

Being oblivious to business decorum as a telecommuter can result in some hair-raising mistakes. If you’re not careful, you can look unprofessional or even downright impolite. For those who want to put their best foot forward, this list of handy guidelines can help you keep from committing a serious faux pas during a virtual meeting.

Prepare for the Meeting

Like anything else in the professional world, confidence starts with preparation. It goes without saying that you should have everything ready and on hand that you need, like a normal meeting. What may not be so intuitive is that you should be physically prepared for the meeting, as well. 

First and foremost, you should be fully awake. Don’t plan on waking just before the meeting starts and joining the meeting without giving yourself a chance to reclaim your mental coherence. Drowsiness can hamper your ability to focus, and leave you looking disinterested and inattentive.

The same goes for your voice. Whether the meeting is a video conference or a joint phone call, you’ll be using your voice, so it needs to be warmed up.. We’re not saying you need to do vocal exercises like an actor or singer might, but morning dry mouth can do a number on your voice. At the very least, rinse your mouth out and get a drink before you commit to an hour of talking.

Lastly, if it’s a video call, you’ll want to be visually presentable for the other meeting participants. At the very least, wear clean, appropriate attire and groom yourself sufficiently. Erratic hair or a severe five o’clock shadow can be almost as disconcerting as appearing in your pajamas. Dressing and grooming yourself can also help signal to your brain to finish waking up, leaving you more alert than you were before.

Remove Distractions

What’s around you both visually and audibly will affect those on the other end of the connection. For video calls, you need to be mindful of what your camera can see around and behind you. No one wants to see your pile of laundry, your unmade bed, or a window full of blinding sunlight. Also, be wary of intruders and interlopers, be they pets, children, or other adults. Do what you can to keep them out, including locking the door to the room you’re using if needed.

In addition to visual distractions, you’ll need to avoid auditory ones as well. Avoid annoying sounds, ambient noises, and other distractions that can make it hard to hear others speaking, including:

• Oscillating fans

• Nearby traffic 

• Blaring TVs

• Open windows that let in outside noise

• Typing on the keyboard (if you’re using an built-in laptop mic)

Mitigate what noise you can (by turning things off or choosing the right location to connect from), and deal with any remaining annoyances by using a headset. 

Put Snacks on Hold

In any meeting, virtual or in-person, eating classifies as both an annoying sound and a visual distraction. Everyone can hear the chewing, the crinkling, the slurping, and the silverware (if you’re using any). And if you’re video calling, they can’t as easily look away, since they have to face the camera.

Even worse, it demonstrates that you’re not fully attentive to the meeting. If your hands are occupied, you’re not able to take notes. If you’re eating a noisy food, such as something crunchy, no one can hear anyone else talk, and unlike face-to-face meetings, that sound is amplified thanks to speakers and microphones.

Even on mute, eating is distracting and a little rude to the other participants. Our advice is to avoid it altogether.

Be Quick with the Mute

Many of the above problems can be handled simply by muting the mic when you’re not speaking. While it’s a bit tedious to need to continually mute and unmute the mic, it’s a courtesy that can make the meeting go a lot smoother. Muting the mic can even mitigate loud ambient noises, such as coffee house chatter.

If you need to talk to someone in person on your end, muting the mic minimizes the disturbance. Muting the mic allows you to type with impunity, if you need to. Muting the mic also helps minimize issues like echo and feedback, which (depending on your setup and the quality of your equipment) can be real problems. In short, any time you think there’s going to be a distracting noise on your end, hit the mute button.

Put Your Voice to Good Use

Your most effective tool in a virtual meeting is your voice, so put it to good use. For audio-only meetings, announce yourself when you join the call so other participants know you’re there. During the meeting, speak clearly and loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that your voice becomes a nuisance. 

While you don’t want to dominate the conversation, you do want to offer your ideas and input where applicable to showcase your expertise and your competence. Additionally, chiming in regularly reminds participants that you’re still paying attention, which may not be evident otherwise during an audio-only conference call. 

Use proper verbal etiquette when you speak. Avoid obscenities, use polite, professional language, and don’t use off-color humor. Act professionally, and you’ll be more likely to leave a positive impression on those you meet with. 

You’re in a Meeting—Act Like It

Because video calls keep the camera trained on you, it’s harder to hide things that normally slip by in a face-to-face meeting. That’s why it’s very important that you make it look like you’re committed to the meeting. Otherwise, you’ll quickly prove yourself disinterested, impolite, and unprofessional.

First, unless you have a very good reason, stay seated for the entire meeting. Second, don’t slouch—attentive body language is important to communicate your interest in the meeting. Third, just as you shouldn’t pull out your phone during an in-person meeting, you shouldn’t use your phone or start opening up new tabs during a virtual meeting. They may not be able to see what you’re doing, but they can hear your clicking and likely notice your lack of input.

Failing to show proper meeting etiquette demonstrates that you do not value the time of the other participants, and most will take it as an insult, so do your best to show some decorum. 

Conclusion

Every meeting is an opportunity to prove your professionalism, whether to your boss, to clients, to partners, or to future employers. It may not be what you signed up for by working from home, but it’s important to show those you meet with that you value their time as much as your own during virtual meetings. The advice above will help you do just that.

In the event you need a professional location to connect from, or want to hold a conference in person, contact Davinci; we can provide you with everything you’ll need to have a successful meeting.

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What is a Virtual Mailbox

Professionals today don’t need to be tied to a physical location, however, their mail does. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you use a virtual mailbox service. 

Virtual mailboxes are typically included among the services provided by a virtual office. It provides individuals with a physical address that they can use to receive all of their mail. Regardless of whether you are traveling, you move locations, or live a digital nomad style, having a virtual mailbox is useful as it provides you not only with a safe place to receive mail, but also one that will be regularly checked and maintained.

Having a virtual mailbox means that your mail will reach a designated physical location and a personal box number. A representative will be in charge of handling and forwarding that mail for you. 

New technology has enhanced the virtual mailbox service by giving people the option to decide what to do with their mail through their computer or phone. Say you receive an envelope. Davinci can take a picture of the envelope, scan it for you, and await your instructions on what to do with it: open, forward, pick up, shred, or hold. 

Virtual mailboxes give professionals the opportunity to travel or run a business remotely without having to sacrifice their professional image and responsiveness, as well as provide clients and customers with a sense of trust. 

A run-down of virtual mailboxes 

• Access to a physical location and personal box number across the world

• Receive mail

• Assigned representative handles your mail

• Decide what to do with your mail: scan, hold, shred, forward, pick-up 

• Professional image, responsiveness, freedom to travel or move (you won’t have to be tied down to a physical location, even if you’re waiting for important mail)

• Service bundling option: virtual office, VoIP phone, live receptionist, live web chat services, directory listing, option for day office or meeting room space

Want to learn more? Check out our Virtual Office feature page!

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