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Davinci Virtual Blog

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Need Help Answering Your Business Phone? Take Our Quiz to Find Out

 

It may not be readily apparent, but your business may be suffering (and you may be losing patience) due to your dependence on your phone. You may be managing for now, but it’s possible that you’re frequently interrupting your work to answer the phone, missing important calls, struggling against robocalls and solicitors, and more. 

Traditionally, the only option businesses and professionals had for resolving this issue was hiring an assistant or receptionist. The problem is, even if you only hire part-time, you could find yourself paying more than the help is worth, and adding significant overhead to your business. The good news is that there’s a simple, affordable solution, and one that many businesses are unaware that they need.

Here are the top five reasons you might need virtual receptionist answering services.

Missing Calls

There are numerous reasons for a professional to miss calls from both current and potential clients. Many of the most frustrating and problematic reasons, however, are tied to a particular profession. When the very nature of your work requires you to miss calls, it can have a significant impact on your ability to maintain a steady flow of clients.

Lawyers, for instance, spend a lot of time in meetings or in court, where phones can’t feasibly be answered. Service and trade professionals work with their hands, and it’s often not convenient for them to pull their hands away from the car engine or the plumbing they’re working with to answer a call.

Sometimes, though, it’s simply a matter of getting too many calls—you miss one call while you’re on the phone with another.

Whatever the cause, missing calls means missing out on new clients, not being available for current customers, and otherwise being prevented from handling important aspects of your business.

Screening Calls

Not every call you receive will be one you will want to answer. Just as it’s common to receive junk mail when the post is delivered, and just as it’s typical to receive spam even at recently created email addresses, it doesn’t take long after getting a new number for your phone line to clog with undesirable callers. 

Americans received 16 billion robocalls in 2018 alone. Even excluding those, businesses, political groups, nonprofits, and other organizations often call to invite you to make a purchase, take a survey, donate to a cause, or otherwise spend your precious time or capital when you’re already strapped for both.

For the busy professional who can’t always answer their phone, this can be especially problematic. While individuals can typically ignore numbers they don’t recognize, using that tactic as a business owner will only turn away potential customers and current clients. What’s more, these spam callers can occupy your line, keeping important calls from getting through, and interrupting your work. 

Spending Time on Calls

You may not want to call being popular a bad thing, but if you’re spending more time on phone calls than actually working, it’s definitely not doing you any favors. Whether you’re struggling to stay on top of a deluge of calls, or a small number of calls are consuming inordinate amounts of your time due to the chatty individuals on the other side, spending too much time on the phone can make it hard to earn a living. 

Phone use serves a supportive function for your business, and it’s hindering you if it prevents or interrupts more critical, revenue-generating activities. Of course, it’s hard to predict what the next call will bring, so it’s not really an option to ignore them. Worse still, leave too many unanswered and it will start to harm your reputation.

In the end, the need to answer your phone can quickly become a catch-22 that leaves you desperate for a solution.

Sounding Professional

Depending on your industry, clients may not take you seriously if they see you’re answering your own phone calls. It’s an unfortunate fact that not everyone sees the value in a do-it-yourself attitude. Even if that’s not the case for your industry, or for the clients you deal with, having dedicated professionals to answer the phone for you lends a certain credibility to your operation.

Perception and reputation can be, for your business, either useful tools or tenacious obstacles. It all depends on how you present your business to customers, and how the phone is answered is a significant part of that. While answering the phone yourself may not be actively hindering you, having someone answer the phone for you is sure to help establish credibility. 

A Matter of Convenience

Sometimes, it’s as simple as needing help with your least favorite part of the job. Not everyone is a people person, and not everyone likes talking to people on the phone. Some professionals prefer to be “shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone,” and that methodology doesn’t leave them very much time or patience to deal with answering the phone. 

There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but you’ll likely find it much easier to keep jobs in the queue if you have help answering the phone. 

Conclusion

You don’t have to burden yourself with juggling phone calls and making appointments if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to hire a full-time assistant to fix the problem. With Davinci, you can get a team of live virtual receptionists to answer the phone for you. Our talented professionals will screen your calls, take down potential client information, and just generally make your work easier. 

Beyond that, they can also handle basic administrative tasks, including scheduling appointments, taking payments, and other basic functions, all at a fraction of the cost of hiring an employee, part-time or otherwise. 

If you’re ready to hand the phone to someone you can trust so that you can get back to the work that matters, contact Davinci today.

 

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Solopreneurs and Entrepreneurs: The 11 Best Books for Boosting Your Business

Running your own business—whether as an entrepreneur or as a solopreneur—is quite a difficult task. What’s more, sometimes starting that business can be even harder. For those who have never done it before, it can be intimidating striking out on your own; without the proper guidance, there are numerous mishaps and tragedies that can befall your business. With so much that can go wrong, it’s easy to lose your way or become discouraged.

Even seasoned startup savants need encouragement now and again, as there’s bound to be ups and downs along the way. So where do the dedicated and determined turn when they need advice, inspiration, or a motivational boost? To seasoned peers who know exactly what it’s like because they’ve been where you have.

Don’t have any close contacts that are successful business builders? Don’t worry—many of them have reached out to wider audiences by writing books about their experiences and expertise. Reading well-written business literature is about as good as talking to an expert in person. In some ways it’s even better: they’ve had time to consider their advice carefully, and then explain it with precision.

To help you find the right book for your personal business journey, we’ve compiled this list of 11 books for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. In this list, you’re bound to find some useful wisdom, and we’re sure one of them will be your new favorite.

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action 

by Simon Sinek

Sinek’s book has been around less than a decade, but it’s had a wide influence on business since being published in 2011. The book, which emphasizes the importance of why a person works in a given field (not just what they do or how they do it), teaches readers that “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

The book—and Sinek’s very unique way of thinking—has developed a cult following, with his TED talk on the matter having been viewed nearly 30 million times. The monumental impact Sinek’s philosophy is having on the business world is helping his book to quickly join the ranks of classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you want a book that will help you find satisfaction in your lifelong profession, start with this one (no pun intended).

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion 

by Gary Vaynerchuk

A book for those who need reassurance that they don’t need to put off their new business venture, Crush It! details the efforts of self-professed “serial entrepreneur” Gary Vaynerchuk. Vaynerchuk (whose resume includes author, investor, speaker, and CEO) explains in the book how he utilized internet-based tools, including social media, to build a personal brand. This allowed him to market who he was as well as what he was, i.e. what his business had to offer. 

It’s a good read, and it’s full of encouragement and motivation for those afraid to take the leap.

The $100 Startup 

by Chris Guillebeau

Sometimes what’s holding you back is the cost of starting your own business, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for a six-figure savings account before striking out on your own. Guillebeau’s book it’s loaded with practical advice on how to run (or start) a small business on a budget. It outlines how you can get out of your dead-end job and start getting paid for your unique expertise, all without pouring your finances down the drain.

The book is also replete with inspirational stories and examples of others who have gone before. You’ll come away from the book not just with a solid plan of execution, but with the motivation to follow through. 

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

by Stephen R. Covey

This one has been around for a while, and odds are if you’re in business you’ve heard of it. There’s good reason for that. Covey’s book discusses how to prioritize tasks, how to organize (both in business and in life), and how to turn ideas and intentions into accomplishments. It’s the perfect book who want to upgrade themselves into a better, more capable version, and you’ll likely be recommending it to others by the time you’re done.

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results 

by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

The goal of The One Thing is very simple: dispel the myth of “multitasking.” The book argues (via a combination of insights, theories, and real data) that multitasking does more harm than good, and that productivity is best served by focusing on a singular task or goal and hitting it out of the park. 

If you’ve ever fallen into the mental trap of believing you have to do everything at once, this book is for you.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear 

by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s not uncommon for business owners, especially solopreneurs, to find that their biggest obstacle is themselves. Between internal criticism, perfectionism, procrastination, personal fears, and more, there’s a lot we ourselves can do to get in the way of our own success. Gilbert’s book helps readers to push back against the tide and take back control from our own shortcomings. 

The book is, at least ostensibly, aimed at creatives, and while not every small business is a creative endeavor, many aspiring self-employed professionals stand to benefit from the advice in this book. 

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life 

by Chris Guillebeau

One of the biggest reasons to go into business for yourself is to have the freedom to pursue something that leads to greater satisfaction in life. In many ways, looking at the why makes Guillebeau’s second book on our list similar to Start With Why. The difference quickly becomes apparent in how that why is applied: Sinek’s book uses it as a tool to further and improve your business. The Happiness of Pursuit uses it to further and improve your life. 

Whether you’re in the game already or are just considering it, there are good reasons you’ve turned to self-employment. This book reinforces how positive it can be for your life if you do it right.

The Lean Startup 

by Eric Ries

Businesses are a lot like living creatures. They live, they grow, they die, and sometimes they even spawn other businesses. Most importantly, however, they’re subject to a financial version of natural selection: those that can adapt to their environment and overcome challenges survive, while those that cannot wind up faltering. 

Ries’s book is all about that adaptive process: how to plan, test, implement, and adjust innovative ideas to keep your business on top of the competition. It’s a guidebook on professional evolution, and it’s a must-read for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs that want to keep their company running long-term.

Will It Fly?

by Pat Flynn

For those looking to start a new venture, it’s important to consider the possibility of failure. The wise, however, take it a step further and measure the possibility of failure. Flynn’s book is about doing just that—taking the guesswork out of whether or not a venture will be successful. It’s a toolkit for testing ideas, since “NASA has never launched a mission just because it ‘sounded like a good idea,’ and neither should you.”

Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Any Business From a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine 

by Mike Michalowicz

Not everyone is a financial genius. Coming back to the cost element of starting and running a business, Michalowicz discusses strategies for cutting costs in a rational way, and how to make the hard calls when both options are good (or both options are really bad). It also explains how traditional accounting creates many of the problems and anxieties we experience, and how to circumvent those with new practices.

For anyone who hates budgeting or crunching the numbers, this book will be a life-saver. 

All Marketers Are Liars 

by Seth Godin

We round out this list with one by the indispensable Seth Godin. Famous for his succinct, quick-witted insight on his blog, Godin distills a healthy serving of reality and advice into his book. All Marketers Are Liars covers truths about how businesses get themselves noticed—truths that you probably knew intrinsically, but had never been able to put to words. Then, he offers tips and strategies for leveraging those truths in favor of your own business.

It’s a compelling read, and one that’s easy to digest (with bits of knowledge that are easy to remember). Expect to be looking for other books written by Godin after you’re done. 

At Davinci, we work with startups, small businesses, and solopreneurs on a daily basis, and we see first-hand the work that’s required to make them successful. That’s why we root for them and do what we can to help them achieve their goals. Hopefully, this list will do the same for your business, with the books we’ve suggested giving you the tools you need to realize your venture’s potential. 

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Davinci Virtual Office Solutions’ CEO Emphasizes Importance of Virtual Receptionists for Screening Robocalls

How do consumers react to robocalls, and what are they doing to prevent them? These questions and more are answered in a new survey from Clutch. CEO Martin Senn provided commentary, explaining the benefit of virtual assistants when it comes to robocalls.

More than half of people receive (52%) at least one robocall daily. Overall, Americans received 48 billion robocalls in 2018 - a 60% increase from the year prior.

Robocalls present a massive annoyance to phone owners – and a danger to anyone who happens to fall for the scams robocallers often peddle.

Robocalls also disrupt legitimate communication between individuals and businesses. Nearly 70% of people say they are unlikely to pick up a phone call from a number they do not recognize - a behavior that experts partially attribute to the rise in robocalls, according to a new survey report from Clutch, a leading B2B research firm. Davinci Virtual Office Solutions’ CEO, Martin Senn, spoke to Clutch about the data, providing industry context.

Individuals and Businesses Taking Steps to Combat Robocalls

What is being done to prevent robocalls? Well, some individuals and consumers take proactive steps to protect themselves.

For example, 60% of people say they block phone numbers to prevent robocalls. This approach is limited in its effectiveness, however - robocallers always have a new number they can call you from.

More proactive methods used by people include signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry (43%) and implementing a third-party screening tool (25%). These methods actively prevent future robocalls – though effectiveness may vary. Almost 70% of people that signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry say that they now receive the same number of or more robocalls.

For businesses, one effective method of robocall prevention is simply investing in an in-house or virtual receptionist that can screen incoming calls, ensuring that legitimate ones get through and robocalls are stopped.

“Businesses should employ qualified in-house or outsourced receptionists that screen all incoming calls properly and ensure proper call routing, communication and productivity throughout a company,” said Martin Senn.

He continued: “It is quite difficult to eliminate robocalls completely, but again, to ensure all incoming calls are properly screened and handled, outsourced call answering services or live receptionist services like Davinci are a great way to front-end all calls, ensure proper screening and allow for quality customer service and availability at all times.”

Davinci’s Live Receptionist Services can potentially save businesses from the robocall invasion.

Spoofing Presents Unique Challenges for Businesses

Businesses face challenges not only from screening incoming robocalls, but also from robocallers who may pretend to call other people from a business’ phone number.

This tactic is known as “spoofing.” Advances in voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) allows robocallers to manipulate caller ID to present any number.

Businesses may receive phone calls from confused customers who believe they were called from their number, when in fact it was a robocaller.

This situation happened to RingBoost, a custom phone number retailer.

“People call back and think RingBoost was calling them,” said Vice President of Marketing Ellen Sluder. “We try very patiently to explain to them what the situation is.”

Sluder explained that the robocalls often asked for sensitive information, such as a Social Security number. This made for an awkward exchange when people called RingBoost back, responding to the robocall.

If this becomes a common issue for a business, it’s important to train those who answer the phone, like virtual receptionist, on how to deal with the issue.

Read the full surveys on how common are robocalls and how people react to robocalls.

 

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Is Remote Work a Fading Fad or a Core Business Strategy?

For the past several years, I’ve had the benefit of being a remote worker. Even when I had a permanent office location, I often worked remotely due to travel and other normal business exigencies. Many on my teams over the years have been remote or have been hybrid (working some of the time from a fixed office location and other times remotely) as well. Further, contrary to the assertions of those who oppose remote work, my hybrid and remote workers—former and present—deliver great results and are as loyal, if not more so, than workers with a permanent workspace in which they must reside five days a week. 

The Fad to Ban Remote Workers

Research studies conducted by both academics and businesses confirm that remote workers, in general, are more productive and exhibit greater loyalty than counterparts who work 9 to 5 from a fixed workspace. While IBM generated a lot of media attention over its decision to eliminate its remote workforce last year, its own Smarter Workplace Institute finds that remote workers are happier, less stressed, more productive, and more engaged. In the case of Marisa Meyer, who started the fad to bring remote employees back into the office (she also proudly touted that she worked 130 hours a week while at Google), the experiment at Yahoo was anything but a success.

Organizations that eliminate or ban remote work are in the minority and put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Remote work is defined in terms of both full-time as well as hybrid models. Telecommuting grew 115 percent in the past decade. This is leading some to predict that half of the workforce will work remotely by 2020. 

7 Strategic Advantages of Remote Workers

The fact is that, when used correctly, remote workers offer organizations of all sizes and most industries a strategic advantage. Let’s take a quick look at the most compelling ones.

1. Better Productivity 

There are numerous independent studies that show remote workers are more productive than their office-located counterparts. For example, a study conducted by Stanford University compared the productivity of call-center employees who worked from home versus those assigned to cubicles in an office. Home workers were 13 percent more productive and reported higher work satisfaction than workers stuck in an office cubicle. Another study by Global Workplace Analytics that examined remote work at three enterprises reached similar conclusions:

• AT&T telecommuters work five more hours at home than office colleagues

• JD Edwards remote workers are between 20 and 25 percent more productive than office counterparts

• American Express home workers are 43 percent more productive than workers in the office

2. Recruiting and Retaining High-Quality Workers

Employees prefer remote work options. Thirty-seven percent say they would leave their current job for one that allows them to work wherever they want for at least part of their work week. A whopping 90 percent of workers say they want to work remotely, at least part of the time. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 58 percent of HR recruiters cite work flexibility as the most effective way to attract new talent. 

For businesses that offer remote work options—and advertise the opportunity to work remotely in job ads (note that only 30 percent of companies with remote work policies advertise such in their job ads!)—they can attract and retain top talent better than companies that ban remote work. This includes the ability to recruit and maintain a more diverse gendered workforce, with working mothers often requiring workplace flexibility.

3. Reduced Costs

Permanent office space is expensive. The study by Global Workplace Analytics shows that employers can save over $11,000 per half-time remote worker annually. 

4. Quality of Work

Much has been written about the quality of work-life balance. For workers given the flexibility to work half of the time from their home offices, they gain back an average of 11 days a year in time they would have spent otherwise commuting. This also equates to lower greenhouse emissions and smog—an equivalent of 600,000 vehicles taken off the road each year.

When it comes to the health of remote workers, data confirms they led healthier lifestyles than their office counterparts. For example, 42 percent of remote workers say they eat healthier than when working from a traditional office location. The same study reveals 45 percent get more sleep, 35 percent get more physical exercise, and 82 percent say they are less stressed. 

5. Better Focus and Results

Scientific research on cognitive behavior reveals that working more hours and working in increments produces better results. Working smarter, taking breaks, and leveraging a flexible work schedule creates better work outcomes than traditional 9-to-5 work models. Breaks keep workers from getting bored and thus unfocused, foster better retention of information and cognitive connections, and reevaluate goals and objectives.

6. Less Absenteeism

Remote workers report less absenteeism than office-located colleagues. Data reveals that more than three-quarters of employees who call in sick are not ill. Rather, they do so because of family issues, personal needs, and stress. Remote provides them with greater flexibility, which multiple studies show cut absenteeism by more than 50 percent. This leads to higher productivity while saving organizations money. 

7. Greater Flexibility

The ability to leverage remote workers provides businesses with greater flexibility. Business functions—from IT projects to call-center operations—benefit from a remote workforce. It is easier to scale teams up and down based on business exigencies with remote workers. It also provides organizations with 24x7 global coverage where work is shared across time zones. It can even speed project lifecycles in instances such as application development where work can be done around the clock.  

Empowering Remote Workers with Coworking Space and Day Offices

Putting the above business reasons aside, there are times when face-to-face interactions are critical, and moreover some workers struggle in remote work settings. Providing them with a hybrid workplace model that leverages coworking space or even rented day offices, such as Davinci Meeting Rooms, for certain days can give them the structure and social interactions they need to be successful. 

Also critical to the success of remote workers, albeit a step all-too-often missed by many organizations, is the development and publishing of remote work policies that spell out expectations and behaviors. Leaving your remote and hybrid workers guessing when it comes to what is expected of them and is critical. 

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Our Top 10 Tips For Working Remotely

Working remotely is a fast growing trend among companies and solopreneurs. In 2016, it was reported that 43% of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely. With flexible scheduling and work hours, many are opting for the beneficial option as apposed to the traditional 9-5 workday in office. Here are 10 tips for working remotely so you can stay on task.

1. Have a designated workspace 

It is very important that you have a specific place where you only do your work. It could be a spare room you turned into a home office, or you can book a coworking space. The idea is that you have space to spread out all of your work materials and were you can keep distractions at a minimum.

2. Make sure it is easy for clients to find you

Working remotely, whether from home or from a coworking space, means that people don’t always know how or where to reach you. By setting up a virtual office you can have an impressive address that makes you look professional, but more importantly that will make it easy for clients and vendors to find and contact you. 

3. Have the right work materials

Make sure you have the materials you need to get your work done, no matter where you are in the world. Everything from monitors and laptops to office supplies such as pens and paper should be in your office. Depending on your line of work you might also consider about having a printer, envelopes, software, etc.  

4. Plan ahead

Having a schedule is very important when working remotely. It ensures you get things done and helps to minimize distractions. Set small goals and deadlines to keep you motivated and prevent you from procrastinating. 

5. Stay in touch with your colleagues

Sometimes, working remotely means that you’ll be keeping company to yourself. In order to not let loneliness affect your work, consider joining a coworking space and  make sure you schedule in person meetings with colleagues, supervisors and clients. To make the most of your meeting time, make sure you book a meeting room.

6. Dress for the office

If you work from home you might be tempted to stay in your pajamas or lounge clothes all day. However, we recommend against it. Having designated work clothes and wearing them can help you get into the right mindset to be more productive. 

7. Focus on your work

Just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean you have to manage your own mini office. You will probably be tempted to be your own receptionist or mailing room employee, but you would be wasting your time. Instead you can hire a virtual assistant and focus completely on your work. 

8. Determine the end of the workday

An important part of planning ahead is to determine when your workday ends. It can be very tempting to keep checking emails even after you’ve “logged off”, but this can easily lead to burnout. Set your own schedule and stick to it.

9. Maximize your peak hours

Figure out when you  feel and are your most productive, and use that time lapse to your benefit. Some people like to start working early in the morning, others prefer the late afternoon. Everybody has different times when they are most productive, it is important that you find out which one is yours. 

10. Take regular breaks

You can only be focused for so long before you get exhausted. This can lead to your energy being drained, which in turn can make you more impulsive and less helpful. To prevent exhaustion it is important that you take short breaks throughout the day. Use these breaks to to stretch your legs, rest your eyes and have a glass of water. 

 

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