Solopreneurs and freelancers must juggle a lot of balls in the air. The balls come in different shapes and sizes—from scheduling meetings with clients, to finding time to network with peers, prospects, and partners, to managing your finances. And these tasks don’t include your personal responsibilities such as getting your kids to and from school, music lessons, and sporting activities, making lunch and dinner, and running errands. Little, if any, time is left once you’re done managing everything in your professional and personal lives.
If you’re thinking only full-time solopreneurs and freelancers are affected by the demands of flying solo, think again. Today’s gig economy is rapidly transforming the definition of work, and many professionals are hanging out their shingles for part-time work in the evenings and on the weekends. Others are putting their toe in the water and launching small businesses, while keeping their full-time “day” jobs.
When Solopreneurs and Freelancers Juggle Too Many Balls
But the number of balls solopreneurs and freelancers find themselves juggling can become overwhelming. This is when a virtual receptionist can help. By simply tossing a few of those extra balls to a virtual assistant, solopreneurs and freelancers can remain focused on their clients and business. At the same time, they can become better organized, deliver better client experiences, and grow their businesses.
The concept of virtual receptionists originated in the 1990s and has rapidly grown in popularity over the past decade. They can do most everything that an on-site receptionist can do except for tasks such as brewing the coffee and cleaning up after a meeting. But unlike on-site support staff, which cost upwards of $39,000 for a full-time equivalent (FTE), virtual receptionists are much less and used on-demand (only when you need them).
7 Ways Virtual Receptionists Can Improve Productivity
In a recent blog post, I outlined ways that virtual receptionists can help solopreneurs and freelancers improve their productivity and focus their time on things that make a tangible difference to their businesses. The following builds on that original list:
1. Incoming Calls
Incoming calls from clients, prospects, and partners can become a big distraction and sap productivity. Virtual receptionists can field incoming calls, route the ones that you need to take directly to you, take messages for others, and push others to voice mail. For some virtual receptionist services such as Davinci Auto Receptionist, voice mail is transcribed to email or text. This allows you to see voice mail in real time and respond to calls with the communications channel that is most effective and efficient—email, text, or phone.
2. Incoming Emails and Texts
Just as solopreneurs and freelancers can outsource management of incoming calls to live receptionists, they can do the same for incoming emails and texts. Based on predetermined rules, live receptionists respond to designated emails and texts (e.g., questions from prospects, order inquiries from clients, etc.). As these types of emails can quickly fill up an inbox, support from live receptionists can make the lives of solopreneurs and freelancers much easier.
3. Scheduling Appointments
Managing an appointment calendar can consume a lot of time and energy. This is time better spent with clients and developing and executing business strategy. For solopreneurs and freelancers with clients across multiple time zones, the complexity of calendar management is exacerbated. But with live receptionists, solopreneurs and freelancers no longer need to deal with meeting requests and juggling appointments on a schedule. Rather, live receptionists can handle meeting request via phone, email, or text.
4. Outbound Calls, Emails, and Texts
Just as solopreneurs and freelancers can outsource incoming calls, emails, and texts—or a designed portion of them—to live receptionists, they can do the same for some of their outbound communications. The range of possibilities are extensive including activities such as ordering supplies, making a reservation, or placing a work order.
5. Customer Service and Order Processing
Any solopreneur or freelancer who thinks every prospect or client will simply call back if they get put on hold or pushed into voice mail needs to reconsider this ill-conceived belief. Research shows prospects and clients have a very short fuse. Being put on hold for a few minutes or needing to wait a few hours—or worse—for a response to a call, email, or text can prompt a prospect or client to go elsewhere. At the very least, in the case of a client, these delays can quickly erode a relationship, turning an advocate into seeker—a client who will entertain business with someone else.
6. Administrative Support
Running a business, even if you’re a solopreneur or freelancer, creates a lot of administrative tasks. Accounts payables, accounts receivables, and endless tax filing—to name just a few of culprits—can form a daunting pile very quickly. Virtual receptionists can help whittle this pile down, ensuring you’re invoicing on time, paying everyone on time, and compliant with the countless business requirements at local, state, and federal levels.
7. Business Development Outreach
Building and growing a business isn’t easy, something that is even more difficult for a one-person shop when you’re a solopreneur and freelancer. Targeting the right targets with consistent communications—email, text, and phone—takes time and focus, both of which are in short supply for a solopreneur and freelancer. But with the assistance of live receptionists, business development no longer goes in spurts and stops; full blast when business is slow and crickets when business is thriving.
Getting Rid of Those Pesky Interruptions, Regaining Productivity
Minutes count when you’re a solopreneur or freelancer. And just a few interruptions can add up to a huge amount of time. Research shows, for example, that it typically takes 20 minutes for a professional to get back on track after being interrupted. But the good news is that virtual receptionists can help minimize these interruptions and ensure solopreneurs and freelancers maintain peak productivity.
Discover how live receptionists can help improve your productivity by downloading the report, “Davinci Live Virtual Receptionists: Connecting with Your Prospects and Customers.”