Davinci Virtual Blog



Are High Gas Prices Giving You Indigestion? Here’s Some Help.

Great article in USA Today about how gas prices are impacting small business owners. Rhonda Abrams penned the article that brings the crisis in the Middle East a little closer to home by pointing to the still-rising oil prices and the burden on small businesses.

Down in Miami where I live, it was costing me $40 to fill up my tank two weeks ago. Literally overnight the cost rose to $55 a tank—and I do a lot of driving. Even though I work from a virtual office, I still have client meetings around town and a teenaged daughter to drive halfway around the world and back every week. I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from. As a small business owner myself, the rising gas prices are a painful pinch.

In her article, Abrams offered 10 tips for saving money on gas, including driving less, changing work hours, using the phone, and even buying an electric vehicle. All good suggestions. You should definitely check out her article when you get a minute. But first, here are a few more gas saving tips from Davinci Virtual Office Solutions:

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

  • Check and replace your car’s air filter.

  • Drive the speed limit.

  • Remove extra weight from the vehicle.

  • Pay cash for gas to get a discount at some stations.

  • Check your local radio station Web site to find out the cheapest gas prices in your area.

  • Avoid constant braking.

  • Cut back on the air conditioning—roll down the windows instead.

  • Don’t rev your engine.

  • Buy gas early in the morning or late at night while gasoline is densest.

  • Drive at a steady pace.

  • Avoid bumpy roads that eat up gas mileage.

  • Get regular tune ups.

  • Car pool

  • Telecommute

That should be enough to get you started. I’ll continue sharing new tips from time to time as I come across them. Hopefully gas prices will start going back down soon. But for savvy small businesses that are determined to find ways to slash their fuel bill, these tips will take you a long way. If you have tips to share, please let me know in the comment box below. I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, check out this video to pick up a few more tips from the pros at AAA:


Three Ways to Save Time and Money with Accounting Software

If time is money, then you’d better find ways to save some—especially in a still-recovering economy and especially if you are starting a new business venture. Working from a virtual office may cut out commuting time, but that's not the only way to save money and time.

Think about it for a minute. Getting a new business up and running—and keeping it up and running—is a time-consuming task. From developing the winning idea, to incorporating your business to managing the accounting—a small business owner’s job never seems to end.

Esther Friedberg Karp, owner of CompuBooks Business Services in Toronto and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, says the big challenge is making sure you spend your time wisely and track the money coming in and going out.

"In my experience, businesses fail because owners don't properly understand their finances. They get buried under the hundreds of other demands on their time, or they put off tracking their company's financial health until it's too late to save the enterprise.  Thankfully, there are tools and simple tips that can ease the accounting process while freeing up hours, which ultimately helps keep the business dream alive and well."

So what are those simple tips? Chris Davey, an accounting professional liaison at Intuit Canada, has some he’s willing to share with time-stressed entrepreneurs looking for ways to save time managing money.

  1. Say goodbye pen and paper, hello software: You can slash the hours you spend looking at ledgers and receipts by going digital. It’s easy to see where money is coming from and going to with computer software that lets you search through transactions.

  2. Get paid on time: You might do a great job, but are you getting paid? Delays in accounts receivables can be costly, but so can tracking the status of your invoices. Financial software helps you save time as you seek to collect money.

  3. Use your accountant's knowledge, not their time: Accountants are worth the fee for advice, but is it worth it to pay them to sort through your shoe box full of receipts? (Hint, hint: the answer is “no.”) If you keep tabs on your accounting throughout the year you can save time and money come April—when taxes are due—by just e-mailing your electronic files to your accountant.

"It's no surprise that entrepreneurs would want to minimize the time they spend on managing finances and concentrate on doing what they love—being a successful business owner," said Davey. "Saving time on the back-end means more time for other important tasks like marketing, customer service and following competitors. With the right tools, resources and know-how, taming the 'back-office beast' can be done more efficiently than one may think."

Five iPad Apps That Power Your Small Business

So the iPad 2 made its much-anticipated debut today. Doubtless, it’s even more “magical” than the original. But does your small business really need an iPad?

Let me help you make the small business case for this tablet computer so you can buy an iPad without feeling guilty about shelling out the $500-something it will cost you.

First, let’s review the specs: The iPad 2 features an entirely new design that’s 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter than the original iPad. The iPad 2 boasts the same 9.7-inch LED-backlit LCD screen with a new dual-core A5 processor for faster performance than the original. The iPad 2 also has two cameras, one front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime and one rear-facing camera that can capture hi-def video.

“With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices,” says Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.”

350,000 Apps To Choose From
iPad 2 runs almost all of the 350,000-plus apps available on the App Store—and there are more than 65,000 native iPad apps available in 20 categories, including business. Keyword: business.

So let’s look at five small business apps that could make the iPad 2 a good investment for road warriors, virtual office users and always-on-the-go entrepreneurs:

  1. Cisco WebEx Meeting Center: You can join WebEx meetings from your iPad from anywhere. If you do a lot of online meetings, this is a free app that will drive greater productivity for your team.

  2. WorldCard Mobile: If you are an entrepreneurial networker, you’ll find this $5.99 app handy. Recommended by the Wall Street Journal, WorldCard Mobile is a card scanning app that transfers information from business cards to your iPad using the camera.

  3. OmniFocus: This app won the 2008 Apple Design Award for best iPhone productivity application. You can keep track of tasks by project, place, person or date. The cost: $19.99.

  4. Mint.com Personal Finance: This free app lets you track, budget and manage your money on the go. You can add all your online banking accounts in one place. Set up a budget, do more with your money and take charge of your financial life.

  5. Keynote: This is a presentation app, complete with animated charts and transitions. The app includes themes, custom graphic styles, and other effects. This app runs $9.99.

There are hundreds of productivity apps you could install on your new iPad 2—many of them free. So whether you work from a virtual office or a traditional office space, the iPad 2 could help you work smarter, faster and more efficiently. Case closed.

Federal Workers Could Benefit from D.C. Virtual Offices

Is the federal government adopting teleworking? Yes, in increasing numbers. The new law that was recently passed should help spur adoption. But where were we before the law?

According to a study from Booz Allen Hamilton, less than 6 percent of all full-time federal workers telework even one day a month—just 102,900 federal employees of the 1.9 million on the government payroll when the federal survey was conducted in 2008.

Booz Allen reports that only 44 of 78 agencies, or 56 percent of federal organizations, have integrated telework into their formal continuity of operations planning—a crucial element needed to make sure essential employees can support agency missions and meet important public needs during a natural disaster or a crisis such as a terrorist attack or a pandemic.

Booz Allen concludes that due to the underutilization of telework, part-time work and job sharing, the majority of federal agencies are missing out on the opportunity to reap savings on real estate, infrastructure, basic operating costs and energy usage, and to improve their business processes and increase productivity. In other words, it is an alternative workplace strategy that pays dividends on many levels.

What does that mean? Room for growth. Davinci Virtual Office Solutions is expecting the next report from Booz Allen Hamilton to show tremendous growth in teleworking in the federal government. And that could spur teleworking among government contractors.

Davinci Virtual Office Solutions has seven virtual offices in Washington, D.C.:

  • The Willard

  • Washington DC Office Center

  • Bethesda DC

  • MPA DC

  • Farragut Business Center

  • One Metro Business Center

  • Connecticut Avenue Business Center

Let’s look at the Connecticut Avenue virtual offices. Located at 1250 Connecticut Avenue, you can rent this D.C. virtual office space for as little as $95 a month. It comes with all the usual bells and whistles. First of all, you get to use the prime business address and have a place for your clients to send mail and packages, or drop them off. You can use the business support center there when you needed it, or even rent a conference room or day office space for important meetings or when you just need a quiet place to work.

Check out this video on Washington, D.C.:


Expect To Have Problems In Your Career

Expect to have a wonderful idealist career all the time? If the answer is yes, then you are expecting too much.

This is not to say that you are destined to have an unhappy career. It does mean that your career has its ups and downs and it's all part of your journey to true career satisfaction.

Your career spans many years, and in some cases, 30, 40, 50 years or longer. Just because of the sheer number of years is indication that you will have problems at some point.

Problems are not always a bad thing. Often, they represent an opportunity for growth. It's important to note that problems rarely vanish on their own. Most problems disappear when you act. Then, as you learn how to effectively deal with them, the problems begin to fade away.

So How Do You Make Your Problems Fade Away? Follow These 4 Steps Below:

1) Face Your Problems
One of the hardest things we have to do in life is look at ourselves. Sometimes we like what we see in the mirror. Other times we wish there was someone else looking back at us. Facing yourself and the problems that are in front of you is very important. Until you face what is happening to you, or what you have brought on yourself, you cannot fix it.  It is easier to face a problem, than it is to avoid it. It might seem easier to ignore it, but it only gets worse when you do.

2) Expect To Find A Solution
I understand that problems are not fun and can take a toll on you. I also know that people give up when problems last too long or become overwhelming. Expectation plays a big role in making your problems go away. You get what you expect. If you expect that your problems will consume your life, then they will. If you expect that your problems will have a beginning, middle, and an end, then they will. If you expect to find a solution, then you will find one. What you expect happens and becomes your reality.

3) Break Your Problem Into Pieces
This way you will be less overwhelmed and fixing your problem will seem more doable. Although you want your problem to go away instantly, the truth is problem-solving is a process. Your goal is to tackle each piece of your problems, one at a time, consistently, until you no longer have that problem anymore.

4) Prepare For More Problems
Problems tell you something is wrong and not working. This is valuable information to have. Without a problem, would you work on making your career the best it could be? Or, would you continue doing the same thing forever? How can your career be great unless you keep working towards making it great? Problems keep you on your toes. They keep you sharp and they keep you moving towards the goals that are important to you.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. a successful career, life, and mentor coaching company that works with Senior Executives,  Vice Presidents, and Managers who are looking for new career opportunities or seek to become more productive  in their current role. She is the author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career", "Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."  Deborah can be reached at http://www.surpassyourdreams.com http://www.reinvent-your-career.com or at (631) 874-2877.