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Davinci Virtual Blog

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S NEW WITH DAVINCI

LATEST POSTS

Could Virtual Conferencing Really Replace Face-To-Face Meetings?

Almost two-thirds of companies indicate they have a remote workforce. The reasons are myriad, ranging from lower cost per worker, reduced real estate and related costs, and the ability to recruit and retain hard-to-find talent. This is changing how companies structure their workspace, including whether they even secure permanent workspace for all or part of their workforce (viz., more and more solopreneurs and small businesses are opting to use coworking spaces, day offices, and rented conference rooms). 

Globalization of business and the rise of web conferencing software have made virtual conferencing a mainstay. Conference calls became more than a static line with dial-in number and passcode. Virtual conferencing services—including a proliferation in provider options—and powerful collaborative features such as integrated chat, video, screen sharing, and recording and transcription, among many others make virtual meetings almost like face-to-face meetings. 

Rise of Virtual Conferencing

Use cases for virtual conferencing are vast. Possibilities range from business development and product demos, to regular staff or project meetings, to one-on-one status meetings, to client status updates. Thus, solopreneurs and small businesses are turning increasingly to virtual conferencing in place of face-to-face meetings on the basis that they reduce costs and increase productivity.

Yet, professionals still value in-person meetings. Eighty-four percent of millennials, who comprise over half of the workforce today, prefer in-person meetings over virtual conferencing. Specifically, the one-on-one connection that occurs in face-to-face meetings is immensely more difficult to achieve over virtual conferencing. Ninety-three percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues such as verbal and facial feeling. This is true for both workers you know and don’t know. 

At the same time, a face-to-face person meeting conveys that the topic and other meeting participants are important. They also give various meeting attendees an opportunity to form bonds with each other and to have one-on-one conversations that simply would not have occurred if they had attended virtually.

“To Be or Not to Be” In-Person or Virtual

So, where does this leave us? The remote workforce is only going to increase in size, with some projecting that it will comprise more than half of the entire workforce by 2020. This rapid growth is certain to guarantee continued adoption of virtual conferencing. 

Yet, despite these trends, the importance of face-to-face meetings remains as important, if not more important, than ever. Business leaders and individual contributors need to exercise judgement in determining which meetings should be attended virtually and which ones require in-person attendance. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent meeting use cases:

1. Regular, Ongoing Staff and Project Meetings

Reoccurring status and staff meetings typically don’t require in-person attendance unless special activities and topics—planning or news announcements—are on the agenda. While attendees who are in the same location as the meeting room should attend when possible, in-person attendance should be optional and remote workers shouldn’t attend in-person. 

2. Project Kickoffs

Depending on the nature of the project and the role of each attendee, in-person attendance is important, helping to ensure each member of the project team meets each other, including a chance for quality one-on-one interactions and relationship building. These project kickoff meetings lay the groundwork for subsequent project success.

3. Ideation and Brainstorming Sessions

Ideation—or brainstorming—sessions often play a critical role in helping businesses solve difficult problems and develop new business initiatives. Research shows traditional group brainstorming results in fewer ideas than if the individuals came up list alone. 

A recent Harvard Business Review article delineates a list of strategies businesses can employ to ensure ideation and brainstorming meetings are successful. Planning before the actual meeting takes place is an important starting point, where individual participants are assigned work beforehand. Other strategies include ensuring that evaluation doesn’t end prematurely and allowing participants to draw out their ideas. The above is difficult to achieve if meeting participants are virtual; in-person attendance is a requirement. 

4. Strategic Planning 

Strategic planning sessions are like ideation and brainstorming sessions when it comes to the level of interaction between both individuals and as a group. Further, as strategic planning typically isn’t something that can be accomplished in an hour or even a couple hours but rather requires lengthier sessions, virtual conferencing simply cannot afford the collaboration needed. Additionally, to achieve appropriate follow-up actions and maintain momentum, in-person relationship building is critical.

5. Annual Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are an opportunity to reinforce successful behaviors while collaboratively working with the employee on areas of improvement and development. As these occur once or twice a year, managers should make them count. And with most of the five senses playing a critical role in how the manager communicates with the worker, an in-person is a must if optimal outcomes are expected. Delivering performance reviews through virtual conferencing can miss the mark and result in workers leaving the review session frustrated, uncertain, or even angry. 

6. Team Building

When leaders want to inspire teams to assume new goals and tackle difficult challenges, in-person meetings are immensely more effective. This doesn’t obviate the vitality of virtual teams. Per the above, virtual workers who spend 60 to 80 percent of their time away from the office have the highest levels of involvement. The takeaway is that the 20 to 40 percent time they spend in the office is geared for optimal outcomes (powered by team building and collaboration). 

Finding the Right Meeting Location

Meeting locations count and often equate to in-person meeting success or failure. For businesses with permanent office locations and meeting space, it makes sense to host most meetings in one of your meeting rooms. However, in some cases, getting the team offsite helps them focus and gets them out of their comfort zones. Of course, for the millions of solopreneurs and small businesses that rely on virtual offices, rented meeting space is a great option when it comes to in-person meetings. Upwards half the cost of hotel conference rooms, rented meeting space such as Davinci Meeting Rooms comes with the professional accoutrement’s businesses need to have a successful meeting.

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How a Live Virtual Receptionist Can Increase Your Productivity

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.”

 

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Virtual Addresses: What They Are, and How to Get One

For solopreneurs, location rebels, and other remote professionals, a virtual office can be an ace in the hole. A virtual office provides the advantages of a permanent address, without the cost that usually comes with it. For those who need a business address to attach to their professional endeavors, but prefer to work where they please, it can be a perfect solution.

You might be wondering, though, where should I get one, and how do I choose the right one??

As a virtual office provider, we have some insight to offer on the subject. Below, we’ll look at virtual office basics, where to get one, and how you might sign up for one. So if you’ve been considering a virtual office and just didn’t know where to start, here are the answers you’ve been looking for.

What Is a Virtual Office?

A virtual office is, at its core, a fully functional business address that you rent for your company. It can receive mail, it can be used to apply for licenses and certifications, and it can be leveraged on business cards or other marketing materials. In some ways, it’s similar to a P.O. box, the primary difference being that it looks just like a physical address.

Why use a virtual office? One of the biggest reasons is to demonstrate that you run a legitimate business. You may know that you’re a professional and that what you do is a real job, but potential clients and partners may not see that when you hand them a business card that lists a residential address. Virtual offices offer a solution to this problem.

The right virtual office can also give your business a level of prestige. A downtown address leaves a good impression, but those are hard to come by (and are very expensive). If you choose a virtual office provider with a location in the heart of the city, you can get the address you want, for a fraction of the cost. 

Virtual addresses can also receive mail, and many providers also offer mail forwarding (so you don’t have to drive all the way into the city center to pick it up), along with a host of other features and amenities, depending on the provider. 

How to Choose a Virtual Office Provider (and Location)

Choosing a virtual office is all about meeting your needs. If all you need is an address that will receive mail for you, just about any location will do. Most of the time, business needs are a little more nuanced than that—take time to consider which amenities and available services would be valuable to you. 

For example, look at the industry you’re in. Would on-demand office space be valuable to your company? If so, will coworking space suffice, or do you need a day office? 

Do you need some help managing inbound calls and setting appointments? You could look for a provider that offers virtual receptionist support.

Do you occasionally need somewhere to meet with clients? Look for a provider that offers on-demand meeting spaces, especially ones that furnish their meeting rooms with things like presentation and A/V equipment. 

The best providers offer a whole range of features, with premium services or amenities added on an as-needed basis. 

Lastly, you’ll want to consider location. Beyond the factors of legitimacy and prestige, you’ll want to think about how far away you are from the location you’ve chosen, and how frequently you may visit the location. Obviously, there’s no requirement that you actually be present at the location to receive mail or do your work, but if you need other amenities (like on-demand office or meeting space), you may want to choose a location with a shorter commute.

How to Sign Up for One

While we can’t speak to the onboarding process with other providers, our process here at Davinci is remarkably simple. First, search our site for a location that matches your business' needs. Davinci has over 1,600 locations worldwide so you’ll be sure to find the perfect location.  After purchasing your addressblueberry.com

, you'll fill out the Commercial Mail Receiving Agency form (US Postal Form 1583), and submit it to us online or via email. Your complimentary notarization of this document is included in the price for the virtual address.

Next, you’ll need to submit your mail handling preferences to us, also via email. This determines what we do with mail we receive for you, whether we forward it to you, hold it and wait for pickup, or some other action. 

Lastly, once we’ve received your paperwork and mail handling instructions, one of our representatives will contact you to discuss any additional details and finalize the activation of your account. It’s as simple as that. 

Conclusion

A virtual address is one of those rare opportunities to have the best of both worlds. It’s the value of a real address with the convenience of a P.O. box. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s significantly cheaper than paying for a permanent office space. And here at Davinci, we offer every additional service and amenity you could possibly need. We even offer on-demand office and meeting space for those who need it, all around the world. 

So whether you’re at home in your bed, or traveling to London for a work meeting, we can help you conduct business professionally, and effectively. Contact us today, and let us help your business do its very best.

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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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