Davinci Virtual Blog

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S NEW WITH DAVINCI

LATEST POSTS

5 Tips for Boosting Your Profits as an Entrepreneur

Building motivation to increase your profits sounds easy, but in actuality self-motivation can be extraordinarily difficult. However, being motivated is a key aspect of improving your personal gains. Here are a few ways you can get started.

1. Eliminate Excuses

You may feel your business is one of a kind or you don’t have any strong competition. These concepts are a way for you to feel comfortable working less or reassure yourself that you can succeed regardless of effort.

Convincing yourself of these things is detrimental to both self-motivation and profit increase. You should behave competitively and as though you need to fight to stand out. Competition is one of the best motivators for any entrepreneur.

2. Cut Struggling Products or Services

If there is an aspect of your business that isn’t creating the revenue you’d like to see, cut it. When the business is more successful, you might try the service again. For now, there is no reason to maintain an unprofitable aspect of your business.

This is an easy thing to motivate yourself to do as it means less work for you. For example, if you sell jewelry and your earrings aren’t quite flying off the shelves, stop making them. Less work for you, better profits for your business.

3. Use a “Middleman” Service

In the age of the internet, it is all too easy to find a cheap or even free service to advertise yourself to a wider audience. Find a site specifically geared toward your line of work and create a profile. For example, Redfin is a site where local real estate agents can interact with local homebuyers and sellers. If you work as a freelancer, Upwork is a great source to finding short and long-term opportunities. No matter what your business entails, there is a site out there for you. As the business grows, this aspect can be cut out to further improve profits.

4. Get a Good Accountant

Though accountants can cost a pretty penny, the amount they can save you in the long run is worth it. Not only can they help you with the more technical documents and legalities, but they can also aid you in streamlining your business.

A good accountant can identify where money is being wasted or overlooked, making your business more efficient and more profitable. Sometimes, you need to spend money to make money.

5. Go through the Proper Channels

When starting out, it can be easy and tempting to cut corners. However, it’s extremely important that you start your business using the correct methods and abiding by applicable laws. If necessary, hire a lawyer to ensure you stay on the correct path. This way, your focus can be on your clients and career rather than the fine print.

It may also be beneficial to seek out the advice of experienced entrepreneurs at small business events. These events can be a fun way to feel out the competition and compare notes with others in your position.

Starting a business is risky and finding ways to keep it afloat can be even more challenging. Keeping yourself motivated through the hard times is one of the most difficult aspects of growing a business, but when you break the key components down, increasing profits doesn’t need to be hard. If you tackle the problems step by step, you will feel less overwhelmed and more satisfied with yourself and your business.

Image via Pixabay by Tumisu
Read more...

The Beginner’s Guide to Business Travel Deductions

When it comes to tax deductions you’re going to hear the phrase “ordinary and necessary expenses” over and over. Unfortunately for you it’s a bit ambiguous—okay, extremely ambiguous! This can make it difficult on business owners to navigate the tax waters and figure out what the heck is going on, and how they can save money. Throw travel in the mix? Well, things just get a bit more complicated. Throughout this guide, we’ll do our best to demystify the term “ordinary and necessary expenses” and provide you with a few key points that will hopefully make your business travel expenses, well...a lot less expensive.

Tax Home

Before considering anything else in regards to business travel tax deduction, you need to figure out what your “tax home” is. Anything that happens within this area is not considered travel and shouldn’t be treated as such.

The IRS defines your tax home as “the entire city or general area where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home.” Business travel related deductions will have to occur outside of this general area.

Deductions:

Travel Fare

Your means of transportation is tax deductible. Travel fare includes Uber rides, rental cars, and tax rides to get to the airport. You can also deduct the travel expenses of your employee or companion who has an explicit purpose for travel.

Meals

Before you drop piles of money at some swank out of town steak house, know that only 50% of your travel meals are deductible (including tip and tax). Keep good records of your transactions and make that when formulating your budget, you’re aware of the 50% limitation.

Tips

Hospitality is a huge part of the travel industry, and tipping off those who are lending a “helping hand” can get expensive quick. Luckily for you, tips are tax deductible and include such things as tax fare, food service, bellboys etc.

Conventions

Travel for deductions is acceptable as long as you can prove that your attendance directly benefits your trade/business.

Entertainment

If you think your entertainment expenses are business related, the IRS suggests a simple test that includes asking yourself the following:

  1. Did the entertainment take place in a clear business setting?
  2. Was the main purpose of activity to conduct business and was there an expectation of a specific business related objective?

Be cognoscenti that the 50% deduction limit also applies to entertainment.

Notable Exceptions:

  1. Meetings conducted at night clubs, theaters, or sporting events.
  2. Meetings/chats that occur during a social gathering.

Gifts:

Of course, one of the time held traditions of traveling is picking up souvenirs a long the way. If you plan on giving any of these as gifts, know that there is a $25 limit for business gifts. (Items that are $4 or less do not apply.)

What about trips that combine business and pleasure?

Only trips that are primarily business related are deductible. If business is an anecdotal reason for you traveling and you count it as business, the IRS will likely not be very understanding. According to bizfilings.com:

"The primary purpose of a trip is determined by looking at the facts and circumstances of each case. An important factor is the amount of time you spent on personal activities during the trip as compared to the amount of time spent on activities directly relating to business. Travel expenses outside the U.S. may be further limited if any part of your trip is for personal purposes."

Necessary Forms:

The IRS suggests the following forms when it comes for travel. We suggest you look them over beforehand to get an idea of what they are looking for.

Form 2106 - Employee Business Expenses

Form 2106-EZ - Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses

Form 1040, Schedule A - Itemized Deductions

Should you at any time have specific questions, you should refer to the business travel deductions part of their website. 

Bookly is an online bookkeeping service designed for small business owners. Learn more about what they can do for you by visiting their website. bookly.co

Disclaimer: This is not an all-inclusive list. None of these statements are meant to be taken as guarantees for your tax returns. The IRS is its own institution with its own discretions and powers of interpretation. This information is not intended to provide specific accounting advice tailored to your unique situation, or to address specific tax strategies. Please consult with your tax advisor to supplement and verify what would be best for your circumstances.

Read more...

How Many Minutes Do I need? [Infographic]

Wondering what Live Receptionist Plan your business needs?

To share this infographic, please use this image:

How Many Minutes Infographic

Read more...

Insurance Browser Achieves Scale with the Help of Davinci Virtual

Founded in 1999, Insurance Browser Inc. is an independent agency focused on connecting customers with some of the most reliable insurance providers in the country. The company makes the selection and purchase of insurance policies fast, easy, and informative. Customers have the ability to find and apply for automotive, rental, life, and home insurance using Insurance Browser.

Insurance Browser has served tens of thousands of customers over the years and seen its business grow significantly since its founding. It started with operations in Georgia and expanded into five other states—Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, and California—over the past decade. “Time is often cited by insurance customers as their most valued asset,” says Jack Heller, CEO and President of Insurance Browser. “With our help, they can quickly and easily shop for insurance policies that meet their needs by comparing coverage and rates from multiple providers.”

Virtual Address Space Solves Need for Physical Office

As Insurance Browser expanded its operational footprint to new locations, it needed to open offices in those locations. “Renting a physical office didn’t make sense,” Heller comments. This is when he stumbled across the concept of a virtual office when performing an online search.

Davinci Virtual Office solutions gives us the flexibility to add operations in any state without the overhead of a physical office location,” he explains. “We don’t need a permanent office space, but rather a location for license hanging and mail receipt and forwarding. In addition, because of the nature of our business, we need a location that garners immediate respect. All of this comes with our Davinci Virtual Office solution.”

Meeting Rooms on Demand

One aspect of Davinci Virtual Office solutions that Heller finds particularly beneficial is the ability to find and use professional conference rooms for meetings with insurance providers or clients when he or his team is traveling. “Davinci Meeting Rooms gives us a professional meeting space with all of the business services one expects from a business like ours,” he says. “It is extremely easy to select and book a room. We especially like the fact that Davinci lobby greeters are there to greet our guests and ensure their professional needs are taken care of.”

Focusing on Customers with Live Receptionists

Heller is also a customer of Davinci Live Receptionist services. “We have a small business and prefer to spend our time and resources on our customers,” he observes. “As a result, rather than hiring a full-time receptionist, we looked to outsource the function. In this case, Davinci Live Receptionists is a perfect fit for a company like ours. The team of Davinci customer service agents function as a virtual extension of our team and deliver outstanding service experiences to our customers. They either provide the customer with the information they need or route them to the appropriate member of our team who can answer their question or solve their problem.”

Virtual Extension of the Business

Heller is quite pleased to have Davinci Virtual at his disposal. “Davinci Virtual allows us to focus on what matters most to us and our customers with the assurance that it will be done in a highly professional manner,” he sums up. “Using services from companies like Davinci Virtual enable us to look and operate like a big business.”

Are you interested in finding out how virtual addresses and offices can enable your small business to boost its profile and expand into new locations? Check out our Solutions Guide, “Boosting Businesses with High-Profile Virtual Addresses and Offices,” for details on how you can make your small business look and act big.

Read more...

Motivating Your Prospects and Customers in the Digital Era

The digital age transforms how businesses interact and communicate with their customers. It also levels the playing field between small businesses and large enterprises. This disruption is changing the dynamics of the marketplace. Simply compare the list of market leaders today with those from 10 or 15 years ago, and it becomes patently obvious that digital makes a huge difference. Indeed, a recent study by PwC shows businesses that do a great job engaging their prospects and customers on digital channels are twice as likely as their peers to achieve rapid revenue and profit growth.

The objective for your digital engagement may vary. In some instances, the aim is an electronic purchase. For other scenarios, it might be nurturing loyalty and ultimately advocacy. And sometimes you may simply want to foster a deeper relationship.

Two Fundamental Strategic Starting Points

A critical starting point in developing your digital engagement strategy is understanding your customer personas and their preferences and needs at the different journey stages of their customer lifecycle. For example, a prospect who is still in the awareness stage of the purchase funnel is looking for information and ideas. Offering her a discount with a time-sensitive expiration may drive her away rather than motivate her to make a purchase. However, providing her with a customer case study—video or written—or an eBook cultivates a greater level of trust and engagement.

This brings us to the second foundational element in your digital engagement strategy: customers expect personalization, and they want it across all of their engagement channels—both traditional and digital. It should go without saying that you cannot develop an effective personalization strategy without knowing your personas and journeys. The two are inextricably intertwined.

Digital personalization takes many different forms. The most mature digital engagement employs account based marketing (ABM) to target known prospects and customers with content and offers that specifically reflect their persona and journey stage as well as your sales objectives.

But ABM is not accessible to every company. There are many other ways that you can personalize the digital experience for your prospects and customers. Even if you do not know the identity of the visitor on your website, you can personalize your offers and content based on their behaviors. A visitor who has spent significant time on your website and has items loaded in his shopping cart should get different offers and content than a visitor who has only looked at your blog posts. The same is true for live web chat. You do not want to proactively offer live web chat to every visitor, but rather only those that exhibit certain purchase behaviors. In fact, offering live web chat at inappropriate moments can be intrusive and irritating.

6 Digital Engagement Tactics

So, what are some things that you can do to ensure that your digital engagement tactics are effective?

1. Content. To build brand awareness and stickiness, create content that engages your prospects and customers and positions your company as an informational guide and thought leader. Your content needs to be educational and give prospects and customers new ideas that help them personally or professionally—depending on whether you are a B2C or B2B company. Blogs are a great way to foster engagement and generate new leads (through subscriptions). Videos, eBooks, solution guides, podcasts, visuals such as infographics, and other content types are also effective.

2. Social Channels. With billions now using social networks to connect with family, friends, peers, and their brands, social channels are a must for virtually every company. It is important to remember that social media posts need to follow an 80/20 rule—80 percent educational/instructional and 20 percent promotion/offers. Pushing too much promotion and too many offers will push prospects and customers away. Your social accounts also require attention; a couple posts per month simply doesn’t cut it. You need to post to your accounts regularly and ensure that the communications are bidirectional (reposting and retweeting other interesting posts and tweets, follows, likes, etc.).

3. Mobile. Sixty-eight percent of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011, and spend an astonishing two-plus hours a day on it. Nearly 40 percent of Internet traffic is now generated through mobile devices. In addition, the majority of mobile users prefer to engage with brands through mobile apps. Businesses that fail to provide mobile-friendly user experience will get left behind. But it’s more than just responsive website design; engagement methods also need to be mobile friendly, including live web chat and contact and registration forms. Branded mobile apps are fast-becoming an additional engagement channel, with 85 percent of customers favoring apps over mobile websites. And with the bar for mobile app development now accessible to businesses of virtually any size, the entry point is no longer a barrier.

4. Rewards and Gamification. Psychology 101 teaches us that human beings desire recognition in response to their behaviors. They also like challenges and the ability to compete for rewards. These create tighter alignment between you and your customers who are likely to visit your digital brand destinations more often, buy more, and advocate more frequently. Indeed, rewards and gamification are used in customer referral programs to incent advocacy.

5. Omnichannel. Research shows customers want to engage with vendors at their convenience—anytime, anywhere, on any device, and on through any channel. A one-size-fits-all engagement approach simply doesn’t work. Further, while customers prefer self-service channels to answer their questions or solve their problems, the need for human engagement still exists. Customers also expect to move between different channels and customer service agents and have their information follow them. In fact, needing to repeat themselves when they move between engagement channels is cited by customers as their number one service complaint.

6. Nurture. Not every prospect is going to buy immediately, and they may even opt to purchase from another vendor. Customers also want to develop a relationship with their vendors. Here, nurturing is a valuable engagement tool. Specifically, non-selling situations allow you to provide customers and prospects with information that positions your brand as a thought leader. This creates a more cohesive relationship that ultimately results in more purchases and advocacy.

The Davinci Virtual Approach

Motivated prospects and customers spend more, pay higher margins, and advocate more often than other prospects and customers. The digital age necessitates that businesses know their customers and their journeys and personalize experiences to reflect those.

There are various ways that a business can engage with prospects and customers. Davinci Virtual knows this well and offers its clients a fully integrated experience across multiple channels and devices. This enables Davinci Virtual to motivate prospects to purchase and customers to advocate on behalf of the company. For more details on how Davinci Virtual does so, check out the Solutions Guide, “Davinci Live Receptionist Services: Connecting with Your Prospects and Customers.

Read more...