Author Archive: shawn@ziptask.com

Why You Should Use Ziptask as Your Business’s Virtual Assistant

Friday, December 28th, 2012 by shawn@ziptask.com

© Zsuzsanna Kilian 2009

I recently read an article on Entrepreneur.com detailing the various ways in which virtual assistants can help small businesses save time and get more work done. While reading the list, it occurred to me that many of these tasks were similar, and almost all of them could be completed with Ziptask. Using Ziptask as your company’s de facto virtual assistant is preferable to going through the process of hiring an in-house worker, and will allow your company greater flexibility and more focus on important tasks.

Why Ziptask Over an In-House Associate?

Ziptask’s services are best used for small, insular tasks, which are precisely the type of work that an assistant would commonly perform. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the process of hiring a flesh-and-blood worker is an extreme headache. For the relatively small role of an assistant, the process is understandably not worth it for many businesses. On the flip side, if you find yourself in desperate need of someone to handle all the small tasks that fall by the wayside, your new worker may find themselves overwhelmed by the volume. Ziptask can easily scale up to handle any amount of work; the same can not be said about a standard human assistant.

The article I read detailed 10 services your assistant could provide you, but I found that they could essentially be distilled into three categories: data collection, data synthesis, and data organization.

Data Collection

In a thriving business, which yours hopefully is, the people up top may find it difficult to keep up with all the information they are expected to know, much less seek out new research. Ziptask can help by sending its workers out to collect new data for you. Based on what your company needs, Ziptask can research potential new clients, keep tabs on changing industry standards, or keep an eye on competitors. Provide Ziptask with a general prompt delineating what information you want collected and simply send it out once a week. You can even automate the process so you just get a simple weekly “newsletter” directly in your inbox!

Data Synthesis

Conversely, sometimes your business has the information it needs already, but it’s not in the most convenient or accessible form. An assistant can provide structure to these heaps of data, and Ziptask is similarly more than up to the challenge. Send us a scan of your date book, and we can send you back a calendar file with all your meetings and reminders perfectly squared away. Send us your fresh-off-the-press business report and a few key points, and we’ll make a visual presentation for your coworkers, clients, or yourself. Send us a pile of receipts, and we’ll transfer the values to a nice, clean spreadsheet for you. Having your data in an accessible form at all times without having to do it yourself is practically invaluable.

Data Organization

Keeping tabs on all that data is possibly the most tedious part of your job, and therefore the part that screams the loudest for you to hand it off to someone else. Ziptask can, for a start, keep your finances in order by filing away all your statements and keeping track of upcoming bills. Simply having that part of the money matters off one’s mind can be a huge relief. In addition, Ziptask could also help you build and maintain a database of your employees or business contacts, keep track of your website’s traffic and hits on social media, and even manage your email inbox.

When faced with the seemingly endless amount of minor tasks we encounter on a day-to-day basis, many people would jump at the chance to pass some of that work off to a reliable third party. Ziptask feels your pain, and we want to help. Free up your time and your brain, and congratulate yourself on avoiding the hiring process when you’re done.

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5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Crowdsourcing

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 by shawn@ziptask.com

Infograph from Saleschase Blog:5 reasons

In summary, crowdsourcing helps save time and money, improve quality, and make your business more flexible. Ziptask falls under the “Crowd Sourced Labor” category, and we’re ready to do whatever heavy lifting you need! Embrace the power of the crowd, and super-charge your business.

“Not To Exceed Estimate” Removes the Guesswork

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 by shawn@ziptask.com

Image © 2012 Carlos Sanchez

Here at Ziptask, we aim for a no-nonsense approach to getting work done because we understand that our clients are busy people. We are too! That’s why we take every opportunity to make sure that the structures we have in place make the process as smooth and pain-free as possible for our customer.

“Not to exceed estimate” is a concept that Ziptask subscribes to when it comes to determining how much to charge for work. It’s essentially what it says on the box; when we quote you a price, you’re getting out guarantee that the final price you end up paying will be no greater than that number. In fact, it’s often lower. This represents quite a switch from the way a lot of businesses currently run things.

Assessing the Norm

If you go to an auto mechanic, hire a contractor, or solicit work from any entity whose price structure isn’t set in stone, you typically receive and sign off on a price estimate before the work is completed. When it comes time to pay, however, it is very rare that the estimate looks anything like the check you’ll be making out. Usually, you end up paying more. Parts, labor, hidden fees, miscalculations, and old-fashioned sleazy business tactics team up to take as much extra money from you as possible.

In technical terms, this isn’t a super-great system. It’s obviously unreliable, since the price you’re initially quoted means essentially nothing. This makes any price-comparison process you try to invoke equally meaningless, since everyone is throwing out arbitrary numbers that have no relevance on the final price point. This is naturally frustrating, which in turn leads to poor customer relations and general untrustworthiness. There’s a reason that there are so many articles describing how to know if your mechanic is cheating you!

The New Promise

Not-to-exceed changes the entire game. When you send a job to Ziptask, they send you a number back that represents that maximum possible price you will be charged for that job. And as I mentioned, Ziptask often comes in under budget. Having this number as a solid, immutable figure allows the customer to make real decisions around it, and removes the guesswork associated with regular estimates.

For many clients, simply having a frame of reference for what the work is worth will be a huge boon. Even if they don’t end up choosing Ziptask, that estimate will provide a baseline if they wish to shop around for better deals on the work. Assuming Ziptask is chosen for the work, the benefits increase. Clients can find that since the price is now concrete, it is easier to budget their available funds around the work, even several months or years into the future. It also provides accountability and a general feel-good moment when you come in under budget. Who doesn’t like that?

Simply a Smarter Choice

You wouldn’t buy a banana with a price sticker that said “probably about a dollar”. You wouldn’t sign up for a credit card whose interest rate is “around” anything. So why are you still messing with crapshoot price estimates, especially when the stakes are so much higher? Upgrade to a business service that you can count on, breathe easier knowing you can rely on your budget, and leave the hidden fees to the businesses of yesteryear. You’re better than that.

Never Hire a Freelancer Again

Friday, October 5th, 2012 by shawn@ziptask.com

Don’t get ahead of me.

Freelancers, for many industries, are a fact of life. Media outlets hire them constantly to get fresh perspectives on newsworthy events. Programming development firms often include a revolving door of freelance or third-party programming and QA teams. And many artists subside entirely on freelancing, taking different jobs every few weeks or even every few days. According to this survey from CareerBuilder.com, one in three companies will turn to staffing/recruitment firms and freelancers this year.

But the process of employing freelancers? Sucks. No denying.

At your basest level is the initial act of simply finding a worker you want on your team. You spend money on job ads and spend time posting and responding to offers on Craigslist or LinkedIn or Freelancer or oDesk, hoping against hope to find the one useful name in a pile of thousands. And we haven’t even gotten to the interview process yet, which you can bet will involve miscommunication about the parameters and expectations surrounding the work, salary negotiations in a field that has an extremely wide range of pay scales, and inevitably wasting your time on the handfuls of potentials that simply aren’t going to be a help to your company.

Yes, the process of hiring freelancers is a huge pain in the butt. But as I mentioned, it’s a necessary evil for the industries that take advantage of it. Freelancer community FreelanceSwitch highlights the advantages quite succinctly: freelancers are adaptable, shrink your office, cost less, and (best of all) are expendable once the work is done. “[Employees] cost far more than what they actually take home: payroll taxes, health insurance and other benefits, equipment for their use, even the coffee you provide to employees are costs that you won’t have with a freelancer. When you add up all those numbers, you’ll likely find that hiring a freelancer costs less on an hourly basis than an employee with similar skills — and you don’t have to keep a freelancer on when your project is complete.”So what is the savvy businessperson to do? If you’re reading this, you may already know the answer.

Try Ziptask.

Ziptask gives you the advantages of hiring a freelancer (or team of freelancers) to work on projects involving Microsoft Office, Photoshop, graphic design, and minor programming, without the hassle of actually finding them yourself. Ziptask has a team of thousands of freelancers on-call, already vetted for reliability and classified by the type of work at which they excel; you can omit the interview process entirely. The fees are fixed and by-the-minute, completely skipping over the need for negotiations; you pay only for the work that gets completed, and you’ll never be surprised when the bill comes. And thanks to Ziptask’s hearty QA and management staff, you can be assured that your instructions will be crystal-clear and followed out to the letter, ensuring results that are professional, fast, and on-brand. I challenge you to find a freelance portal or third-party firm with that sort of guarantee.

Instead of spending hours, days, or weeks gathering a team, sorting out assignments, communicating endlessly, and sweating over budgets, Ziptask simply asks for your project files and a description of the work required.That’s it. It’s submitted, and the only thing you have to do after that is hit the “work approved” button when it’s done. And instead of blowing money and effort on a crapshoot job search for the needle-in-a-haystack chance, you pay only once your work has been completed to your satisfaction. If you measure your business expenditures in time and money (and who doesn’t?), you’ll find that Ziptask, quite simply, blows the traditional freelancing model out of the water.

So if you’ve got a new project coming up and find yourself dreading the process of signing on extra muscle to get it done… relax. Take a breath. Put down the notepads, spreadsheets, and address books, and give Ziptask a try. Your stress lines, and your bottom lines, will thank you.
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