Small businesses in Australia continue to push the boundaries of our ‘glocal’ economy. The ShortPress Small Talk series profiles a diverse range of small businesses to find out what they do and what makes them tick.
Virtual Helper 247 is a website that offers a virtual assistant service that covers everything from website building through data entry and content creation. ShortPress sat down with the company’s founder and chief executive, Daniel Lew.
ShortPress: Describe your small business in less than 50 words.
VH: We are an outsourcing service provider offering virtual assistant services to small- to medium-sized business globally. We specialise in all things internet, from project management to bookkeeping to website creation and social marketing.
What inspires you as a business owner?
VH: I am constantly inspired by technological advances that make doing business easier, faster and more efficient. The speed and ease at which anyone can establish a business using the internet is incredible, and being able to work anywhere in the world is phenomenal.
What does a typical day for you look like?
VH: Getting through the "to-do" lists, communicating with my management team and key areas of the business at least four times a day. This includes senior management meetings, discussing technical parts of the business with my programmers, reviewing of our tele sales process and sales conversion data. My business partner and I also catch up regularly on spend and ROI.
What have your biggest challenges been so far and how have you overcome them?
VH: Managing growth – demand for our services quickly became greater than our initial setup capacity allowed. Realising this, I sought out a business partner and set up clearly defined job descriptions for each of us. This taught me the very important lessons of not trying to do everything on my own, and secondly, when partnering, to choose someone who can add value to the existing model.
What about your biggest learnings?
VH: You can never know it all and in today’s world you must continue to learn and adapt to the new technologies that arise so you keep staying ahead.
I also put in the hard work. You have to be willing to make some sacrifices and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Anyone who is successful will tell you that success doesn’t just land in your lap. Long hours, hard work and sacrifices to everyday life are common, but worth it.
I like to regularly set and redefine my goals. It gives me something to work towards, and being able to visualise the end result is often what drives me to keep going when things get tough.
If you could start over again, would you do anything differently?
VH: I would choose business partners more carefully. In the beginning I lacked foresight and made some bad choices, which ended up causing me trouble. I have learned to say no; even if the business or venture is a great idea, if the partner is not a good fit, then it’s not on.
Delegation early on is another thing. Scale and success do not happen if you’re trying to run the show on your own. Finding people who share a similar vision and offer expertise in certain areas can be a real asset. I am seeing the benefits of this now in my own business – I have more time to focus on other aspects of the business.
What advice would you give to budding small business owners?
VH: Learn fast and act fast. Don't get so caught up in learning, though. In order to succeed and evolve you need to keep educating yourself, but at the same time, you need to keep taking action.
Too many times we get comfortable and expect everything to run smoothly that's where businesses fail. Complacency can kill a business.
Who are the business leaders you look up to and why?
VH: I look up to Warren Buffet, who can use a negative circumstance to create a positive outcome. If an economy crashes, he is the first to buy instead of selling. He sees a positive in a negative.
This isn’t just a great attitude for business. This is how life should be, and I carry this attitude into my overall life.
Where to now for your company?
VH: We plan to be the go-to business service provider by early quarter of 2016. Right now we are fairly small, at 75 staff, but our goal is to hit 750 staff by the end of 2016.
I feel like its my purpose in life to help struggling online businesses live better lives and to close the gap between rich and poor. I want to help a lot more people in this world become comfortable and be able to live and enjoy freedoms many successful internet business owners do.