How to Start an Office Support Service
Office support services can range from basic data entry to a fully-staffed office handling all the details of a client's business.
An office support service company can start very small, offering only a limited selection of services and expanding as you gain the capacity to do so. This modular approach makes office support services very attractive for the talented entrepreneur with limited capital and the motivation to learn and grow over time.
Start Up Costs and Financing Sources:
$500 to $100,000+ depending on services offered
With a strong and well-researched business plan, venture capitalists and angel investors may help with part of the initial financing. Do not depend on this, however, as your source of financing.
Pricing Guidelines for Service:
Set your prices to allow for at least $20-40 per hour (before taxes and expenses), but avoid charging hourly rates. Charging an hourly rate for office support services gives clients the opportunity to demand more and more work for the same price. Before long, it will begin to feel like you are trapped in the very same employment situation which you were trying to avoid by starting a business in the first place! So with that in mind, try your best to set a flat fee (based on volume) for each office support service you provide.
As you become more skilled with specific office support services, you can charge less to a client while actually earning more per hour.
Advertising and Marketing:
Many help wanted advertisements detail office support services which are very suited to your company. Respond to these with a brochure of the services you provide, as well as the benefits of contracting with a service provider instead of hiring an employee.
Temporary staffing companies get many requests for office support services. Sometimes they do not have enough qualified applicants to fill the positions. Rather than telling their clients that they have failed to fill the position, they might be willing to connect you with the client company.
Work with other office support service providers in your area. Identify which services each provider excels at and cooperate to refer those types of jobs to each other. This valuable type of exchange will keep you and your "competitors" working on the projects which profit everyone the most.
Get at least one ad listed in the yellow pages phone directory. Better yet, get listed under the heading for every specific service you offer.
A decent computer with a comprehensive suite of office software is necessary in any office.
At least one telephone line will be necessary. Two telephone lines and a dedicated fax line would be even better.
A three-in-one printer/copier/fax machine can save precious desk space; however, if you do a significant amount of one of those three tasks, it is a good idea to get a dedicated machine for it.
You will need an adequate amount of general office supplies such as printer paper, paperclips, staples, pens, pencils, Post-It notes, mailing labels, etc.
Filing cabinets and similar paperwork storage space will help to keep your work area organized.
$15,000 to $100,000+
Your income is really only limited by the amount of work you can do in a day. This is definitely a choice business for someone who is good at streamlining and automating their daily tasks. After you have an efficient system in place, you can begin to hire employees to take care of the menial things which can't be automated, greatly expanding your earning capability.
Small businesses which are growing rapidly and have an excess of paperwork to handle.
Staffing agencies which specialize in office support services and have trouble finding qualified applicants for a project.
Tips for Success:
Develop a strong eye for detail. 99.9% accuracy might sound excellent, but that one-in-a-thousand error could cost your clients big money and cost you your contract.
Automate! Identify the areas where you are spending most of your time and determine if it is possible to automate parts of the tasks and save time. Research software which could do some of the dirty work for you. For example, certain data entry projects can be done by an image scanner and optical character recognition (OCR) software, leaving you with just the job of auditing the final data for accuracy.
Training, Skills or Experience Needed:
It is useful to have a background in accounting, business management, etc. Working as an employee for a year or two in an office support services environment is enough to develop the basic skills you will need.
Typing is a big part of the business. Hone your typing skills to at least 70 words per minute with 100% accuracy.
Stay organized. When you need to find paperwork or supplies, they should be right where you expect them to be.
© Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved.
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