The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network honored Ruby as its 2016 Growth Stage Company of the year at the annual Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards. This coveted honor puts Ruby on the map as a leading company within Portland’s nationally recognized high-tech community. OEN explained Ruby was chosen because the company has “demonstrated terrific growth performance fueled by a unified culture in customer service” and “is deploying technology that sets it apart in its industry.” The Growth Stage Company award recognizes a company with past-year revenue of at least $8 million and projected revenue for the current year of over $8 million.

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We’re thrilled to be included in William Vanderbloemen’s Forbes Article, “What Business Owners Should Outsource Now.” This article features five reasons to consider outsourcing tasks for your business and four important questions to consider.

One key piece of advice is, “if the work can be done virtually, the work can be outsourced!”

Read the ARTICLE

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The path of starting a small business is paved unevenly, with many pitfalls and obstacles to jump. Entrepreneurs are tasked with taking an idea from the early stages all the way through to sales, marketing, and delivering that product or service. Sound overwhelming? Sometimes it can be; that’s why we’ve put together this list of five of the most common challenges small business owners face, and how to prepare for them.

1. Budgeting

As Jerry Maguire so famously said, “Show me the money!” Launching a business can be capital-heavy, with money stresses becoming less immediate over time. When you start a new business, anticipate having enough saved to cover your initial bills, pay an employee or two, as well as some set aside to invest in infrastructure and services. One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is expecting immediate profit and not preparing for the cash flow problems associated with a business just getting off the ground. In fact, experts suggest you shouldn’t count on much profit within the first two years of getting off the ground.

What are some tips for taking this challenge on head first?

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! Have a plan in place for the worst case scenario, second worst case scenario, and even the best scenario, for luck.
  • When you start your business, ensure that you have enough money to sustain yourself for at least two years.
  • Be patient, success is never immediate.

2. Lack of Direction and Planning

A great idea is step one to becoming an entrepreneur, backed strongly by an iron will and a lot of patience. That initial idea can get you far, however, without a solid plan in place you may find your idea unraveling.

Before putting in capital, create a business plan, decide on a mission for your business, and set goals. The more proactive you are, the easier it is to avoid potential pitfalls. Plan your quarter. Plan your year. Heck, plan for three years! The key is to keep those plan flexible, as sticking too rigidly to plans can also be problematic. If you want to delight customers with an innovative product, you need to strike a balance between planning and flexibility.

3. Burnout and Fatigue

You know the saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself?” Throw it out the window. Forget you ever heard it. It should say “If you want something done right, hire the right people and use the right tools.” If you’re hiring the wrong people and trying to do it all yourself, you’re probably well on your way to burning out. In fact, trying to go it alone is one of the biggest mistakes made by new business owners. As your workload grows, especially when you start becoming successful, trying to cope alone gets a whole lot more difficult.

How do you avoid this overworked fatigue?

Use the right tools. Automate whenever possible! Automation tools designed for small businesses will help you streamline processes. From sales to marketing, automation makes everything much more achievable, even on a budget. When automation isn’t the right choice, outsource. At Ruby Receptionists we do more than provide receptionist services, we help you build personal connections with your customers. You get the person-to-person connection and avoid having to hire someone full time!

4. Labor

You want to hire the right people, but the money for labor isn’t always there. As a new startup you’re destined to run into the challenge of finding and hiring the right labor, and deciding what to outsource. Every person and tool are vital to the success of your company.

There are three significant steps you can take to examine the labor you need for your business’s success:

  • Review your current employment. Who have you hired? What do they provide to the company? What skills do you still need on your team to WOW your customers?
  • Think about each area you need labor for. What’s the most profitable? Hiring or outsourcing?
  • Set your standards and start looking for the right tools and employees!

Once you have an idea of where you are, you’ll better be able to make a strategic decision to ensure that you have the right balance of resources for your business. Don’t rush the process, as full-time employees are a significant cash investment. Be transparent when hiring about the stage of the business and the tasks you’d be expecting to delegate. The right hire will be energized at the prospect of growth and wearing multiple hats.

5. Balancing Quality and Growth

Sometimes growing happens fast—and what comes with growth? Growing pains. Growth in one area of the business could cause you to lose focus in another area, or a sudden influx of clients can cause you to lose the ability to maintain one on one relationships. If you focus too much on growth, you might let quality fall to the wayside, harming your relationships with your customers and your long-term success. If you focus too much on the quality you might miss out on the opportunity to expand your services and innovate.

You need to find common ground in between an obsessive focus on growth and an obsessive focus on perfection. It’s up to you to navigate your processes to provide quality and scalable service for your clients.

What are the main challenges facing your business?

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What is a service champion

This week is International Customer Service Week, and as such, we’re sharing interviews with unique perspectives on what it means to be a champion of customer service. At Ruby, Problem Solvers & Happiness Makers live up to their job titles by assisting customers with account updates and head-scratching technology questions. They deliver legendary customer service by operating at the top of the Ruby Service Pyramid. Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to deeply connect with them by going above and beyond, fulfilling their unexpressed needs, and creating stellar service experiences. Together, Ruby’s Customer Happiness team works to define, embody, and elevate the standards of world-class service.

The Customer Happiness team has been lucky enough to have Tonya Pieske as a Problem Solver & Happiness Maker for just over a year. I’ve asked Tonya to share a little bit about herself in today’s spotlight!

What do you think makes you and others on the Customer Happiness team uniquely qualified to be a Problem Solver & Happiness Maker?
We’re a smart bunch of people! More importantly, we all have excellent communication skills, genuine empathy, and we approach challenges with curiosity and enthusiasm. We’re determined to find solutions that support the success of our customers and their businesses—and I have to say, we’re very good at it!

What is your #1 customer service tip?
Go with your gut! Sometimes real concerns come in the form of general questions, so if you suspect there’s something bigger behind it, there probably is. If you can identify and fix a problem before it’s clearly presented to you by the customer, you’ll make a huge and lasting impression.

What was your career like before Ruby?
I worked my way up the retail chain for about eight years before coming to Ruby. I was fortunate to work for some great companies and wonderful people. Several co-workers from my retail life are now employees of Ruby!

It sounds like you’ve been helping people for a long time! When did you discover that you loved to do so?
When I was around 12, I spent a couple months during the summer break with my grandmother. My grandfather had been ill for quite some time and was in an adult care facility at that point. My grandmother and I went to visit him every day. It was heart-wrenching for me to see his physical and emotional health deteriorate. Because it was so hard to be around him, I offered my help to the staff during my visits. They put me to work! Every day I would take wheelchair-bound patients for strolls through the garden, and I ended up becoming very close with a few of them. After that summer, I really embraced the desire to help others. The following year, I volunteered as a peer counselor and organized benefits at my school.

In addition to working at Ruby, you’re also a talented musician. Is there any connection between your music career and your Ruby one?
Any type of art has the potential to connect with others in an incredibly meaningful way. I don’t really think too much about how accessible the subject matter of my songs will be to someone with very different life experiences than mine. It still surprises me when people reach out to me and tell me how my music has resonated with them in a deeply personal way. That’s basically the highest level of connecting you can do! My approach to customer service and writing music is very different. However, when they’re done right, a magical thing happens – human connection.

A big thank you to Tonya for taking the time to chat!

Want to learn more about the power of a virtual receptionist service?

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*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.