Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual Assistant

Will you receive and hold packages?


No. We do not accept direct delivery of packages, but we can assist you in setting up a UPS mailbox. You will need is two forms of identification. We cannot put the name of our company or staff on the box or setup billing. Our staff is not permitted to handle packages or remit payment.




What software are you familiar with?


We expertly use a variety of word processing, design, finance, scheduling, time tracking, project management, CRMs and databases software.




How quickly do you respond during working hours?


We typically schedule a weekly or daily time to review your needs and provide updates on projects. Response to pop-up concerns depends on the urgency of the need and availability. Typically between 3-9 hours.




Have you had a client who had difficulty describing their needs?


Yes. This happens especially during these stressful times. Our assistants ask great questions to uncover your needs.




Where are your assistants located? What language(s) do they speak?


Location: USA on Eastern Time Zone. Language: English. Multilingual services come with an additional cost and time to arrange.




What types of tasks can your virtual assistants complete?


Our team has over a decade of experience in customer service and project management. Here are a few things we can do for you:

  • Data entry
  • Scheduling
  • Phone calls
  • Proofreading
  • Word Processing
  • Travel Arrangements
  • Correspondence (email, social media, etc.)
  • Note taking / meeting transcription
  • and more....




Will you print and mail checks?


No. While we do support a variety of human resource functions we do not print or mail checks.





Business Development

What is the difference between business development and strategic planning?


At BONUM our business development solutions focus on growing business while our strategic planning focuses the processes of running a business. The activities in these areas are closely related which is why they are often referred to interchangeably. One aspect of our business development services is writing business proposals (e.g. RFP, RFQ, grant applications) which are used to win specific opportunities. While business or strategic plans are written guides to doing business, in our strategic planning services.




I have a great business idea what's next?


If you are in the beginning stages of developing your business concept you may want to schedule a strategy call. This brainstorming session will help you solidify your thoughts and plan for the next steps. Startups Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes




I own my own business, but I don’t have a corporation. Do I need one?


There are several benefits to forming a corporation or other entity such as a limited liability company (LLC) to own your business. Corporations and LLCs offer their shareholders or members limited liability. Generally, if the business fails, only the business assets are at risk, not your personal assets. There are fees associated with forming a corporation or LLC and tax implications.




How long will it take to start a small business?


As long as it takes you to complete your feasibility study, prepare your business plan, gather your money, buy what you need to buy, and arrange your business operation affairs. This could take a few weeks or many months. If you have difficulty with any of these items, the time to learn and solve problems must be added.




How can I get my business certified as minority- or women-owned?


At the federal level, Congress considers a minority-owned business to be a business owned by anyone other than a Caucasian. The business MUST be owned and at least 51 percent controlled by one or more minorities. Women are not considered a minority. It is a self-certifying process, and no paperwork needs to be filled out.




Should I buy a franchised business to start?


There are some definite advantages to starting out with a franchised business. There are many different types of franchises. Some offer fair value for what you pay, and others are rip-offs. Get legal or business counseling advice before purchasing a franchise. Approximately 40 percent of present-day retailing is done through the franchises. There must be some advantages to owning a franchise.




Should I buy an existing business?


An existing business is already established in the market. It has existing, and hopefully loyal, customers. You avoid the hassle and expense of creating awareness of and demand for your product or service. The key is making sure that the business fits your desires and capabilities. Is it the kind of business you want? Can you afford it? Can you operate it?




How do I finance the start-up of a small business?


To determine financing needs, you should first prepare a business plan with a complete set of financial projections, including a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. With a properly completed business plan, you will have identified your funding needs. Banks will lend to some business start-ups if they are satisfied with your business plan, your level of equity investment, the collateral you have to pledge to the loan, and your credit history and experience. If your request is denied, ask your bank if they would consider the loan with a guarantee from the Small Business Administration (SBA).




How much money do I need to get started?


Once you have taken care of your building and equipment needs, you must also have enough money on hand to cover operating expenses for at least a year. One of the leading causes of business failure is insufficient start-up capital. Consequently, you should work closely with your consultant or accountant to estimate your cash flow needs.




How do I protect my business idea from being stolen?


There are several ways to protect your business. They include:

Patent—a property right granted by the government to the inventor to make, use, and sell the invention for a given period of time

Copyright—protects your literary or artistic work; allows you to sell, give away, or show your work (copyrights must be tangible and physical)

Trademark—name, mark, symbol, or motto, legally restricted to the use of the owner or manufacturer, that identifies your company and/or its product

Trade secret—information that you do not want known by your competition because your business would lose significant advantages




What is the marketing tool you rely on most?


Website Email Automations. One of the simplest things to do to capture customers who are ready to buy. Someone lingers on your blog post - automated email offering a solution for their demonstrated interest. My personal favorite, customer abandons their cart. Email: Did you forget these? and here are some other products you might like (based on the items in your cart).




How can I reduce cart abandonment rates?


The best tip for reducing cart abandonment is to streamline your checkout process. Reduce the number of fields and clicks it takes to make a purchase. Social media sites are getting in on this game by offering in-site purchases from their social feed.




What is one effective tip for LinkedIn sales prospecting?


Show don't Tell! Clients will seek you out if you use the LinkedIn platform to be a resource, demonstrating your expertise and what you have to offer. LinkedIn is further developing the platform to increase its sociability with enhanced video features, stories, etc. Use them as a resource and others will see you as one- converting connections into sales.




What is included in a company description?


The exact elements included in your company description can vary, but most commonly include: Company name: The official name of your business as registered in the state where you do business. Type of business structure: Sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or corporation. Ownership or management team: Names of the key people behind the company. Location: Where is the company headquartered? Company history: When was the business started, what inspired you to start the business, what need does your company fulfill? Mission statement: A clear statement that represents the purpose of your company. Products/services and target market: A brief overview of what you plan to sell and to whom. Objectives: An outline of what you want to accomplish in the immediate future based on the data in the rest of the business plan as well as future growth goals. Vision statement: A statement about how you envision the future of the company.




What is included in a capabilities statement?


Core Competencies: this should not be everything your business is able to do. Use bullet points and short statements of your expertise as it relates to your target agency's specific needs. Differentiators: list unique factors and benefits of your products or services that set you apart from the competition. How is your business best suited for the needs of the targeted agency? A clear statement that relates to the specific needs of the agency can help the customer understand why they should choose your firm. Past Performance: list past customers for whom you have done similar work, show benefit to the customer and provide contact reference. Pictures are worth a thousand words and save space if relevant. If past projects do not relate to the targeted agency's needs, do not list them. Company data: include one or two short sentences of your company description, including number of employees and capacity. Also list DUNS, CAGE Code, NAICS codes, and any set-aside eligibility that your business holds, such as Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), 8(a) Certification, HUBZone, or Small Disadvantaged Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). Contact information: show contact information, including website and specific person's name. Readers will visit your website for more information; make sure it is constantly updated and provide "hot link" for direct access. List a professional email. Government agencies many times block Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail accounts as junk mail. Your internet provider will typically offer professional addresses with your subscription. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Example (please note, statements are ideally one page)





Strategic Planning

What questions should a strategic business plan answer?


A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your firm’s résumé. It describes the products and services you will sell, the customers to whom you will sell them, the production, management, and marketing activities needed to produce your offerings, and the projected profit or loss that will result from your efforts.

1. What is the need that your business will satisfy or solve? 2. How will your product or service satisfy that need? 3. How does you business differentiate itself from others? 4. Who are the key players in your business? 5. How big is the market? 6. Who will be your target customers? 7. How will you reach these customers? 8. What are the economics of your business? 9. How much money do you need to start your business? 10. What needs to happen for you to break even?




What is a feasibility study?


This is a preliminary concept review used to answer the question “Should I do that?” It includes facts and projections that outline what will happen IF something is done. It allows a entrepreneur to look at probable results before anything is done to produce those results. These studies can be as brief as a phone call or a lengthy plan.




How long will it take to write a strategic business plan?


A well thought out strategic business plan can take anywhere from a month to a year to complete, depending on how committed you are to the business, and how much time you are willing to spend on writing your plan. Your business plan is a joint venture with your consultant.




Is a strategic planning session included in the Business Proposal & Plan Packages


The Business Proposal & Plan packages come with a 30 minute strategy session. Full business development and strategic planning sessions have quoted pricing.





Talent Management & Training

What basic skills do I need to run a business?


The basic skills include a working knowledge of record keeping; financial management; personnel management; market analysis; breakeven analysis; products or services; federal, state, and local taxes; legal structures; and communication skills.




What laws do I have to consider if I hire employees for my business?


There are many Federal and State laws that regulate wages, hours, discrimination, safety and benefits. Many of the laws are applicable depending on the number of employees, whether you have contracts or subcontracts with the Federal government, if you employ veterans, and whether or not you provide benefits to name just a few. Every business/employer is different so be sure to check the state and federal websites for all the requirements.

Some Helpful Websites:

  • www.dol.gov/
  • www.mass.gov/
  • www.irs.gov/
  • www.uscis.gov/
  • www.dol.gov/ebsa/compliance_assistance.html
  • www.eeoc.gov/
  • www.osha.gov/




How do I register to become an employer?


To register as an employer, you need to obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) by filing IRS Form SS-4. You will also need to register for state income tax withholding and for unemployment contributions if you meet your state's threshold. Employees will need to complete, and you will need to maintain a file of, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate W-4 obtained from the IRS, and Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Obtain workers’ compensation insurance from your business insurance carrier.

Note this process is different than retaining independent contractors. Ask you consultant about the important distinction between contractors and employees.




How can I better manage remote employees?


Know working from home does not come naturally to all duties, services, or people. Leverage the flexibility of remote work. When it comes to productivity skip the screen monitoring programs and make the transition to project-based work. Have an ongoing list of projects and have your staff estimate their time to completion and provide status updates along the way. Since people need opportunities for authentic interactions, create them virtually. Use virtual platforms that allow people to create a virtual identity and connect with others individually and as groups in a variety of ways. Encourage your staff to volunteer and nurture IRL activities. BONUM has been remote since 2017 as a key part of our business model. 3 Ways Working Remotely Makes for a Better World




How can I find a mentor remotely?


Mentorship is beneficial throughout one's career at all levels. Being attached to a community of practice through a mentor gives you access to their network, knowledge, and experience. It advances your career by giving you the ability to bypass common mistakes and time spent in ruts. Many leadership centered non-profits offer free online mentorship programs, but the key is engagement. Have 3 goals that you would like to accomplish with your mentor. Schedule regular communication in a format that works well for both. Seek out a couple of mentors, no one says you can only have one.





Workplace Culture

How can I overcome major business setbacks or failures?


Every entrepreneur should know and accept failure as a key part of the business process. It’s time to finally reconceptualize failure as opportunity to refine, grow, or redirect your product, services or acumen. Once this happens setbacks and failures can be taken more in stride in a continual cycle of evaluation and improvement. That being said, it is natural to feel disappointment and frustration when setbacks or failures happen. Acknowledge and work through those emotions, especially in the context of COVID.




How can I effectively communicate across cultures?


Reach people where they are whether it be the platforms most commonly used (and why), scoping the message, and timing the delivery. At BONUM we focus on 8 cultural identities: race, sexual orientation, gender, economic background, disability, age, religion, & familial status. 5 Strategies to Promoting Inclusivity at Work Defining Your Company Culture




How can I advocate for women and minorities in the workplace?


To be a culturally responsive organization first understand the dynamics of the underrepresented groups participation within your organization - who are they? how are they being minimized? are there policies and procedures that are re-enforcing underrepresentation? When it comes with revising policies start with your human resource department and the hiring process. Then train key members of your organization so that they can evaluate their areas and promote inclusive practices exponentially which ignites organizational change. [Why & How] Support Women in Business We've Protested Now What




How can I stop overthinking in business?


A notable goal would be self awareness and discernment in our thinking. Overthinking is not inherently bad. It can be indication of a greater issue or complexity associated with an action. When we catch ourselves overthinking, we need to pause and ask why. Is it anxiety? Uncertainty? Under-thinking or letting your subconscious be your guide can also be problematic. Our subconscious is fast and vastly knowledgeable, but it often takes shortcuts and can be heavily influenced by bias. Nobel Prize winner and author Daniel Kahnerman offers a sound solution in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. We need to hone discernment in our thinking to know which actions can be guided by our gut (or subconscious) and those that we need to deeply examine.




Veterans Seeking Jobs: How can I get traction with my LinkedIn account?


The military develops a strong sense of duty, loyalty and comradery. Before you leave the military start building your LinkedIn profile and make connections. Use the expertise and resources of the transition services provided by your branch. The number one challenge veterans have on LinkedIn is translating their military experience into secular terms, but every military MOS has job descriptors- use them. Use the profile of your non-military counterparts to see how they position themselves. Use the "ready to work" icon on LinkedIn- this lets recruiters know who you are and your industry. Do not be afraid to ask to connect and then work those connections. Connect with other former and current service members and explore ways to work with local, state, and federal agencies- this is your primary supportive network. Then branch out from there.





Payment

How much would I need to pay for a deposit on services?


BONUM asks that 30% of the project be paid upfront, 60% at the project milestone and 10% be paid upon delivery. As a small business this supports healthy operational cash flow and minimizes the impact of any delayed unpaid invoices. We're happy to work through a third party settlement organization to hold 100% of funds in an escrow account until delivery. (additional fees apply)




How does being a conscious company impact your pricing?


As a conscious company, BONUM believes in fair pricing practices and transparency. Our pricing is competitive with the market to meet the needs of our clients while making a profit to contribute to our community, staff, and investors. As a conscious company our contracts are written with balanced terms to meet the needs of both parties.




Do I need to send / receive W9 for independent contractors and companies I hire?


If you pay an independet contractor or company $600 or more during the tax you will need to issue a 1099 unless you hire them through a “third party settlement organization” like Upwork or Fiverr. The third party settlement organization (under Section 6050W) reports to the IRS and generates a 1099 if the contractor's total earnings meet the reporting threshold. The organization also collects the information needed to show how much you paid annually to the third-party settlement organization. Please see confer with your accountant





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