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Outsourcing Site Zirtual Goes Bye Bye — Don’t Panic

zirtual**There’s an UPDATE to this story…Quicker Than a Celeb Marriage…Zirtual is Back!**


 

If you follow my blog regularly you know that I’m a huge fan of outsourcing.  I’ve given lots of ideas of what to get off your to-do list by giving it to someone else.  Plus I’ve talked about some of the best new apps and websites to help with your outsourcing.  The good and bad of some of these new startups is that some can’t hack it in the startup world.  

Enter: Zirtual.  

I’ve told a lot of people about this service and I even mentioned it in my book Listful Thinking — so I feel it’s only fair to give you the skinny and a few alternatives to keep on outsourcing.  

Here’s What Happened

Outsourcing website Zirtual has closed its doors. Due to an accounting error almost 400 employees lost their jobs overnight. According to Fortune’s interview with the CEO Maren Kate Donovan —  Zirtual outsourced some of its financial management to a Silicon Valley company which provided turnkey CFO support and services.

Unfortunately a payroll error went unnoticed and Zirtual projections had missed two additional payroll cycles. With hundreds of employees, that’s a lot of unaccounted money.

So they had to close up shop quick!

What Does This Mean For You?

Sadly Zirtual has not yet announced any plans for reimbursing customers who had not used all their hours. Startups.co aquired Zirtual after this snafu and they will most likely strike a deal with old Zirtual customers to keep their business. But I don’t know what that deal will be.

Even if you’re not a Zirtual customer — we can learn an important lesson from Zirtual. Just because you have outsourced a task doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in on that task every once in a while.

Some Outsourcing Alternatives

Here are some replacement apps you can try:

Fancy Hands – Outsourcing is one of the best ways to get more done. Fancy Hands is like having your own virtual personal assistant.  Assistants can do research for you, make appointments and even make annoying calls to customer service on your behalf.  They just can’t do any physical tasks.

TaskRabbit.com – Similar to Fancy Hands, except they do physical tasks as well. TaskRabbit is great for crossing items off your list like putting together Ikea furniture or picking up groceries and laundry. Currently, TaskRabbit is available in 18 cities across the United States, as well as in London.

Alfred – This service specializes in taking care of your chores for you, which you know I’m all about.  The cheapest package is a tidy-up service that costs $15 a week, including things like making the bed, doing the dishes and taking out the trash. If you want the option to ask for something special, like food delivery, you’ll shell out $22 bucks a week. Alfred is only currently available in New York City and Boston.

How do you outsource your tasks?

Another App Bites the Dust — Wun Wun is Done

wunwun

If you follow this blog you’ll know that I seem to be cursed when it comes to apps. As soon as I find an app I like, it closes down, or gets bought out. Remember Umano, Astrid, Orchestra SpringPad and CardMunch.

It’s happened again.

I very rarely eat Shake Shack, mainly because they don’t do delivery and aren’t available on Seamless. So for the odd times when I feel like a burger I normally order through Wun Wun.  That’s the delivery service that I’ve told you about in the past and it’s even in my book!  They’ll get whatever you need from a store or restaurant in under an hour.  Perfect.

So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I opened my Wun Wun app to find it had been closed down. Read more

What Google Headquarters Taught Me About Productivity

Paula & Jay with Gopi at Google

Last week I decided to use the 4th of July weekend as an excuse to go on vacation. I have always wanted to go to San Francisco and figured now was the time. My husband Jay and I toured around the city — saw the Golden Gate Bridge, walked up Lombard Street, strolled along Fisherman’s Wharf and even tasted some amazing wine in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

While there – we were amazingly lucky to get a tour of the Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA.  That’s about 50 minutes south of San Francisco.  Anyone can check out the grounds but to get a real look inside the buildings an employee has to take you around.  I was lucky to be introduced to Gopi Kallayil by a mutual friend and he was our very gracious host.  He’s the Chief Evangelist at Google for Brand Marketing — isn’t that the coolest title ever? Read more

3 Items for Your To-Don’t List

Stop_sign_at_sunsetSome mornings when I wake up – I start running through all the things I need to do that day in my head. Even though I already have my to-do list written from the night before. Does this happen to you? But I’ll tell you what I don’t do – I don’t think of things that I need to STOP doing. And I would bet you don’t either. But maybe we should…

The New Year is coming up and you might already be thinking about your resolutions, which I think are a waste of time if they aren’t super targeted. Maybe you want to stop obsessively checking your emails, or drinking less soda. Why not start with some simple things so you’ll be in good shape when the New Year rolls around? Read more

3 Solutions for Shipping Headaches

Avoid the -Shipping Headache- (1)I know people don’t want to talk about Christmas in October, but there are only nine weeks left. If you want to send presents in time for Hanukkah and Christmas you realistically only have about seven weeks left to find the perfect gift. (Even less if it’s international!)

If you follow this blog you probably know that I like to prepare for the holidays early to avoid the last-minute rush. I’m actually way behind on my shopping. I’m usually done by now so I need to get back on track myself. While I find that online shopping has made some things easier, it brings it’s own form of problems and headaches – mainly shipping. For many companies, finding auto transport leads is not too much of a problem. However, occasionally, we run into shipping issues that are simply too much for us to take.

Fortunately this year I have found a few shipping sites that can help ease the burden:

Shyp* – If you’ve found the perfect gift for your aunt but don’t want to be bothered going to the post office to ship it — no worries. Shyp will pick up your items, package them and send them anywhere in the world for the lowest cost. It’s currently only available in San Francisco and New York, but they plan to release it in Miami soon too. Read more