Budding marketers should go virtual wherever and whenever possible. In a fledgling startup, the last thing you need to worry about is excessive infrastructure or expensive overhead. It’s already a difficult enough task to generate income and garner clients. Why spend that precious revenue on something as useless as an office space?
Your ego might try to get the best of you, telling you that your business needs that fancy schmancy corner office with a city view. But unless your ego has a few hundred thousand dollars to cough up for rent and amenities, kindly tell it to shut up…….Plain and simple: The vast majority of startups — and more established entrepereneurs for that matter — don’t need a whole lot. In the last several years there have been a multitude of virtual business services that have become essential to millions of online entrepreneurs. But in a world of apps and redundant SaaS, which programs and services are best for your business? Here is some of the virtual tools that i use to stay lean, effective and productive.
As someone who has built a completely offline company with 25 employees, now I can honestly tell you that reliable cloud computing is essential. And, the more I can consolidate web services, the better. I use Google Apps Premiere which, aside from being an excellent substitute for an exchange server, also includes the ability to store and share documents, create groups, and share a calendar.
Whether you work in an office, at home, at a coffee shop, or on a beach, people are your most valuable asset. Elance.com can be a virtual entrepreneur’s human resources department for hiring and managing people who can offset your strengths. Use it to find your logo designer, website developer, virtual assistant, and other people who can help you build a successful virtual business
One of my business is completely virtual at this point and the services that are [an] absolute must for me are Gmail for e-mail, dropbox.com for online storage, skype.com for international calling and IM, Google Voice [for] calling into Canada and the U.S., Google Docs to share Documents in real time and — yes — Facebook, which allows me to stay connected to my business and personal contacts no matter where I am in the world.
It’s cheaper and easier to create a virtual office than ever before. Start off by getting a mailbox at a local UPS or FedEx Kinko’s, get setup with a toll-free phone number through Grasshopper.com, register a professional domain name at GoDaddy , and get business cards and marketing material from VistaPrint or PrintingForLess.com.
Currently run one of my businesses virtually and I believe it’s increased efficiency and substantially lowered costs. Some web services I suggest are GotomyPC for international access to one base hard drive, GVO conference for all you webcast needs.Also Evernote for paperless document and image management. More features are not always better. Remember, keep your systems simple.
Faxing is still a huge part of running a business, but if you do this activity online it can save you a bit of money. You don’t need a printer, toner, or ink and it makes it easy to transfer if you move rather than setting up a new line every time. I recommend Grasshopper or eVoice to help your online business stay mobile and on the go. Both services are awesome and help you with everything you need.
If you’re building a web-based business, I highly recommend that you go to oDesk.com to hire low-cost engineering talent. oDesk is a directory of international contractors. Take some time to interview and vet the engineers with high ratings and lots of logged contract hours — it’s a good filter for finding good talent initially.
Before buying anything, make the best use of what you already have at your disposal. For instance, your current software, e-mail provider, phone service, and office equipment may be most — if not all — of what you need to start. Also, you can begin with free web services like ZOHO CRM and upgrade after your business has earned the cash to pay for new purchases.
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