6 tips for running your new small business virtually
Get Your New Business Venture Started Sooner With These 6 Great Tips
The days of needing a physical space filled with expensive equipment before you could launch your new business are over.
With new technology and cloud based services you can now launch a sophisticated high performance start up quickly and on an affordable budget.
The cloud is offering entrepreneurs a whole range of amazing opportunities to turn their business ideas into reality.
A key thing to remember today is that successful businesses need to be nimble and flexible. Cloud services enables this by allowing you to align your costs with revenues at the touch of a button. Ramp up or ramp down your services and costs, instantly!
Here are our 6 tips for ways to get your new business venture off the ground by making the best use of cloud and virtual technologies.
Tip number 1 – Get a Virtual Office
A virtual office gives a small business the best of both worlds. It can provide you with a prestigious office address in a city of your choice while giving you the flexibility to work wherever you want.
Modern wireless technology, 4G technology and the great data packages that telecoms companies are providing these days means that you really do have the opportunity to work wherever you want and when you want.
Some customers however do like to see that you have an address and preferably have an address in a first class building in the centre of town.
With a virtual office you can have that great CBD address to put on your letterhead, your website and your business cards but at a fraction of the cost of securing a physical address in the same building. With many virtual office packages you also get the opportunity to make use of meeting rooms when you need them so if you do need to meet with clients face to face you can do so.
Why not take your business national by securing a virtual office in each of the major cities in Australia. For a fraction of the cost of renting one office you could potentially have a virtual office in every major city in the country.
Tip number 2 – Virtual Receptionists
One of the biggest drains on a small businesses cash flow is the cost of employees. Unfortunately if you don't have someone who can answer your calls you end up spending a huge percentage of your available time fielding incoming calls.
With a virtual receptionist you can engage someone to field those incoming telephone calls at a fraction of the cost of employing a full time staff member.
Having a virtual receptionist on board frees you up so that you can focus on the things that you do best, bringing in new customers and providing a first class level of service to your existing customer base.
When you have a virtual receptionist you don't need to worry about scheduling staff for holiday periods or high workload periods like when you launch marketing campaigns. Your virtual receptionist will be there throughout the business year to take your calls.
Tip number 3 – Cloud Based Storage
The days of needing a local office server with a RAID system, multiple hard drives and backup devices and procedures are over.
With cloud based data storage you can get as much disk space as you need pretty well instantaneously while only having to pay for the use of that hardware not the capital cost.
Most cloud storage providers will also provide very cost effective backup facilities that you can use for pretty well all of your data on all of your devices.
Cloud based storage makes the sharing of files and collaborative working on files significantly easier.
The cost of getting cloud based storage is relatively cheap with many companies like Dropbox providing a reasonable amount of storage for free.
Tip number 4 – Cloud Based Servers and Processing
If your business is running websites or different applications/processes then you may need to lease your own server or make the use of cloud processing power.
The cheapest option with cloud servers is to go for a VPS or virtual private server. What you get with a VPS is a subset of a physical server that has been divided up using VMWare type software.
Most VPS's will be more than adequate for small business applications and websites and can potentially be used for additional offsite storage. VPS's start from around $40 per month so can be a really cost effective option. VPS's come with operating systems like Linux or Debian and many will also let you download versions of popular website CMS's like Wordpress.
Once your business grows to a reasonable size you will probably want to go with a dedicated server. Dedicated servers can be configured in a number of ways and will generally come with a decent amount of storage plus bandwidth so unless you have some bandwidth or storage intensive processes you should be able to do pretty well everything that you need to via your dedicated server. A reasonable dedicated server will set you back around $200 per month however this will include a serious amount of bandwidth for you to play with.
If you are a power user and need some serious computing power to churn through your applications then you might need to rent some decent processing power. Companies like Amazon have pioneered the concept of renting processing power when you need it and will rent you the microprocessor grunt that you need at a really reasonable price.
Renting processing power is great for start-ups that are experiencing exponential growth and are unsure of their requirements going forward.
Tip number 5 – Virtual Workers
Once you new business venture reaches a size that it needs additional workers (in addition to the virtual receptionist who answers your calls) then you can look at bringing in virtual workers to help you with the workload.
A virtual worker could be located anywhere in the world. You could be sitting in a cafe in Melbourne while your virtual assistant could be sitting in their house on the Gold Coast. You could potentially employ workers full time who never actually come in to a physical office or you could simply use offshore contractors who carry out specific tasks when and how you need them.
Similar to the outsourcing of your data processing it probably makes most sense for a small business not to employ full time employees but to simply bring in resources during peak periods.
There can be significant financial benefits from utilising virtual workers who only work when they are needed as you only pay for what you really need.
Tip number 6 – Cloud Based Collaboration
Once you have your cloud based storage in place, your cloud processing power and your virtual workers then you are in a great position to make use of cloud based collaboration software.
Companies like Microsoft have invested heavily in developing some amazing intuitive systems that enable virtual workers to work collaboratively.
There are a whole range of tasks that could be worked on by utilising these collaboration programs including client presentations, designs, accounting data, sales analysis, IT development plus much more.
If you are making use of remote workers then there is also the opportunity that you can organise things so that your project is being worked on around the clock. When your Australian team finishes for the day your European or American team can pick up the project and work through the Australian night.