There’s so much buzz going on about everything virtual these days. I mean, it’s not enough that business owners have to buy the latest tech (Ie., iPhone X) to stay competitive. In just a few short years, it’s actually become uncool to run an offline business; a place with a storefront and busy employees filling cubicles!
Fact is, you can still do business offline. It’s just that most business owners are foolish in how they refuse to head down the digital highway, embracing virtual technology to help their businesses run better.
In many cases, you’re simply throwing money down the tube with costly office leases, equipment, a pricey software infrastructure, and expensive staff that takes up a lot of money and resources to hire, train and terminate (if need be).
Here’s 3-plus tips for getting your virtual HQ up and running:
1. Virtual office
The first step in setting up your virtual headquarters is to actually get a virtual office to register your business through. The idea of a virtual office is one that’s very strange to most who hear it for the first time. Especially if you’ve ever stepped foot inside a “real” office before.
However, virtual offices do exist in the physical realm…
They’re referred to as “virtual” because you can rent them month-to-month without ever stepping foot inside them, if you wish. You sign up with a virtual office service, choose from the list of real-world offices they own or manage, then that address is yours. As far as the government, clients, prospects, and anyone else is concerned, your business is headquartered at that location.
Not to mention, you can actually use your office any time you like. Whether you rent in Toronto, Dubai or the UK; your virtual office is an actual office, with a receptionist, desks, chairs, Internet, conference rooms, coffee machines, etc. Stop in for a visit when crunch time hits, or whenever you need to meet with a client or your team.
There are numerous benefits to going with a virtual office as your business HQ, including:
- Legitimacy: It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, virtual offices are located in professional business districts all over the world, making yours a business that demands respect.
- Flexibility: You’re not tied down to a one, two, three year leases. Many providers offer the ability to cancel at any time.
- Price: There are very few places in the world where you’ll find a decent (small) office for less than $2,000 US per month. Then there’s equipment, furniture and overhead on top of that. Virtual offices cost hundreds, not thousands.
2. Virtual phone services
There are a few things to consider when it comes to how phones are answered and calls are dealt with in your virtual business:
- Virtual phone number
- Virtual receptionist
- Virtual call center services
A virtual phone number is essential, as you can keep it forever, regardless if you have to change any other phone numbers you use (Ie., the business moves to another state/province, or you run into trouble porting your number from one provider to the next). You can have calls from your virtual number directed to any phone or device you wish, and can change your preferences at any time.
Don’t think because you’re a small freelancer, or just-launched startup that you can’t benefit from having a receptionist holding vigil over your virtual HQ. Consider the piece of mind that comes from being able to “switch off” and get down to work. Or having someone who can separate (filter) less important calls from the ones that need your immediate attention.
Some businesses will also require a call center, whether big or small, to handle larger call volumes. A virtual receptionist or three can handle a lot of calls quickly. But, when technical support or sales is involved, you’ll want to consider adding a virtual call center team to make sure no sale is ever lost, and no customer is ever unhappy with the product or service after their purchase.
3. Virtual support staff
Employees sit at the front line of any successful business. If you want to run a successful virtual HQ, you need to have a cast of virtual assistants available to do the work you need done.
Perhaps you can handle most of the work yourself, but just need a little extra help once in a while? Or, you run a business that has lots of different pieces, such as consulting or ecommerce. Virtual assistants are available to work in any capacity — per project or part/full-time.
There are a number of different categories VAs fall into:
- Project management
- Web design
- Graphic design
- Scheduling appointments
- Booking flights and other arrangements
- Content creation (all kinds)
- Email filtering
- Social media tasks
- Data entry
- Website maintenance
The biggest challenge with virtual employees is finding the most talented and reliable in the bunch. There’s a couple of good mantras to follow when managing virtual staff:
- Hire fast, fire fast: Meaning, if they’re not working out, don’t waste your resources on them.
- Test early, test often: Meaning, don’t just hire someone without testing their skills first — and never stop testing for additional skills, to unearth their true potential as it relates to improving your business.
Note about technology requirements for a Virtual HQ
After you find a virtual office service that can accommodate all of your needs, most of the technology you need to run a successful business will be covered. However, since you’re running a virtual business, you’ll need to make sure you have fast and reliable Internet service and dependable devices that won’t let you down: Ie., you need the abililty to be “connected” 24/7 without interruption!
Software is also a concern, but requirements vary from one business to the next. A freelancer writer may only require a word processor and browser to research, write and communicate online. Whereas a fast-growing sales team might require a SalesForce subscription, along with a variety of other software apps to run the business successfully.
The world is going virtual!
Is your business ready?