As a budding entrepreneur your focus should be to start slow and keep costs low. The last thing you need to worry about is excessive infrastructure or expensive overhead. Your focus should be on bigger issues like generating business and making enough money to keep you afloat in the competitive marketplace. There would be times when you would desire that plush office space with a city view and a staff that reports to you, but in the real world an entrepreneur should always think practical and start small. In the last several years there have been a multitude of virtual business services that have become essential to millions of business owners.
Here are 5 effective virtual tools to keep you lean and productive:
1. Cloud Computing: As more and more business go virtual, cloud computing is becoming the most essential tool for businesses of all sizes and shapes. The intrinsic value of the cloud is that it can be done anywhere and anytime. Google Apps Premier is an apt example, apart from being and excellent substitute for an exchange server, it also includes the ability to store and share documents, create groups, and share a calendar.
2. Outsourcing it right: Well, working virtually, doesn’t mean you are alone! Whatever kind of business you are into, you have to keep in mind that people are your most valuable asset. Elance.com or oDesk.com can be a virtual entrepreneur’s human resources department for hiring and managing people who can offset your strengths. Consider using it to hire designers, programmers, website developers and even virtual assistants.
3. Project Management: Every entrepreneur needs to deal with the principles of project management such as planning, initiating, managing and closing. If you are working with a virtual team then a virtual project management platform is of utmost importance. BaseCamp is one such tool that gives you the ease to manage your projects virtually. It is inexpensive and easy to use because once you’ve subscribed, anyone, e.g. your clients, vendors, and employees, can simply join in via web without downloading or signing up.
4. Skype: Its by far the most important tool for an entrepreneur. It helps you connect with anyone through videoconferencing and/or video calls. It’s quick to download the software and calls to other Skype users are free. You can essentially have an in-person meeting with anyone anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
5. Move into a Virtual Office: After you have your essentials all setup, consider moving into a virtual office space. A space that is conducive to day-to-day business functions, a place where you don’t have to worry about phone or internet services. All you do is pay a monthly rent and utilize an office environment. Consider using virtual office services such as Stark Office Suites or Regus, which will keep your overhead to a minimum and also give your business a professional look.