With the rise of remote work over the years, it’s now easier than ever to start and run a business online. Gone is the need for the usual physical office space, instead, people are now turning to virtual offices. And it makes sense, as a virtual office cuts overhead costs, increases flexibility, and is an overall more practical choice for remote workers as they won’t be limited to a physical location. It’s a cost-effective way to launch your business.
If you are considering starting a business online, we prepared a guide for you on what you’ll need in this article.
- Create a business plan
As with any business, whether traditional or online, having a solid plan and strategy is key. Having clear expectations and direction will help in making your business run smoothly. Consider the following questions when creating your plan:
- What are the services or products that you’ll offer?
- Who are your main competitors?
- Who is your main target audience?
- What is your marketing and sales strategy?
- What is your budget and projected financial plan?
- How many employees will you need?
- What are the different departments in your business, and who will be in each department?
- What are the goals of each department, and the company as a whole?
- What software and hardware will your employees need?
- Have a virtual office
First, let’s define what a virtual office is. Essentially, it's a combination of different software that you’ll use to replicate a physical working environment so that you can have an “office”, even online. This could include a calendar app, file-sharing app, communication software, project management platform, VPN software, HR management tool, time-trackers, etc.
Having a virtual office is important to improve communication and collaboration in your company, and ensure that projects and tasks are running smoothly. Make sure to do your research on the software or platforms you’ll need for your business so that you can properly set up your virtual office.
If you are looking for a multipurpose platform, there is Teemyco. Aside from providing messaging and video conferencing, it provides a more visual version of a virtual office since you can have various rooms and workstations where you can see what people are doing or working on.
- Don’t forget your hardware
Software for your virtual office is not the only thing you need to consider when starting a business online. You’ll need to think about the hardware that your employees will use as well. This includes laptops, Wi-Fi, printers, headphones, or other items that your business needs. You also need to figure out if you are going to provide these items to your employees, or if you are going to give them a stipend to cover the costs for it.
- Set up your business address
While your company will not have a physical address since you have a virtual office instead, you can (and should!) have a virtual business address where you can receive your mail. There are companies that can provide you with this address, as well as scan your mail and send you digital copies of it. That way, you can still receive your important items and documents.
- Recruit the right people
Having a virtual office opens you up to lots of talented remote workers, as you are not bound to one physical location. Make the most of this by recruiting the right people for your business. Aside from their skills and qualifications, you should check if they will fit with the culture that you are envisioning.
- Create your branding
Even if you are in a virtual office, you still need to have great branding. After all, branding is not just limited to storefronts or signages outside your building. Your company name, slogan, and company logo are your first step in branding. All of these will play a huge part in making your business stand out among others, so make sure you create the right one.
Nowadays, there are free logo makers available online, so you don’t need to worry about shelling out big bucks to create a quality logo.
- Create your website (and get a domain name!)
While there are a lot of free web hosting sites, we highly recommend that you get a domain name. This means that your website will look something like companyname.com, instead of companyname.wix.com or companyname.wordpress.com.
Why is this important? There are a lot of reasons. Having an established domain will make your business look more professional, credible, and authoritative. It’s a great way to boost your business, especially if you are just starting out.
Having a domain name is good for your SEO, as well as for marketing your business. This is important to consider, especially since you are running your business virtually and you’ll need to boost your visibility online.
A domain name isn't just limited to your website either, as you can use it in your emails as well. You'll definitely look more professional if your email is coming from firstname.lastname@example.org instead of Gmail or Yahoo.
- Utilize social media
Having a virtual business means you need to strongly establish your presence online. The best way to do this is to have a strong social media presence. Make sure you create pages for your business on major social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Depending on the nature of your business, you might also want to consider other channels such as YouTube, Tiktok, or Pinterest. Make sure to consistently update it and put out engaging content for your audience to build your online presence.
- Think of your customer
As with any business, your customer will come first. Make sure to provide your customers with the best experience possible. We recommend having a member of your team to focus on customer support and make sure that your customer's questions are promptly responded to, whether in their emails to you or on your social media pages.
- Establish your work culture
Having a great work culture is key to success, especially in a virtual office. While you may not be able to physically see each other, this doesn’t mean that you can’t build a great working environment for them.
Consider how you’ll communicate and engage with your employees. Will you be holding weekly or monthly meetings? Will you be holding regular one-on-ones or a daily update? The important thing is to make sure that you keep on top of your employee's workload and make sure they are supported and engaged.
You should also plan out some fun activities to keep your employees happy and engaged. Try having some virtual “coffee breaks” or “water cooler chats” in your virtual office, where your employees can just have some fun and build rapport with each other. You can also host a weekly happy hour or a virtual team-building activity as well.
Using a virtual office to start and run your business is the best way to lessen your cost while maximizing profits. However, running a virtual office requires careful planning and strategizing. Make sure to follow our tips above as well as check out our other articles so that you can set up your virtual office and your business to success.