With the increased competition for web-based services, prices for online commodities such as web hosting, cloud applications, and online storage have drastically dropped in the recent years. Luckily for SMBs, saturation rate is at an all-time high, and online companies are clambering to find ways to drive clients in and sometimes to the point of providing free services.
There’s no better time to start a virtual office than now. By migrating most of your business process online, you effectively hedge costs and reduce your exposure. For one, you’re no longer limited to expensive office lease and monthly bills. You also get more options when it comes to the individuals you employ.
Just how low can you go to get a virtual office up and running? For starters, examine your business structure. How many employees are in your company right now? Do you offer services or goods? These questions are crucial when determining the right virtual office setup.
The first problem on your plate would be your workforce. Luckily, you’re no longer bound by geography. This means you can hire form anywhere in the world. Aside from your original employees, you can also scout for freelancers over the internet. Odesk and Guru are home to many established professionals and freelancers.
This is the most crucial issue that virtual businesses have to address. Never rely on sms or chat for your virtual office. Invest on a good VoIP service and you don’t have to worry about office communication.
VoIP costs a great deal less than traditional phone services. With VoIP, you don’t have to worry about long distance charges. You also get the full functionality of a private branch exchange. More commonly referred to as PBX, this lets users within a system to call each other at no additional charge. Users can also be assigned individual extensions which incoming callers can dial to directly reach a specific person or department. Ring Central is a good bet if you’re looking for an inexpensive VoIP service provider. They offer flexible plans that come with really useful features.
There’s a long list of online management tools to help you keep track of your team. Basecamp is a great project management tool that allows for collaboration, storage, and scheduling in one place. Huddle and Zoho are also good online project management services that let you see your team’s progress in real time, assign tasks, and collaborate.
The recently developed Google Drive is also proving to be a very useful tool. Google Drive builds on the strengths of its predecessor, Google Docs, and improved it by allowing offline support, among others. This means files stored locally are automatically uploaded to Google Drive, making storage and retrieval of files easier. Share folders, edit documents in real time, draft documents, and share files on the cloud.
With luck, you should be able to get all these services for less than $100. Add that to your payroll, and you won’t even hit the $1000 mark.