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The virtual office has gained a lot of attention over the years as it becomes increasingly easier to work remotely, but for some businesses it brings a unique benefit. It has become possible to host start-up businesses within your office space. While this may at first seem a little odd, there are some extremely unique benefits that you can gain by opening your spaces to a start-up and to helping them establish a virtual office. Naturally, this is a very symbiotic relationship because the start-up gains as much from the experience as you.
How Start-Ups Benefit
The benefits to start-ups are relatively easy to guess. By being able to share space with an established business, start-ups are able to find better spaces for employees. Most office complexes are made for larger businesses, making it more difficult for start-ups to get the right kind of space for their needs. If you have extra space, you can give them an opportunity that they are not likely to find anywhere else.
The employees stand to benefit a consider amount from the virtual office. They will be able to interact with your employees, providing an amount of stability generally lacking in start-ups. They can gain encouragement and mentoring that they are not likely to find within their own organization, if for no other reason than because they are far fewer in number.
How You Benefit
The energy and ideas of start-ups are contagious. They have a new way of looking at things and in expressing ideas, which will help rejuvenate your workers and your own approach to the work. Start-ups also move far more rapidly than older, larger companies because their primary goal is getting established. This sense of purpose and urgency are great for your employees to witness as well as it will inspire them to take a similar approach.
The close interaction with a start-up will generate a better understanding of other businesses. It is one thing to see how your customers and other businesses work from the outside, but working in close proximity to a start-up creates a whole new appreciation for how others operate. It is too easy to get stuck in a rut or to fall into routines that work in some cases. Having a start-up working in your office space will generate goodwill, and you will be able to help each other in different areas, like new hire references and positive opinions being expressed to others based on the relationship.
Things to Consider
If you are seriously considering creating a virtual office with a start-up, you do need to take a few things into account. For example, you should both sign a nondisclosure agreement to make sure trade secrets are respected and upheld should they be discussed between your company and the start-up. You should also agree to not solicit each other as they generally creates more tension, as well as establishing base rules for working in the same space.
Internet marketing is not what it used to be. Not so long ago, it was thought by many established technical entrepreneurs that you could build up the fan base for your Internet service, and turn the popularity into cash.
This is no longer the case, and it’s not as easy to move from Likes to generating a profit.
Startups like Pinterest, Tumblr and Foursquare are now beginning to notice the bind that they’ve managed to squeeze into. Unless they were set up with some sort of monthly payment plan, quick profit with minimal effort takes the form of an advertising move.
Some of these startups have resolved to free themselves from the bind, however. Tumblr is expected to bring mobile advertising into its marketing strategy. This comes but a few months after users were afforded the option of buying more desirable post placement.
Though, Pinterest seems to be taking a slightly different approach. Like Facebook, Pinterest will now afford marketers viewer demographics, and a running tab of their most popular posts, and this takes the stance that viewer activity is valuable to Pinterest users. Assuming you could then turn the activity into profit, you could see a substantial return.
As web-marketing tools become more popular, they drive the price of established services down, which puts a serious hold on established services’ ability to turn a profit.
Another reason that Tumblr and Pinterest may be having trouble connecting the dots is because someone else is pointing them out on the map. Instead of focusing on direct marketing strategies, Foursquare is now providing location data to affiliated companies. Internet business like Path, Vine, Instagram and Evernote, as well a multitude of other location-based features are run by Foursquare.
Many entrepreneurs find this to be extremely clever. Foursquare has chosen to leave the direct marketing ring, and turned itself into a business to business web-tool. Through Foursquare, companies can request location data and retrieve it, making the web-tool an extremely valuable small business asset.
Still, Facebook is already using location data, though in a different template. Either way, it is predicted that it may replace Instagram in the near future. It is also important to note that the data revolution could drive down the profits of individual companies, like Tumblr and Pinterest, as more of the same means more competition. Small business owners should be able to rise above this. By the time the first consumer is aware that a marketing trend has begun to take shape, the small business owners who intend to stay in business will have long moved onto something else.
As we enter the age of virtual offices, more and more entrepreneurs are developing freelance businesses. The corporate world was the model for the twentieth century, but following the market crash of 2008 there has been massive downsizing with both corporate and government jobs. Since then the economic recovery has been driven by small to medium business. Many people are avoiding their bosses and following their dreams of running their own companies. Within the self-employment realm is a growing number of freelancers who work from home.
Last century the idea of working from home used to have a stigma that often was perceived as “out of work” or “in between jobs,” but that misconception has been diminishing. In 2006, the last time the federal government researched the work at home population, thirty percent of the workforce operated home businesses. That was 42.6 million people. By the year 2020, the percentage of freelancers in the workforce is expected to climb to 40 percent, according to a study by Intuit. Another recent sign that people are moving away from traditional jobs has been a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that temporary work increased by 29 percent between 2009 and 2012. Even the 200 largest companies are reporting that 22 percent of their labor is temporary employees.
The most obvious growth in freelancing has been in the tech industry, since programming and web design can be done on a computer from any location. But the shift toward temporary work and home businesses connected with the knowledge economy has grown beyond tech companies. Some of the expanding areas for freelance opportunities through the collaborative company NextSpace include marketing, media, art, construction, law, healthcare and accounting. Not only does freelancing beat crosstown commutes and high gas prices, it saves time and allows you control over your schedule and livelihood.
Virtual offices further cut down on small business expenses. Aside from providing affordability they offer convenience and trust. Instead of a P.O. Box, which anyone can set up regardless of credibility, a virtual office offers you a physical address, which gives the impression of a more permanent business. This revolutionary concept is ideal for businesses that operate mainly on a laptop but need additional services for communicating with clients in a professional environment. It’s also a powerful solution for any business that needs to cut expenses on rent and overhead.
United Virtual Office is a company on the cutting edge of the new economy. They provide low cost virtual office space, virtual receptionists, meeting rooms, mail forwarding and courier services. Each of these elements becomes extensions of the home office to give a small operation more credibility and flexibility to conduct business with clients professionally. This business solution includes a physical address in prestigious locations and a business phone number that includes unlimited minutes, unlimited e-fax and a professional voicemail tree. United Virtual Office has physical office space with conference facilities in several states across America, allowing you to manage your business from anywhere.
Starting a business is a challenge even for experienced entrepreneurs. Gaining practical knowledge about how to handle a start-up is a good way to get started. Here are four of the most recommended business books for start-ups:
- “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less” – Sam Carpenter
Sam Carpenter shares his experience as a business owner to show the mistakes he made in the beginning. Using examples from the destructive path he took, Sam shows you why it is critical to set-up your business from the beginning. This will allow you to spend less time putting out fires and more time making money.
- “She Takes on the World” - Natalie MacNeil
Natalie MacNeil takes readers on an action filled journey packed with plenty of useful advice on how to run the business of your dreams. You will learn how to grow your business, build a team without much money, and how to get your brand on everyone’s lips. All of this is interwoven with Natalie’s experience.
- “Small Business, Big Vision” – Matthew and Adam Torren
The Torren brothers bring together practical information on starting your own business with their own experiences as successful Internet entrepreneurs. You will get instruction on how to attract investors, put together a business plan, leverage social media, and how to outsource work to the right people. With this mix of experience and practical advice, you will see what you need to make your business a success.
- “Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas!” - Matthew and Adam Torren
Okay, why is a kid’s book in the mix? This book is actually a brilliant summary of the basics of business. So many adults overcomplicate the process. A look at running a humble lemonade will give an experienced business person insights into how to run a successful company. Get back to basics and see what it inspires.
These books will give you insight into what a start-up needs to become a success. If you are thinking about starting your own business, take some time and read what the experts are saying. You will gain insights and learn how to make your business a success from the very beginning.
A study conducted in 2008 by the Corporation for National and Community Service indicated that corporate volunteerism is essential to the long-term success of large and small businesses. However, most small business owners are hesitant to participate in volunteer programs because their main priorities are to minimize their operational costs and increase their market share. Keep reading to find out why such entrepreneurs would be better off by choosing to be volunteers.
1. An Opportunity To Get To Know Your Community Better
Most volunteer programs aim to benefit the surrounding community. By volunteering in such a program, it would be a great opportunity for you to understand the community within which you operate your business. As such, you would be able to identify any unfulfilled needs that the community has and which your business can help it to fulfill.
2. It is a Step Towards Creating and Developing Your Business Culture
One of the easiest ways to create a good business culture is through teamwork, which is a vital key of all volunteer programs. By engaging in these programs, small business owners can improve their employees’ teamwork skills. Ultimately, teamwork usually improves the morale of employees and this is likely to impact on your business positively. Allowing your employees to make suggestions on which volunteer programs the business should support develops their sense of pride in the business culture.
3. It Creates a Positive Reputation for Your Business
Participating in volunteer program enables the community to get to know both you and your business better. The community will most likely appreciate your work ethic if you are willing to contribute your time towards nonprofit generating programs. When you decide to volunteer, it is important to ensure that you do a great job since this will build a good reputation for you and your business.
4. You Can Foster a Mutually Beneficial Relationship with The Community
Businesses that support their local communities are more likely to receive support from them. It is barely possible for small businesses to thrive if they operate within communities that are struggling. By participating in volunteer programs, you would be able to contribute towards building a strong and vibrant community. You can also network with other small business owners whose experiences can enhance your business skills.
5. You Can Gain Some Tax Advantages
Some volunteer programs enable business owners to donate their goods and services. If you take part such programs, you may be eligible for tax relief from the government.
6. You Are Able Get Free Advertising
When you volunteer, the organization/program you join will mention your business name during all its activities and meetings.
7. Through Volunteering, You Can Integrate Good Values into Your Business
All businesses, whether big or small, have a corporate responsibility to make a difference locally or internationally. You can fulfill this responsibility by participating in programs that solve various problems within the community.
Accents are disappearing among American English speakers. And, it’s sort of sad. Y’all hearin’ me?
As accents disappear, so goes a little of our individuality and character. We are morphing into a nameless, faceless, voiceless mass. After all, what is Paula Deene without her accent? Very, very rich!
There is a slightly discernible feature in the voice and timbre of just about everyone. But, television has homogenized the ear until persons of color, immigrants, and everyone else from every part of the country pretty much the sounds the same. It’s even harder to differentiate the voices on national radio venues.
There was a time when people from one part of the town needed subtitles to understand neighbors from another part of town. Social classes and ethnic origins were betrayed, and education only moved you from one parochial voice pattern to another.
Now, people just like us really are not people just like us. And, with the proliferation of outsourced customer service, we get down right annoyed and impatient with operators who don’t sound like Tom Brokaw or Katie Couric.
Businesses big and small should listen to their operators and receptionists. You need a personable receptionist, hand-trained in your business and products. You need the voice of credibility, not smothered with a heavy regional or in-articulate accent.
Your office can be anywhere your public voice is. A turnkey virtual office can connect nasal Philadelphians with throaty Georgians, Boston broad vowels with soft Texan twangs, backwater Virginians and Arizona Navajos.
- Let your virtual office:
- Forward calls to your phone.
- Give notice of voice-mail and fax receipts.
- Process customer phone orders.
- Schedule appointments.
- And, provide 24/7 customer service.
- And, much, much more depending on the package you like.
Now, don’t be getting your voice in a tizzy! There are plenty of wonderful receptionists out there with great phone voices – even some with accents. Some of the best even play their accents up, and many a customer loves the sweet tones they know are toying with them. But, as often as not, the caller needs clarity and understanding. They may not be confident in either with the accent of someone they don’t know.
Economist Milton Friedman once remarked that as long as a business enterprise operates within the confines of the law, it has no other responsibility except to make money. And while it is certainly true that a business cannot operate for long without turning a profit, Friedman’s dictum strikes many as somewhat overly generalized and devoid of ethics. But do ethics even play a role in the affairs of business”
Corporate enterprises are technically considered as people in the US, with all the rights and obligations extended to citizens as human beings. But certainly most people conduct their lives and relationships with others with something more than a sense of their purely legal obligations on how to navigate each interaction. So the question remains: should businesses feel compelled to do the same”
Getting There from Here
Getting There from Here
The fact is that most large corporations started out as the quite small fruit of one person’s passionate belief in a product or service. Long before a balance sheet enters such a person’s head, they have consumed themselves with the benefit their idea will bring to other people, and how best to deliver this benefit to the community at large.
Steve Jobs, when once asked to reflect on Apple becoming the most profitable company in the world, said that making money was the last thing on his mind when he started developing electronic devices. He simply wanted to build apparatuses that worked, and looked, better than any others available.Jobs perspective demonstrates that the driving force behind most small businesses doesn’t seem to reflect the view of Milton Friedman and has much more to do with the ethics of serving, rather than simply profiting.
The Key to Success
Webster defines ethics as the moral principles that govern a person’s, or a group’s, behavior. But do ethics in business pay” Business consultant Peter Drucker thinks they do. Drucker points out that most small businesses that view clients as neighbors, as well as customers, tend to survive and prosper, while those that see people simply as markets tend to struggle.
Drucker has identified two key components to small business success: provide something useful, and do no harm. Those are certainly two fundamental elements of being a good neighbor, too. The bottom line to small business success may be as simple as bringing a sense of personal ethics to the enterprise.
It sure worked for Steve Jobs.
Small businesses are experiencing slower sales growth, and most business owners have a pessimistic outlook of the economy. This is according to a recent survey carried out by PNC Financial Services Group Inc. The survey, which sampled about 1700 small business owners, shows that only 23% of them plan to hire new employees in the coming 6 months.
The percentage represents an increase of 3% compared to 2011, but a decline by 5% from the numbers in spring. The number of respondents who think the national economy will become worse increased by 14%.
The majority of respondents were concerned about the impact of the elections on their business. President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney addressed the concerns of small business owners during their campaigns. The two leaders debated on small business issues and both of them supported cutting taxes. What was clear is that both Obama and Romney recognized the importance of small businesses in the economy and vowed to pursue initiatives that would spur their growth.
Back to employment matters, the job market has been showing modest gains. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month. In October, more than 170,000 new jobs were added. However, the rate of unemployment rose from 7.8% in September to reach 7.9% in October.
With the Obama administration back in office, it remains to be seen how the business environment for will be like. The major concern of most of the respondents surveyed is sales. According to Sageworks, the sales volume from SMBs is growing but at a decreasing pace. Another concern of most SMBs is access to capital. While not many small businesses are looking for financing, those that need the funds find it difficult to get them.
Money is crucial to the success of any small business. Whether you are a one-person operation or have a few employees, there will be bills to pay, employee salaries, equipment and supplies to pay for and other expenses. These expenses can stifle the growth of your business and thus it makes sense to find financing early on. Here are five top ways of financing your small business:
If you are running a very lean startup, your personal savings can kick start the business and help it stay afloat. There are examples of successful businesses that have made it through with bootstrapping. If you are thinking of starting your own business, start saving for it.
Savings from Family
Your family members can help you fund your business. Some will do it out because of the familial ties they have while others may want to come in as investors expecting a return.
Angel investors are usually wealthy people who believe in your business and would like to help you make it successful by providing funds. An angel investor will expect profits and may want to have a say in the way your business is run.
Venture capitalists (VCs) commonly finance startups. Getting money from a VC can be a lengthy process and you need to have your business facts right. VCs usually consider your business plan, management team and your commitment to make the business a success before providing funds.
Merchant Advance Loans
Merchant cash advances can help your business when money is needed fast, perhaps to pay for a sudden expense. The merchants will usually not look at your credit score to finance you. Merchant loans are usually given to companies that have started seeing some positive cash flow.
If you want to accelerate your business planning, leveraging the Internet is essential. It provides you the greatest opportunity to wield the Launch and Learn model and convert an idea into a successful business. Here are
multiple resources to support streamline business planning and effective time management.
- Assessing the demand for your idea is a primary task, but some published market research is expensive. However, the Internet is replete with free research that you can use. Here’s one way to quickly access it: type in keywords for your targeted market into the Google search bar and add “pdf.” This will generate some of the most current and relevant data available.
- Use keyword search tools to evaluate both online and offline market demand.
- Engage mentors to flatten your learning curve, foster connections and help you to maximize your offline efforts. SCORE offers exceptional online mentoring.
- The One Page Proposal and Executive Summary are abbreviated business planning templates that can evolve as necessary.
- Setting up a website to test your offering is simple and inexpensive. Using the insights from your keyword search, you can create a search engine optimized domain name.
- Next, set up a monthly hosting plan for less than $10. Competitive hosts also offer simple website templates and free ad money for top search engines.
- The third component for a test website is a free mailing list manager to capture email addresses.
- You can drive traffic to your site using free ad money from your site host, YouTube videos created from free screen recording software, forum discussions and other social media and/or original Kindle articles. Localized ad campaigns are also an option with your free ad money from web hosts.
- Via your beta launch, you can test buying patterns, poll visitors, crowd source ideas and split test content and design. Free testing tools are widely available.