Technological advancements happen every day to help make running a global virtual business easier, particularly for those of us running Internet-based businesses. However, with the amount of tools and choices out there, it can actually become more confusing than ever to decide what works for you and your business. Which Twitter client works best? How will you answer business calls and manage campaigns from the road or the air? What if your copywriter doesn’t get the document updates and edits you sent in time for newsletter launch?
Written by Molly Malone
While these are all valid concerns, they are easily manageable if you know how to use things like cloud phone systems, Google Drive, and Basecamp to your advantage. For example, when it comes to taking calls outside of the office, you want to ensure that a professional image is projected at all times. This especially comes into play when you have freelancers or remote workers who are not in the office often. With business phone systems from providers like Broadview Networks, you can project the image of a large corporation even if you’re holding conference calls on the train.
Thanks to these innovations, all you need is a laptop and an Internet connection to access the same phone number and extension as you would in the office. Additionally, it’s perfect for small businesses and start-ups. You don’t need to pay a huge IT team to manage your phone system; you can do it faster, easier and at less cost online. And everything is scalable – the bigger your company grows, the more features you can add.
So you’ve covered your phone system, but how do you manage day-to-day business work virtually? Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is an incredibly user-friendly way to track and update documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the cloud. Updates can be seen in real time, and you can share documents among your workforce. One of the greatest characteristics of Google Drive is that employees can access them from anywhere, even at the same time. Therefore, if you’re on the road and your project manager is in the office, you can still work on the same report – and even chat online while you do it through Drive’s Chat function!
Beyond Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ are tools for running a business that help to keep you in the loop as well. Gmail has a chat function as well, including video chat if your laptops are webcam-enabled. You can either make these chats “on the record” or “off the record,” meaning that you can actually save and store your chat logs if need be. This chat function carries over into Google+, where you can also arrange “hangouts.” These live video chats are an innovative way to get everyone in your company in the same virtual room at the same time, a necessity for a bustling global business. Consider it a free video conference!
Additionally, online project management systems like Basecamp are great for keeping track of projects, timelines, and files. You can save client conversations, assign due dates to specific employees, and share calendars – all online, from anywhere. Additionally, everyone who is involved in a specific project can share on Basecamp; for example, clients, outside vendors, and your employees can all use it to collaborate and increase transparency. However, you can also control who sees which project, so granting a client access to their own project doesn’t mean they can see everything else your company is working on. And above all, Basecamp is available for iPhone, making mobile project management a reality.
There are myriad other ways to stay organized and manage your work online.
What else do you recommend for taking care of a global virtual business?
Image via Flickr