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Tips On Running a Successful Virtual Business

By Paul Fitzgerald for America's Backbone Weekly

Virtual businesses are now a reality in the 21st century, thanks to new technology. A virtual business has no physical structure, but has the same desired goals of any business (warehouses, suppliers, and remote offices): growth and profit. Everything from interactive websites to advanced social media practices are required to position your business for success across creative marketing, management and online presence.

The first challenge to getting your virtual business up and running is the pre-launch phase which requires plenty of research and planning.

Getting Started
Once the vision of the business is determined, it's essential to establish an online presence. Website builders like Wix.com and Squarespace.com allow quick and inexpensive website development to solve for a common initial barrier of breaking into the online space. When building your site, ensure that you communicate your knowledge, skills, ability and industry experience. Once the creative structure of the website has been executed, the next step is to secure legal and financial matters before securing a first client or contract.

Identify Your Niche
The key to locking down your business niche is to specialize in two or three central product or service offerings. Establishing a niche means you identify your clients and how you will reach them. Will you rely solely on a website, or will you incorporate social media to raise your profile and drive clients to your virtual storefront? Establishing your niche is an important starting point as it defines who you are and what you are offering. The benefits of knowing and marketing your niche makes you stand out from the competition while attracting new customers.

Utilize The Right Resources
The amount of software applications you need to learn depends on what you want to achieve. Adobe Illustrator, Indesign, Lightroom, and Photoshop can help make your site look very professional. When using Wix.com or Squarespace.com to create your website, it is important to link it to Google Analytics to continuously assess your company's exposure and this will give you a clear understanding of your customers. Google Docs and Google Drive, as well as DropBox, also greatly assist with organizing and collaborating within the company for file sharing. As well, consider outsourcing certain areas of your virtual business to be more efficient. Hire a telephone reception company to answer your calls, and consider employing graphic designers for your website and marketing materials. And hiring salespeople who are in tune with your industry is also a good idea: they are the ones who can do cold calls and attend meetings to close leads. You can also use Skype and a host of other videoconferencing services to have regular meetings with your staff who work remotely.

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