Can you remember what small businesses were like in 2000?
It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but the world has changed more than we realize in the last 17 years. Cell phones have gone from luxuries to replacing landlines. The internet has gone from AOL and Lycos to a vast network of interconnected businesses and social media. (And let’s not forget; cat videos.)
As a small business owner in the 21st century, there are some essential operating elements that would have seemed unnecessary only a few years ago. Here are some “musts” for entrepreneurs in the 21st century.
1. Virtual Office
Today’s business culture has shifted and we now need to be able to work from anywhere. Whether you have a brick and mortar office as well as a “virtual” office, or you work entirely remotely, it’s now entirely reasonable to work from home, a coffee shop, or even a tropical island resort.
Leveraging the advantages of the virtual world can help to get you and your business ahead. One of the greatest enhancements of today’s virtual marketplace is the ability to share and delegate work virtually.
How well do you understand the concept of a Virtual Assistant? A VA is a virtual employee who you hire to remotely do tasks for you. A VA can do everything from booking airline flights, to organizing your emails, to doing your bookkeeping.
If you really want to succeed in business in the 21st century though, you need to understand and leverage the concept of the Virtual Office. In 2000, it would have been unthinkable not to have a centralized office location where all of your employees go every day to do work. Today, with the availability of digital services to sync files and documents, you don’t have to be sitting side-by-side with other employees in order to get work done. You can simply communicate through digital means, such as chat or online voice messaging.
A virtual office is what makes a Virtual Assistant possible. From their workplace on the other side of the country (as an example), they can screen your calls, answer your emails, manage your scheduling, post to your social media, and do everything that a full-time, in-house employee could do, but at a much lower cost. Now that is the 21st century!
The virtual world can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be liberating to be able to work from anywhere, but sometimes it can also feel oppressive that business now demands that you’re so much more accessible. However, we believe in the importance of shutting off and taking a real vacation, and that’s completely possible when you have a Virtual Assistant who can take care of things for you while you’re away.
2. Lower Overhead
Lowering your overhead has always been a necessity for small businesses, but today there are more opportunities than ever to cut costs and increase efficiency. This is especially important now that rental office and retail spaces have become so much more expensive. One of the beauties of a virtual office is that you don’t need to pay rent for a large workplace. You can instead get a smaller and possibly much nicer office because you won’t have multiple employees working there.
Similarly, Virtual Assistants can save you a huge amount of money. A full-time employee costs you more than just their salary. When you have on-site staff, you need to equip them with office furniture, a computer, a telephone line, etc. and spend money to train them, pay their benefits, give them time off… It can really get expensive! With a Virtual Assistant, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Having a Virtual Assistant is a great way to cut costs for your small business.
3. Digital Marketing
The advertising game has changed an awful lot since the days of Mad Men. Today, you need to be savvy to digital marketing in order to get the word out about your small business.
A polished, professional website has gone from a plus to an absolute necessity. It should be professionally written and be optimized for search engines, ie. SEO. Essentially, this means that your business is easy for your customers to find–and of course you want existing and potential customers to find you! This is made possible through the use of keywords and links. When optimized well, your site will get a high ranking on search engines so it will show up early in search results.
Social media is another essential component in a digital marketing strategy. If you aren’t tweeting every day, you’re missing a huge opportunity to become part of the digital conversation. If you want something to tweet about, start a weekly blog and post a link to it. This keeps you alive in the digital world and makes your company look active and engaged.
Developing a digital marketing strategy can initially be rather confusing, but a Virtual Assistant can help you to create and implement a strategy that will bolster your business’ visibility, growth, and success.
Innovation is possibly the most important 21st Century business must, and also the most vague.
When it comes to talking about the future, we have no idea what’s coming down the pipeline. All you need to do is look at predictions from the 1960s of what our world would look like in the 2000s to see that human prediction is rarely accurate. Do you have a flying car? Exactly.
Keeping on top of new technological developments and innovations within your business is how you can stand on the cutting edge of what’s to come. Ten years ago, who knew that Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter would become essential business tools? If you keep an eye out for the next big thing, you might be able to spot it before anyone else. That is how you can get the edge in the 21st century!
Creating a Strong Business Foundation
If you want some help finding your business edge, I would be happy to offer my services as a Virtual Assistant. I have extensive experiences in multiple industries and can bring all of the knowledge to help your business grow and move ahead as we approach 2020. Just send me a message, and we can get started.