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17 Killer Tools for Running a Virtual Startup
There’s just something awesome about running a virtual startup. First of all today I worked from cafe, the lobby of the oh-so-fancy Omni Hotel (note: I’m not staying there I just like their free wi-fi) and a killer co-working place called Rocket Space. What else rocks about a virtual startup? Things like a very low overhead, very low burn rate, very high profit margins and the fact that your team can be compiled of individuals from all over the world.
So I decided to compile a list of all the tools me and the team at Virtual Zeta use to run and grow a virtual startup. Hopefully these will help you go virtual and start reaping the rewards of running a location and building independent business.
1. Business Card Scanning. What to do when you’ve gone to a mixer and your pockets are full of stodgy business cards? The contacts on those cards of so precious but the trees they’re printed on are making you feel bad about the state of the Planet. Well my green conscious friend, I’ve got the solution! Simply ship those business cards off to Cloud Contacts a company that will process, scan and enter all your business cards into a database so you can easily access those contacts later and leave you free of rolodexes full of paper. They’ll even look up each business card’s owner and link you with them on your chosen social networks – networking win!
2. A Virtual Mailbox. Often a problem for virtual startups is that cryptic entities like your lawyers and the government want a “physical address” on file (in case they need to do sweet things like seize your assets or audit you). An amazing option for a “real” street address that receives, processes and scans your mail is Earth Class Mail. Funny name, awesome service. It’s a tad bit pricey per month, but when you’re running a profitable virtual startup (which is the goal) it won’t be but a drop in the bucket my friend.
3. Virtual Phone. One of my favorite things about our home page on Virtual Zeta is the lovely 1-800 number slapped on the right hand corner. People call and ask questions, they call to say thanks and sometimes they call just to talk. It’s our little way of paying homage to Zappos amazing customer service track record, they’re big on great phone support and so are we. Also it pays dividends. Not only do people buy more when they can call a number and reach a real live person but using Grasshopper is incredibly easy. Their customer support is epic, I can get voicemail turned into text messages and I can be reached easily no matter where I am in the world I’m in.
4. Starbucks. Yes, I just said the S word. Starbucks is actually one of my favorite spots to “virtually” work from, for several reasons. First, free wi-fi. Second, very consistent beverage preparation. Third, being around people (even though my headphones are in w/ white noise playing) makes me feel less isolated than if I were working from “home”. Fourth, you cannot throw a rock without hitting a Starbucks in most major cities (Worldwide) this way I always know I have a reliable place to work (that I’m familiar with) no matter where I am.
6. A Trustworthy Laptop. I personally use a MacBook Pro (13″) and will soon be switching to the brand new MacBook Air (13″) because it weighs less than a sandwich and I have tiny shoulders which bear heavy book bags poorly. There are also a variety of PC notebooks and mini-laptops that I hear are good for being mobile and getting work done. My tip: buy used on eBay from a very reliable seller, you’ll get a better deal and often the computer will have a lot more bells and whistles installed for less than new.