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Creating a Virtual Office for Your Small Business

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can use cloud computing to leverage limited resources to achieve maximum ROI. Cloud-based software, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), allows companies to streamline their structure, reduce costs, and improve effectiveness for low or no cost. Plus, SaaS is extremely easy to use.

This article outlines ways you can use the cloud to implement an inexpensive virtual office space where employees can share data and ideas, troubleshoot problems, and stay connected. We know these options work because we use them to great effect in our own small business.

  • Set up sequential phone numbers so that you maintain uniformity across employees.
  • Contact data and voice-mail are all stored online, so you can access it from anywhere. Plus, if you ever lose your phone or change carriers your data is not affected.

Some VOIPs transcribe your voice-mails into text and send them as emails to your inbox.

  • Most importantly, VOIP increases your availability & accessibility. Give customers one number that you can forwarded to any location: office, cell, home, etc.
  • You can also use this number to make calls from any phone, preventing your other numbers from showing up on caller ID.
  • Using a virtual phone system like Grasshopper.com lets you obtain a toll free number and a professionally recorded answering service, which then automatically directs callers to the appropriate person (sales, support, general questions, etc)

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is the virtual office equivalent of popping into a co-worker’s office to ask a question, share an idea, celebrate the close of sale, etc. IM software makes it easy to share information quickly from computer to computer, computer to cell, or cell to cell.

Email

Email and calendars are a big part of most people’s work day. Using the cloud for these services has numerous advantages:

  • There is no software to upgrade
  • There is no risk of bumping up against storage limits
  • Your emails are not tied to a particular device. You can access them from anywhere.
  • The search functions in SaaS applications are the best available. When you need to find an email fast, SaaS is you best friend.
  • SaaS email accounts can be customized to your own domain name so your emails are sent from: name@yourdomain.com

Documents

Most people never realize how much time is wasted passing documents and spreadsheets back and forth: download, upload, resend, repeat. Creating documents and spreadsheets in the cloud is better.

With cloud documents, all revisions are tracked within the document, allowing you to move between multiple versions seamlessly. And the ability to search documents makes it easy to find information fast.

Best of all, you can collaborate with others on documents simultaneously.