14 Ideas for Running a More Successful Virtual Business

Among the innumerable advantages afforded by modern technology is the ability to transform your home into an office even though the two boundaries can be and often are somewhat blurry. Still, there is something to be said for not having to deal with traffic jams, rush hours, punching clocks and the cozy plushier alternative of sitting in an office chair clad in pajamas and silly slippers. Not only that, in terms of your own virtual business, your hours and profit are all your own. But beware. That could mean that your shop is NEVER closed!

The freedom afforded by a virtual company is limitless, but so are the problems and pitfalls if you do not organize, prioritize and get off your butt so that you can eventually sit down on your butt. Unlike a conventional organization, those of the virtual variety have no shared physical space and no employees. An entirely different frame of mind and set of skills are required than those who work at a physical location. There are some specific issues to be addressed however, some emotional, some practical and others purely fiscal. Starting with the character traits that best lend themselves to running a virtual business, here are some tips to consider about how to make your virtual business a lucrative, satisfying, interesting and successful business venture.

  1. Be passionate about working from your home. If you do not live and breathe your particular product or service, you will eventually want to take it out to the backyard and kill it along with all your dreams for success on your own terms.
  2. Understand your motivations. Are you driven to work for yourself? Virtual work settings attract different people for different reasons. Make sure your reasons are clearly etched in your brain, as they will become part of your emotional mantra when the hard times come and help to propel you through them.
  3. If it is at all possible, maintain two separate computers in your home; one for work and one for your other life. This helps you to distinguish work from leisure in your own mind, which is one of the greatest challenges in maintaining a successful virtual business. Do not install instant messenger programs, chat room applets or computer games on your workstation computer; save those for your private time.
  4. If you are not determined to succeed, you probably will not make your concept for a successful virtual business work very well. There's an old saying that translates into something like: "Those who think they can usually do and those who think they can't, usually can't." The good news is that just like any other positive habit, determination is something that can be developed over time. Make up your mind to not let anything stand in your way to success and it won't.
  5. You will have to assume full responsibility for everything that succeeds or fails within your virtual business. When problems arise, you must solve them in the most responsible manner possible. Conversely, you get to take every single scrap of credit for jobs well done, making the virtual business unmatched in rendering a sense of pride and satisfaction.
  6. You must cultivate self-discipline and realize that if you only have to report to yourself, the work involved will not get done unless you go and do it. Distractions are everywhere even on your own website where pleasant things are only a click away from realization. Most people don't have this skill naturally, but rather learn how to acquire it over time. You too can be among them (and maybe even be the first on your block to do so).
  7. You must get organized, set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. As the head of your virtual business, you have the advantage of being able to create a flexible schedule for yourself that fits around the rest of your life. Whether your personal bio-rhythms call for you to work week-ends, evenings, early morning or all or some of the above, you must remember that your decided work schedule must be adhered to as strictly as possible. Be your own slave driver. In the end, it will all pay off.
  8. Select practical office furniture. You will spend a major part of every day in your office. Shop around and find the best computer, office chair, and equipment and supplies for your money and your needs. These items can be tax-deductible and are well worth their cost. They will serve you well. Buy the best you can afford and do not buy impulsively.
  9. Select the right spot in your home for your office. This is not only true for the achievement of that elusive concept known as optimum feng shui. It also pertains to a space where you can work UNDISTURBED for hours at a time. No distractions. This means, wives, husbands, children, pets, friends and relatives, well meaning and otherwise. 
  10. There must be a leader of the virtual business. No matter how many partners and participants, there must be one person in charge of all the operations of your virtual business. There is no underestimating the importance of a strong leadership from the corporation's very inception.
  11. All partners must be able to communicate with each other at all times. With so many remote locations, it is mandatory for all who share both profits and responsibility for the daily operations of a virtual business to remain "in the loop" so to speak about all events and decisions affecting the company. The two most effective ways to accomplish that are video conferencing and conference calls. The most current video-conferencing systems are very easy to use and they transmit pictures and audio of the best possible quality. It really is almost like being there.
  12. Despite the liabilities associated with video conferencing, namely the absence of eye contact and appearance consciousness, experts agree that it is a valuable tool for the day-to-day operations of the virtual business. As people become more accustomed to video conferencing as a means of communication, these issues will disappear. Now that personal video-conference systems based on a web cam, personal computer system, software compression and broadband Internet connectivity have become affordable commodities, video conferencing is available to many who otherwise would not have been able to afford it.
  13. The distribution of equity in a virtual business must be clearly established in writing and understood by all participants. With multiple partners, who does what and for how much should never be a matter of guesswork. There will always be those partners who are either "hunters or skimmers" in terms of working styles. Hunters make the kill and skimmers watch them. In a very lean organization, however, there is no room for skimmers. Everyone must pick up the slack and be a hunter. Still, each partner is entitled to whatever share of the equity has been agreed upon.
  14. The participants in your virtual business do not necessarily have to be friends, but they all have to be motivated by their common commitment to the corporation. They all must exhibit a personal compatibility in their dealings with the other members. Even remotely, one can become intimate with the help of hi-tech conference calls and video conferencing.

The statistics are a bit scary, although they are constantly changing as people learn what works for the virtual business and what doesn't. According to statistics, more than 90% of the people trying to earn a living online are failing. This is a hard fact and must be addressed realistically. The main reason for the failure seems to be the frame of mind that most entrepreneurs are in when they embark on this type of business venture.

Many have an unrealistic image of a glamorous freedom from cares and responsibilities all while money rakes in along side the enormous pool in the backyard of the mansion. Too many are dreamers without direction. But that doesn't have to be you. 

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