Starting up or operating a small business is time consuming
and costly. Fortunately, in these modern internet days there are a whole range
of ways that you can make your small business not only more efficient but also
cheaper to operate. Every day there appears to be a new app or a new piece of
technology that claims to be able to save you time and money. In the following article,
we look at a few that we have personal experience with and which are easy to
If you are contemplating starting a small business or if you
are already operating one then it may be an idea to try some of these options (if
you havenâ€™t already). Here at 123 2 Web we are constantly on the lookout for
ways to make our lives or our customers lives easier.
Lots of people talk about the â€œcloudâ€ however the cloud itself
can mean a number of different things. In the context that we are talking about
here, (which is loosely called â€œCloud Computingâ€) we would define the cloud as making use of
the internet to use other peoples resources.
The resources that we would recommend using on the â€œcloudâ€
are other peopleâ€™s servers plus other peopleâ€™s storage facilities.
In terms of servers, a cloud server can provide you with
many of the benefits of a physical server without a lot of the heartache or
Here at 123 2 Web we have a number of cloud servers that we
use however our main servers are sourced from Digital Pacific in Sydney. The
digital pacific servers are actual physical servers that are located in a
server rack in Digital Pacificâ€™s facilities. The servers are used exclusively
for our purposes and are connected directly to the internet via a fast connection.
Digital Pacific maintain the servers, take daily backups of the servers, ensure
that the server rooms are clean and secure, plus they guarantee to fix anything
if it goes wrong. For all this we pay a monthly fee.
A huge benefit of making use of virtual servers is that you
donâ€™t have to worry about obsolescence. When your server gets too old you
simply upgrade to a newer model and you donâ€™t have any issue with capital
expenditure. In addition, facilities like Digital Pacific are built
specifically for connecting servers to the internet. They have disaster recovery
plans in place and guarantee more than 99% uptime.
There are a whole range of storage options out there
nowadays including Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive and a bunch of others.
One of the biggest benefits of using a cloud based storage service
is that you can have people in various locations working on the same file. For
instance, you could be updating a spreadsheet in your office in relation to
leads that are coming through while a remote virtual assistant sitting in their
home office 200 kmâ€™s away could be ringing these leads and then updating the
Similarly, you could be working on a collaborative design
project that requires people with different skills to complete different
components of the project. Each person could be accessing the same file and
could be completing their component of that project without actually leaving
their home/home office.
Another great benefit of a cloud storage facility is that
you can keep secure backups offsite. No longer do you need to worry about your
PC dying or your laptop being stolen you can always have a secure copy of your
files in the cloud.
In the bad old days you would need a separate computer for
your accounting system. You would then need to keep that computer updated with
all of the latest upgrades that come out every time there is a change in tax
law or a change in accounting standards. You would also need to keep regular
backups of that computer as inevitably the computer would crash on a regular
basis and would generally crash at the exact point in time you wanted to do the
year end roll over or you wanted to print out the monthâ€™s P&L for your
Fortunately, the bad old days are gone and we now have the
possibility of using cloud based accounting packages.
While there are a number of cloud accounting packages out
there on the market two of the better ones to choose from are MYOB and Xero.
Both MYOB and Xero will allow you to link your accounting package
to your banking provider and import transactions. They can also assist you in
lodging BAS and GST.
Cloud accounting means that your offsite backups are
happening routinely, your staff have the ability to work from wherever they
want (as long as they have an internet connection), you can easily give access to
your bookkeeper or external accountant and the software is constantly kept up
to date with new/updated legislation. Brilliant!
A virtual assistant is really just like a regular assistant
except they are working remotely and are not on your payroll.
Generally, with a virtual assistant you only use them when
you need them and you only pay them for the time that they have spent on your
From my perspective having a virtual assistant makes a lot
of sense. Firstly, when you have an internal staff assistant it inevitably
happens that you run out of things for them to do and they end up just sitting
around surfing the internet or messing around with their smart phone.
While you may feel like reprimanding them for wasting your
time and money it is not particularly fair on them if you do not have enough
work there to keep them busy.
With a virtual assistant you only use them when you need
them. If they are sitting around on their smart phone then they would be doing
so on their own time and not yours.
There are lots of companies out there both in Australia and
overseas providing assistant services. One of the better ones in Australia is
Ruby Receptionists whose staff are based on the Gold Coast in Queensland and
who can provide you with quality assistant services on a per minute basis.
How many times have you picked up the office phone when you
are busy/in a bad mood and given the wrong impression to the caller on the
other end. What if that caller was a new potential customer and was put off by
your bad attitude. Or worse still, what if you just left the call to go through
to your automated answering service and the caller simply hung up and rang the
next business on the list.
A telephone answering service can solve a lot of these
problems. With a good telephone answering service they will answer your call
within 5-6 rings, present the caller with a professional greeting that has been
agreed with you and then send a message on to you or your staff. This gives you
the opportunity to prioritise the messages that have come in and to call back
the urgent ones ASAP.
Another good feature of top notch telephone answering
services is that they can act as a gate keeper for all of those annoying
telemarketing calls from SEO companies and sales people. You can get on with
work and generating more income for your business while the answering service
filters out the important calls from the not so important calls.
Here at 123 2 Web we use a telephone answering service from
Virtual Reception and we are really happy with it. The service ends up costing
us around $120 per month however it probably saves us around 50% of a staff
If you have a small to medium sized business and you are
looking for ways to either make it more efficient or to save money then I would
definitely recommend trying out a telephone answering service.
If you are reading this from the US or UK then Virtual
Reception has sister companies in both. You can try a phone answering service like VirtualHeadquarters.com in
the USA and VirtualReceptionist.London in the UK. Both companies will give you
a 7 day trial to test them out.
If you donâ€™t know what a virtual address is then let me
explain. A virtual address is where you have a mailing address in a particular
city without actually having a physical address. Similar in some ways to a post
box a virtual address in usually set up in a business centre and quite often gives
you a range of other benefits like access to meeting rooms, hot desk
facilities, mail forwarding etc.
OK, so say that you have started up a small business in
Adelaide however you want to target customers around the country and want to
give the impression that you are much larger than you actually are. The way
that it would work is that instead of heading out to each of those capital
cities around Australia you would simply sign up for a virtual address in each
of those cities. You could then list those addresses on your website, your
business cards or your marketing materials. You end up getting many of the
benefits of that address without having to outlay all of that money. Many of
the virtual addresses on offer (check out VirtualOffice.Melbourne) are in grade
A CBD buildings. These are really prestigious addresses that a lot of business
people will know.
Think of all the money that you will save by going virtual
instead of getting a physical address. You wonâ€™t have to spend up on deposits,
bonds, furniture, receptionists and utilities. You can also work from wherever
you feel the most comfortable and not be a slave to the peak hour traffic!
All of these internet/cloud related options are available
now for you to make use of in your business. Each one of them is a cloud
related service that I have personally made use of in the past and many are services
that I use today. Using these services will not only save you money, they can
also make your business more secure and help to promote a positive image to the