Book Excerpt

In t r o d u c t i o n

 

Technology has paved the way for the virtual business owner. A virtual business is defined as a business without a physical identity, and in most cases a virtual business is created and managed from one’s home or virtual office. With today’s technology, brick and mortar are no longer needed to conduct business. The increasing cost-effectiveness, availability and ease of use of technologies such as the internet, email, VOIP and e-commerce solutions allows business owners to provide services and sell products more efficiently than ever. The internet has provided consumers a 24/7 shopping experience. Business owners who were once limited by the costs associated with doing business globally are now reaping the rewards of no longer having any geographical boundaries whatsoever.

As one such virtual business owner, I can’t imagine working any other way. I’ve been a virtual business owner for over 11 years, throughout that time providing my clients with administrative support from the comfort of my home office. The term for what I do is called Virtual Assistance, and I am, therefore, a Virtual Assistant. It’s a growing profession and one that was “birthed” with the technologies described above.

I have only met a handful of my clients face to face; in fact, I have never laid eyes on the majority of them. It’s the available technology that keeps us connected and working as effectively as if I were in the office next door. Projects are communicated by email and phone, online schedulers allow me to effectively manage their calendars and online tools such as intranets provide us with a “home base” if needed.

Working virtually has never been easier. Actually, let me re-phrase this to say that the ability to work virtually has never been easier. Working in a virtual environment is not quite as easy as one may think, and it’s not for everyone. A virtual office or home office is very different than the structure that comes along with a physical corporate headquarters. For millions of commuters travelling to work and back each day, working from a virtual office would be like winning the lottery. Those of us who already work from a virtual office can tell you it is not all “flowers” and “sunshine.”

Sure, our commute takes us all of 2 minutes, but the challenges of working virtually, specifically from a home office, are plenty. Work/life conflicts, home office management, distractions, staying organized, motivation and productivity can be a constant struggle. Even the psychological aspect of working alone and dealing with the isolation factor can become a hurdle for some to overcome. Individuals who are used to the hustle and bustle of a busy work environment can sometimes find it difficult to adapt to working by themselves.

However, for those who have conquered the loneliness, have set up systems to maintain organization, have processes to stay productive, and who have successfully balanced work and life will tell you that making a living working virtually isn’t exactly like winning the lottery, but it comes pretty darn close!

So, let’s get you started on the road to working virtually, shall we?