Plenty of people make a second career as a “solo-preneur” or business consultant. But what if you’ve always wanted to start your own business – one that requires staff? Traditionally, such an enterprise required substantial capital to pay for office space, furniture, equipment, supplies and salaries. But what if you could have all of that without the overhead expense?
Welcome to the age of virtual companies, where full-scale companies operate with hundreds of full-time employees and no central location or office space. One executive vice president works out of his virtual office in an Airstream trailer, which allows him to travel around the country without taking time off work.1 From technology companies to law firms, many types of businesses are figuring out how to exist without office space.
Some of the logistics include:2
- Using a virtual receptionist to answer and route incoming calls.
- Contracting a virtual assistant who can triage demands for attention; respond to emails and calls; keep professional and personal calendars; set up meetings and take/distribute notes; follow up with team members to compile updates for projects; conduct research; find/vet resources; and act as an administrative extension so workers can focus their time on substantive projects and issues.
- Outsourcing marketing and website-hosting functions.
- Hiring freelance employees who work from home (or “in the field”), saving on office space, equipment, etc. while giving them the opportunity for tax deductions on their personal income tax returns.
While a virtual business may be an entirely new operational model, it’s proved effective. Studies show that virtual employees are more productive overall than ones who spend time commuting and interacting in an office environment.3 There is also a general feeling of trust between management and workers.4 Business owners don’t need to see employees in the office for a certain number of hours a day; they simply trust each employee to get their work done in the appropriate time frame.
Furthermore, virtual business owners have learned that company culture is not about having an office, it’s about a shared vision in which each worker has a contributing role and is responsible for her own work, time management and collaborative activities.5 Better yet, virtual entrepreneurs have learned the philosophy that running a business is not the same as owning a business. By hiring highly productive and self-motivated virtual workers, they do less “running” and more owning – an ideal business model for a retiree.
Content prepared for Safe Harbor Financial Services by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Jeff Bercovici. Inc. Nov. 26, 2018. “This Software Company Has a $1 Billion Valuation, 800 Employees, and Zero Offices.” https://www.inc.com/jeff-bercovici/invision-2018-company-of-the-year-nominee.html?cid=sf01001. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.
3 Nicholas Bloom. Harvard Business Review. Jan.-Feb. 2014. “To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home.” https://hbr.org/2014/01/to-raise-productivity-let-more-employees-work-from-home. Accessed Jan. 10, 2018.
4 Bryan Miles. Legal Talk Network. Dec. 27, 2018. “The Virtual Law Firm.” https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/un-billable-hour/2018/12/the-virtual-law-firm/. Accessed Dec. 31, 2018.