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These days, huge numbers of people are heading off in droves and are forsaking the world of traditional office work, in favour of the altogether more appealing prospect of being self-employed, and of running their own businesses and being the masters of their own professional lives.
There’s a lot that you can do from home these days. You can become a freelance writer, a freelance graphic designer, or you can run an affiliate marketing company. For that matter, you could also be a stock trader. The options are virtually limitless.
Of course, though, it’s not necessarily very clear and straightforward how you should go about getting yourself set up in your pursuit of home-based entrepreneurial bliss.
Just how, exactly, do you go about setting up a business with a professional image, or gaining client trust, if you don’t even have an office address to present to them? Is anyone really going to feel inclined to use your services, if you are just some guy or gal working out of your bedroom?
Don’t worry about it. No office? No problem. Here are some ways digital space can become your “office”.
Through a complete virtual office service
There are, in fact, services that offer the full “office experience” in an all-inclusive virtual package. Using a virtual office address is likely to be a good idea in and of itself. This is because your business address is something that clients might be inclined to look at, in order to determine the “professionalism” of your service.
Having a real-life physical address that you can advertise to clients – and especially if that address is one where you can receive mail and have scans of that mail forwarded to you – is a significant advantage in and of itself.
Virtual office services, however, can also be more encompassing than just allowing you to benefit from a real-world physical address. These services may also include: phone answering – as if you had your own PA working the phones on your behalf, a website, help with setting up business banking, and so on.
Via calendar and task management systems
Believe it or not, but Once upon a time, a “calendar” was a physical, paper thing that people stuck up on the walls of their homes or offices, in order to track the date, and any meaningful or significant engagements.
Not only that, but a “task management system” was something like a stack of file folders, filing cabinets, and an overworked secretary.
These days, both your calendar, and your task management system, can be handled entirely through the medium of digital technology. This might sound like a small thing – but it’s really worth taking seriously.
Your ability to organise your business is an immense factor in your ability to become successful in that business. There’s a reason why professions such as Personal Assistants exist in the first place. No one is able to be successful, or consistent, in their work if they are incapable of keeping track of what they should be doing at any given moment, and of when that really important meeting is coming up.
Take advantage of task management systems such as Wunderlist, Microsoft To Do, and Nozbe. Take advantage of calendar services such as Google calendar, and time tracking systems such as Toggl. These tools – specifically crafted to help you become and remain productive – can be extremely powerful.
As an entrepreneur, your time is far and away one of your most valuable resources. Although rivals in your field may have far more capital than you – as well as plenty more brand influence – they will never have more than the basic 24 hours in a day that you yourself benefit from.
Of course, your ability to actually do anything meaningful with your time depends entirely on whether or not you are capable of focusing your attention and energy, and limiting distraction and procrastination.
Task and project management tools, including your calendar, will play a vital role in helping you to exercise that degree of focus that is required for success.
Via your own website
Not too long ago, any business which sold retail goods was pretty much obliged to have a physical storefront that people could visit. Along with that comes the requirement to hold stock, to keep the floors nicely swept, and all that other good stuff.
These days, many businesses – maybe far more businesses than not – sell their goods via the Internet alone, and leave out the physical storefront altogether.
The same thing is pretty much true when it comes to office space as well. Whereas once it was necessary to have an office where you could go and work, and take meetings with relevant parties, today you can get pretty much all of that done from the comfort of your own home.
One of the major reasons why we often have the freedom to let go of those traditional physical locations these days, is because of the magic of websites, and the ease of web hosting and site design in the modern age.
These days, your website is going to fill the role of just about everything that was once its own particular, physical feature, in the business landscape. Your website will, for all intents and purposes, be your “storefront”. Your website will be your first handshake and introduction to your prospective client. And your website will be all your billboards, and marketing materials, rolled into one.
Since this is the case, it more or less goes without saying that you should put just as much effort, energy, and attention into setting up your website as you would put into setting up a physical office location.
If you ever find that you feel like cutting corners with your website – just realise that it is the digital soul of your business as a whole.
Via a suite of work-specific tools
For all intents and purposes, it was only yesterday that anyone who wanted to write anything had to do it on a typewriter. All the great authors of the latter half of the 20th century have, with few exceptions, done things this way.
Stephen King, for example, has spent an awful lot of time smashing away on the keys of his typewriter, and at other points in time has relied on the high-tech solution of a fountain pen to get his draft done.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this. All the great works of literature before about a decade or so ago have been written using these tools, and they’ve managed to get the job done. Nonetheless, it would be hard to argue that writers using advanced digital tools such as Scrivener are not at some kind of advantage over those who still stick to the “more traditional” techniques and tools.
The fact is that there is now an abundance of modern, digital tools, which can give you the edge over the competition, and help you to exceed your previous best effort in just about any area of your professional life.
Whereas, once, these kinds of productivity-boosting master techniques and tools would have been closely guarded secrets, today you can make them a part of your work routine with very little effort at all.
If you are a graphic designer, simply owning a copy of Photoshop and similar tools can make or break your ability to work effectively. As a writer, the aforementioned Scrivener can save you a huge amount of time and energy that would otherwise have to be spent negotiating Microsoft’s unwieldy Word program.
In both cases, work can be done faster, and likely to a higher standard, as a result of these work specialist tools.