Small Business Labs recently released its list of Top 10 Small Business Trends for 2011 and it points out some of the trends that might benefit from virtual services. Here is our take on the five trends where virtual solutions would enable cost minimization and optimization of business processes.
Variable cost models – pay-as-you-go approach
This payment model brings along a marked change in the way services can be availed. With this model expertise will look much cheaper and affordable, and businesses will start looking at options to choose services from. Pay-as-you-go model is highly practical, smart and more importantly, accountable in relation to the service offered. With businesses coming out of recession and running on tight financial schedules, more small businesses, service providers, virtual assistants are now offering this variable cost payment model to create an overall financial and growth nurturing environment.
Business on the internet
The internet and online systems are helping small businesses to easily find, sell and support customers. New companies are letting go of the idea of setting up “brick and mortar” offices and stores and are rather excited to launch themselves on the “click and order” internet. And with more customers finding it easier to get things done online, even more existing small businesses are putting up their online face. Recent surveys suggest that small businesses’ budget for 2011 is up by 20% to 25% for e-commerce based website development. And if you are not online yet, there are virtual assistants who can help you launch online and join the league of vendors with online ordering points.
Social media moves to main stream
What started as a platform for online social interactions has emerged as a major marketing platform for most businesses. Facebook is ranking no.1 in website visits and add to it other giants like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Small businesses are reaping rich dividends by investing in social media marketing and the trend is only set to outgrow regular marketing budgets in 2011. According to a survey by StrongMail across the globe, two-thirds of the surveyed companies will increase their spending on email marketing, and 57% will put more dollars toward social media marketing. The trick here is to get the best techniques and technology for social media marketing; and if you are not up to it, you may be left behind. But do not bother, with social media marketing services made available by virtual marketing assistants your social media marketing is in for a real kick start.
Freelancers realize that they are small business owners
Freelancers are turning more professional and are setting up virtual businesses on a larger scale. Even big business houses are relying more on freelance based services apart from engaging other business groups. Though this is a good sign for freelancers, it comes with the burden to act professionally and work efficiently for sustaining the business. By Q3 of 2011 whichlance.com expects quarterly billings of freelancers to be in the region of $150m across all the major marketplaces. This makes freelancers more inclined and focused on delivering their expertise and also take ample care of other important business activities like marketing, phone answering, customer service, accounting, back office administration, and so on. This is where these freelancers can make excellent use of virtual assistants by diverting much of their non-core tasks to them.
Working in the cloud
Computing is ever changing and 2011 will be no different. Cloud, mobile computing is gaining steam and the benefits it brings is really worth taking. It cuts down the software cost and at the same time gives you access to the best software services. With online services like Google Apps, Basecamp, Amazon Web Services among others, more and more content is being created and maintained online in the cloud. It also removes the hassles of conventional software procurements and maintenance which is proving costly for small businesses. And with virtual assistants offering these kinds of services at competitive prices, it has become a profitable proposition for most small businesses.