The digital age has made it easier than ever to run a business, with everything you could ever possibly need just a click away. At the same time, environmental concerns are rising, with more businesses aiming for a paperless office to reduce their impact. But do we even need an office any more - or is it possible to run your entire business online?
Obviously, it all depends on the nature of your business - a hairdresser, for instance, isn't going to be able to offer virtual haircuts - but assuming that your business model allows it, it's surprisingly easy to go virtual.
Get started online
Let's start at the beginning. When you first set up your business there was lots of paperwork to file, right? Well no. In fact, setting up a limited company is not only quicker online than by post, it's also cheaper. If you file by post, it can take 8-10 days and cost £40 to register with Companies House. Go online with a formations agent and you can have it done the same day, and depending on the package you choose it could cost less than half that price.
Once your business is up and running, you can also file things like your annual returns and company accounts online.
Take advantage of the cloud
Cloud-based software is rapidly becoming the norm for many applications. Most small businesses are already moving towards online accounting solutions, and as the applications are tested and improved, more sizeable businesses will be able to follow suit.
Cloud-based spreadsheet, word processing and database applications make it easy for staff to collaborate without ever needing to be in the same room, and if they need to communicate face-to-face, a video conference can be conducted online. As more businesses move towards the cloud, digital security for these applications is constantly being improved.
Build an online presence
With a good website as your digital doorstep, backed up by a strong presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, your customer interactions can be quick and easy. Email and instant messaging allow for easy communication, and for customers who like to speak to a "real person" you can implement VOIP systems to take their calls.
Can your products or services themselves be delivered digitally? If so, then you really can have a business that's entirely online. Just make sure that your internet connection can take the strain.
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