Updated: Aug 27, 2018
Sounds kind of obvious, but you really need to double check that what you have will serve you well in your business venture, and that you are prepared for everything.
Your clients rely on you to deliver a service, and – let’s be perfectly honest – they just want the job done by its deadline, and don’t really want excuses.
I am most definitely not an IT expert, but one thing I know for sure is that, regardless of how IT savvy you are, you still need to ensure you have some basic steps in place to ensure your ability to provide a consistent, safe and reliable service to your client base.
Here’s some key measures that I recommend you review and/or implement (or at least consider):
Know Your Local IT Guy - If you don’t have someone skilled and talented in IT who you can call on, I would really recommend that you consider working with an IT consultant who you can trust (I have a local IT guy who is based in our regional town who has been an absolute lifesaver to me and my business).
Remember, your ability to be online and connected via IT is absolutely critical to your business success. Don’t skimp on this aspect of your business!! Internet / WiFi – Your ability to serve your clients is dependent upon your ability to be connected. Make sure you’re familiar with the best technology solutions for internet connectivity in your area. Speak to your local IT professional about what’s the best – don’t guess. If you’re regionally based, knowing what works best in your area is so vitally important. Don’t expect someone on the other side of the country to know what’s best for you in terms of internet connectivity.
It’s often worth testing out your connection speed, and I recommend using http://www.speedtest.net/
Virus Protection - A good and reputable virus protection software package is very important, and really is a no-brainer. It protects your data, and that of your clients. Again, don’t be afraid to ask your local IT specialist about what they recommend, and/or use themselves. Data Backup - Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking your computer won’t ever have a hiccup. Believe me, it happens to the best of us with (what we thought was) the best of equipment, and you need to be fully prepared so that it has minimal impact on your operation, and that of your clients. I use a program called Carbonite (which is awesome), but there are many others around that provide a similar solution. Do your research and make sure you are covered! Time Management Software - Regardless of whether you decide to offer packaged service options or use an hourly rate, you will need to log your time (even if it’s just for your own records so you can see how efficiently you are working). I used a free program called MyHours. Again, there are many other similar solutions out there if you spend a few minutes researching this. File Sharing - Operating a business that’s online, you need to understand how to safely share and manage files for yourself, and your clients. I recommend and use the following file sharing platforms:
Dropbox - https://www.dropbox.com/Google
Drive - https://www.google.com/drive/
SendthisFile - https://www.sendthisfile.com/
Communication - As a home-based business owner or VA, communication is so very important. To support your communication, effective communication tools are absolutely imperative for a successful online business.
I use and recommend the following communication platforms in my business:
Skype – https://www.skype.com/en/Google
Hangouts – https://hangouts.google.com/
AnyMeeting – https://www.anymeeting.com/
Facebook Messenger - https://www.messenger.com/
Slack - https://slack.com/
Project Management - There is plenty of project management software around, and it’s worth looking into what works for you. I can highly recommend the following software options for managing projects and collaborating with clients and colleagues on a day to day basis:
Accounting Software - Everyone has different preferences when it comes to accounting software. Each software option has different benefits, and whilst some are free, I personally choose to pay for a higher end product that is accessible online, and will support me into the future (and as my business grows).
Here are some reputable and popular options you may wish to consider:
Xero - https://www.xero.com/au/
Quick Books - http://www.intuit.com.au/
Freshbooks - https://www.freshbooks.com/
Password Storage - Because you are online, and working with clients who are also online, you will need to consider a strategy for password storage that is both safe and accessible for you at all times. Your clients will feel reassured that their valuable passwords in your care are safely stored. There are a few programs around now that provide safe and accessible password storage options, such as:
LastPass - https://lastpass.com/
Dashlane - https://www.dashlane.com/
KeePass - http://keepass.info/
1Password - https://1password.com/
Disaster Backup Plan – Even when you have all your IT set up properly, things still can go wrong – your WiFi dies, your PC has a heart attack etc… but at least you’re set up professionally, and the risks should be nearly completely mitigated if you’ve set up the above correctly.
However, you still need a backup plan. Things do, and will, go wrong – believe me. Key points you need to consider are:
Have a reliable laptop you can use for travel and to bridge the gap if you can’t use your computer or main laptop for whatever reason. Make sure that laptop is set up with everything you need so that you aren’t caught short if a disaster should prevail.
Research internet alternatives that you can fall back on if you have lost your internet connection. For example, you can tether your mobile, invest in a pre-paid WiFi dongle that you can use in emergencies (or when travelling), or perhaps there’s a coffee shop or internet café that you could work from until your internet is back up and running.
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