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So, you want to learn how to start a virtual business from home?
The good news is, today, there is a ton of opportunity and more chances to be successful in starting your own virtual business.
A virtual business has so many perks:
- Independent work
- Unlimited pay potential
- Be your own boss
A virtual business can also have some disadvantages, like:
- Difficulty with work/life balance
- Slow pay in the beginning (in some cases)
- No benefits
- No job security
With all this said, it’s still a great adventure that millions of people have taken.
If you have entrepreneurial spirit and you have always wanted to start your own virtual business from home, keep reading while we show you how to do it!
How to Start a Virtual Business from Home
When you think about starting a business, many start with where the business will be housed.
In a corporate office space or at home?
A corporate office space means a daily commute to an office building, the cost of parking (in some cases), and being limited to the hours of the building.
A home office means you can work when you want, with no commute, but you should still separate work and life, because it’s really easy to work around the clock, and neglect the ones around you (and yourself).
There are pros and cons to both but overall, we think you get more with working in a virtual home office setting.
If you have always longed to set your own work hours, eliminate your commute completely and work from home, than this is the ideal choice for you.
When it comes to creating your ideal office space, keep these things in mind…
How to Create Your Virtual Home Office
First, you want to designate a space in your home that is dedicated solely to your office.
This can be a spare bedroom, the den, an office, the patio, the garage, etc.
This space will be your office.
You should try to use it ONLY for office work and conduct other home activities outside of that space.
Supplies you’ll need to outfit the space:
- A desk
- Office chair
These are the basics.
You may need more or less equipment, depending on what kind of business you’ll be running, like a scanner, laminator, fax machine, web camera, etc.
Your office will be the place you work day in and day out.
Pro Tip: Decorate your office
If you never got the opportunity to decorate your office space for an employer you worked for, now is your chance!
You don’t have to go crazy (or you can) but you’d be surprised how sprucing up your work space can impact your mood.
How to Choose Your Virtual Business
What kind of business will you be running?
Have got no idea?
You just know that you want to work from home and you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Maybe you’re fueled by working for yourself, serving others, helping your peers, or making money.
Those are all good reasons to break out and start your own virtual business.
My start happened almost a decade ago.
Just before that, I had graduated college.
College was a real struggle for me.
I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.
I was always drawn to business, entrepreneurship, and I knew I wanted to be the boss.
Aside from that, I had no idea how to get to the place where I am today, a successful entrepreneur.
Back then, I decided to pursue general business in college and I graduated from a private university and later went on to get my MBA.
I fell into the personal finance field which had always been super interesting to me.
I thought that it’d be really neat to know money well because it would help me in my personal life and it did!
So, after working for this mid size finance company for several years, I had enough.
I was bored at work, I was tired of being micromanaged, I wasn’t getting the opportunities I wanted, only lateral movement within the company and to be frank, the jobs available there did not interest me.
I tried a bunch of different side hustles before one finally stuck and that was ecommerce.
I had no intent on running an online boutique but the store grew quite successfully and a year after my start, I quit my day job!
So you see, it’s ok if you have not completely nailed down what you want to do.
And if you have, you’ve got a great head start!
Here are some virtual business ideas to ponder over, if you haven’t decided what kind of work you want to pursue…
Work from Home Virtual Business Ideas to Think About
- Social media marketing
- Digital marketing
- Graphic design
- Web development
- Web design
- Life coach
- Business coach
The list continues.
For even more ideas, head to a freelance job bank like Upwork and review their categories to give you more inspiration.
Do You Need a Virtual Business Website?
This really depends on the type of business you are running.
If you are a in a client facing virtual business where you will need to turn leads into customers then a website is recommended.
You can use our free 7-step tutorial to walk you through setting up a simple WordPress website.
You will want to make sure your website has these components:
- Your mission/what you do/how you work with customers/how you help people
- Your contact information (phone number/email address/etc.)
- Portfolio (if applicable)
- Case studies (if applicable)
- Success stories (optional)
- Blog (this helps with traffic to your business and lead generation)
- Pricing (optional)
Plus, you can add any other features you’d like to the website.
Do You Need a Virtual Business Phone Number?
This one depends on the type of business you run.
I recommend a business phone number for any kind of business you might own because you never know when you’ll have to talk to a customer on the phone, speak to web support for your website or one of the tools or software you use, etc.
Plus, a phone line is a business tax deductible expense.
Do You Need Virtual Business Training?
The virtual business field you choose will likely be an industry that you are familiar with.
This might be the same job you do working for your 9 to 5 employer or it might be a field you studied in college.
You might be working in an industry that you have years of experience with so, generally, no, business training is not required.
A lot of what you learn through running a virtual business will be through experience.
To gain more confidence here, you can definitely invest in business resources like books from the library, online research, etc. to learn more about home business, how to be productive and successful, and more.
The Legal Side
When you run a virtual business, or any business, at all, you’ve got the legal stuff to take care of.
We won’t dive into this piece too much, as laws and regulations vary from area to area, but in general, you want to think about things like:
- Business taxes
- Creating your business form (sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, etc.)
- Trademarking your business or brand (if applicable)
- Copyright protection
- And, more.
Don’t skip out on this piece, it’s super important.
Running a Virtual Business Online
This is where it gets fun because you get to make all the rules.
Start with your schedule.
This doesn’t even have to be formal either, just map out a schedule of your hours and it’s great if you can stick to it because it will improve your work/life balance.
Nothing is worse than working 24/7, even doing something that you love.
Next, make sure you have the equipment you need to do your job.
We mentioned some things you can outfit your office with, up above.
Think about software, tools, and resources that will make your virtual business job easier on you.
For example, you may consider hiring a virtual assistant to help with small tasks or you might want to invest in email marketing software to grow your email list if lead generation is part of your business.
Check out some of these tools and helpful resources to make running your virtual business easy.
Tools and Resources to Help You Run Your Virtual Business Online
Convertkit is an email marketing tool that helps you build an email list.
Have you heard the phrase, “the money is in the list?”
This means that there is money to be had in your email list.
Think about it.
If you put up an email capture form on your website to collect emails, the subscribers that are joining are those people interested in hearing from you via email.
They are likely to take your advice, listen to your recommendations, and buy the products and services that you promote.
Convertkit makes list growth super easy.
You can put up email capture forms and popups all throughout your website, create email sequences, develop email courses, and have all this run on autopilot.
Evernote is a free tool that helps you increase your productivity through note taking.
I am a BIG note taker.
I have to write it down or else I risk forgetting that awesome idea.
Evernote is great because it’s available everywhere you are, on multiple devices (cell phone, tablet, computer, etc.) any time.
This has been a total game changer for me.
This tool helps you automate your social media marketing efforts with ease.
Do you dread posting on Facebook?
Hate coming up with content to retweet?
With Hootsuite, you can batch out your social media marketing and have the tool post on your behalf all throughout the month.
Imagine spending an hour or so per month setting up your social media calendar for your virtual business and then having the task automated with Hootsuite.
It will post your social posts wherever and whenever you want.
It’s a lot cheaper than hiring a social media marketer and super easy to use.
Toggl is the ultimate productivity builder.
Gain that lost time back!
It’s a free time tracker.
A hassle-free way to track your time.
Perfect for project that you need to time, to know how long your tasks take and to bill clients who pay you hourly.
It helps you make smarter choices, with it’s built-in idle time reminder, increasing your productivity and helping you batch your work, saving you time.
What the heck is batching?
If you haven’t heard of batching, hold on a sec while I change your life (wink).
When you batch work it means you are working on your tasks in batches.
This helps productivity, big time.
For example, if you are a writer but struggle to stay focused to write your articles, batching can help you crank out more quality work efficiently.
You can set a time of say 30 minutes to do nothing but writing.
No interaction with others, no interruptions, just writing.
Then after 30 minutes, take a 5 minute break and set your timer to do another batch of work.
This is a big time saver and if you are still in disbelief, try it!
Check out these 20 tips for batching to save time and cut stress.
Here is the link to Toggl to learn more.
It stands for If This Then That and this free tool helps you automate your life.
This one isn’t just reserved for your virtual business, you can use IFTTT for your personal life, too.
Here are some examples of tasks you can automate with the help of IFTTT:
- Get the weather forecast everyday at 7am
- Add songs from videos you like to your Spotify playlist
- Every time you post to Instagram, cross post to Twitter
- Update your Android wallpaper with Nasa’s image for the day
- Sync your Amazon Alexa’s to-do’s with your reminders
- A reminder to drink more water
- A reminder to walk your dog at 7pm
This list is endless and you can look at even more productivity recipes here.
This streamlines your entire life.
How Does the Money Work in a Virtual Business?
First, you should get a separate bank account for your business.
Whether it be a business account or a separate personal account, you choose.
You definitely want to have your income split here.
And, keep in mind that all the money your business earns should not go to you, 100%.
What I mean is, if you consider your income after expenses, the difference should be put into several pots:
- Your salary
- Business capital
And, you can create more pots than this, if you’d like.
Understand that you earn a salary from your business.
Look at this example to highlight this a bit better:
The business earns $20,000 in August 2019.
You take a salary of $5,000, then you put $10,000 in your business capital account, and the remaining $5,000 saved to your taxes fund.
A lot of business owners use the rule of thirds: a third to themselves for salary, a third to taxes, and a third to the business.
As far as how you’ll be paid, as the boss you will have the flexibility to pick this yourself.
You can choose your payment frequency: monthly, weekly, daily, etc.
You can choose how you get paid: direct deposit, cash hand delivered to your bank for deposit, wire transfer, etc.
How to Scale Your Virtual Business
After you have been successfully running your business, the time has come where you are ready to scale.
How do you do it?
First, what exactly does “scaling” mean, anyway?
Well, it means growth.
You are doing something good and you want to do more of that good thing so you can make more money and achieve more success.
That’s what scaling means.
You are growing your business.
Regardless of what kind of business you are running, there’s a simple formula to scaling your business.
The end goal is usually to earn more money.
You can do this without trading time for dollars.
For example, if you’re working 40 hours a week for $10,000/month, scaling does NOT mean working 50 hours/week for $12,500/month.
You want to work smarter, not harder.
Step 1.) Set Your Rate
This can be your hourly rate, project rate, or both, You can give yourself a raise here, too.
Just keep in mind that your rate should reflect the going rate for those services.
Track your time for doing each business task as well because if you work 5 hours at a project rate of $1,000 or 12 hours at a project rate of $1,000, that’s literally the difference between making $200/hour versus $83.33/hour.
Big difference, right?
Use a Retainer System
A retainer system is real genius.
This helps you get recurring income month after month.
You can even offer it at a slight discount to encourage the client to sign up.
Consider Packaging Services
Packaging some services is a good way for you to upsell your services.
You can instantly make 30% to 50% more by doing this alone!
And, don’t make it an option.
For example, for web development, you can offer web development + a built-in audit service, charging more for that total service, compared to booking a web development package, alone.
Step 2.) Expand Your Team
Hire help before you think you need it.
This was big business lesson for me.
My first holiday season running my ecommerce store was a disaster.
I was not counting on my business being nearly as busy as it was.
That’s a good problem to have, don’t get me wrong, but my delay in hiring help cost me many angry customers and late orders shipped because I simply was overwhelmed with product orders.
If your business is seasonal, hire ahead of the season.
If you expect your business to do well around the holiday season, staff up ahead of the rush.
How to hire staff for your virtual business?
This is actually a lot easier than you might think.
There are freelance job banks that make it easier than ever.
With Upwork, you can post a job for free, select candidates, do interviewing over chat or video call and hire your staff.
Step 3.) Create Products
Creating products to supplement your business is a genius way of creating passive income for the business.
Create a digital information product like a course, ebook, manual, cheatsheet, done-for-you audit checklist, etc. and sell it online.
You create the product once and then enjoy sales indefinitely in the future.
Do you know that I still receive sales and commissions from products I created and promoted 4 years ago?
This is one of the top ways to bring you from a six figure entrepreneur to a seven figure entrepreneur.
Think about your business and brainstorm ways to package your services into information products.
Then, do it!
Tools to help you get started
Teachable is an online course platform that helps you deliver courses to students.
It is beginner friendly and gives you tools to create curriculum, set pricing (even subscription-based), build a sales page, and more.
They offer multiple payment gateways and pay you as often as daily!
Sendowl is a tool to help you digitally deliver products and collect payment from customers who buy your products and services.
For products, you just upload your information product into Sendowl, name it and set your price.
Then you get a convenient purchase link that you can use on your website, social media, etc.
They also offer “Buy Now” buttons plus, other cool features, like the ability to recruit and set up affiliates, marketing tools like discount codes, and much more.
For services, it’s nearly the same process, except you do not upload a product because the product is your service!
Set pricing, get your links and go!
Udemy is a course marketplace where students can take courses on a huge range of topics like:
- French cooking
- Spanish language learning
- Ebay selling
- Learning Python
- Ethical hacking
- Becoming more productive
- And, more!
They call themselves the largest selection of courses, hosting over 100,000 video courses!
Business, development, photography, design, you name it, they got it.
As a Udemy instructor, you will upload your video course to their marketplace, set your price, sit back and get sales.
They are a HUGE marketplace so the advantage of selling here is that you will have exposure to their audience.
You may not have to do as much marketing work, as with selling on a platform like Teachable, for example, because Udemy is a marketplace.
People visit the website to find courses to take.
And your course will be available to them.
Free to join and you pay the marketplace a small portion of your sales, in exchange for hosting your video course on their site.
Amazon is the marketplace of marketplaces!
They have millions of people visiting the site daily, buying books, clothes, kitchen supplies, home goods, toys, baby gear, and much more.
The advantage of selling on Amazon, like Udemy, is having access to their millions of customers.
You can sell your ebook or physical product here and enjoy sales.
A really smart way to supplement your business income.
Google Docs is a free tool that gives you access to:
- Word processing
- Slideshow presentation
You can use this to author your book, create your video course, build your digital journal or printable, and more.
It’s free and a good alternative to the paid Microsoft Office suite of products.
If you want a private storefront, outfitted with a professional, attractive theme then Shopify is where you want to be.
Sell your digital and physical products in your very own store.
This entrepreneur makes $300,000 per month selling digital goods in her store.
And this is a supplement to her main business!
There you have it, your recipe for how to start a virtual business from home!
Do you feel inspired?
What’s the first thing you are going to tackle?
Share your thoughts down below in comments!