For small business owners looking to keep costs down, embracing the virtual world could mean hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars saved. From virtual spokespeople to IT support, here’s a look at some of the services a small business can get online.
Competition for customers is stiff, and a Web site simply isn’t enough to stand out from the crowd. A small business needs a spokesperson to promote its product or service and while landing a high-profile actor would be a coup, for many small business owners that’s not in the budget. Enter: iSpeakVideo, an online spokesperson that helps owners spread the word about their business. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company can create Internet video ads, Webmericals, video banner ads, iVideo presentations and video PowerPoint presentations to lure customers to a small business. According to iSpeakVideo, using a virtual spokesperson can help a small business introduce a Web page, improve the FAQ page and run tutorials. Not to mention it will cost a lot less than trying to land Charlie Sheen to rant about your company.
Whether a small business is looking for someone to answer the phones or engage in live chats online, getting virtual help can be cheaper than a full-time employee or employees. CallDesk offers virtual receptionists that answer phone calls remotely and field Internet inquires from customers. Plans start at $25 a month, and include things like its e-receptionists and LiveChat support. CallDesk receptionists can take calls and direct them to the correct person but the receptionists as well as take appointments, provide information and take orders.
Having an on-site IT staff to handle technology snafus and crises is out of the question for most small businesses. Thankfully, there are a host of virtual IT support services available that enable a small business to create a virtual IT department. New-York based iYogi.com offers instant access to experts for numerous brands of computers, software and other devices in the office. The company, which late last year raised $30 million in venture funding, also offers remote support for set-up and installation of software, diagnosis and repair, virus and spyware removal and PC optimization. A small business owner can pay $169.99 for unlimited tech support on one PC for a year or pay $19.99 to $59.99 per incident.
Small business owners that don’t have the time or the desire to create and execute a social media plan can hire a virtual assistant to do all the work. Virtual assistants at YourVirtualAssistant will establish and maintain your business’s social-networking presence. For a fee, virtual assistants will brand a small business owner’s existing Twitter, Facebook Fan Page and YouTube accounts, set up local business profiles, monitor the social media brand and provide a monthly analytics review.
Whether a small business is looking for a software programmer, graphic designer or marketer, Freelancer.com has 2.3 million professionals ready to help. The online marketplace helps small businesses hire and manage contract workers for as little as $30. Small business owners can post the work they need done and freelancers then bid on the project. The owner then sets the milestone payment and once the work is done, payment is released to the freelancer. According to the company, the average job costs under $200 and the owner only has to pay if he or she is a 100% satisfied with the completed job.
Being a small business owner can be overwhelming, luckily there’s a slew of online help that can keep your business running smoothly for a small price.