Virtual businesses are growing exponentially, particularly after the pandemic lockdown, leaving many new business owners and small companies with little to no choice in the matter. Most of the world population nowadays are computer literate, and with the ability to access Wi-Fi pretty much anywhere, people can work from anywhere.
What is a virtual business?
Any business that operates almost a hundred per cent through the Internet is considered a virtual business. Virtual businesses aren’t bound to a physical infrastructure so they won’t have headquarters or offices. Their location could fall under wherever the CEO lives, for example. However, some may have warehouses that are essential for distributing goods.
Several sectors perfectly fit the bill for virtual businesses, as they mainly operate using computers and the Internet. These include publishing, marketing, finance, sales, and customer service. Virtual businesses operate from anywhere in the world, meaning they can also hire staff internationally.
How do virtual businesses work?
A virtual company’s key to success is to excel in communication. With the likes of emails, instant messaging services (e.g. Microsoft Teams and Slack), project and content management systems, video meetings, file sharing and much more, running a virtual business isn’t as difficult as it seems. Retail and IT are two key industries that have embraced the transition.
Virtual business owners benefit from cutting down costs by running their business online.
However, virtual business owners must trust their staff to work productively. If work is completed and on time, then it is clear employees are being productive. Several virtual business owners said they saw an increase in employee productivity when they transitioned to virtual working.
What are the advantages of a virtual business?
The benefits of running a business virtually include:
- A wider talent pool – Virtual businesses can hire staff from all over the world. A diverse, international team with a plethora of backgrounds, personalities, and skills to offer will help your business grow and retain success.
- Beneficial for finances – You don’t have to pay out for office space and utilities, so you can put this money toward marketing your business and growing your staff instead.
- Enhances wellbeing – Staff have more time to spend at home and catch up on their personal lives. This is mainly down to working from where they choose without the stress of a commute. Commuting can take some staff a long time depending on their location.
- Boosts productivity – Staff have more flexibility and tend to be more relaxed when working from where they choose.
All of the above contribute to a sustainable business that has the potential to stand the test of time.
What are the disadvantages of a virtual business?
The cons of running a virtual business include:
- Social interactions – Remote working staff have little social interaction with fellow employees and can feel isolated.
- Client interactions – Face-to-face meetings with clients aren’t possible without a physical base, but these can be carried out via video chat.
- Work balance – Some employees tend to work more overtime at home. This can affect their balance between work and personal time.
- Lost productivity – Despite one of the advantages being that working virtually boosts productivity, unfortunately for some it doesn’t. Some employees may lack self-discipline when working from home.
The pros outweigh the cons as systems and processes can be implemented to avoid the cons altogether.
What makes virtual businesses sustainable?
Virtual businesses are sustainable for several reasons. Companies don’t have to pay for office space rentals, bills, and other utilities. Plus, staff aren’t commuting and are therefore not contributing to fuel consumption. Remote working has also proven to make staff are happier. They are more productive due to flexibility and are more likely to be longstanding employees.
So, could virtual businesses be a way forward in the future? It is likely they will for new and small businesses.