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April 29, 2011

Succeeding with Virtual Business Today


Big changes are afoot in how America works today. The financial threats of lower-priced competition from overseas, the improved effectiveness of a virtual business model and a fresh American desire for better quality of life have caused the radical work shift. Virtual business, remote work, telework, distributed work, virtual staff like executive assistants, virtual teams–call them what you wish–are now part of the corporate lexicon.

I spoke with Alan Blume, author of “Your Virtual Success: Finding Profitability in an Online World.” Alan’s take is that virtual work is transforming the very nature of cities and urban centers, how we live and aggregate as people. With more work being performed remotely, American cities are quickly reverting to cultural event centers with more entertainment than business. Very simply, there is just no need to be “at the office” like we were in the past.

Just look at the situation in recent years with commercial office space and you’ll quickly understand. Non-conforming businesses won’t be successful attracting top talent and ultimately won’t survive fiscally, and may end up like Blockbuster Video before long. Alan brings out more points and subtleties in his video interview.


If you operate a virtual business like I do, or are thinking about one, Your Virtual Success is a resource you should pick up. It provides an easy to read, yet content-filled set of actions for you to take to…

* Transition to a virtual business from your day job

* Establish a virtual business quickly

* Develop niche branding and image

* Sell and market your business virtually

* Qualify and hire virtual talent–from anywhere!

* Test and expand your business

The author Alan Blume “eats his own dog food” as he told me once, in that all the recipes in this book he uses for his own business. I was most fascinated by some of the non-traditional sources to find freelance talent; for example, Craigslist. My notion of Craigslist was a place where killers, thugs and rip-off artists hung out to prey on naive people. There’s a lot of talent on Craigslist too, which I found out. I located my graphic designer for this business’ logo and discovered my web designer via carefully specified postings on Craigslist. Plenty of other freelance sites exist as well like Odesk and Elance.

There are always diamonds amongst the bad seed that exists online, and the instructions in the staffing chapter of how to separate the good from the bad are by themselves worth reading this book.

There are many tools in this work for small business owners to think about, whether it’s the use of online video that you can now promote your business much more affordably than ever before, or ways to test new products and services and adapt to the feedback you receive on the fly, modifying as you go. So many things exist today for you to take advantage of in order to compete with larger companies and lower-priced competitors, and you may soon be forced to use them or perish as a business.

When you read a book like this, you begin thinking about work differently. The author tells his Tale of Two Nephews and allows the reader decide which version of success he’d like to have; the overworked, overstressed 9 to 7er or the guy doing business in his bathrobe. When I read how the author runs his own business I was green with envy, because I’m not there yet, but I am striving. This book has many of the same characteristics as the “Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris, without the focus on world travel and focused a little more on creating your own virtual venture from a practical standpoint.

You can get through this book in one sitting, but you should circle back with a highlighter or ball point pen to some of the key sections and references Alan gives.

Bookmark the appendix Rolling Pipeline Report, Prospect Scorecard and Sample Order Confirmations as documents that can form a basis for tracking and operating your virtual business.

Are cities going the way of the dinosaur as far as business centers? Visit watch and hear the author’s opinion, and learn about Smart Company Growth business tools like Executive Video Interviews at