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November 16, 2011

How to Thrive in Virtual Business


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

I spoke with Alan Blume, author of Your Virtual Success: Finding Profitability in an Online World. Alan’s opinion is that virtual work is altering the very nature of cities and urban centers, how we live and aggregate as people. As more business is done from remote locations, cities are rapidly becoming cultural centers where you find more entertainment than business. We just don’t need to be “at our desks” like we used to. Look no further than the commercial office space real estate ordeal in recent years and you’ll get the point. Companies who don’t adjust won’t be able to entice the best employees or thrive economically, and may soon end up like the newspaper industry. Alan brings out more points and subtleties in his video interview here.


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 offers an easy to read, yet content-filled set of actions for you to take to…

· Transform to a virtual business from your normal job
· Launch a virtual business quickly
· Develop niche branding and image
· Sell and market your business virtually
· Qualify and hire virtual talent– from anywhere!
· Test and increase 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 company. I was most captivated by some of the non-traditional sources to find freelance workers; for example, Craig’s List. I thought Craig’s List was a shelter for rip-off artists, criminals and the occasional killer, and unquestionably those folks are out hunting for the unprepared. There’s a lot of talent on Craig’s List too, which I discovered. I found my graphic designer for this business’s logo and discovered my web designer via carefully detailed advertisements on Craig’s List. Lots of other freelance sites are out there as well such as Odesk and Elance. There are always diamonds in the rough 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 take into account, whether it’s the use of online video that you can now advertise your business much more affordably than ever before, or ways to test new products and services and adjust to the suggestions 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 rivals, and you may soon be obliged to.

When you read a book like this, you begin thinking about work in a different way. 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 working his pajamas. When I read how the author manages his own business I was envious, because I’m not there yet, but I am on my way. This book has many of the same characteristics as the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, without the concentration on world travel and focused a little more on creating your own virtual venture from a sensible standpoint.

You can get through this book in one sitting, but you should return 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 managing your virtual business.

Is your business giving you the profits and passion you want? You can use virtual technologies to supercharge your results in a Virtual Mastermind Group forming now and learn more about the Mastermind Process in this FREE Video . Karl Walinskas is the CEO of Smart Company Growth, a business development firm that helps small to mid-size professional service firms build competitive advantage in an online world of sameness. He is the author of numerous articles and the Smart Blog on leadership, business communication, sales & service, public speaking and virtual business, and Getting Connected Through Exceptional Leadership, available in the SmartShop.