Setting up a virtual remote company - part 2

 If you have read the first post which can be found here, this one will provide you with options on how to create a fully virtual environment, that is not hardware dependent, and adds additional layers of security.

virtual desktop applications - aka sas and remote workstation

Virtual desktop applications, allow you to run your a virtual machine by using any browser. This gives you full flexibility as a you can use any computer attached to the internet with a browser to do work from from. Any desktop applications that you use get installed onto the virtual machine, and nothing is stored or installed on your physical computer. There are quite a few providers out there, and you should select one that provides you the machine you require at the best price. Some providers are:

  • Amazon WorkSpaces
  • Microsoft Virtual Desktop
  • Citrix
  • V2 Cloud
  • Nutanix
Cloud storage

Why invest in bulky external hard drives and security when you can have it all through a cloud solution accessible from anywhere including through your virtual desktop. The benefit of using cloud storage in combination with a virtual desktop is that you save on the cost of storage offered through the virtual desktop, and build in another fail safe for your data. The most important aspects of cloud storage will depend on your needs but the following is what it typically offers you:
  • available anywhere. Can access files through any computer or virtual desktop setup
  • Backup and security
  • Encryption on the upload and download
  • Some act as a network drive which can be accessed through explorer while others require you to copy files into them
There are many solutions available and you should find the one most suitable to you.

VPN (virtual private network)

There are many reasons to choose to use a VPN service. A VPN service in essence creates a virtual network that is encrypted. Most use a VPN as an added level of security and data protection, but it also allows you to change your location. For those with virtual businesses that operate remotely, you will find that certain websites and service providers block access based on your IP address for their security requirements. By changing locations, you essentially spoof a local IP address fooling their system into granting you access. You should choose a VPN service based on its ability to access services and sites that are required for you.

Client Cloud Portals (CCP)

Utilizing a CCP will allow you to share files with your clients and customers securely with each one having their own private portal. This removes the need to share files containing sensitive information over email. This should only be a consideration if your business requires it. An additional advantage of using a CCP is that your clients can have access to documents in an organized fashion, without needing you to resend documents or digging through emails. A few of the biggest providers are:
  • ShareFile
  • Accelo
  • Zoho
  • SmartVault
Password manager

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked items. A password manager stores all of your passwords securely and generates unique passwords for every service and site that you use. Things to be mindful when selecting a password manager are:
  • Ease of access
  • Security and encryption of passwords
  • Maintenance of passwords and notifications for potentially compromised passwords or those used more than once
  • Apps
  • Password change features
A few of the most popular password managers are:
  • 1Password
  • RoboForm
  • NordPass - can be combined with their VPN service
  • Keeper
Accounting and payroll systems

How does any business survive without having a financial record keeping system and the ability to pay employees? The answer is that it's very unlikely to succeed. In Taiwan the software options are extremely limited, archaic, and not very user friendly which is the reason most utilize third party services for these functions. In Canada and the U.S. there are a multitude of providers for both bookkeeping and payroll, which are extremely user friendly, sleek in appearance and extremely powerful. The most common options available are:
  • QuickBooks Online
  • Xero
  • Viewpoint - built for construction businesses
  • CosmoLex - built for legal firms
  • Ceridian
  • ADP
There is also a wide range of apps that can be integrated with the various platforms to provide additional functionality and reporting.

CRM and sCRM

What exactly are these systems? A CRM (client relationship manager) and the addition of an s stands for social is designed to track a customer relationship from first contact right through to opportunities to sell additional products and services. It essentially provides you with complete data at every stage of the customer relationship. This allows you to convert more leads into actual clients. The social CRM allows you to track engagement with potential clients through your various social media accounts, and to engage with them directly. Think about this in terms of what typically happens when a potential client reaches out to you:
  • You get an email or a call or someone visits your site or social media accounts
  • You provide a response to a query, or you notice the number of visits you are getting and reactions
  • You wait for a response to your response, or try to find a way to interact with your social account visitors
  • You use a CRM and or an sCRM to ensure you are following up on leads and responses and don't drop the ball on converting potential clients
Some of the most popular CRM and sCRM platforms are:
  • Salesforce
  • LiveAgent
  • Zoho CRM
  • Hootsuite
Meeting scheduler

You can go the traditional route of sending emails back and forth with potential and existing clients to set up calls, video sessions, or you can take the hassle out of the process, by providing your potential and existing clients an easy way to book time with you. Meeting schedulers allow you to set your availability and share it by email or on your site and automate the process.
some of the most popular scheduling platforms are:
  • Calendly
  • 10to8
  • Acuity Scheduling
Some apps designed for companies with employees and contractors to work remotely

With work from home the new norm in much of the world, and your wish to have a fully cloud based business, you will need tools to track workloads, tasks, and deadlines to ensure nothing gets missed. The following are some of the tools you can use to achieve this:
  • Google Docs
  • Slack
  • Teamwork Projects
  • Redbooth
  • Asana
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft teams
  • InVision
Each of the above along with countless others offer a unique offering. You will need to create a list of what your wants and needs are and find one that delivers all of them, or consider using a combination of these to achieve your desires.

All of the above will allow you to run your business entirely in the cloud and virtually. The next post will look to combine on the first two posts with a focus on security and privacy.

Part 1 - overview of creating a virtual business can be found here
Part 3 - security and privacy can be found here


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