Technology Tools To Take Your Freelance Business To The Next Level
Today, the world of freelance consulting and employment offers a rich and flexible range of opportunities to those with the right skills. From legal and financial consulting services to electronics repair, professional writing and personal fitness training, there are dozens of possibilities.
Not long ago, these were fringe opportunities for those who didn't have brick-and-mortar businesses -- it was work people did in their spare time. Today, freelancing is full-time work to millions, and getting ahead requires the same level of professional support as conventional businesses have.
It takes technology
Freelancing consultants quickly realize, often just days into running their ventures, they cannot compete with larger businesses without generous technological help. When freelancing was more a hobby than profession, clients who used these services didn't usually expect a truly professional product. Those days are long gone. Clients, whether individuals or other businesses, do expect as polished a product from freelancers, as from anyone else. Freelance business ventures need help taking a professional approach to marketing their products, gathering information, keeping track of appointments or deadlines, billing clients and keeping books.
With the rise of freelancing as a commonly held profession, such technology is freely available today. Large businesses have been built on demand for software tools and products to help every niche requirement.
Putting together the right set of technology tools can make a freelance business venture today successful. If you own such a business, or want to, embracing technology is the way to compete. If you are not sure where to start, here are pointers.
Use social media and the Internet
With the power of websites, search engine-based advertising, with social media backing them up, can allow for the smallest ventures to successfully compete with much larger businesses. The more enthusiastically you embrace new technology to reach potential clients, the greater your success is likely to be.
Run your business on portable devices
It's possible to run entire businesses on mobile phones, or at least off laptops. From personal fitness training to a car service, writing and tech support, apps running on phones and laptops are capable of powering entire businesses. There are a number of tools specifically created for business niches. The personal fitness business, for instance, has the powerful Xerofit Fitness Platform for Personal Trainers that offers a wide range of tools for every need. The platform helps trainers find clients, keep track of their progress, offer dietary guidance, share a text or video blog, answer questions in real time, build client relationships, and stay in touch over social media.
Working on the cloud can lower the need for investment
Gone are the days when starting a business required massive investments in computers, software and IT teams. Today, it isn't just entire filing cabinets' worth of information that live in the cloud. Most software does as well. With software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions turning popular, enterprise-level software is often run entirely on remote servers. Businesses that need to use such software merely pay small monthly fees, and buy low-end computers to display the screens on.
Investment levels for startups have fallen dramatically. There is rarely a need to spend on hiring an IT department, or worry about backups or Internet security. In cases where one needs to run an in-house IT department with dedicated software, the world of ready-made web APIs make custom software affordable and easy to build.
The Internet can help you slash communications costs
Many freelance businesses require long conference calls with clients or customers. A number of free Internet conference-calling platforms, Skype among them, help set up tight communications lines for close monitoring. A virtual phone number and fax line can practically put an office in your pocket. If you have a fixed office, remote desktop applications can help you keep an eye on every computer in the office. No matter what the business, effective communicating through modern technology can help raise productivity and promote customer satisfaction.
The good part is, such technology isn't hard to master
As helpful as modern technology can be to today's entrepreneur, it can seem intimidating at first. It's important to understand, however, there are only a few basic principles that go to operating each one of these technologies. For an entrepreneur willing to put in a little time to master the learning curve, the ROI possible is nothing short of amazing.
Luke Jarvis is a business consultant. He contributes monthly to a growing number of business websites, sharing his tips and knowledge with business owners all over the world.