With the rise of the web and an abundance of free and low cost tools, you can be up and running as a freelancer or solo-entrepreneur in under a day.
In today’s world it’s almost essential to have your own website and associated email address if you want to look professional. Investing a few pounds each year on a domain name and then building a website for your business is time well spent.
Creating your website need not be difficult and you don’t need to know how to write code to get something really nice. Just use a service like wix.com or choose a free Wordpress template to make your site look good. Just make sure it’s easy to read, simple to navigate and mobile responsive. You can always upgrade your website later if you need to, but usually a simple website is all you need.
You can then use a service like gmail for your website’s emails by forwarding all incoming mail to your inbox, then setting it up to send mail ‘from’ your address too.
In fact, gmail is a very good choice as you then have built-in access to Google Drive, which allows you to store files and create documents in various formats. It’s also easy to share these documents with other people by changing the permissions and sending out a link, allowing you to deliver completed work to clients or collaborate with others on documents and spreadsheets etc.
Another alternative for file storage and sharing is Dropbox. You get an initial quota free and can increase this for free by inviting others to join. There are also paid options if you need lots more space. It’s also easy to manage folders and upload files by dragging them to the Dropbox folder on your computer.
If you work from an office this is obviously not a problem, but what if you work from home?
You can always use your home address, of course, but it may be better to use a dedicated address for work instead. A quick google search should bring up a list of virtual office addresses you can hire on a monthly basis.
Some will offer comprehensive a comprehensive mail handling service where they can either forward your mail to you, or else open it, scan it and email it to you.
Often you just need something simpler – just a place to receive letters that isn’t your home. In this case a PO box from the post office, or a service like Mailboxes etc. will do the job. Just try and find one that is close to where you live and has reasonable access hours.
Similar to how you don’t necessarily want to use your home address for business, you probably shouldn’t use your personal phone numbers either.
If you use your home landline number you will effectively always be on call to your clients, even during evenings and on days off. Although unlikely, there’s also the slight possibility of your number being picked up by nuisance callers who find it on your website and see your adverts.
A mobile number is another option, but mobiles can be expensive to call (thus putting off potential clients) and using one as your main point of contact can make you appear less professional.
A good solution to both of these problems is to choose a virtual phone number from Callagenix. This number can be just about any range you want, such as 01/02 regional number, or an 0800 freephone number and allows you to handle calls in many different ways.
The most common way is to simply forward calls made to your Callagenix virtual number so they get diverted to your home landline or mobile number. You can change the desitination number at any time, so no matter where you are you can have your calls diverted to whichever phone is most convenient for you.
You can also set up a ‘whisper message’ when doing this, so when you answer the phone you get a short message telling you it’s a work call. You can then choose to either answer it or handle it in another way, such as sending it to voicemail.
Another good things with a virtual number is that you can set up automatic ‘time of day’ rules, so for example, any calls made outside of business hours automatically get sent to your voicemail or a recorded message instead of disturbing you. Other call handling options are available. You can also choose to receive SMS and email notifications when you receive messages, so you need never miss an important message if it arrives outside of your scheduled work hours.
One other factor is that it’s easy to block specific numbers if you should be unfortunate enough to start getting nuisance calls.
If you'd like to have a virtual assistant answer your calls and take messages for you etc. we can arrange that too. Please contact us to find out more.
The internet offers many opportunities for people looking to work independently and you can have your new venture up and running in under a day with minimal outlay. If you're thinking of doing this, why not start today?