We have been using Internet banking the moment it came available: constant instant overview of your going in's and out's. On the road? Access your bank's website anywhere you are and take care of your finances.
More and more service providers notify us we can find our latest invoice online. And then I'm not even talking about all the standard essential office products you can buy online nowadays, from stationery to coffee pods, study books etc - all delivered to your front door without you having to go out. Our own business has its own secure webshop and we dispatch products all over the UK (some through drop-shipping, some through our local post-office).
Marketing is more and more done on-line:
using blog platform software for your business website (again, accessible everywhere you are to add, edit and comment/answer questions left by your website visitors).
email-marketing: how often I access AWeber you don't want to know, queueing 'blog-alerts' to subscribers interested in wooden flooring, writing and sending out our monthly newsletter, checking how well all the marketing messages are performing and which headline in which webform works best (split-testing). Instant access to statistics: what you can measure you can improve.
If you need an internet ad campaign: Google Adwords is your tool. Easy to set up and to control your spending. Another great on-line tool.
(Although.... yesterday I received a discount voucher - valid till the end of this month - for Adwords from a friend as thank you for some SEO I'd done for his latest website. When I entered the code into my billing page of my long term Google Adwords account I got the following message: my account was too old to redeem this voucher! As if Google isn't making enough money already!! Too old to be treated as a respected client? End of rant.)
Customer care can be done online too these days with one of my favourite programs: ScreenSteps Desktop and ScreenSteps Live. Publish the answers to your frequently asked questions online (written in Desktop so you can publish and combine in multiple ways) and direct your prospects/clients to the appropriate page in the manual using ScreenSteps latest innovation: Live Support System.
(Blue Mango Learning System announced last week the price for ScreenSteps Desktop Pro is - IMHO finally! - going to be increased with $ 20.00. Since the release of the latest version 2.6 the value of the program is tripled if not quadrupled and rightly so should the price reflect this. If you hurry you can still get this excellent and multifunctional program for the old price of $ 59.95. Offer end Wednesday 17 June)
Another online software I used this week is perhaps also the latest 'innovation' of off-line business tasks now available online: bookkeeping! Liberty Accounting comes complete with Payroll and is one - if not the - first to include filling your VAT return through their program.
(Side-note: the program was recommended by our business adviser for my neighbour who had asked both him and me for advice on accounting. All three of us can access the program: the owner of the business, the 'bookkeeper' of the business and the accountant of the business - how's that for multi-functionality?)
All the above programs I've used this last week - a short week for us after our well deserved break last weekend - and makes you wonder/ponder if the 'virtual office' or 'virtual business' is about to truly become a fact?
How many online tools are you using for standard 'off line' business activities yourself? And what other tasks can you see being turned online in the near future?