As COVID-19 continues we’ve necessarily come to depend upon our digital devices more and more as our professional realities have become increasingly virtual – and now may be the time to get even closer to your computer, as you work to continue operations a la laptop.
Here are five productive ways to use the virtual world to enhance your real-world business operations:
1. File business taxes.
If you’re not already filing and paying your business taxes electronically, why not? You can use IRS e-file for free, and through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System®, you can either use a credit card or authorize an electronic withdrawal directly from your bank account to pay your taxes.
- It’s secure: The system uses three pieces of identification to protect your privacy and secure your information.
- It’s accurate: The system has a 99% accuracy rate and provides immediate confirmation of your payment.
- It’s convenient: You can pay your income, employment, estimated and excise federal taxes from just about anywhere, 24/7/365.
2. Buy business insurance.
Business insurance can help ensure both your personal and business assets are fully protected from unexpected catastrophes like natural disasters, accidents, and lawsuits.
- Assess your risks: The National Federation of Independent Businesses offers a good guide to choosing insurance, including how to assess your risks and ensure every element of your business is covered.
- Find an agent: A licensed, reputable commercial insurance agent can help meet your business needs with the right policy. Agents receive policy sales commissions from insurance companies, so make sure yours represents your best interests.
- Compare benefits and costs: It pays to shop around – consider rates, terms, and benefits for insurance offers from several agents before selecting the best one for your business.
- Re-assess annually: Your liabilities grow with your business. If you replace or purchase new equipment or expand your operations, contact your insurance agent to ensure your business continues to be fully covered.
3. Attend virtual tradeshows.
If you missed September’s RTO World Virtual, you missed an excellent example of a successful online educational and procurement event! Holding and attending virtual meeting experiences has some real-life benefits, including decreased cost, increased audience, and diminished environmental impact. Here are a few tips for making the most of a virtual convention/tradeshow:
- Do some prep work: List key takeaways you want from the event, peruse the attendees list, and get familiar with the platform to avoid day-of tech troubles.
- Present or sponsor: Volunteering as a breakout-session speaker or a happy-hour sponsor will create brand exposure and great connections for your business.
- Amp up your booth: Make your virtual tradeshow booth more than a brochure; include event-specific videos, compelling images, or a useful mini-webinar.
4. Plan and develop.
Many managers daydream about a time when the daily tasks of typical workdays calm down enough so that they and their teams can concentrate on bigger-picture projects. This may be the time to:
- Create or update strategic-planning documents, like budgets or timelines.
- Establish up-to-date goals and metrics you can use to track progress.
- Collect new data from your employees or customers using online survey tools.
- Engage in professional development through free online resources, like webinars, digital publications and articles, and TED Talks.
5. Master virtual meetings.
Remote meetings have become a normal part of everyone’s everyday worklife, but there are many things you can do to help make them ultimately efficient and effective – from choosing the right online tool to conducting meeting followups, including:
- Create a virtual watercooler: Providing a communal place online where team members can connect casually between meetings can help make remote meetings more productive.
- Establish virtual-meeting guidelines: Let your team know behavior expectations during remote meetings – Should everyone have their cameras on? Can everyone speak at will, or will the team leader call on folks to contribute?
- Give everyone a job: Prior to the meeting, make sure everyone participating has a job – writing down brainstorming ideas, managing the slide presentation, etc. – to engage everyone actively.