Thursday, 23 Mar 2023 | 9 min read
Apps you need to start an online professional services business
If you want to leverage your expertise and start an online professional services business, there’s never been a better time.
You no longer need a fancy office space to attract the best clients and grow your business. And you can run your entire business on the internet.
As organisations navigate unprecedented change, they will lean on the expertise of professional services firms more than ever. So if you’re in the professional services industry, there is potential (and a huge market) for you to help shape the future of the next decade and beyond.
Over the last five years – Australia’s professional services sector has grown by 0.5%. A small jump, but it’s not a meagre amount in an industry that generates $263.2 billion annually. Underpinning that steady post-COVID growth are projections the professional services industry will grow by 44% worldwide by 2030.
While it seems everywhere you look these days, a new service-based business starts and thrives, that isn’t the whole story. Following a pandemic-driven boom as the industry moved online, Australia’s professional services sector has declined by 3.4% in 2023.
And here’s the thing: The failing businesses aren’t necessarily the ones with the least experienced professionals. In fact, it’s often the opposite. The professional services businesses that thrive in the digital age are the ones that harness the internet to make their business more efficient and their service more effective.
The lesson is this: If you’re starting an online professional services business, your service should be the same as it is offline. Yes, when the pandemic forced businesses to operate online, clients could accept those little inconveniences – such as laggy video calls or waiting for important documents because they’re in the office. That isn’t the case anymore. You must deliver a top-tier service online to stay caught up.
And as an online professional services business, productivity-powering apps can make all the difference.
These days, most business applications run through the internet. So your business will need a powerful connection to ensure you have the bandwidth to harness these apps’ productivity powers.
Here are some apps professional services businesses use. Choose one from each category, and your business is set to thrive in the digital age.
Apps you need to start an online professional services business
While videoconferencing was around long before the pandemic, it’s since reached a new level. As restrictions prevented in-person meetings, videoconferencing became the default meeting location almost overnight.
And businesses quickly realised video meetings made them more productive. You’re constantly meeting with stakeholders outside your organisation in the professional services space. And that often means that when you’ve got a lot of meetings, you spend a lot of time travelling. But with videoconferencing, you and your clients get that time back. That means you can fit more meetings in and have more time to work on your business.
With remote work now a permanent fixture of the professional services industry, having the capacity to hold meetings online is essential to today’s productivity standards.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that by 2024, 75% of business meetings will occur online.
But there’s videoconferencing, and then there’s videoconferencing. It’s no longer the convenient novelty it was during the pandemic. It’s now a standard way to have a meeting.
HD, 4k and 8k videoconferencing can make you feel like you’re in the room with your colleagues when you dial in from home. But if you’ve got a poor-quality internet connection, that realism disappears. Inefficiencies such as lagging, call dropouts, and the 40-minute limits on zoom’s free version aren’t features of a typical meeting.
You know those conversations in the lunch room or around your desks?
Even the most casual discussions can light a spark to business success. It pays to encourage “water cooler” chats in your business, from sharing ideas to collaborating on complex problems.
If you’re a solopreneur, those chats often happen at client offices, co-working spaces, and networking events.
So whether you work online or offline, facilitating those meaningful conversations is essential to growing your business.
Emails and video conferences lend themselves to more formal communication. Whereas, instant messaging apps built for the workplace can fill the water cooler’s void and make those crucial conversations more effective.
Group chats and dedicated channels help guide conversations. And a separation between formal and informal channels helps build relationships and boost business culture.
Remember the days when you’d need a floppy disk to share files?
We know those days are long gone. And soon, we’ll think of emailing files or transferring them via USBs the same way.
Today, the cloud is the easiest and most productive way to share and store files. You, your team and your clients can access files from the same place, enabling easy document collaboration. With the cloud, your team has the same access to files, whether in the office or working remotely.
And you won’t need to delete files or move them to a hard drive to make space for new ones anymore. In the cloud, you can quickly scale your storage to keep up with growing file storage needs – without buying expensive hardware.
And you won’t need to worry about losing your work either. The cloud automatically backs your files up online. So in the event of computer issues in your business, you can still access your work and keep things moving.
If you’re looking for a custom cloud solution to meet more complex cloud requirements, such as higher storage or meeting regulatory guidelines on data storage, we can help. With Aussie Broadband’s managed cloud services, your business can leverage the power of the cloud. And it gives your business a robust, all-encompassing solution to effective cloud migration. Hosted in our Australian data centre and managed 24/7 by our local support team, you can rest assured your data is in good hands. Visit our managed cloud services page to find out more. Or if you prefer, speak to our team on 1300 161 625 to discuss a cloud solution that works best for your business.
Business owners often have access to sensitive data about their clients – such as passwords to accounts, confidential documents, and payment details. If this client data falls into the wrong hands, it could do a lot of damage.
A robust security solution is essential in the professional services industry. Whether you’re a freelancer or a global firm, the need for security doesn’t change. What does, though, is the type of security solution that does the job and protects your business from cyber threats.
Aussie Broadband, we help small businesses stay protected with cybersecurity solutions built for small businesses.
And we’ve partnered with Fortinet to deliver hardware that fortifies your business with industry-leading, next-generation firewall technology. Combining that with Aussie Broadband’s security expertise, we offer small businesses a comprehensive cyber security solution.
Marketers, we know you know this! But no matter your industry, marketing software can positively impact your business. And that’s true even if you don’t do any marketing (per se).
Through marketing software, you can record all your existing prospects and clients. You can accurately store information about a prospect that will help you nail a sales call and land them as a client. You can also build an email database and send updates to your existing clients – helping you develop and foster vital business relationships.
There’s also your digital presence. Social media is still a valuable sales tool even if you don’t make any sales through digital channels. According to Neil Schaffer, 75% of marketers credit social media marketing with increased web traffic, and 90% say it has improved business exposure.
Social media presents a fantastic opportunity to promote your – and by extension, your business’s – expertise to your target market.
But often, business owners put it in the too-hard basket. After all, it takes time and effort to create a social media strategy that engages prospects and moves them along the sales funnel. That’s where marketing software can help. Social media scheduling tools make the task of social media posting more efficient. They also provide tips to make your posts more effective.
These days, most marketing software runs through the internet. So your business will need a powerful connection to ensure you have the bandwidth to make the most of your marketing.
For some beginner-friendly marketing software, check out Mailchimp for emails and HubSpot for social media. There’s also the creative side of marketing. Thanks to user-friendly design apps such as Canva, you don’t need to be a designer to create professional, high-impact marketing materials.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools
AI is the new frontier in business technology. And it’s getting scary good. Recently, there’s been an explosion of AI platforms hitting the market. And they’re set to disrupt how we work, create and do business.
In 2022, AI made a splash in the creative community. And its increasing omnipresence has generated as much fear and controversy as wonder and curiosity. In 2022, AI art took the world by storm, with AI-generated artwork taking home first place in a prestigious art competition. The arrival of ChatGPT in late 2022 saw interest in AI skyrocket even further. Here was a piece of AI that could write all sorts of things: Essays, business plans, and even code.
And as interest – and investment – in AI reaches unprecedented levels, we’re seeing AI tools that can do just about anything: From making professional-looking videos to music from scratch and creating realistic images of people who don’t exist, the possibilities are endless.
If you’re not, at the very least, experimenting with AI tools in your business, chances are you will be very soon. A DataProt report on AI found that 37% of businesses currently use AI in some form. And that figure is only expected to climb, as Dataprot expects the AI market to be worth $267 billion by 2027. Interestingly, whilst AI is set to eliminate 85 million jobs, it will create 97 million new ones by 2025.
As a professional services business, your clients expect you to be at the forefront of change. And there’s no more significant change happening in the business world right now than the rise of AI.
Set your professional services business up for success.
When you start an online professional services business, you quickly learn it takes more than just your expertise to thrive.
Harnessing the power of the internet will lay the foundations for a high-performing professional services business.
But don’t worry. You won’t need to do it alone. Here at Aussie Broadband, we live and breathe business. And we’re passionate about helping businesses find and implement the telco solution that helps them thrive.
All our business telco solutions come with ongoing support from our passionate, helpful Aussie-based team.
Visit our professional services page to learn more about how we help professional services businesses with all their telecommunications needs.
And if you’d like a solution tailored to your business, our Australian-based team is here to help. Give them a call on 1300 480 905.
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