5050BIZ Launches Virtual Office for Small Business

Online newcomer 5050BIZ, LLC recently launched its namesake Web platform aimed at giving entrepreneurs a single destination for a range of online activities. 5050BIZ combines aspects of social networking sites, such as interactive bulletin boards and expert advice on various topics, with online management, collaboration and communication tools such as videoconferencing and virtual meeting rooms. The company intends its site to serve as a one-stop-shop for businesses that offers the community environment of a social site coupled with popular digital business tools not currently offered as one package by other business sites.

“We saw how people were sharing ideas on MySpace and Facebook, and wondered if there was a business-person’s version of [sites like that],” explained Leif Hartwig, founder and CEO of the venture. He envisioned a site that businesses would use every day, not just on occasion like LinkedIn. The result is a home page that acts as a “virtual office” for the various online solutions a business might want. “Our goal was to have everything just one or two clicks away.”

The virtual office includes a range of features, such as news, a search function and alerts of incoming messages. Members can also add customizable links to their commonly used sites, such as Facebook, Wikipedia, QuickBooks Online and other sites they frequent beyond 5050BIZ. There’s also tool to import contacts, a link to a business’ private bulletin board (which can be used like a secure intranet site), and links to 5050BIZ’s online workshops. The site offers videoconferencing services—a private-label version of conferencing solution DimDim—for use with outside clients or remote team members. 5050BIZ also delivers chat and messaging features.

A company’s Conference Room is a secure bulletin board on 5050BIZ that lets employees communicate about projects, set and track goals and so on. A handy shared events calendar lets team members see upcoming meetings and events and check the availability of others. And 5050BIZ will soon add capability that will let team members upload shared documents so they are easily accessible.

As with LinkedIn, 5050BIZ members are encouraged to create a professional profile for colleagues and clients to see. Members can create connections to other 5050BIZ members both inside and outside their organizations. 5050BIZ has also partnered with job-listing aggregator Indeed.com for its Career Central area on the site, where members can post job openings and search for open positions.

5050BIZ’s ProTeam feature delivers advice from industry experts in a range of fields pertinent to small businesses, such as human resources, accounting, law, real estate, technology business coaching and more (16 in all).

The site also offers a free membership that lets people post and search professional profiles; upload and manage contacts, access Career Central listings, and read public bulletin boards dedicated to various industries. A Gold membership ($24.95 per month) lets a member create and join networks, chat and IM with other members, post to bulletin boards, connect to ProTeam advisors, post advertisements and job openings, access a private conference Room with a secure bulletin board and more.

Monthly team packages range from $49.95 (for five team members) to $499 (for 100 or more members), and add advanced features such as the private intranet site, goals and results progress-tracking, secure office chat and the shared event calendar.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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