LiveOps enables clients to set up virtual call centers, connecting to agents that work from home. Made possible by availability of broadband internet access and affordable computers, the virtual set-up is spurred on by cost-conscious companies who would rather rely on independent contractors than hire full-time staff. Even better, since people who have the freedom and convenience of working from home are generally happier than those that have to commute to call center warehouses, they provide friendlier customer service and are better salespeople. According to LiveOps’ statistics, their home-based operators are also more mature than ‘traditional’ outsource agents (32-38 versus 18-21 years old), and more educated. Virtual call centers don’t have to worry about renting and outfitting offices, or paying staff in slow times, so total cost rivals that of offshore call centers. Working from home is a welcome opportunity for minipreneurs and mompreneurs who’d like to strike a better balance between work and family life, or need to support themselves but can’t afford childcare. Over half of LiveOps’ agents are work at home moms, taking calls while their children take naps or do their homework. An estimated 112,000 home agents were working for outsourcing firms like LiveOps at the end of 2005. That number is expected to climb to 300,000 by 2010 (source: New York Times). Considering how virtual call centers benefit both clients and agents, this concept definitely has mileage. If you’re a minipreneur, get in touch with LiveOps, or similar companies like Willow and Alpine Access. If you’re a not-so-mini entrepreneur, how about setting up a niche service, connecting companies to home workers with specific skills? Or set up the reverse model, like previously highlighted Ether.com. There’s money to be made now that broadband, micro-payment systems, and IP telephony are all in place: time to unleash the world’s talent.