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Are you a sole proprietor or busy entrepreneur? Consider using a virtual office to help swing the work/life pendulum back in your favor.
Think back to the time just before you started your home-based business. Fresh faced and full of ideas, you pictured yourself whipping out proposals and hitting deadlines with ease. In your fantasy, you were fueled only by filtered water and enthusiasm.
Fast forward to the current reality. It’s 11:56 pm. You’re tired, groggy, and you’ve just drained your sixth cup of coffee. You’re way past yesterday’s deadline and you still haven’t packed the kids’ school lunches. And you’re out of bread. Oh, and it’s World Book Day tomorrow. Don’t you have a Harry Potter costume to make?
Hey, we’ve all been in desperate situations not unlike this one.
The truth is, running a business—any business—takes hard work, grit, and broad shoulders. Most of all, it takes determination to get the job done. And woe betide the person who makes jokes about home-based workers slumming around in their pajamas all day.
So, you’ve got a job to do. How can a virtual office help?
What Is a Virtual Office?
First, what is a virtual office and how does it work?
With virtual office space, you get virtually everything you would find in a regular office rental. For instance, you’ll have a place to receive and store mail and a receptionist to answer calls. However, you won’t have the actual office itself, not all the time anyway.
A virtual office is a combination of services for home-based businesses or professionals who spend most of their time out on the road. What’s more, it will give your organization a real location (in a real bricks-and-mortar building) to serve as your HQ.
The difference is, you don’t need the office on a full-time basis because you already have one at home. Your virtual office is simply a mailing address with a bunch of on-site services and pay-as-you-go office or meeting space. Best of all, it’s a lot more cost-effective than renting a full-time office.
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How Does It Work?
If you need a physical office occasionally, say once per week, you can turn up and use the facilities by the hour. The same goes for meeting rooms.
For instance, a virtual office and a physical office both provide:
- A place to hold meetings and to work
- A commercial address destination for business mail
- A registered company address (that’s not the client’s home)
- An address to put on business cards and marketing materials
- A local presence in a specific city or area, that’s associated with the client’s target market
- On-site services such as printing, faxing, copying, and other administrative services such as receptionist or secretarial support.
Because businesses that rent virtual office space don’t use the building on a full-time basis, and because services are shared across multiple clients, a virtual office is available at a lower cost.
A virtual office operates as a collection of on-demand resources. Therefore, a virtual office is as permanent or as fluid as you like. Because of this flexibility and shared resources, it dramatically cuts down the capital expenses that are associated with typical office infrastructures.
The Benefits of Using a Virtual Office
If you’re looking to swing the work/life balance pendulum back in your favor, here are some of the ways a virtual office can help:
Virtual offices provide receptionists, mail redelivery, and other business support services. If you’re a sole trader or your business is having a growth spurt, you’ll know how challenging it can be when you’re busy doing all the things and your client just wants a nice long chat over the phone. It’s a welcome relief to know that someone else will step in to answer calls while you’re busy doing everything else.
Having a professional address sets those all-important first impressions. You can get your own business address on Broadway or Madison Avenue in New York City. Or choose Brickell Avenue in Miami, Florida. Or make it one of thousands of other locations, from around $50 per month. More important than price, however, it gives your business added credibility. It shows that you’re a serious entrepreneur and you care about your brand’s position in the world.
Having an on-hand receptionist to deal with queries improves the customer service of a business. Having someone pick up the phone or smooth over a difficult client on your behalf makes a much better impression. Your calls are handled by a professional receptionist who has the time, and the customer service skills, to handle calls in a friendly and professional manner.
Somewhere to Hold Meetings
Having a professional, physical space to meet with clients sends out a completely different message compared with meeting up in a cafe or at home. Sure, that’s fine if you’re on friendly and informal terms with your client or supplier. However, if you’re meeting over a sensitive matter, you need a quiet, private place. You need it to be well-serviced and come with relevant presentation or conferencing equipment. Remember, first impressions are everything.
One of the great things about virtual offices is their flexibility. Whether you need a business mailing address, a live receptionist service to answer calls and set appointments, or simply the occasional use of a meeting room, you can pick and choose the services you need.
When you’re busy wearing multiple hats and juggling everything from invoicing to fixing the Wi-Fi router, a virtual office can be a valuable, cost-efficient flexible workplace solution. It helps save time and streamline operations so you can swing the work/life pendulum back in your favor. Finally, you can get back to doing the things that matter—be it growing your business or spending more time with the family.