How to start a virtual office business? This is an important question to answer as a virtual office provides many benefits and is simply a valuable option. Read more below.
Virtual offices exist to provide a minimum physical space (sometimes with a skeleton crew) for largely virtual companies to benefit from the advantages of a real-life address without necessarily having to occupy that address.
Virtual offices are particularly beneficial for startups that otherwise cannot afford to finance, set up, manage, and occupy an entire commercial property on their own, but need a place to receive calls and packages, receive and host meetings with potential clients, and provide a greater sense of legitimacy.
How to Start a Virtual Office Business?
Virtual offices are, despite the name, real physical addresses. However, they are not designed to host a company’s workforce, or act as a workspace. Instead, these offices exist largely on paper, as addresses for other companies to send packages and correspondence, or for clients to call and check out.
Another distinct benefit for a virtual office is that its address is usually in a commercial space, like a business park or an office building. This provides a business with much more legitimacy than if their own available address was a P.O. box or a garage in a residential area. Some clients and customers make a habit of checking a business’s physical location out on their own, even if only through Google Earth.
The basic value proposition behind a virtual office is that it’s getting harder and more expensive to manage viable commercial real estate, especially for startups with employees spread thin over an entire region or country, or companies that operate largely remotely.
While having an office of your own has its distinct advantages, there are some benefits that you can spoof through a virtual office.
Setting up a virtual office of your own doesn’t have to be a significant investment. You can create a virtual office for your business without owning a commercial workspace yourself, through coworking spaces.
Benefits of a Virtual Office
The distinct value proposition provided by a virtual office is that it gives smaller companies and entrepreneurs the advantage over the competition of benefitting from the trappings of a physical space without anywhere near the same overhead.
When setting up a virtual office business, you can manage the same space for multiple different companies. It is not uncommon for multiple companies to share the same address.
Some of the greater advantages of utilizing a virtual office for small businesses and entrepreneurs include:
Having Your Own Mailbox
There are a few advantages to having a mailbox attached to an existing commercial space, and not just a regular P.O. box. These include:
- Being able to receive and forward physical mail from FedEx, UPS, and the USPS. PO boxes can only accept mail shipped through the USPS.
- Having a real address to mail things can improve your company’s legitimacy in the eyes of your clients. It is also safer.
- Having a physical address to ship to that is distinct from your own personal residential space. If you work largely from home, you may want to protect your privacy by separating your professional life from your personal life. This is especially important if your business may one day stand at the receiving end of some controversy.
If you offer mail forwarding to the client of your virtual office business, then ensuring that their data is kept safe and encrypted and that all mail is processed on the same day it arrives can add an additional critical layer of security and convenience.
You can utilize a virtual mailbox service to securely process your mail, forward it to an address of your choice confidentially, and continue to benefit from working at home or via a coworking space.
A Space to Receive Clients
Perhaps the greatest benefit of setting up a virtual office for yourself is having the option of physically receiving clients, and meeting with them face-to-face when the occasion calls for it.
A coworking space can act as an excellent and professional meeting room when it needs to, and most coworking spaces are designed with private meeting and conference rooms in mind.
Sometimes, meeting solely over Zoom or Teams isn’t enough to gain a client’s trust. Face-to-face meetings may have been largely off the books during the pandemic, but as inoculation strategies unfold and a potential end to most restrictions is in sight, many businesses are considering how they might safely reintegrate in-person meetings and onboarding processes in safe, ventilated, or open spaces.
Staff to Receive and Forward Calls
A successful virtual office consists of more than just space. It also requires a human element. This might be a virtual assistant outsourced to another corner of the planet, or a person present at your virtual office of choice, there to receive and host unexpected visits from clients, receive and forward important calls, and act as receptionists for your virtual business.
In most cases, a single assistant or receptionist is often enough to handle the most basic administrative tasks, filtering through daily correspondence, taking calls, and notifying you whenever your presence might be needed at a physical location.
- The first thing you need when starting up a virtual office is the right location.
- You will also want a way to receive and process mail.
- Consider hiring staff to manage the receiving of calls and correspondence, and the occasional visiting client.
- Finally, consider coworking spaces for the benefits they provide as a nominal space for your business, whether it’s for meeting up with clients face-to-face, or facilitating the onboarding process for new hires.
Tips for Entrepreneurs
Leverage a virtual space to make your life easier. A virtual office shouldn’t just be a placeholder to grant your business more legitimacy – consider taking full advantage of the benefits of having a coworking space of your own.
Coworking spaces have provided a safe alternative for those struggling with feelings of isolation during the pandemic, enabling entrepreneurs and satellite teams to work from anywhere, coordinate virtually, and benefit from the amenities of a fully stocked office without the overhead of expanding the headquarters to comply with social distance rules, or buying up new commercial space.