Virtual offices, or co-working spaces as they are sometimes referred to, are popping up all over the country. They are best suited for small businesses, start-ups or solo professionals who need a professional atmosphere to conduct business but do not need full-time space or do not care to commit to a long-term lease. Some common users of this relatively new innovation are attorneys, accountants, mobile salespeople, event planners, therapists, mediators, frequent travelers, real estate agents, networking groups and trainers.
At a basic level, facilities provide a mailing address, mail services, own telephone number, live phone answering, voicemail and a fully-furnished, private office that includes a desk, chair, computer and telephone. Use of a meeting room and/or training area depends on the location. Some centers also provide administrative support such as faxing, copying, typing, data entry and appointment setting. Others even offer the advantage of having on-site business development services, website consulting, video conferencing, bookkeeping/tax prep, and merchant services.
There are many benefits to a virtual office. In contrast to a home-office, a virtual setting, along with mailing address and phone number, may help to convey to prospective and current clients that you are a more legitimate, capable and professional business. There are significant cost advantages as well. Aside from costing less than a traditional suite because you are only paying for the amount of hours per month you anticipate using the office, you do not have any utility, internet or phone bills. In addition, virtual office facilities that offer the aforementioned business incubator-type services establish themselves as a central hub at which all business operations and development can be accomplished under one roof maximizing productivity.
A virtual office is a great place to start because it is relatively inexpensive yet professional and provides all the necessary tools for small businesses to enhance and grow. As you gain more employees, customers and revenue and find you are using the virtual office more than 30+ hours a week, it may be time to reevaluate and consider using a full-time space.