Starting a new business has never been easier. With only a laptop and a plan, you can launch your own startup from the comfort of your home. But there are challenges that come with running a business out of your home. You’ll need a mailing address for your letterhead, business cards and the contact page of your website. But you probably don’t want to plaster your home address across all of your marketing materials. Renting a P.O. box is an option, but it can make you look as though you’re working from home. If you’re trying to establish yourself as a larger company with a full team and physical office space, a virtual office address is worth considering.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
To rent a virtual office address, contact a service that offers it, such as Anytime Mailbox, The UPS Store, Davinci Virtual Offices or Regus.
Renting a Virtual Office
There are numerous options for businesses when it comes to setting up a virtual office. But if you plan to work from home, you may only need a mailing address, which some providers offer for a low monthly rate. Anytime Mailbox and The UPS Store both offer street addresses, making them a great alternative to P.O. boxes. With The UPS Store, you’ll have similar features to what you get if you open a P.O. box, including the ability to stop by and pick up packages at your own convenience rather than having them routed to your home. Anytime Mailbox is a truly virtual service, though, forwarding your packages and scanning any incoming mail to deliver it to you electronically. You can visit their websites to learn more and sign up either by phone or online.
One step up from the virtual mailing address setup is a virtual office service. These businesses seem to grow in popularity with each year. Among the most popular is Davinci Virtual Offices, which provides mail forwarding and a street address. This setup is in an actual building, though, where you can pay by the hour to use the conference room or by the hour, day or week to work in a fully equipped office. A Davinci office allows you to schedule meetings in a professional office building where you have your name on the lobby directory and a greeter, rather than scheduling meetings at a Starbucks. You can also get similar services through Regus and locally based office space providers. You can sign up for these services either online or by contacting them by phone.
Virtual Office Benefits
There are many benefits of a virtual business address. A business address gives a new company a professional presence that makes a difference with potential customers. It can put you on par with more established businesses in the same space. It will also help you avoid issues with zoning ordinances and homeowners association rules that don’t allow you to run a business out of your home.
If you’re looking into a virtual office like the services offered by Davinci Office and Regus, though, the benefits go beyond issues with your mail. With a virtual address alone, your clients can search for the address and see on Google Street View that it isn’t an actual office complex. A virtual office will have the benefit of showing potential clients that your mail is coming to an actual office building. If your client stops by, your business name will be on the directory and the lobby attendant will be able to let them know you’re out. When you have a conference room and rentable office space, you’ll be able to schedule meetings in your own office, with clients generally not caring whether you’re there 40 hours a week.
The Benefits of Coworking Spaces
Many coworking spaces also offer virtual business address services, including mail forwarding and scanning, but they also provide desk space. Davinci office spaces are an option, but there are many competitors, including WeWork and Industrious. Whether you’re a freelancer or a business owner with a couple of virtual employees, a coworking space can benefit you in a variety of ways, including growing with you as you build your customer base and add employees.
You’ll find a variety of amenities at coworking spaces, in addition to those offered by virtual business address providers, including break areas and regular networking meetings. In fact, the networking aspect of a coworking space can be its biggest asset. You’ll find yourself working alongside fellow business owners, including graphic designers, marketers and application developers. Not only can you find the service providers for your various needs as a new business, but you also may find they use your services or buy your products. At the very least, they may be able to introduce you to others who need what you’re offering.
Becoming a Nomad
A big benefit of setting up a virtual office is that you can work from anywhere. If you’re visiting family for the holidays or traveling for work, you can stay in touch with all of your clients and keep up with your work from wherever you are. You likely have the ability to route calls to your cell phone or a landline, which means you can remain reachable with your clients never realizing you aren’t in the office if you choose not to mention it.
If you plan to travel, a virtual business address can also make sure your mail follows you wherever you go. Since you can either have mail forwarded or scanned and sent electronically, you won’t have to worry about missing a delivery. For businesses opting for a coworking space, plenty of franchise companies now offer the ability to reserve a space at any of their locations across the world, which gives you the freedom to move around, as well. This can be especially helpful if you want to build a clientele in more than one location since you can travel from one place to the next without an interruption in service.
Moving to Leased Space
If you need a more permanent option, a leased space may be the best choice. It’s important to look for one that offers “extras” that you can’t afford as a growing business. Sharing a conference room, break area and lobby receptionist with other small businesses in the same area of your building can save you money while also giving you access to the amenities a larger business has.
Before entering into such an arrangement, though, be sure you clarify the boundaries that come with the space. Will you be able to get the conference space when you need it or will you find that you’ll have to plan meetings around everyone else’s schedules? You should also determine who's responsible for the upkeep of various areas.
Virtual Receptionist Services
Although phone trees have become the norm, many customers still prefer to be able to “0” out to a human. With so many businesses operating from cell phones, though, your clients may be directed straight to you when they hit “0,” which takes away from the image you’re trying to express of being a large business with a front desk, receptionist and full team of employees. A virtual receptionist provides that service, answering your calls and even offering basic information, such as driving directions and operating hours.
Receptionist services aren’t the only thing you can set up virtually. You can hire a virtual assistant to take your calls, help with tasks you don’t have time to handle and interact with your clients on your behalf, among other things. These assistants usually work by the hour, so you only use them when you need them, saving the money you’d have to spend by hiring a full-time employee and paying salary plus benefits.
- When deciding on a Business Solution Company to rent your virtual office address, be sure the address you are renting is a real business address and not a P.O. box.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.