Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Virtual Office

Many small businesses operate in a virtual office environment. Many are also home based and use service providers for things like phone answering, email management, business addresses etc to give their customers a feeling of size.

For start-ups, even though the cost of these services is considerably cheaper than renting office space, it is still an expense that needs to be considered.
Before engaging with a managed services solution, it is important to document what you actually need and whether the managed service solution is the right one for you at that point in time.

Are you looking for a business address for postage and are not happy to have your home address as the contact point?

If you are getting a lot of post, then this is an idea. If you get minimal post and the majority of your mail is of the electronic variety, I would suggest that having a service for this is unnecessary. Perhaps talk to friends or business colleagues who have a business address and ask can you use theirs for a while.

Are you looking for phone answering?

There are great solutions out there that don’t require you to use a managed service or install an expensive phone solution in your home.
Perhaps use the skype business manager that allows you to setup a landline that can be rung like any other phone. If you are online, you answer the call through Skype in the normal way. If you are not then voicemail option kicks in and you can return the call when you are available. Cost of this service? 50 odd euro a year – good value. (No – not an agent for them :) ).
For my business, the above two elements were the ones that I was struggling with. There are others and many cost effective options out there – it’s just a question of taking some time out to look for them.
So, like any aspect of a start-up business, consider the virtual office carefully. Consider the value and what you are trying to achieve with your virtual office and go from there.
What “virtual office” solutions do you have in place?

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