While the declining world economy has many people in an uproar, it has shown others a golden opportunity for creating something new, such as a virtual office. Here’s how a virtual office can help you in challenging times.
* What are virtual offices?
A virtual office is exactly as it sounds – conducting business without having a fixed office space. Virtual office use mobile phones, laptop computers, internet data sharing and other technologies to conduct business from home, from coffee shops and local libraries.
The concept of a virtual office has grown to the point that there are companies that provide complete virtual office services, including telephone answering, call forwarding, voicemail, mailing, copy machines, fax machines, meeting areas and even kitchen areas. These are offered at attractive prices. For example, one virtual office provider quotes a monthly fee of $350 per month (plus additional fees for added service like meeting space, communications etc.) When compared to the thousands of dollars per month needed simply to rent an office space, it’s easy to see why virtual offices are a smart option in a declining economy.
* Who uses them?
Virtual offices can be used in most “white-collar” businesses. They are especially useful for small businesses because virtual offices require much less capital outlay. Small business owners thus don’t have to worry about buying or renting a space and then renovating it for their needs. They also don’t have to wait until those tasks are accomplished, thus they can start earning money more quickly. Start-up companies often first operate as virtual offices and may or may not “graduate” to a brick-and-mortar operation.
Freelancers also commonly have a virtual office as writers, graphic artists, website developers and photographers most often meet with clients at their place of business. By carrying their data with them via a cell phone or a laptop, freelancers can respond to their client needs quickly. The reduced cost of running a virtual office often means a freelancer can undercut the price of a competitor who has a brick-and-mortar operation.
* Helping the economy
Because virtual offices are so much less expensive to run than traditional office spaces, the virtual versions have actually been helping the economy to recover and grow. It is believed that people who have been downsized out of a corporate job are deciding to go into business for themselves, and are encouraged to do so when they see how affordable a virtual office can be.
According to abetteroffice.com, single-person businesses grew faster than those in any other category from 1997 to 2006, with an average annual growth rate of 3.35 percent. MBO Partners, in the same article on abetteroffice.com, reported that, in addition to the 5 million Baby Boomers already working independently, an additional 1.2 million are expected to join the self-employed workforce during the next two years.
* Other opportunities
In addition to having more people, taking the plunge and opening their own businesses, virtual offices have opened up other business opportunities. For example, coffee shops and restaurants have discovered that adding Wi-Fi capability increases their business as virtual office holders seek out comfortable places to meet with clients and also do their paperwork. In addition, property owners left with a glut of vacant office space from the economic decline have taken to starting their own virtual office services, renting out meeting rooms on an hourly or daily basis, providing another location for virtual office holders to host meetings, seminars etc.
Servcorp virtual office have been helping small business owners get a good start. It’s exciting to see that they are actually helping the economy get back on its feet as well. Is it time for you to get a virtual office?