A Virtual office is an ideal way for any budding entrepreneur to get a prestigious office address and access to other office services whilst keeping business costs to a minimum and is also just as ideal for those who are moving to the area to have an immediate base whilst setting up. We asked Jenny Haley from the Innovation Centre in St. Leonards to give us a guide on what they are, how they work and what the benefits are.
Is a virtual office right for your business?
A virtual office provides you with a business address and telephone number, without the full time office premises to go with them.
For many people who run a business from home, this is an ideal way to cultivate a professional image and means you don’t have to give out your home address.
It can also be an ideal first step for entrepreneurs who plan to have their own premises later but want to get their business up and running first.
A virtual office or a PO Box?
A PO Box is a lower cost alternative to a virtual office. It provides an address for your post, which you collect from your local Royal Mail delivery office.
This typically costs as little as £8-£10 per month. But there are big limitations: there is no associated phone number; it doesn’t give your customers the impression that you have a local office; the Royal Mail won’t accept mail from other carriers; and a PO Box is not acceptable under the Distance Selling Regulations if you want to sell online.
A virtual office service, on the other hand, will normally give you an address at an established business centre; will accept deliveries from other carriers; and you can choose either to collect your mail or have it posted onto you.
Many virtual office address providers also offer other invaluable benefits such as meeting room hire at your virtual address, networking events and ‘hot desk’ facilities. So as well as having it as a professional postal address, you can use it as a base for meeting clients and business contacts.
Top tips when choosing a virtual office:
Send yourself a letter and make some sample phone calls to check everything works as it should. Only use the address or phone number with your customers when you’re fully confident with the way things work. Even then, test the service a couple of times a year once it’s up and running.
After all, it’s not just a simple support service you’re buying. You are putting your business reputation on the line. What could be more important than that?
To find out more about virtual office services for companies in the Hastings & St Leonards area, contact Jenny Haley on (01424) 858199 or visit the Innovation Centre website at www.innovationcentrehastings.com