It’s true to say that the past few years have seen a dramatic change for business. Business owners new and established now have to think innovatively about running their businesses in an effort to survive dramatic events such as loss of high street and the Covid19 pandemic. We are now either working from home, hybrid or still in a work establishment. But now this ‘establishment’ needs to be creative, and our virtual office services and mailbox services may be your answer.
As a Storage company owner, I have seen a dramatic change in clientele over the past 5 years. Self-storage used to, predominantly, be for movers, students and on-line businesses. Not anymore! Over 50% of my clients are businesses. Businesses you would usually find on the high street, service industries and on-line businesses. You can literally buy anything from my facility, pillows, kitchens, IT and business administration services – think of it and its here in some way, shape or form.
It all started with a storage client who ran a business from her home. This lady met her clients in her kitchen, her company was registered to her home address and her post was delivered through her front door. Nothing wrong with this in the circumstances – but then her circumstances changed dramatically. Her ‘office’ was owned by her and her spouse and this marriage came to an end. Having a partner at home afforded her security for customers coming into her home and they owned their property so there were no restrictions to running a business from the address.
All this was set to change, she was moving into a leasehold flat (most leasehold or rental properties do not allow businesses to run from the address) and would be alone. Her website address would change and this would affect her SEO position. Many reasons for her to feel slightly on edge. After a discussion we agreed to trial Virtual Office services from our storage address. We had good SEO, our meeting room was already being used by business storage clients and we would be on hand for security and to meet and greet clients.
We have now been offering virtual office services to start up business and established business clients for 5 years and its grown exponentially throughout this time.
You might be thinking, what is a virtual office? If you are setting up a new business there is a often a desire to look for an office space, it often feels like the ‘right’ thing to do? Think again! Most businesses do not need a physical office or even to look at desk hire and the price difference is staggering. A basic Virtual Office (post box service) will cost around £20 per month with meeting room hire. Compare this to a 2-man office ranging from £250 per month! Even co-working office space starts from around £100 per month. The savings are significant for cash flow. This cash flow is vital for the survival of any business – let alone a new one!
If you are unfamiliar with the term virtual office or asking yourself how can an office be virtual, well here’s the answer. A virtual office is a service that allows businesses to register their address to a desirable location without the need for pay for the physical space. In means you can work remotely whilst presenting a professional and credible frontage to your customers. A virtual office is everything that a real office is – but without the desks and chairs.
Let’s look at the benefits of a virtual office:
Google – Google have great service where you can identify your business on google maps. It shows your location with a pin and your company information. Having a high street professional building mapped greatly improves your credibility.
Security – Not only are you supported by a professional team during meetings but your clients will only know you from the virtual business address. They never need to go to your home or have your home address. This allows privacy and security. We also operate a fob entry system and CCTV giving you total piece of mind.
Work life balance – a Virtual Office allows you to separate your business from your home address. You may have an office at home but meeting clients there is the next step of blurring the home/office boundaries. Meeting a client outside of your home allows you to separate yourself mentally and emotionally.
Confidentiality – our meeting room is private. For anyone who has tried to have a meeting in Costa they will totally understand the ‘shouting above the din’ scenario where the coffee maker is grinding beans, there is a sugary detritus over the ‘meeting room table’ and you look around you like a couple of spies to ensure that the lady next to you can’t hear the conversation you are trying to have. Not ideal! With our private, clean office solely for your meeting there are no confidentiality worries.
Cost Effective – Let’s go back to Costa for a moment, 2 medium lattes and a chocolate biscuit – you
are looking at a bill of over £5 (not including the biscuit). Our Virtual Offices have an hour of meeting room thrown in with refreshments (all the biscuits you can eat) – total Bill £0. A 2-person office without bills will be minimum of £250 per calendar month – if you’re thinking of an office rental, you can virtually double this with all the hidden extras. A Virtual Office starts at £20 – £25 if you want to register at Companies House.
Back up – You don’t have to be in for post or parcels thanks to the mail and parcel collection we offer. To make your life easier, we also include a letter forwarding service which we offer for a small fee. If you are late for a meeting, we will take care of your client. Although we don’t offer a personal assistant or a virtual receptionist, you will have a professional team behind you without the cost of employing staff. Our start up business service is literally all you need to keep your business lean and successful.
Tech and facilities – Our meeting room has chrome cast so you can do presentations with your clients. We have free WIFI in the building with a shared loo and kitchen facilities, and with our parcel collection, if you pick up your post and want to stop in the kitchen to send a couple of emails – the option is available for you.
Flexibility – Our Virtual Offices are minimum of 3 months and then on a rolling monthly contract. This means you have no 2-year tie in that usually occurs in a physical office. If your business did fold for any reason you have no lingering debt. You can work where you want, when you want knowing that your ‘office’ is still open for business.
Connecting – Our mail collection service allows you to step out to pick up post or parcels or coming to us for your meetings and provides a familiar connection on a regular basis. Working alone can be lonely and there is a real community at our offices with likeminded professionals and our staff. Clients often stop and have a coffee with us when picking up post. It’s a hub for business with great connections. We also offer free workshops if a business needs something in particular – like the GDPR changes and we signpost business to business service trainers and providers such as Outset and Dorset Hub who offer free events, training and funding advice for new business.
For more information on our Virtual Office Space services click here.
The original version of this article was published in www.a-storage.co.uk