Who hasn’t had a meeting in a coffee shop? To perform an interview, to be interviewed or just to have a regular business meeting or workshop, the increasing popularity to use such venues for startups or small businesses has morphed into a work space of sorts. But what are the problems of mixing business with pleasure?
Privacy: Maintaining the privacy of your conversations and your documents is quite a challenge, there is an unspoken etiquette of working in a coffee shop and you want to keep a brief conversation at a lower voice. Who wants to be interviewed where anybody can hear you? Imagine how many people just passing by can see your financials or bank statements. Imagine trying to close that big business deal over the phone with everybody listening.
Noise: Coffee houses can be very noisy at times and there is no way to foresee this, trying to concentrate on an interview or phone conversation with the noise of a busy coffee shop can be very distracting, not to mention the negative impact when receiving a business call while the barista is calling out your name for you to pick up your drink and the sound of espresso machine in the background.
Security: According to an article done by LoJack, the second most common area for laptop theft is a coffeehouse. And while a laptop can be easily replaced at an expense, your loss of data is not, and can really hurt your business, with problems ranging from the loss of income to legal investigations the fact remains that it will be a real problem that can be prevented.
Professional image: Even though it’s a common practice to hold your meetings at a coffee shop, it can really hurt your business professional image. Some coffee houses have music and while this can be very soothing for some it’s really not the most professional image you want to transmit to your customers or future employees, with so many scammers or ghost companies out there, you really don’t need the added doubt, it’s tough enough as it is already being a startup or a small business trying to establish your brand and be taken seriously.
What is the Solution?
Hiring the services of a virtual office or business center with day offices and meeting rooms, where you can hold your meetings at a private, secure and professional building that will give your customers and guests the right setting, and what is best is that the cost of leasing a day office for an hour is about the same as most coffee drinks out there and at the business center you will also get that coffee included for you and your guests. You will have access to all the amenities the business center has to offer like a live receptionist to greet and meet your customers
The real advantages of using a mail forwarding service for your business
As a small-business owner who is responsible for every aspect of running your office, you know that handling the daily mail can eat up a good portion of your workday. You don’t want to let the mail pile up, so part of every day is spent sorting through it, deciding what’s junk, what can be saved for later, and what you have to take care of right away. Documents have to be filed; certain things must be shredded. It all adds up to a major interruption of your day. Fortunately there’s a great solution – using a mail forwarding service will put time back into your day and give you the confidence that your mail is handled professionally.
When you use a mail forwarding service, your business mail will be delivered to a secure, professional address where it is opened by a virtual assistant who will handle it according to your explicit instructions. Consider these benefits of using a mail forwarding service:
Eliminate junk mail. A mail forwarding service will take junk mail right out of your office. Solicitations and flyers and advertisements for things you don’t need will be discarded without distracting you for a second.
No more clutter. The virtual assistant at your mail forwarding service will not only toss out junk mail but will also scan your important mail and send it to you electronically. If you need hard copies, they will be sent to you, or you can ask to have them shredded at the forwarding service.
Secure package delivery. When you work alone from a small office, it’s easy to miss a delivery when you’re out at a meeting or running errands. That means extra time spent rescheduling deliveries or running to the post office to pick up packages. With a mail forwarding service, packages will be delivered to your designated address and handled according to your instructions. You can make arrangements to pick up or receive the items at your convenience, on your schedule.
Delegate the details. You receive lots of correspondence that has to be answered but doesn’t necessarily require your personal attention. Your virtual assistant at the mail forwarding service can respond to general inquiries for information, acknowledge testimonials from customers, and even deposit checks for you.
Stay in the loop when you travel. Returning from a business trip means spending hours going through a week’s worth of mail. It’s frustrating and time-consuming, and when you use a mail forwarding service you won’t have to worry about it again. Your mail will be handled promptly and efficiently while you’re away, and you’ll still receive scans of the important mail while you’re on the road.
These benefits show just how much a mail forwarding service can help you run your business more efficiently. You’ll have more time to be productive, and you’ll have the confidence of knowing that your mail is being handled by professionals who are working with your best interests in mind.
With today’s rapid change, traditional office space as we know it is also changing, with so many technology advances we come upon a vast variety of working options. The office of the future has you working with customers and clients remotely, and in many cases you have never met them face-to-face and that is ok. With the right applications and tools you can keep connected and collaborating. IT professionals dedicated to one business keeping all the computers and networks running smoothly at your office is not the only option anymore, that IT professional is still there but virtually working from a remote place keeping more than one system in check, and by sharing the costs the technology you can actually make use of it without breaking the bank. Furthermore, the office of the future is a paperless office, no more clutter or need for a physical space to keep it all.
This office of the future is coming to us very quickly. And according to current technology trends, in many ways, it’s already here. The advantages of this office of the future are huge in time and cost savings and you will need to get into the trend to keep current with your competitors and provide your customers with the services that they’ll be demanding as well as with a more efficient business.
What are those technology trends that are telling us that the future is here now from a small business perspective?
Mobile computing devices like smart phones, tablets, notebooks as the main tools for managing your life and work by doing complex operations. These technologies are reinventing the way we work not to mention the way we live, allowing a greater flexibility of when, where and how the work is done. Being onsite is becoming less important while customer satisfaction is still unchanged and of paramount importance. This mobile devices have enabled the terms whenever, wherever.
Virtual office, this trend persists and is on the growth for two main reasons: firstly, it promises cost-effective computer systems solutions that make a big impact on your budget. There is no need to invest on expensive hardware and systems as well as the resources to keep them up and running. Secondly, it gives way to many new enterprises that provide shared physical real estate, offering flexibility to other businesses that want to take advantage of this mix. As a result you still get to keep the best of both worlds, by projecting a professional image with a professional office address and taking advantage of all the cloud solutions out there to make your virtual office a possibility.
Data is becoming accessible from anywhere and with the increase of cloud adoption and mobile use, eventually all data will be downloaded automatically. Data is becoming accessible from any platform and with data flowing seamlessly and automatically in and out of any application you can focus on your customers and not on data entry, so now you can focus on what really matters and provide an even better customer service. No matter where you are, the functionality of the cloud allows you to access your data form anywhere and at any time, there are no time-zone restrictions, you are always able to connect and use your data.
By embracing the current tech trends you can also get in the race of the office of the future… that is happening now, you can get access to customers around the world; there are no physical boundaries to what you can achieve. Becoming familiar with today’s tech trends will expand your vision of what is to come and have you ready for the present as well as the future.
As a business owner, you probably refer to such trusted sources as CNN, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Business Week for information on economic trends and innovative ideas. While you can get a diversity of opinions from these different sources, in recent years they have all reported on the same fact – McAllen, Texas is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Its rapid growth makes McAllen an ideal location to start a business, and the perfect place for a virtual office.
Here are five solid reasons to consider McAllen for your virtual office:
Easy to reach. With nine bridges between the United States and Mexico, McAllen is situated perfectly for international business. McAllen Miller International Airport is the main business hub of the Rio Grande Valley and Northeast Mexico, providing easy access for your international clients.
Great location. As the retail hub of the Rio Grande Valley, McAllen boasts more than 15 million international bridge crossings per year. With this high volume of traffic, it is a prime location for your virtual business. In fact, McAllen’s number of sales per household surpasses those of Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston.
Steady population growth. The population of McAllen increased more than 35 percent from 2000 to 2010, and the metro area of Cameron and Hidalgo Counties is expected to double in size by 2040. A regional customer base of 10.3 million practically guarantees business for your company.
A ready workforce. In addition to businesses, McAllen’s appeal also includes several colleges and universities, providing a solid workforce of students and graduates for your virtual business. The city is home to branches of Texas A&M University, South Texas College, University of Texas and Eagles International Christian University. At 29 percent, McAllen’s overall population outranks both state and national averages of adults holding Bachelor’s or higher degrees.
A strong economy. According to the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association Cost of Living Index, McAllen boasts the lowest cost of living in Texas, adding to the city’s allure for business owners. Business Week has called McAllen one of the strongest economies in the country, and The Wall Street Journal named it the best housing market in the United States.
Since one of the great benefits of a virtual office is that you can choose any location you wish, why not take advantage of the explosive growth opportunities available in McAllen, Texas. With its ideal location, strong economy, and solid population growth, McAllen is a win-win for business owners looking to expand into a new territory. This rapidly growing city has much to offer, particularly for international businesses trying to build a strong customer base. Listen to the experts and consider McAllen, Texas as the site of your virtual office.
When you are running your small business from a home office, it can be a challenge to promote your business professionally and to keep it separate from your personal life. With all of your mail delivered to the same address, it’s easy for things to get confusing and for clutter to become the unfortunate normal state of your office. Fortunately, you can avoid this problem by using a virtual business address, which will simplify your life by helping you to keep business and personal records separate.
Here are five solid ways that a virtual business address can benefit your business:
Boost your company’s image with a professional business address. When you use a virtual business address, your cards and letterhead will announce that your business is located in a recognized professional area. This gives your company a more professional image than your home address can, and tells potential clients that they are dealing with an established business.
Stop sorting through junk mail. A virtual business address can help you streamline your daily operations and run your business more efficiently. It’s great to find a signed contract or a check in the mailbox, but you have to go through a lot of unwanted junk to get to the important stuff. Junk mail is a distraction and a nuisance; you can eliminate it completely by using a virtual business address.
Eliminate clutter by in your office. Not only will you avoid junk mail, with a virtual business address you can eliminate all mail clutter on your desk. The mail that you need can be scanned and sent to you electronically, with hard copies will be shredded for your security. You can print only what you need to have in hard copy. Checks can be deposited into your bank account without you having to do a thing.
Don’t lose time picking up packages. A virtual business address is also ideal if your work involves receiving frequent packages or items delivered by courier. You won’t have to worry about missing a delivery, or having to take the time to pick up packages from the post office. Everything will be delivered to your virtual address, and you can arrange to receive the packages when it is convenient for you.
Stay current while you are traveling. A virtual business address is ideal for business owners who travel. You won’t have to worry about missing important mail or coming home to a pile of unopened correspondence. Your mail will be opened in your absence and you’ll receive emails of the items you need to see. You won’t lose any valuable time due to your travel schedule.
These five advantages represent real ways that using a virtual business address is the right choice for your small business needs. It will help you build a professional image, save time and avoid distractions, and keep you in the loop when you’re away from the office. Make the decision to use a virtual business address; it will simplify your workday and help keep you focused on your work.
You can afford an office when you use a virtual office solution for your small business
As a small-business owner, the cost of renting office space makes your head spin. In fact, it’s most likely the reason you’re working from a small space in your home, doing all of the office tasks yourself. Sure, you’re saving money, but you’re also feeling like a hamster on a wheel, doing the same things every day, trying to find time for the actual work that makes your business exist.
Fortunately, there is good news that can change your business, and your life. Choosing a virtual office solution will make it possible to have the office support you need without spending tons of money on renting space and hiring staff.
Does this sound too good to be true? It isn’t. Here are a few ways that choosing a virtual office will change your perspective and show you how to have the office you need:
• A professional image. A virtual office is the perfect solution for helping you to have a smart, professional image without renting space in a high-end neighborhood. Your virtual office includes a professional address in a recognized business district; clients won’t know that you work at home. Your company will project a professional, reputable image that a home address just can’t provide.
• The privacy you need. You know the frustration of holding meetings in coffee shops, with the noise level and lack of privacy. When you use a virtual office solution, you and your guests can have coffee in a modern, fully equipped conference room in a corporate setting. Your guests will be greeted by a professional receptionist, who will lead them to a room that’s equipped with the technology you need for your meeting, including internet, fax/scanner, conference- and video-calling.
• Experienced administrative assistance. Your virtual office will provide you with the expertise of a professional virtual office assistant who will provide whatever level of help you require. You can hire an assistant who has experience in your field and whose goal is to maximize your efficiency and productivity.
• Boost your bottom line. A virtual office is much more economical than renting and furnishing your own office. Your virtual assistant will have access to all the technology and equipment needed to do your work, saving you lots of money on computers and supplies
If rental rates scare you but you want to project a professional image, take advantage of these virtual office benefits. You’ll save money on rent, equipment and staff while you improve your company’s image and increase your productivity. There’s no down side to choosing a virtual office; it’s the perfect solution for your business needs.
Use a virtual office to expand your business to the United States
Opening a business in the United States, or expanding your company into a US location, is an exciting prospect. You’ve worked very hard to reach this point, and you’re eager to make the move as quickly as possible. But it takes time to find the right location and then interview candidates until you’ve found the best staff. Fortunately, you can reduce the time and money involved by choosing to open your US business with a virtual office.
Using a virtual office for your new location offers several benefits that will save you money and help expedite the process of opening your US office. Consider these options and how they can streamline your new venture:
Virtual business address. Choosing a virtual office gives you the advantage of a virtual business address. This option means that you won’t have to pay high rent for your new space. Your virtual office address will be in a recognizable business district, showing potential customers and clients that your business is professional and competitive. This added edge to your company’s image can go a long way toward instilling confidence in your clients.
Mail forwarding service. Your virtual US office will include mail forwarding service; all of your mail and packages will be delivered to your virtual business address, where they are received by trained handlers who will carry out your specific instructions. For example, envelopes can be scanned, and when you review the images you can tell your service what you want done with each item – forward it to you, shred it, return it – saving you the time of handling every piece of mail.
Dedicated administrative assistance. Using a virtual office for your US location gives you the option of having a dedicated virtual assistant to work for your company. Your virtual assistant will be an experienced bilingual professional who can take care of all your administrative needs. A virtual assistant can answer phones, respond to emails, and handle the daily mail that doesn’t require your direct attention. An assistant can also prepare contracts, invoices and estimates; do bookkeeping and payroll; manage social media; help you prepare for presentations and meetings; and make travel arrangements. Your assistant will maintain regular contact to keep you apprised of everything that’s happening in the office, without you needing to spend time worrying about every detail.
Professional meeting rooms. Your virtual office offers a huge advantage for those times when you have to travel to your US site for meetings and conferences. A virtual office includes the use of professional meeting space, eliminating the need for scrambling to find a place to host clients. Your guests will be greeted by a professional receptionist and led to a conference room that is fully equipped with the technology you need to conduct a successful meeting. You will have access to the internet, fax and scanning services, video- and conference-calling, and more. You’ll have the option to reserve rooms on a regular schedule, or even make a reservation on short notice.
Secure file storage. You can be confident that the files generated and maintained by your virtual US office are stored safely and securely and are always available to you. Your virtual assistant will store everything in the cloud, from correspondence to contracts to presentations, so that all of your information is accessible to you from any location. Based on your preferences, originals can be shredded to protect your privacy and the confidentiality of your documents.
As you can see, choosing a virtual office for your new US location can save you both time and money. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your business needs are being handled by dedicated professionals, leaving you free to concentrate on growing your company even further.
Three 3 key reasons why you need a virtual business address
A virtual business address can be a tremendous advantage to small business owners, especially those who work from home or from a small rental space. If this describes your situation, you should consider the following three key issues that make a virtual business address beneficial for your business.
1- A more professional public image. One of the main reasons that many business owners choose a virtual business address is the added level of professionalism it lends to their company. You might run the most professional business ever, but since image is key, your clients and customers will be more impressed by an address that denotes a more corporate image. Business cards that offer an address in a recognizable business district are likely to have more of an impact than those that imply a suburban environment, or a PO box number. It might seem unimportant when you are starting out, but as your company grows, you’ll come to appreciate the value of the image that a virtual business address presents.
2- Professional mail service. If you work from a home office, you are well aware of the hassles of having your business and personal mail sent to the same address, or having to go to the post officer every day to pick up your mail. When you use a virtual business address, your mail will be sent to that location and opened by an experienced handler, who will scan all items and either email them to you or store them in the cloud for your access. If you use a virtual office assistant in addition to your virtual business address, all mail can be handled according to your instructions. Your assistant can answer correspondence, deposit checks, file documents, and toss out any junk mail that you don’t need to see. A virtual business address is also ideal for business owners who receive a lot of packages. You’ll no longer need to worry about missed deliveries or having to spend time running to the post office of delivery location to pick up packages. Everything will be delivered to your virtual business address, and you can schedule pick-ups to suit your schedule.
3- Save time and money. Many small-business owners spend a good deal of time away from the office, meeting with current clients and traveling to secure new accounts. If this is the way you work, maintaining an entire office is an unnecessary expense of both your time and your money. When you return from a trip, you can spend the better part of a day going through the mail that’s accumulated in your absence. That’s time that can be better used working. If you rent corporate space, your office has been sitting empty while you were away, meaning that you were paying hard-earned money for nothing. A virtual business address eliminates these problems. Your mail will be opened daily, no matter where you are. Since you will have cloud access to all of your documents, you won’t fall behind. And you won’t be paying for unused space.
A virtual business address is a great way for a small-business owner to alleviate some of the pressures of the workday. By boosting your image, eliminating the need to worry about the daily mail, and saving time and money on a traditional office, you will add value to your business and be better able to work productively on making it grow.
I am sure you have heard of it. Virtual Offices are popping up everywhere and everyone offers a different thing.
So far there is no standard definition as to what it truly is. However there are certain things a Virtual Office should have, and here they are:
1- An address. A real life physical address, unique to you, in a commercial zone. If you can locate it on Google Maps, so can your clients and customers. Would you have them see your office located in a residential area of town? You have to project a professional image, but not only that. Commercial locations offer several additional features like proximity to services, ease of access, and availability of commercial grade services like higher internet speeds.
2- A land line and an extension number. Having a land line means two big things. You have an established, real life business place AND your phone line has business hours too. You might do business from 9 to 5 and most of your clients will respect that, but a few won’t. Giving your personal mobile phone to everyone is not the best practice and you might find yourself in an awkward situation in the wee hours of the night.
3- A real life assistant or receptionist. Not only will you have someone to help you with tasks that require time to solve, but you will also benefit from having your calls answered by a person instead of voicemail or an automated response system. Not that voicemail is bad, but let’s face it: you rather talk to a human than a machine, right? So do your clients.
Ok, now you have these basic services. Now you have to pay for them. There are two ways of doing this: Exclusive and Shared. Exclusive means they only serve you, and only you pay for them… see where I am going? Chances are you are not sitting on your desk all day. Maybe you don’t even touch your office for days. And maybe you don’t talk or need an assistant 8 hours a day. Why not share them and spread the cost among many users? This is where the Virtual Office excels. You have this shared resources at your disposal if and when you need them, and you only pay for what you really use, and not a penny more.
Now, the market is crowded with Virtual Offices that limit themselves to these basic services, but there are some more adventurous companies that are building more functionality into their offerings, and some are even crossing over into the Cloud Office:
IP Phones. You have internet connection at home, on your mobile phone, on restaurants, coffee shops, so basically everywhere! Why not take advantage of this and, instead of using a regular land line or mobile phone with their associated costs, use a more efficient IP Phone? With this technology you have many advantages: Your extension follows you wherever you are, and you can reach your assistant just dialing an extension number. You can make and receive calls on your office landline from anywhere. You are no longer tied to your office to get that important call, you could be on your car or on the beach and still be connected. Most IP Phone providers will give you nationwide calling for a low monthly fee.
Cloud Storage. There are several offerings out there to buy cloud storage, and they all work great. Some have advanced features like file sync and apps for your smartphone and computers. This technology is now being incorporated into some Virtual Office offerings and it makes sense. You can have access to your stored information at anytime from anywhere, and you know it is secure and protected, even more than on your own computer. One of the most interesting benefits is that you can email a huge file, say 100MB, in a second by just sending a link to that file on your personal cloud storage. This way you only share what you want with who you want, and if for any reason you want to stop sharing, you just deactivate the link you sent. It is that easy.
Digital Dashboards. A dashboard is basically a place where you can see at a glance what is happening. You are used to this; after all you see it in your car every day. A digital dashboard is no different. At a glance it tells you if you have new e-mails, phone calls, messages, mail and other things. And the beauty is that you can just drill down. Say you see that you have 2 new e-mails. Just a few clicks should take you to where you can read and reply. Go back to the dashboard and see that you have a missed call and voicemail. Another couple of clicks and you are now listening to that voicemail, and returning the call. A digital dashboard is the fastest way to take care of business.
Room Reservations. You have a virtual office now, and you want to use it. Actually let’s say you want the meeting room with the big TV for a special product presentation you are giving to a client. With a reservation system in place you can just go into the meeting room you want, check out its calendar and see when it is available, and with a couple of clicks reserve a specific hour for you, your partner and your clients. Some Virtual Offices allow you to also add coffee service to your reservation. Your assistant can take care of this too. The best reservation systems are available online, but some Virtual Offices still require you to make the reservation by calling.
Mail handling options. The traditional workflow is quite simple. New mail gets to the office, it gets sorted and stored and it patiently waits for you to retrieve it next time you visit. The more proactive Virtual Offices will send you a notification. But some will also allow you to personalize your own workflow. For example: New mails gets here, scan it and send it to my inbox on a PDF. The original will be Stored/Destroyed/Forwarded as requested on my profile; IF a check gets here, don’t scan it, notify me AND deposit on my checking account. Is this not better? With this type of personalization you can expect a small bill at the end of each month, but it is worth it.
Business promotion. Picture this: There may be more than one thousand users of a Virtual Office, and all this is a community of like-minded business professionals. Why not list your services and do some internal promotion? And if you think about it, why not list your services and publish them to the web? Some Virtual Offices have this service for you to use. This is the best type of business exposure you can have, because you will take advantage of a community that you already belong to.
Additional Services. Your Virtual Office might offer a variety of services to help you be successful and concentrate on what you do while they deal with the hassle of office operations. Think about IT services, accounting services, personal assistants. And chances are that since you are sharing these resources with your Virtual Community, you will also pay less for them, and only IF and WHEN you use them.
Concluding. A Virtual Office is a community of business professionals, sharing resources, costs and working smarter, anywhere they are, and at any time of day or night. You think you might benefit from this?