The 5 Things Every Small Business Needs To Know Before Purchasing A Virtual Office

Small business working (Piloto 151 working on laptop)

Virtual Offices have long been a convenient and cost-effective way for small business owners and digital nomads with flexible working arrangements to level up their online presence and lend additional credibility to their business.

Most coworking spaces and flexible offices offer a convenient Virtual Office membership at affordable monthly prices, but their offerings cover a wide range of benefits and prices. It can be difficult to navigate the sea of the $44 billion global Virtual Office market that consistently bombards potential buyers with ads.

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In this article, we aim to help small businesses get a better grasp of what they should look for and what pitfalls to avoid when purchasing a Virtual Office membership at a coworking space.

By PilotoMail, Brand Contributor – Find this article in its entirety HERE on Forbes’ website

Zip code matters more than you think.

If you’ve ever searched for a Virtual Office, chances are you were looking for a professional address to signal to your prospective clients that you represent a legitimate and trustworthy business.

Depending on what industry you’re in, it may make sense to choose a Virtual Office with a zip code similar to other companies in your field. If you have a fintech startup, for example, you might want a zip code located within your city’s financial district. If you’re in design, you may find that having a business address in the garment or design district may help you garner more credibility among your target customer base.

When considering whether it’s worthwhile to establish your business in a privileged location, be prepared to pay a premium for sought-after and prestigious business addresses. Also, bear in mind that many Virtual Office memberships include access to conference rooms and coworking space usage. This means you’ll be able to meet your clients in familiar and convenient neighborhoods where they are already accustomed to doing business.

Do your homework.

A Virtual Office should offer much more than just a professional business address. At PilotoMail, we break down a Virtual Office into 5 key elements: 1) the business address; 2) the space, including the number of day passes and conference room hours included in your membership; 3) telephony services, including call forwarding and, in some cases, even live receptionist services; 4) postal mail management; and 5) add-ons, which may include registered agent services, global passes to other nearby locations, and adding on additional entities, to name a few.

The combination of each of these elements, in conjunction with the relative desirability of the address zip code, will determine the price of that particular Virtual Office offering.

Be sure that when you are comparing plans across all the different coworking options in your target area, you are comparing apples to apples and getting the best overall deal to fit your business needs.

Check out the space and neighborhood.

If you think you’ll rarely ever need the physical space because you travel a lot, find your post-pandemic office setup to be perfect, or don’t even live in the city where you are housing your business, think again.

There will come a time when Zoom won’t cut it and you will need an in-person client, partner, or all-hands team meeting. And when that time comes, you don’t want to find yourself googling the lowest-priced Virtual Office offering you picked up from a sponsored ad way back when. Instead, you want to make sure you know exactly what to expect.

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Narrow down your top options and visit the neighborhoods they are in. Get a better understanding of the size and setup of the different conference rooms and work areas at your disposal. Do they have more than one meeting room or more than one location in a nearby neighborhood? Is the tech you need available? Is the staff friendly and helpful? Can you add on more conference room hours or day passes at a discounted rate, if needed?

These are just some of the questions you might ask to ensure that when you’re ready to book that meeting room or use that day pass, you’re confident you have the right space to represent you and your business when it matters most.

While you or your colleagues are checking out the space, don’t forget to take a stroll around the neighborhood and get a taste of the local scene. Great coffee, dining, and even nightlife options within walking distance of your chosen space might very well help tip the scales in your favor to close a deal someday.

Pay attention to the postal mail handling options and offerings.

If you’ve ever incorporated a business, you know that once you do, you inevitably start receiving postal mail. You will receive notifications from the State Department, Department of Labor, and the IRS, among other government entities. Depending on your customer base, you might even receive checks through the postal service. Acquiring a Virtual Office membership will help ensure that you have a reliable, stable, and private address that you can use to receive important correspondence for your business.

In this regard, choosing a coworking space that has a good reputation or a long-standing presence is key. You also want to inquire about their mail handling processes and whether they can prove that they abide by all relevant postal rules and regulations, since noncompliance may jeopardize their ability to continue receiving mail for their customers. Hint: If they use our software, you can rest assured that they are taking all the necessary steps to comply with USPS regulations. Plus, your offering will likely come with a convenient virtual mailbox, allowing you to access and manage your postal mail from anywhere in the world.

A virtual mailbox will help you keep track of the oftentimes time-sensitive correspondence that you need to be on top of for your business. Be sure to ask what mail handling options are available, including opening and scanning, forwarding, shredding, and check deposit possibilities before making your final decision.

Community matters.

Finally, but not least important, ask about the community and networking events hosted at the space. Over our 10-year history running coworking spaces like Piloto 151, we have witnessed hundreds of collisions between like-minded individuals that have resulted in partnerships, sales, and even new business formations.

Just because a Virtual Office offering is more suited to your business needs today doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of a great community that elevates you and provides you and your business with a heightened sense of belonging.

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