A virtual office can be a great way for your small business to save on overhead costs while increasing profits and expanding its reach. Because it exists primarily online, a virtual office allows you to conduct business anywhere — whether you're in your home office or on the beach.
Although it allows for freedom and flexibility, a virtual office can lead to frustration if you don’t have the right tools, resources and processes in place to set up your business for success.
Below is our list of the top things you need to do to set up your virtual office.
1. Determine Your Strategy
Even though you are working virtually, you still need a business plan to help map out your strategy and discover all the needs for your business. According to the Small Business Administration, a business plan should include:
Market analysis on the industry and your competitors
Organization and management structure
Products or services you offer
Marketing and sales strategy
Funding request (if necessary)
Establishing this strategy up front will help you determine your needs for staffing, resources, tools, workspace and business entity type — all critical to making sure your virtual operations are smooth.
2. Establish Your Workspace
The idea of working anywhere in the world is one aspect of a virtual office that many are attracted to. However, if you don’t have the right setup, it can be a struggle to concentrate and be productive.
Aside from a home office, coworking spaces are becoming more common. These spaces serve as an office for those who are working independently or on small teams. Typically, you would pay a monthly fee to use the space, which often comes with many office necessities, such as printing capabilities, meeting rooms and phone services.
3. Acquire Tools and Resources
There are many different platforms and online resources that can replace or replicate what you’d do if you were actually in an office space.
For example, if you’re looking for a way to communicate with your clients and coworkers, Slack is a great tool for staying in touch (and reducing the number of emails you receive). Zoom is an amazing tool for meetings, with video chat capabilities giving you a more personal feeling than the phone.
And let’s not forget about project management — staying productive and keeping your projects on task is important, especially when working virtually. Asana is a project and task management tool that allows for more than one user to actively check off tasks and see upcoming deadlines. Lastly, if you send/share large files and need a place to house this information, Box is a cloud collaboration tool to help securely store documents and more.
4. Set up a Business Address
Having a physical business address will help you establish credibility as a virtual entrepreneur — and it’s also necessary to form your LLC. A virtual business address will forward your mail to a street address in a state you want to do business in (even if you’re not actually in that state). Virtual mailboxes can also scan your mail and send digital copies of the items to your email. That way, you can be working anywhere and still know what important items and documents are coming to your mailbox (without having to physically be there).
Incfile offers a simple, affordable Virtual Mailbox service that costs just $29 per month no matter how much mail you receive.
5. Form Your Business
Even though you may work virtually, you still need to select a business entity. Legally forming your business will impact both your liability and taxation as a business owner, whether you decide to create an LLC, S Corp or C Corp.
6. Hire a Virtual Assistant
There are many benefits to hiring a virtual assistant. If you’re a new business owner, a virtual assistant (VA) can help you understand how to delegate tasks efficiently and organize a team.
You might be wondering exactly what tasks a VA can perform — the answer is almost anything! Some VAs specialize in certain skills, like editing your content and materials, while others help with tasks like ordering supplies, scheduling meetings, running your social media accounts or completing organizational tasks. A VA can be an invaluable tool for your small business, taking certain tasks off your plate to help you focus on big-picture initiatives.
The options are endless for operating a virtual office. With the right setup, you can expand into new territories (without investing in actual office space), work with talent from all over the world and have more work-life balance. There are many services that enable businesses to create and maintain a professional image without an actual office space. When it comes to incorporating your business or hosting your virtual mailbox, consider Incfile. They have many help tools to help you select your entity type and manage your company effectively.