People are doing business from more places than ever before. If you are starting a home-based business, you may be able to work from anywhere: from a home office, a shared coworking space, a traditional rented office or a hotel or short-term housing while traveling. Being able to work from anywhere is a perk, but it can also present some new complexities for how to operate your company.
If you are frequently on the road, or if you don’t want to be limited by the conventional boundaries of having a “home-based” business, you might want to consider getting a virtual office.
Learn more about the essentials of having a virtual office and how it might help your business.
What Is a Virtual Office?
A virtual office is an online hub where your home business can get a mailing address and receive mail. This is a special kind of service that you can sign up for, where your business has a designated “virtual address” or “virtual mailbox.”
Instead of having your business address publicly identified with your home, and instead of having all of your business mail and official documents from state regulatory authorities sent to your home address, you can have a virtual office accept those mailings for you.
A virtual office can give you a few key benefits for your business:
- Physical address (not a P.O. Box) for your business
- Separate mailing address that is not your home
- Fixed address to receive mail, no matter where you live or are located
- Physical presence for your business in the state of your choice (in case you live in a different state or want to do business in multiple states)
- Consistent physical address for your business, in case you frequently travel or want to be a digital nomad; no matter where you go, your business is reachable by mail
- Mail scanning service where your business mail will be opened and scanned for you, so you can read your mail online at your convenience
A Virtual Office Is Not…
Sometimes people get virtual offices confused with other types of business services. Make sure you understand the difference. A virtual office is not…
- A Registered Agent Service: Getting a virtual office is an additional level of support for your business, compared to a Registered Agent service. With a Registered Agent, you can designate a third party to serve as an agent to receive official correspondence or service of legal process sent to your business. Registered Agent services will also include automatic mail forwarding of any correspondence of documentation.
- A Coworking Space: A virtual office is not actually an “office” where you can go work; it is a virtual service that provides your business with a physical address where your business mail can be sent, along with other convenient services such as digital mail scanning. If you want a place to work, look for coworking studios or coworking spaces in your nearby location. Coworking spaces can be a great way for small business owners and home-based entrepreneurs to get out of the house and work in a shared location without the costs and added efforts required to rent your own office space.
- An Office Space or Housing Rental: Many home-based entrepreneurs or digital nomads like to get out of town and find a new place to work and live. If you like to work from the road, keep in mind that a virtual office is not the same thing as a place that you can rent or a place to stay. If you want to rent an actual office, or even if you want to stay in hotels or short-term housing rentals, there are other options available for you online. This is not what a virtual office can provide.
Getting a Home Address vs. Virtual Address
If you’re starting a home-based business, there are a few key reasons why you might want to get a virtual address instead of using your home address:
- Reduce Mail at Home: Once you start your home-based business, you may receive more mail than you used to. Your business could end up on lots of mailing lists, and you might be receiving more unsolicited business junk mail and special offers for your business. Getting a virtual office can help cut down on the amount of junk mail you receive at home. Redirect those business mailings to your virtual office, and you can save room in your home mailbox and avoid hassles at home.
- Professionalize Your Business: Would you like to make your business look “bigger” and more professional? Getting a virtual office with an official business mailing address can help your business look like more of a legitimate, official entity that is separate from your home and personal identity.
- More Privacy: Do you want to have a clearer separation between your personal life and your business? Signing up for a virtual office can help protect your privacy. Keep your business mailings going to a virtual office at a separate physical location from your home, and you can have a stronger boundary between your work and your home life.
- Save Time on Dealing with Mail: Tons and tons of time can be spent each day, week, month and year opening mail for your business. Think of all those mysterious envelopes that look important, but then turn out to be junk! What if you could have someone else open the mail for you? This is part of why a virtual office can help: this service opens and scans your business mail for you, letting you quickly check your business mail at your convenience from any mobile device.
Getting a virtual office can help simplify your home life and professionalize your business image.
Start Your Home Business with Incfile
If you’re ready to form your business, Incfile can help you get your new venture up and running. Our $0 + state fee LLC formation package will take care of all the business filing paperwork for you. You’ll get a free Registered Agent for the first year and access to help and assistance from our business formation specialists.