By Andy Will
The Virtual Office has become a popular option for businesses to supplement or replace their physical office and provide a range of services which support the way their staff work. From providing a professional image to offering call answering and ad-hoc administration support, a good Virtual Office should be flexible enough to adapt to the needs of the specific business as it evolves over time.
As Virtual Offices are generally a very cost effective option and offer low-cost access to a range of business support services, they are most often associated with small businesses or businesses which are in their start-up phase. However, I believe a Virtual Office can be a viable option for businesses right across their lifecycle due to the flexibility which is built into the solutions, allowing businesses to adapt to the conditions they are facing.
Before a business even gets off the ground, they need to test market for the product or services which they intend to sell and this requires the ability to interact with potential customers. Access to a big presence, through a professional CBD presence or call answering service can really help a business project an image which may belie their current size and budget.
During a businesses’ start-up phase there are always too many tasks to be completed and not enough resources (people and money) to ensure that they are done in a professional manner. This is where ad-hoc access to a range of business support services (such as data entry, report compilation or dictation) can really come into its own. The most important element here is the fact that you only pay for the services as you use them, minimising fixed overheads and helping the business to match its costs with their income streams as it takes flight.
As a business gains momentum and really starts to spread its wings it faces a whole new set of challenges. During this phase, cash is often still tight but the business has new needs which must be addressed in order to maintain its growth trajectory. The flexibility which is built into any good Virtual Office solution will assist a growing business to grab the skills and the services it needs as it needs them, without weighing it down with high overheads or a massive payroll.
Building a business often means moving into new markets and a Virtual Office can assist in allowing the business to both test the water in that market in a low risk manner and hit the ground running as a Virtual Office can be setup in just a couple of hours. By utilising a premium CBD address and access to meeting rooms, it can appear to the market that a business has been operating in a market for months, even if the reality is that the MD only flew in on the 7am that morning.
When a business matures the speed at which things move within the business generally slows a little and the business has more resources at its disposal internally. At maturity, the motivation for utilising the elements of a Virtual Office changes from being primarily cost based to convenience and ensuring that they are utilsing their resources in the most efficient manner possible. Irrespective of the size of a business, one of the major challenges they all face is managing staff. Virtual offices can assist in minimising this issue by allowing much or all of their administration and reception functions to be outsourced to a professional team which is specifically setup to add value in these areas. Outsourcing these functions as part of a Virtual Office solutions will also ensure that they are handled in a professional manner, rather than by the person who sends out your invoices and picks up phones between trips to the coffee machine.
At some point, whether it is after 6 months or 60 years, all businesses reach a stage when they start to decline. This decline can be quick and uncontrolled or may evolve over an extended period as the business adjusts to their ‘new normal’. The fact that Virtual Offices are by definition a low-cost and flexible solution, they offer some obvious benefits to declining businesses. Many businesses in decline may have had a physical office space which they can no longer justify, however a Virtual Office can allow them to maintain a professional image in the minds of their clients. A Virtual Office can also provide ad-hoc access to services in small parcels, which can be switched on and off as they are required, which can assist a business to roll back their payroll.
Virtual Offices are a great alternative to a physical office for business at any stage of the business lifecycle as they can be tailored to the specific needs of the business and the conditions they are facing. Wilkin Group offers a range of Virtual Office solutions which have been specifically designed to address the needs of a wide range businesses.
Andy Will is the General Manager of Wilkin Group and works with organisations and individuals on a daily basis to develop workspace solutions which support the way they choose to work.
Andy can be contacted at email@example.com.