Ask LH: What Should I Look For In A Virtual Office?

Hi Lifehacker, I'm planning to start out a new consulting business, and as it will be a one-man operation initially, I am looking at using a virtual office to field phone calls and to give clients a physical address that isn't my home office. I've looked into several different providers: is there anything I should watch out for or be mindful of when choosing a service? Thanks, Virtual Virgin

Office picture from Shutterstock

Dear VV,

A virtual office can be a very sensible choice for a new business. This is a non-exhaustive list of issues we'd suggest bearing in mind as you weigh up your choices:

  • Avoid long-term contracts. You'll often be offered a discount for signing up for longer periods, but that isn't wise until you've determined that the service can meet your needs. Ask for a trial period first.
  • Ask for references. If a service can't refer you to existing happy clients, proceed with extreme caution.
  • Don't pay for services you don't need. If you only need a meeting room once in a blue moon, there's no point paying for regular access to one.
  • Check access and parking. If you are planning to use meeting room facilities, make sure that the site is easy for clients to visit. A CBD address may look impressive but can be a pain if your clients want to drive there.
  • Check availability in other cities. If you travel for work, access to office space in other cities can be useful.
  • It may not be the right approach. Depending on your business needs, other approaches may work better. If you have a small client base that requires individual attention on calls or need broader organisational help, a virtual assistant might be a better choice.

If readers have other experiences and advice in this area, we'd love to hear them in the comments. Good luck with the new business!

Cheers Lifehacker


Comments

    You should check out Servcorp. A mate of mine is currently using their services and says they're pretty good. Got a few locations around Aus and the world too.

    I work for The Executive Centre as the Virtual Office Regional Manager Australia and i agree with the above you need to make sure that the company you are looking at can deliver what they say they can, we have a number of clients who have been mislead in their previous plans with other competitors. Another big question you need to ask about are hidden / additional costs as you will be surprised how many there are with some companies and you could easily end up paying double each month, they may not tell you this even if you ask but make sure you check the T&C's before signing.

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