3 Types of Businesses that Could Use a St. Louis Virtual Office

St Louis Virtual OfficeWhen people think of great cities to do business in, or to start a business in, most of them might say New York, Boston, Chicago, or Silicon Valley. Although those are great cities for many reasons, there are smaller cities like St. Louis that are also worthwhile places to start a business and to expand your business. A virtual office can do just that, so here are three types of businesses that could use a St. Louis virtual office:

Startups

If your a brand new start up in St. Louis, then a St. Louis virtual office is a must-have. It provides a workplace that’s ready to go so you can continue building your business without having to wait for the Internet to get set up or to find the desks and other office furniture that you need. It’s also a professional address that you can use for your new business, so you don’t have to give away a home address or a P.O box.

Start up culture is also about flexibility i.e. working from home or working at all hours of the day or working in a way that’s different from what’s been done before. A St. Louis virtual office can do all of those things. Extra money isn’t wasted on a higher rent, or utility bills, or traditional infrastructure, especially when you expect to work from home often or to be on the go a lot. Virtual offices can also grow as your business grows, without having to find more room for new employees or to get additional desks, computers etc. to accommodate them.

E-Commerce/eBay Businesses

ACNielsen reported in 2006 that 1.3 million people in the United States make a primary or secondary income from eBay. I couldn’t find anything more recent than that, but it’s likely that seven years later, some of those people are still making money this way and that some of those people are in St. Louis. A St. Louis virtual office can facilitate such a business by adding more legitimacy online (with a professional address and phone number), and by providing a place to do the work where it doesn’t have to conflict with another job or to take up space in the home. Whether or not the business is eBay-based, or is just e-commerce, this type of legitimacy is important since there are way too many illegitimate sites and companies that could victimize your customers. A virtual office can show that you are different and make them more comfortable.

The Self-Employed

Although the self-employed can easily also have a startup or a an e-commerce business, that’s not everyone who is working for themselves. Those who are perhaps writers, graphic designers, computer programmers etc. could benefit from a virtual office by boosting their professional image. A virtual office is an indication that you, as a self-employed person, is competent professional who does good work and takes that work seriously, versus someone is just looking to make a few bucks on the side or to get what s/he can.

Sure, a virtual office might come with a lot more than you might need. Not everyone needs the dedicated office with the door, or the meeting space, or the receptionist, even the printing and copying services. Fortunately, most virtual offices come with options with fewer bells and whistles, so if you are self-employed, you can find an option that only has the address and mail forwarding, or only has an option of renting space when you need it. Virtual offices are not one-size-fits-all services.

So, how about it? Are you and your business ready to have a St. Louis virtual office?

Life in the St. Louis Virtual Office

St. Louis virtual officeI just switched to a St. Louis virtual office this month (after contributing to this blog since February) and I love the decision. Essentially, I work from home, but utilize the virtual office for my business’ professional address and as a client meeting space. Life in the St. Louis virtual office isn’t all that much different from working from home, so it’s nice to have the additional professional perks to run my business without the overhead or the hassle.

The Best Part of the Virtual Office

My favorite part about the switch is the money I save. Even though my monthly fee is slightly higher than the coworking space I was at previously, the increase is made up for by the gains made in transportation costs, food, coffee, and productivity. No longer am I wasting an hour each day commuting. No longer am I spending so much money eating out or getting my afternoon caffeine fix. No longer am I waiting to get to the office in order to get something done; I can cross something off my task list halfway through my morning cup of coffee.

My second favorite part about the virtual office is that I get the best of both worlds. Since I’m working from home as a solopreneur, I get to set my own hours and to be my own boss. I work because I want to, not necessarily because someone is telling me to. I get to have the office that fits my needs and personality. However, with the virtual office, I have the professional address so no one has to know my home address. I also have someone professional to meet with clients so I don’t have to meet with them at home, at the coffee shop, or strictly over the phone.

What about a Live Receptionist?

The one aspect of a virtual office that I am not using is the live receptionist, and at this point in time with my business, I don’t need it. I don’t get that many phone calls, and the ones that I do get I am either expecting or are looking to talk to me anyway. There’s no need to have someone forward or to screen my calls. This is something I might like in the future, when my business is a bit bigger, but right now I don’t have a whole lot for this live receptionist to do.

Any Downsides to the Virtual Office?

Maybe as a solopreneur, I don’t get the social interaction that I may get at a coffee shop (you’d think with my love of coffee that I would be at the coffee shop all the time. Remember, the point is to cut expenses, not accrue them!) or at a coworking space. To extroverts, that might be a concern, and something that is easily taken for granted in a traditional work environment. However, I am an introvert, and the minimal social interaction doesn’t bother me much. Besides, I can always make up for it by participating in networking and community events.

No, the adjustment and the switch weren’t exactly quick and seamless. It wasn’t easy to move all my stuff from the coworking space to the home office (much of it still in plastic bags because I still need the right furniture). I’m still figuring out a good way to get a little more exercise and perhaps get out of the house more often. However, I’m halfway into my second week with the virtual office, and I don’t regret my decision one bit. It may be a month or two before I notice the difference in my pocketbook, or really have enough information to gauge how much my productivity has improved, but I have no doubts a virtual office is better for myself and my business in the long run.