When most people think of a work at home mom, they imagine a mother in her pajamas, ushering her kids out the door in the morning, before sitting down for a chill workday in front of the computer. She can do what she wants, when she wants.
The work at home mom never misses her favorite soaps, eats her lunch with friends at her popular local cafes, and doesn’t take her work too seriously. When WAHMs hear such fantasies, they laugh, then they laugh some more. Working from home is actually harder that it looks.
If a mother wants to enjoy the freedom of running her own business from home, she needs to be hyper-focused, and immune to distraction. She has to hustle to get customers, and hustle even harder to keep them while growing her business. Still, it’s easy to get comfortable with the idea that you’re working from home and can do it all on your own.
Virtual office services a huge benefit to WAHMs
Virtual offices are real game-changer for work at home moms and really anyone running a business out of their home. Renting a virtual headquarters adds a layer of professionalism to your home-based enterprise. The various virtual office services available through most providers can actually free up time spent answering phones, emails, and doing menial tasks that could be delegated to an assistant.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of a virtual office:
Your office address matters
Your friends might be envious of the fact you work out of your home. Your customers are an entirely different story.
A virtual assistant that works from her home will be viewed as a cheaper alternative to hiring a physical employee. A virtual assistant with her own office in an upscale business district of her town or city will be viewed as a professional worthy of professional rates.
Even if cost isn’t an issue with a client, where you hang your hat says a lot about how you conduct yourself.
Increased communication equals more dollars
Other virtual services such as toll-free business phone numbers, virtual reception, email answering, virtual assisting, call forwarding and messaging are also a game changer for any work at home mom trying to run a thriving business.
Some customers will be just fine communicating via email; others will refuse to do any business if they can’t call you. Consider the impression you’ll make when every customer call is answered by a real human, whether it be you or your virtual receptionist, any time of the day they choose to call?
Virtual staff can help grow your business
Aside from being physically right in front of you, there’s nothing a virtual employee can’t do that a physical one can. They can save you money, because you don’t have to pay income taxes on them, or provide them with benefits. They don’t bring any of the overhead expenses that come with having to outfit a work space for traditional staff.
A virtual office can work round-the-clock to help get projects completed while you sleep, since virtual assistants are located across the planet, which eliminates traditional time-zone constraints.
Nothing in life is free. Especially considering the expenses related to running your own office and managing the employees it houses. Rates to rent a physical office run from $1.70 sq/ft in less popular areas to $6.00 sq/ft for more popular locations like San Francisco here in the United States. This works out to thousands a month, and you haven’t even bought a chair, purchased needed services like WiFi, or paid your first utility bill or employee yet!
A virtual office can be rented for a fraction of the price, often well under $1000 a month, and offers the add-ons mentioned previously if you need them.
What to look for in a virtual service
Your individual needs will vary as to what you require from a virtual office provider. If all you need is a virtual address, there are providers who offer just an address, and potentially a mailbox. These services will be much less expensive than a virtual office company that offers a myriad of virtual services.
Perhaps you prefer to keep your business registered to your home for tax purposes. There are several virtual providers out there offering professional toll-free virtual numbers, reception, call forwarding, or even simple message taking for when you can’t answer the phone.
The point is, you don’t have to take on more services than you need, nor do you have to worry about compromising on features. There’s a virtual company out there to fit your needs, and grow with your business.
In general, I recommend the following advice to choosing a professional virtual office service:
Research virtual office locations carefully
Just because an office claims it only rents offices in prime locations, doesn’t mean they do. You’ll often have the option of actually visiting a potential office space, if it’s semi-local to you. You can also easily do a Google Streetview search to determine how legitimate a location is. Last, a good provider will offer pictures of the exact office spaces they’re proposing to rent to you.
Do you need actual access to your virtual office?
If so, keep in mind that a virtual office will be located in a physical location — usually. Some services will only offer you a mailbox, others will offer limited physical access for free, and additional time using the office and its amenities for a reasonable charge. Amenities should include: fax, printer, WiFi, break room, lounge, conference areas, and quick access to restaurants and entertainment.
Avoid freelancer sites for virtual employees
It’s hard enough finding reputable, professional services to handle your business needs. Sites like Freelancer and Upwork are only as good as the talent they promote, and guess what? There aren’t many diamonds in this type of online coal mine! Stick with recommended services or individuals who can show a track-record in providing customer excellence.
Compare rates, but don’t go too cheap
Virtual providers need to stay competitive with each other. With that said, don’t compare solely on price when making a choice. Some providers will offer more prestigious office locations for slightly above-market rates. Others will include more add-ons for a slightly higher price than the competition. Meaning you can often manage your business better and grow faster for a slightly higher price.
A provider’s reputation is often all you’ll have to go on prior to signing up for a virtual service. Spend time researching — take a few days at least — and avoid lengthy obligations until you’re sure a service is right for you. The majority of providers out there offer month-to-month packages that can be canceled at any time.