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A virtual office address is a tool business owners can use to project the impression that their mailing address is in fact the location of their office. Since different places have different kinds of prestige associated with them – say in cities where rent is high – a virtual address can reassure your clients that you’re a company with a certain clout. Let’s consider how it works in more detail, and think about some of the pros and cons of this method.
How It Works
Say you operate in a business where documents or packages are often sent to you from other businesses. Contracts, parts, or other items have to reach you regularly, but you’re unsure of how your real office address will seem to your clients and investors. If you operate out of your residence, for example, red flags are raised by those who wish to gauge your seriousness as a business partner. Paying rent on an expensive office demonstrates at least that you’re solvent enough to keep the lights on.
This is the kind of situation you might want to exploit by acquiring a prestigious virtual office address. You can set up your real workspace as the forwarding address, and receive all your important mail there. Chances are, your clients and investors will be none the wiser, and you can give the impression of being ready for the big leagues.
If you’re an emerging business owner looking to skip a few steps on the corporate ladder, then this can be a great way of doing it. The cost of a virtual address is extremely low, and can likely be absorbed into even the smallest operations budget without too much trouble. This allows you to leverage your lean size to your advantage, and provide quality service without the heavy load of corporate expenses.
You can also get a seat at the table immediately, without having to subject yourself to the agonizing climb towards business management or ownership you would usually have to undertake just to get started. It’s a sensible strategy for those with the skills and confidence to succeed on their own terms.
You may run the risk of alienating your clients if and when they discover that you’ve been misleading them about your office’s location. Many would consider it a breach of trust, and those who could get over that might still want to be able to do business with you in person. Quite a few companies prefer to build relationships face-to-face, over time, so they know they can depend on you. Your virtual business plan may be discomfiting or even threatening to them.
You’re also liable to bite off more than you can chew. Clients will expect premium service from a company headquartered on Fifth Avenue, and if you’re not able to provide it somehow without the resources they expect you to have, you’ll be diluting your professional reputation for good.
A virtual office address can be extremely useful if you’ve got the brains and the guts to make the most of it. But it’s risky, and may not pay off the way you’d want it to. Be careful, and be ready to adapt if it doesn’t work out.