Do you want to start a virtual office business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a virtual office business with NO money and no experience plus a sample virtual office business plan template.
Almost every entrepreneur aims to cut overhead cost as low as possible but still maintain professionalism of the highest order. One of the easiest ways of cutting cost is by renting a virtual office. A virtual office is designed to provide physical address services without bearing the financial burden to maintain the office facility.
As a matter of fact, with a virtual office, you can own an office address in a high-profile business district with very minimal cost.
With the increase in demand for virtual office, any entrepreneur that decides to start his or her own virtual office is sure going to make good returns on his or her investment. But it is important to state that serious researching, planning and creativity is a necessity if you truly want to start your own virtual office business; you would also need the best of software to effectively run this type of business.
If you want to start your own virtual office, you would need a host of things like a mailing address for the office, professional address (physical office address), receptionist (remote receptionist), communication services (call center) and virtual assistant.
Just like most industries, the virtual office rental business is still pretty much open to as many entrepreneurs that are interested in the business.
Even if you don’t have the finance and other requirements for building office facilities in highbrow business districts, you can serve as an agent for office facility owners. All you need to do is get people to rent virtual offices and then make your commission without much stress.
If indeed you want to start your own virtual office rental business, all you need do is to read this article and you will be well informed and equipped.
You can start your virtual office rental business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into opening your offices all across the United States of America.
Steps to Starting a Virtual Office Business
1. Understand the Industry
The virtual office rental business falls under the serviced office leasing industry and operators in this industry primarily rent or lease fully furnished office spaces on a part-time or as-needed basis to a myriad of businesses, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.
The serviced office leasing industry also provides virtual office and conference room leasing options to their clients. It is important to state that firms that provide conventional commercial leasing options are not part of the serviced office leasing industry.
What is a Virtual Office?
A virtual office is an office location that exists only in the cyberspace. A virtual office arrangement enables an entrepreneur to operate from any location in the world by simply leveraging on technology such as a functional laptop, a mobile phone and internet facility. Those that operate virtual office rental businesses provide professional office addresses (physical office facilities and meeting rooms) where mails are received, meetings are held and visitors received when necessary.
If you are a close observer of the Serviced Office Leasing industry, you will agree that the industry struggled during the recession when corporate profit declined and businesses closed shop. But as the economy recovered, the industry experienced an upsurge in demand for its services. Going forward, the revenue generated by players in this industry will continue to grow as the number of telecommuters in the workforce increases.
The Serviced Office Leasing industry is indeed a growing industry and pretty much active in countries such as the united states, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates. Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 781 licensed and registered companies in this industry, employing about 3,358 and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $2bn annually. The industry is projected to continue to grow at a 12.7 percent rate within 2011 and 2016. Regus PLC has a dominant market share of the available market in this industry.
A recent publication released by IBISWorld shows that the Serviced Office Leasing industry is in the growth stage of its life cycle. The report projected that industry value added which measures the industry’s contribution to the economy will rise at an estimated average annual rate of 7.5 percent from 2011 to 2022.
The report further stated that GDP will grow at an annualized rate of 2.2% during the same period, indicating that the industry is growing faster than the economy as a whole. Businesses are increasingly turning to industry companies to rent or lease workspaces, including fully furnished offices, virtual offices and conference rooms. Renting or leasing an office space is a cost-effective alternative to buying a commercial property.
One of the major reasons why people subscribe to virtual offices is because they want to maintain a professional business office address in a high profile business district at the lowest possible cost. This can only be achieved via virtual office arrangement.
So, if your intention is to start a virtual office and also maximize profits, then you must ensure that your office facility is in a high profile business district. It will make it easier for you to market and attract clients. It is expensive to lease an office facility in such areas, but you stand the chance of recouping your investment and also making profits.
From all available statistics, it is safer to say the Serviced Office Leasing industry is growing steadily despite the competitive nature of the industry. One thing is certain, if the offices you offer for rent are well positioned, you have the required business skills and business networks; you are likely not going to struggle to compete in the Serviced Office Leasing industry.
Some of the major factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own virtual office rental could be that the business is easy to set up and the startup capital is indeed affordable; you can actually start your own virtual office rental business from the comfort of your house. All you need to do is to create an office somewhere in your house.
Over and above, the serviced office leasing industry is open to any aspiring entrepreneur who has the required skills to start his or her own virtual office rental business and of course make good money from the industry. As a matter of fact, it was projected that over the next five years, new technology will continue to emerge that will make it easier for more players to come into the industry hence increasing the competition in the industry.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who hire the services of virtual office rental businesses cut across all charity organizations, small businesses and corporate organizations both big and small that would just want to maintain offices in certain locations, hence the demographic composition of a virtual office rental business is all encompassing.
When it comes to owning a virtual office rental business, there is indeed a wide range of available customers. Your target market can’t be restricted to just small businesses within your location, but to all the corporate organizations and businesses around the United States and the globe who can afford your rental.
So, if you are thinking of opening your own virtual office rental business, then you should make your target demographics all encompassing. It should include Bloggers and website owners, Banks, Insurance Companies and other related Financial Institutions, Blue Chips Companies, Corporate Organizations, Manufacturers and Distributors, Real Estate Owners, Developers, and Contractors, Research and Development Companies, The Government (Public Sector), Religious Organizations, Political Parties, Television Stations, Printing Press (Publishing Houses) and Authors, Branding and Advertising agencies, Entrepreneurs and Start – ups in the United States of America and all across the globe.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Most virtual office rental businesses tend to get involved in providing communication and physical address services without bearing the financial burden to maintain the office facility for corporate organizations and businesses, but that does not in any way mean that there is no niche area in the industry.
As a matter of fact, some corporate organizations will only deal with a virtual office rental company that specializes in providing outsourcing services for customer relation management hence the need for some temp staffing agencies to carve a niche for themselves.
Here are some niche areas that a virtual office rental company can choose from;
- Lease or rent fully furnished workspaces
- Lease or rent virtual offices
- Lease or rent conference and meeting rooms
- Provide telecommunication services to leases
- Provide other business services to leases
- Providing outsourcing services for finance and accounting functions
- Providing outsourcing services for human resource functions
- Providing outsourcing services for customer relations management
- Providing outsourcing services for sales fulfillment and order management
- Providing outsourcing services for document management
- Providing outsourcing services for supply chain management and engineering functions
- Freelance writing, editing, copywriting, researching, data entry and translation et al
- Freelance web design, graphic design services, video editing and photo editing et al
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The competition that exists in the virtual office rental line of business goes beyond competition amongst virtual office rental companies in your location; you are expected to compete with other businesses in the freelance services industry who have the capacity to offer the services you are offering. So, it will be right to say the competition in the serviced office leasing industry is tough.
No matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have carried out all the necessary tasks, and have branded and promoted your services or business appropriately, you will always make headway in the industry. Just be sure your virtual offices are in highbrow business districts, and your freelance workforce can carry out thorough jobs, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and also to reach out to your target market.
But over and above, there are several virtual office rental businesses scattered all around the United States. Hence, if you choose to start your own virtual office rental company in the United States of America, you will definitely meet stiff competitions amongst virtual office rentals and other related businesses in the serviced office leasing industry
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.
These are some of the leading virtual office rental companies and related businesses in the serviced office leasing industry in the United States of America and in the globe;
- Regus PLC
- Metro Offices
- Office In America
- Intelligent Office
- Opus Virtual Offices
- Servcorp – Bank of America Center
- Allied Offices
- YourOffice USA
- Virtual Office Plano
- Galleria Virtual Office Solutions
- Davinci Virtual Office Solutions
- USA2Me | USA Virtual officetem age
If you are tinkering with successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.
Virtual office rental business is no longer considered a Green business; as a matter of fact, you will come across several virtual office rental companies and other related businesses when you drive through town, search through directories and browse through the internet.
So, if you are mapping out your economic and cost analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of what is required to rent a space where you are expected to open your virtual office rental business, secure office spaces and mailing addresses in good business locations, and the amount required to purchase office gadgets and furniture and also the running cost of the business.
Over and above, if you are considering a virtual office rental company, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting a space where you are expected to open your virtual office rental business, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
If you are looking at starting a virtual office rental business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of a virtual office rental business to buy. Even if you get the franchise of a virtual office rental business to buy, it might be way off your budget and the brand might not be marketable in your location.
Besides, starting a virtual office rental company from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other related businesses which usually require detailed groundwork before launching the business. With a virtual office rental business, you should just try as much as possible to secure your virtual offices in highbrow business districts and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet to market your services.
Please note that most of the big and successful virtual office rental companies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own virtual office rental business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to be faced with is the presence of well – established virtual office rental and other related business that offer same services that your offer. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn; if the economy is in a bad shape, businesses such as virtual office rental business usually struggle to maintain their old customers or even welcome new customers. So also, unfavorable government policies can hamper the growth of your virtual office rental business. There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
You have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability Company, or even a sole proprietorship for a virtual office Rental business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small scale virtual office Rental Company especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood and with just a handful of virtual offices and offering limited freelance support services.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have offices and corporate clients all across key cities in the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder’s meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your virtual office rental business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your virtual office rental business with the ability to have offices and corporate clients all across the United States of America and other parts of the world, you will agree that limited liability company is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own virtual office rental business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Team and I® Virtual Office Rentals, LLC
- Festus Luciano® Virtual Office Rental and Support Company, LLC
- Silver Roof© Virtual Office Rentals and Support Company, Inc.
- Monica Donavan® Virtual Office Rentals, Inc.
- Grace Buckingham™ Virtual Office Rentals and Support Company, Inc.
- Rufus Brutus® Virtual Office Rentals and Supports Company, Inc.
- Daniel Humphrey© Virtual Office Rentals and Supports Company, Inc.
- Block Platform® Virtual Office Rentals and Supports Company, LLC
- 2 Square© Virtual Office Rentals and Supports Company, Inc.
- Corporate Headquarters© Virtual Office Rentals, Inc.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t set up a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are mandatory by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most suitable insurance policies for your virtual office rental company.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own virtual office rental company in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health/Medical insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own virtual office rental company business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to virtual office rental business, you do not essentially have to have any professional certification before you can be allowed to start it. All you need is the required training and experience that will expose you to the in and out of virtual office rentals.
On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to effectively conduct your virtual office rental business, then by all means try and pursue such certification.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long arm hand of the law catches up with you.
These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own virtual office rental company in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Tax Payer’s ID / Tax Identification Number
- Health inspection Certificate
- Business Plan
- Contract Document
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employee Handbook
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
- Building License
- Franchise or Trademark License (optional)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a virtual office rental company can be cost effective if you choose to start on a small scale by running the business with a handful of virtual office spaces and limited support services. Fortifying a standard office space in a business district and purchasing office gadgets and furniture et al are part of what will consume a large chunk of your start – up capital.
If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large scale virtual office Rental Company with virtual offices in key business districts.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should deliberate on is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your virtual office rental company;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell of shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for services such as virtual office Rental Company, you can choose to locate the business in any location of your choice especially if you are offering basic support services. These are services that do not require your clients to come to you for services except for meetings.
But over and above, the location you chose to open your virtual office spaces meant for rentals is key to the success of the business; hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of corporate organizations and businesses with the required purchasing power
Before choosing a location for your virtual office rental company, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out. This is why it is very vital to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set up your own virtual office rental company.
These are some of the key factors you should contemplate before choosing a location for your virtual office rental company;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for virtual office spaces and support services in the location
- The purchasing power of businesses in the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The number of virtual office rental companies in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community
- Traffic, parking and security
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
On the average, there are no special technology or equipment needed to run a virtual office rental company except for relevant software apps, computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
As regards leasing or outright purchase of an office facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short term rent / lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location for such business.
When it comes to hiring employees for a standard virtual office rental company with plans to have corporate clients all across major cities in the United States of America, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Virtual Office Support Staff, Sales and Marketing Officer, Accounting Clerk, and customer services executive. These are some of the key employees that you can work with. On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members excluding temp staff to run a small scale but standard virtual office rental company.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
A virtual office rental company provides communication and physical address services without bearing the financial burden to maintain the office facility for corporate organizations and businesses and they also provide related freelance support services.
It is the practice for virtual office rental companies to provide business addresses in highbrow business districts and make them available for rentals. Aside from the fact that the offices are virtual, the normal process of paying for rent and other support services offered by the virtual office rental company applies.
It is important to state that a virtual office rental company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated virtual office rental company process is not cast on stone.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a virtual office rental company, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands that determine the market direction for the virtual office rental business.
People and organizations will rent your virtual office and hire your support services if they know that they are going to get value for their money.
As a matter of fact, your marketing strategy will center on reachability, reliability, swiftness, safety, pricing, thoroughness, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever your customers rent your virtual office or hire your support services, they will get excellent service. If you are able to put the above stated in place, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers and at the same time win over new customers.
Businesses these days are aware of the power of the internet, which is why they will do all they can to maximize the internet (LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs, and videos/YouTube) to market their services. In other words, a larger percentage of your marketing effort will be directed to internet users.
These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your virtual office rental business;
- Introduce your virtual office rental company by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to Bloggers and website owners, Banks, Insurance Companies and other related Financial Institutions, Blue Chips Companies, Corporate Organizations, Manufacturers and Distributors, Real Estate Owners, Developers, and Contractors, Research and Development Companies, The Government (Public Sector), Religious Organizations, Political Parties, Television Stations, Printing Press (Publishing Houses) and Authors, Branding and Advertising agencies, Entrepreneurs and Start – Ups in the United States of America and all across the globe
- Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across, so that those on the social media or those who read blogs will know who to call when they need to rent a virtual office within your location
- Create a basic website for your business, so as to give your business an online presence
- Directly market your services
- Engage in road show in targeted business communities from time to time to promote your virtual office rental company
- Join local virtual office rental business associations for industry trends and tips
- Join local chambers of commerce and industry with the aim of marketing your virtual office spaces and support services
- Advertise your business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If your intention of starting a virtual office rental business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by opening offices all across key cities in the United States and franchising, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your virtual office rental company;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your virtual office rental company
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted business districts to create awareness of your virtual office rental company
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- Contact Bloggers and website owners, Banks, Insurance Companies and other related Financial Institutions, Blue Chips Companies, Corporate Organizations, Manufacturers and Distributors, Real Estate Owners, Developers, and Contractors, Research and Development Companies, The Government (Public Sector), Religious Organizations, Political Parties, Television Stations, Printing Press (Publishing Houses) and Authors, Branding and Advertising agencies, Entrepreneurs and Start – Ups in the United States of America and all across the globe informing them about your virtual office rental company and the services you offer
- List your virtual office rental company in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your virtual office rental company in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your virtual office rental company is located
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo et al.