A virtual office is a great way for your small business to save on the cost of renting an office space. Here we walk you through the 5 easy steps to setting up your virtual office in under an hour:
Mapping out your strategy
Obtaining a virtual business address
Selecting a virtual assistant
Training your virtual assistant
Getting a virtual phone system
Step 1: Map Out Your Strategy
Not everyone's virtual office will look exactly the same. Perhaps you do have a physical office, but would like to complement it with virtual assistants. Or, maybe you truly are starting with nothing and want to go 100% virtual from the beginning. No matter what your ultimate goals are, it helps to map out your strategy before diving in.
Possible elements of a virtual office include:
Virtual phone systems or answering services
Virtual call centers
Virtual business addresses
Rentable meeting spaces
How many of these things you wish to utilize will decide how much work is involved in getting started.
Step 2: Obtaining a Virtual Business Address
No virtual office is complete without a professional address to receive mail at. As we noted in another article on virtual offices, you don't have to actually reside at the business address your mail gets sent to.
Services like NYMail.com, for instance, allow you to give key contacts and business partners a prestigious, professional-looking 5th Avenue business address. Using such a service, you can:
Check by phone to see if mail has arrived
Get automatic e-mail notifications when mail has arrived
Take advantage of extended pick-up hours
Have your mail automatically and confidentially forwarded to you at home
A $20.00 business pricing plan is available which enables business owners to obtain a prestigious business mailing address in 24 hours. Theoretically, you could sign up today and accept mail at your new, professional address the very next day.
Step 3: Selecting a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants are one of the most popular virtual office fixtures of all. However, beyond the idea that a virtual assistant would be helpful to have, many of us get stuck in the process of actually finding and hiring one (much less training one.) Fortunately, dozens of different companies offer virtual assistants on flexible pricing models. Here are a few we recommend:
Note: Your life will be made infinitely easier by requesting a VA (from AskSunday or any other provider) with excellent command of English.
Step 4: Training Your Virtual Assistant
The actual hiring of a virtual assistant can be executed in under five minutes. The next, slightly more time-consuming task is training them to perform to your expectations. Here, it's all about specifics.
Because you will not be supervising a virtual assistant the way you would an in-person assistant, instructions, rules and procedures are a must. Below are a few articles with virtual assistant training tips:
How to get your virtual assistant to schedule your doctor's appointments - Ramit Sethi
The Holy Grail: How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email again - Tim Ferriss
No matter which tasks you envision a VA carrying out, you'll need a similar but modified list of rules for them to follow. In this way, the virtual assistant you hire will cease being merely an assistant and become your assistant.
Step 5: Getting a Virtual Phone System
If you've owned a 'real office' before, the idea of getting a phone system installed in an hour might sound like a pipe dream. But with a virtual phone system, the fantasy is a reality. A virtual phone system lets any business get up and running in just a few quick steps. All it takes is:
Picking a business phone number
Recording a customized main greeting
Adding departments and employees
That's it. Following these simple steps, you and your team will be able to take calls and receive voicemails and faxes from anywhere you happen to be.
Get Down to (Virtual) Business
Now that you've hired an assistant, acquired a virtual business address, and set up your phone system, your virtual office is in great shape. You're ready to get out there and start making waves in the business world.