Bootstrapping, budget-minded entrepreneurs are exploring virtual offices in a down economy. But it's not just the affordable monthly costs that has start-ups jumping on the virtual office bandwagon (and it's not just the down economy, either) it's the affordable start-up costs that make good sense for companies of all sizes.

Unlike renting traditional office space, launching a virtual office comes with little upfront expense. Sure, you may have to buy a new computer, hook up a new phone line, or extend the minutes on your cell phone plan. Yes, you may have to get letterhead printed, design some business cards, and perhaps even build a Web site. But those are all typical business start-up costs.

In other words, you'd have to do all that anyway. With a virtual office, you merely shed the brick-and-mortar overhead by working from home (or at your favorite coffee shop). Altogether, virtual offices are helping start ups get off to a good start without the stress of a long-term lease hanging over their head.

The virtual office is a place to grow from, and may actually offer additional advantages for under-resourced boot-strappers. For example, you'll probably find you and your employees are more productive in a virtual office set up because there's no commute time and fewer distractions from co-workers at the water cooler. All in all, the risk-free, low-cost nature of virtual offices are offering entrepreneurs the flexibility they need to succeed.