One of the things I love most about Atlanta is how progressive it has become - especially when it comes to new business. In fact, startup companies are so welcomed in Atlanta that they even have a contest for them! The Startup Atlanta contest is designed to attract and help new business owners get started. It's a grand idea, especially since it is so expensive to do business anywhere these days.

But how can a new startup enter a contest when they don't even have an office? That's simple. Get a virtual office! For around $50 bucks a month, I get a snazzy business address where I get my mail and packages and even have them forwarded to me for a little extra. They have a receptionist and a live person answer calls and take messages or forward calls to where ever I happen to be.

I can rent a nice office with everything I need for a meeting or just to get some work done while in town for around $25 an hour. They have a business center I can use and every type of technology I could ever want. Even some presentation tools I'd never even heard of!

Many do not know that the Big Peach is actually among the least expensive major cities to do business in. In fact, Atlanta ranks consistently second as the most cost-effective of all cities since it typically costs under 4 percent of the nation's average.

But it still costs a pretty penny for any startup to get some office space, so a virtual office makes sense starting out. In fact, it makes sense any time - whether expanding or starting out. There's just so much to be saved in terms of leasing, labor, and employee benefits. And then there's all those costs you didn't know about that just appear out of nowhere.

A virtual office not only gives startups an opportunity to do business in one of the hottest tickets in the U.S., but they can enter a contest and may wind up with $10,000 smackers. Sounds worth it to me!