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Why You Don't Need Full-Time Office Space

Small business owners don't always need a full-time, dedicated office space. In decades past, the alternative was working from home and having lunch meetings with clients in restaurants, hoping they didn't ask to come to your office.

The rise of virtual office space helps entrepreneurs overcome the challenges typically associated with working from home, such as maintaining a professional business identity that’s separate and apart from your three-bedroom house or loft apartment.

With a virtual office space, you get a prestigious business mailing address in your city of choice. That means whether you want to be listed in your hometown or are expanding your small business footprint into new cities, your business address can work for you, not against you.

A virtual office space also works hand in hand with another important aspect of business professionalism – the virtual receptionist. A virtual receptionist can answer the 800 number that's assigned to your virtual office account with a customized greeting that gives clients a strong first impression. The virtual receptionist can also serve to make appointments and screen calls so you can focus on getting through that long list on your desk.

If you are like many entrepreneurs, you don't yet need a traditional office space. Even if you do have employees, they may also working from home. Maybe you meet up together once a month for a face-to-face brainstorming session, or maybe you connect via video conferencing technologies. You may not need traditional office space, then but a virtual office space with all  its amenities can be a cost-effective way to take your business image to the next level.
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Should I Choose Virtual Office Space or Coworking?

You have questions about traditional office alternatives. Virtual office space offers cost-effective answers. The million-dollar question is: Should you choose a virtual office or a coworking facility?

Although the coworking trend is making headlines in cities like San Francisco and Atlanta, virtual office space is a time-tested alternative to traditional office space. Indeed, virtual offices space is ideal for a small business that doesn’t need access to a full-time office space and doesn’t like the idea of working side by side with potentially distracting strangers.

Coworking has its advantages, such as collaboration with other like-minded entrepreneurs. But virtual office space trumps both coworking and traditional offices by offering more privacy at a lower cost than either option. Virtual offices also give you access to virtual receptionists and virtual assistants -- none of which share office space with you.

With virtual office space, you can essentially work from anywhere, including your home office, on the road, or in a meeting room associated with your virtual office provider. That means you get the best of all worlds: privacy when you need it and collaboration when you want it.

Sure, coworking is picking up steam for good reasons. It’s much less expensive than traditional office space and gives you a place to go when you need to break the haze of isolation. But virtual office space costs even less than a coworking facility and gives you the same opportunity to break the monotony of working from home by making available day offices and meeting rooms.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to office space. Some prefer the traditional office, despite its high costs and long leases. Others prefer coworking, despite the open environment and potential distractions. But virtual office space is often the alternative of choice for entrepreneurs who want the flexibility to work in solitude without breaking the start-up bank.
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All You Can Eat Video Conferencing

Is ‘Virtual Receptionist’ in Your Vocabulary?

The term ‘virtual receptionist’ may not be in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but it’s certainly in the vocabulary of a growing number of companies, large and small.

Indeed, the virtual receptionist is a growing trend in today’s business world, from Corporate America right down to the bootstrapping start-up – and everywhere in between. In fact, you could very well be speaking with a virtual receptionist when you call your doctor, accountant, lawyer or other professional services firm. You might be speaking with a virtual receptionist when you place a telephone order for goods and services of all kinds. You might even encounter a virtual receptionist when you call the local offices of an international company you are doing business with.

The virtual receptionist can do more than answer the phone – much more. They can become an extension of your business, gaining an understanding of your company as they deal with day-to-day issues that arise around appointments, cancellations, executive messaging preferences, and various tasks that can be handled over the telephone. The virtual receptionist is always professional, always knowledgeable, and always ready to help callers to your business find a solution or get the answers they need.

If you are spending too much time answering your phones, if you need someone to screen your calls to avoid wasting time, if you need help setting appointments, a virtual receptionist can save you time coming and going – and help you remain more available for customers in different time zones.
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Can Virtual Office Space Offer Tax Relief?

The oft-dreaded April 15th tax deadline is right around the corner. If you are like many companies, you are getting your business receipts in order to hand over to your accountant.

OK, so what does a virtual office space have to do with your 2009 taxes?

Well, if you are running a bona fide business and use a virtual office space as part of your solution, you can deduct the monthly expense just as you would a cell phone or office supplies you use as part and parcel of your operations.

Let's say you are a sales organization. Your salesmen stay on the road most of the time and work from home the rest of the time. You come together once a quarter in a meeting room, but otherwise it's each man to his own home office. You use a virtual office so you can all share a common street address and an 800 phone number complete with a virtual receptionist.

We've already covered that you can write off your virtual office space costs on your returns, but there are other tax issues to consider.

For example, if your employees are using their own cars to travel from client site to client site, then they should keep track of that business-related mileage, along with tolls and parking costs. The employees can submit this to you for reimbursement and you can write this off on your taxes, along with your virtual office costs.

Of course, you should always seek the advice of your accountant on deductions. But virtual office space and related travel expenses are standard deductions for most small and large companies alike.
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