Davinci Virtual Blog



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.

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.

Budget-Minded Entrepreneurs Explore Virtual Offices

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.

Every Office Can Be a Corner Office

Everybody wants the corner office. It's the most desirable spot because it's usually the largest space on the floor – and it often offers the best view.

The good news is when you tap into virtual office space, you (and all your employees if you have a distributed workforce) can brag about having the coveted corner office all to yourself. Of course, that corner office is in the comfort of your own home.

Perhaps even better than having the "corner office" all to yourself is the ability to do business from just about anywhere at any time without missing a beat. When you work from a virtual office space, you can work beyond the four walls of a home office. You can work from a coffee shop, a train depot, a doctor's office, or just about anywhere else life takes you.

Indeed, there's no need to lose productivity when you work from a virtual office space. So long as you are equipped with a laptop, a Wi-Fi connection, and a cell phone, your virtual office space can travel with you and keep your overhead to a minimum. Your phones can be answered by a professional virtual receptionist, your mail delivered to a prestigious business address, and your clients can meet you in a state-of-the-art meeting room when you work from a virtual office space.

One of the key advantages of the virtual office space is avoiding commute time. When you use a virtual office space, commuting to your corner office often means taking a few steps from the bedroom to the spare bedroom where your high-tech bells and whistles await. Even if your home office isn't in the corner and doesn't offer a view, you may decide that working in a virtual office space could actually be more coveted than the old-fashioned corner office.

Telecommuting: More Productive, Less Expensive