Small businesses have been cited as the key to South Africa’s economic growth, but for many entrepreneurs, the complexities and high costs associated with establishing a new business can be overwhelming. In fact, many small businesses may not even have seen the light of day if the business owners first had to cough up the capital for office rental, not to mention the cost of associated infrastructure and frontline staff.

Enter the virtual office, which has revolutionised the way in which small business owners can bring their products and services to market. The virtual office is broadly defined as: an “office in cyber space”, which allows the small business owner and employees, to work remotely from any location, simply using technology provided by laptop computers, cell phones and internet access. In addition, an investment in a virtual office from a reputable service provider includes some of the perks of a physical office, such as a prestigious business address, an outsourced receptionist to answer calls and meeting rooms when required.

While some of the obvious advantages associated with a virtual office are significant cost-savings and high levels of flexibility, the virtual office provides a host of other benefits that business owners may have overlooked, until now.

  1. Testing the waters: The virtual office provides a low-risk opportunity for small business owners to gauge the market before taking the plunge with a full scale business investment plan.
  2. We have lift off: Invest in your virtual office today and start operating tomorrow. It’s that simple, a virtual office allows the small business to be fully operational, almost immediately. A significant advantage when timing is critical.
  3. First impressions: A prestigious business centre for client meetings and deliveries is ideal in a world where first impressions count most when dealing with new clients.
  4. Low risk and high return: Aside from cost savings, a virtual office means you’re not tied to a long-term lease, which limits possible future expansion.
  5. Solid support: A virtual office means that you get all of the technical support and backup you require. You also don’t need to deal with the inconvenience of a receptionist on sick leave. All contingencies are provided for.
  6. Productivity pays: A virtual office, as the name suggests, means that you can work from anywhere, including home. The result is that you save on hours of wasted time spent in traffic, and actually use that time to get on with work required.
  7. Prioritising resources: Research has shown that if you employ self-disciplined employees, you get the best productivity results because employees can produce their best work at their best times. They can prioritise working hours and deliver what’s required, instead of wasting hours sitting at their desks on those days when business is slower than usual.
  8. On the move: The reality of small business ownership, particularly in the early days is that you rarely have the opportunity to take leave. However, a virtual office offers the ability and flexibility to check in at work from any location. You can monitor that everything is still on track while still enjoying a few days away from home.
  9. Unlimited growth: For a well-established business, looking to expand its staff complement, or even a network of branches around the country, the virtual office, means you can setup your operations and employees anywhere around the country, giving you instant expansion boasting rights.
  10. Become an eco-warrior: Possibly one of the most underestimated motivators for the virtual office is the fact that your business will have an insignificant carbon footprint with minimum impact on the environment. Why? Because you and your employees are working remotely rather than congesting the freeway with carbon monoxide. Whichever way you look at it – the virtual office just makes good business sense.