How to Set Up a Virtual Office

There are a lot of ways to freelance, earn money on the side or even create a profitable business with your own blog. Many people explore these avenues because they think that, since the vast majority of the work they will be doing will be virtual, they don’t need to put much effort into seeming like a legitimate business professional. Wow, are they wrong!

Let’s be clear: you do not have to spend tons of money on a fancy office and fancy looking equipment to land a freelance gig. You just have to make it look and seem like you are working out of a legitimate office. Here is how you do that:

1. Stop Using Your Cell Phone

Sure using your personal cell phone account for business calls is a great way to save money. Still, when your clients Google you (and they will), you don’t want them to find out that your professional number is the same as your personal number. It makes you look like an amateur or, worse, a hobbyist.

The easiest way to set up a separate business-only phone line without having to buy a ton of extra equipment is to use a VoIP (Voice Over IP) service. According to Jive, VoIP is quickly growing into a major market. VoIP allows you to run your phone line via your Internet connection, which is cheaper than installing a second landline or a second cellular line. You can even often answer your calls with your laptop instead of your phone. Plus, any expense you incur is tax deductible whereas your personal cell phone is not because you also use it for personal calls.

2. Get a Street Address

A lot of new freelancers and entrepreneurs will set their businesses up with a post office box and call it a day. This is fine if you also have a physical address you can list on your website but, since you’re working from home, you probably don’t want to do that.

Instead, use a service that will give you a street address to use, like the UPS Store or another organization. You can list the street address as your physical address and nobody will be any the wiser…until you have to meet with someone.

3. Virtual Offices

Believe it or not, it is possible to set up a remote virtual office for your new business. In many towns and cities there are companies that will buy office buildings and professional spaces and then rent them out to entrepreneurs and freelancers. These companies let you use the building’s street address and will either forward your mail or keep it for you until you can come pick it up. They also allow clients to rent office space and conference rooms for professional meetings and keep professional receptionists and assistants on staff to help facilitate those meetings. Keep in mind, however, that these services can be pretty pricey so if you don’t plan on meeting with clients you might want to hold off on setting up this service until you need it.

4. CoWorking Space

Co-working spaces are the latest trend in entrepreneurism and freelancing. They’re great for people whose businesses are still small like yours or for people who work remotely but need the social interaction that comes from working in an office space. With a co-working space you can either pay as you go and use one of the spaces’ “hot desks” when you need to get out of the house. Or you can set up a regular membership that will buy you a permanent desk (or, if you can afford it, a private office) and access to the other benefits offered by the space. Often these benefits include mail service, conference room access, in-house print and copy centers, etc.

The point is, if you ever want your project to grow beyond “side gig” status, you have to make it look like you’re as committed to your new company on the outside as you are on the inside.

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