You want to be your own boss and now you’re wondering just how to get the business rolling. William Willems, Regional Vice President at Regus, who’s Canberra business centre at City West Tower on London Circuit houses many start-ups, shares some top tips for anyone starting a new business.
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, image is everything and finding a way to establish the image that your business needs to thrive and grow doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. Traditionally, start-up firms have had two choices when deciding where to “set up shop”: turn a spare bedroom at home into an office or lease commercial office space.
Unfortunately, neither option presents a particularly attractive business case. Although convenient and cost-effective, the home office can be wrought with distractions such as kids and pets and they are not the most conducive place to host important client meetings.
Leasing commercial space can be expensive and often times risky. Not to mention the time and energy required to find a suitable office, negotiate the lease terms, purchase furnishings and equipment, hire office staff and services, etc.
However, before you worry about your office, get the essentials down first:
1. Write a proper business plan. It will help to focus and define your goals and business targets for year one.
2. Research your market. This will tell you whether your business has the potential to grow and if there’s demand for your product or services.
3. Talk to the experts. Get as much information and advice as you can.
4. Open a business bank account. It’s essential to keep your personal and business banking separate.
5. Choose the right company name. Make sure it’s memorable, professional, unique and fits your market.
6. Find the best location. Whether you are working from home, on the road or from an office, consider a virtual office to ensure that the address and location is right for your business.
7. Project the right business image. Create a good impression with a professional telephone manner, welcoming receptionist and efficient message handling service.
8. Recruit the right team. Choose professionals who are efficient and reliable, and present a quality image.
9. Meet clients in the right place. Choose a venue that’s dedicated to business, with onsite support services that aid productivity.
10. Make sure your workspace grows with you. Find one that can be scaled up or down to meet your business needs.
The best of both worlds
For years, many small businesses wrestled with the challenge of finding a place to set up. Many are surprised to find that there is another way.
A virtual office can be a powerful tool for small businesses that want to limit their start-up costs and establish themselves alongside larger competitors. For a fraction of the cost required to set up and maintain a full-time office, small business owners can use virtual offices to create a more professional image, enhance productivity, and offer service in new markets.
Essentially, a virtual office acts as an extension of the business’ physical presence. While you continue to work at home or at your current office, an assistant at the “virtual” location handles incoming calls answering them in the business’ name, and receives and forwards mail and faxes.
Virtual offices can also be used as a tool to test and enter new markets. If a market is not as successful as initially planned, the investment and risk exposure is minimal. Consequently if the market is successful, the business has gained an immediate presence in a viable market.
All of these benefits are great, but what happens when your customer asks to visit the office? Some providers such as Regus provide virtual office clients the use of furnished offices or meeting rooms at their virtual office location for a set number of days every month. Regus’ 24 business centers in Australia are full-service facilities with fully furnished private offices, meeting rooms, videoconferencing facilities, and administrative and other services.
The flexibility of the virtual office opens a new realm of possibilities for entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses. With no long-term contracts, small firms can be more agile in the marketplace. Free from the high costs and constraints of traditional real estate, the virtual office may be the small business owner’s gateway to growth.