What is a Virtual Office and why might you need one?

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Setting up a new business can pose as a potentially daunting experience for any budding entrepreneur.

The thought of securing suppliers, marketing your goods and services, thinking about market competition, logistics on how to deliver your goods and services, and most importantly finding a base for your office might drain you.

Additionally, with property price inflation in the UK, finding a cost-effective solution for your office requirements can prove a tricky and challenging task.

The solution to half of these problems lies in a virtual office. With a virtual office, you will get a professional business address giving you the flexibility to work from anywhere, solving your office setup problem.

Let's unravel what a virtual office is and how it will benefit your business and enhance productivity.

What is a virtual office?

A virtual office gives businesses a flexible workspace with a physical address and office-related services without the overhead of a long lease and administrative staff.

A virtual office address service is where a provider provides businesses and individuals with physical addresses. The address can be used as the company's registered office address and director’s correspondence address. You can also use the address for receiving mail and marketing purposes.

A Virtual Office in its simplest form is a physical address that you can use to register your business to, have mail sent to, and which you can use for marketing purposes.

Many upcoming entrepreneurs and small businesses have initially decided to work from home to save money that might otherwise be spent on renting out an office.

Whilst this provides a good solution in the interim, it’s not always a good idea to have a business registered at your home address.

Using your home address to register your company can not only affect the image of your business but also inconvenience you by having unwanted visitors. Imagine selling something online only for the buyer to want to return it and decide to turn up at your house on a Sunday night.

A virtual address can protect your home address from all these inconveniences. Virtual office providers will receive mail and packages on your behalf and either email them to you or send them to your official address.

By choosing the correct Virtual Address you can present a professional image to clients and separate your personal affairs and your business affairs with ease.

So how can a Virtual Office address solve all of these issues?

Increase your footprint

Virtual Offices are not only of benefit to small businesses looking for an address for their business and their mail but also bring about scalability.

In recent times the market has seen a surge in more established businesses also turning to use the services of Virtual Offices.

Virtual Offices provide a cheap solution for setting up an office in another country without actually having a physical presence there. Also sometimes known as setting up a Satellite Office. Let’s say that you have a business in Singapore but wish to present the image of an international company with multiple offices around the world.

A few quick clicks on a mouse and a small fee will get you your virtual address in pretty much any country that you want, without breaking the bank. This can then in effect give a global image to your company.

Supply chain differentiation

Some companies offer a range of different products and services and wish to do so under different brands.

Let’s say that you have a carpet fitting company and you now wish to set up a carpet washing service but don’t want it registered to the same address as your carpet fitting company. You also don’t want to spend a fortune in acquiring a new office for the new carpet washing company as you don’t know how successful it will be.

The easy solution is to register the new company to a virtual office. That way there is a clear distinction between the two businesses and you haven’t spent a fortune to achieve it.

Professionalism

A Virtual Office address provides your business with a prestigious location, even if you don’t have a physical office there.

Mail handling services, a virtual mobile number, and access to meeting rooms give a virtual office a professional image. This can help businesses attract clients and partners who value professionalism.

Cost Savings

Renting physical office space can be expensive. A Virtual Office address allows you to enjoy the benefits of a prime location without the high costs. It’s an economical solution for startups, freelancers, and remote teams.

What are the pitfalls of using a Virtual Office Address?

You must think carefully and act prudently when choosing a UK Virtual Office provider. Otherwise, you could be bringing on unnecessary aggravation for yourself.

Choose your Virtual Office address wisely.

People tend to always jump for a Central London address as they feel that it creates the image of a successful company with an office in one of the most expensive parts of the UK. This can be partly true but it can also work against you if you are not able to carry off the image that needs to go along with the address.

Think of the following scenario. You are a 1-person company and you do everything from answering the phone to providing the services to creating the invoices.

If you are the only point of contact for your clients it will soon become apparent to them that you are not a large enough enterprise to be based in Central London and therefore you must be using a Virtual Address.

This can lead to customers to wonder how they can get hold of you if something goes wrong with feelings of mistrust and unease soon surfacing.

Our advice is if you are a small business then choose a Virtual Address in the suburbs. Many clients and customers will find it easier to believe that you are a suburban outfit as opposed to a Central London outfit.

Other than our Hatton Garden, Holborn address, remember we have 1 address to choose from in East London and 2 addresses to choose from in Essex. We also offer virtual office addresses in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Choose wisely!

Choosing the wrong address and collecting mail in person can cause an inconvenience

If you intend to collect all of your mail in person then choose an address that is local to you and convenient for you to get to. A flash postcode is not everything. Think of the practicalities of visiting our site to collect your mail.

Take into account traffic along your journey the distance you will need to travel and the time it will take. We have a range of cheap virtual office packages which means that visiting our offices to collect your mail is not always necessary.

By choosing the right package you can arrange for your post to be sent to you for free either by post or via email and scan.

Don’t let your reputation get tarnished by others.

One grievous mistake Virtual Office providers commit is providing all of their clients with the same Virtual Address.

For example, you may sign up with “Delboy’s Virtual Office Services.” They then tell you that your Virtual Address is 101 Peckham Rye Lane, London.

Sounds good so far right? The only problem is that they are giving the same address out to all of their clients which means that 100+ companies have the same address as you.

Not a problem I hear you say. Think again. This means that if a company ruins its reputation and somebody Googles their address and finds your company attached to the same address, It might lead to loss of trust from your customers, suppliers, partners, etc.

Then there is the risk of being blacklisted. What happens if another company gets the address blacklisted? It means you’re affected too.

Your bank loan might get rejected if a credit officer runs a credit check on your trading address.

At Icon Offices we have provided a simple solution to this by issuing all of our clients with their unique office numbers.

For example, Office 1, Office 2, Office 3, etc. This means that there is no address association between companies as they all have their office numbers and there is also no risk of your address or company getting blacklisted.

The Icon Offices Virtual Offices Solution

After researching the market and speaking to a range of different-sized businesses across the UK and overseas, we found that clients’ main requirements from a virtual office provider are:

  • ·         A unique address with presentable and desirable buildings that can be seen on Google Maps.
  • ·         A range of different virtual addresses to choose from.
  • ·         Transparency of costs with no hidden charges
  • ·         Easy sign up
  • ·         No contracts
  • ·         Facility to accept mail and parcels
  • ·         Mail forwarding via post
  • ·         Scan to email for post received
  • ·         Facility to collect post in person
  • ·         UK Company Formation
  • ·         An Accountancy Package to handle all Companies House and HMRC filings
  • ·         The provision of Business Phone lines via VoIP services
  • ·         The provision of Business Phone lines via VoIP services

Icon Offices have taken on board these requirements and launched a range of affordable UK Virtual Office Packages that cater to all requirements and budgets. Our budget Bronze Package is priced at a very cheap £0.99 per week which is a steal for even those with the smallest of budgets.

The Bronze Virtual Office Package gives clients the facility to use one of our 6 addresses for the face of their Business. It comes with free mail handling and provides clients with a facility to collect their mail in person.

At the top end, our Platinum Virtual Office Package weighs in at £6.99 per week. Although more expensive than its youngest brother it still presents great value for money considering what you get with it. We like to call it the Rolls Royce of Virtual Office Packages!

Again, clients can choose to register their business at any of our 6 addresses but the Platinum Package comes with a host of additional benefits, such as unlimited scan to email for all mail received. We also supply a free UK Business Phone Line and a Free Company Formation service and much more  

This means that you will have access to our team of accountants who will deal with all of the Tax, Companies House, and HMRC leaving you to concentrate on what you know how to do best; running your business!

Our Silver and Gold Virtual Packages fill the divide between our Bronze and Platinum Packages with a variety of benefits which are bundled into an affordable weekly fee.

What makes us different from the competition?

We have several main differentiating points to our service which separates us from other UK Virtual Office providers.

All of our UK Virtual Office Addresses are owned by us. This means that all mail is received and sorted by our in-house teams.

This ensures that we are in full control over the mail we receive and can deliver the same consistent levels of service to our clients.

Behind every address, there is a physical building that can be viewed on Google Maps.

We occupy 6 locations at present: Hatton Garden in Holborn Central London, Chadwell Heath Essex, Hainault Essex, and East Ham London, Glasgow Central in Scotland and Belfast Northern Ireland.

If you choose an address at any of these six locations a quick Google Maps search will reveal 6 very grand and majestic buildings which act as the face of your Business and form part of your image and branding.

Our prices, from only £0.99 per week, you can get our Virtual Address.

By purchasing our virtual office package, you will get additional services like free VoIP Business Phone lines, UK Company Formations, and Accountancy Packages all bundled into 1 monthly fee. Something that none of our competitors can offer with the same precision as us.

We’re more than just a Virtual Office provider. Our main core business is the provision of serviced office facilities to customers looking for physical office space.

That means that behind the provision of our Virtual office facilities, we have an entire business infrastructure consisting of 6 Business Centres with 70 serviced offices.

This means that our Virtual Office clients can tap into the additional services that we offer at any time including meeting room hire, and also short-term and long-term office hire.

For additional information see: https://iconoffices.co.uk/virtual-offices.php.

Who can open a UK Virtual Office Account with us?

Our services are available to any company anywhere in the world or any individual anywhere in the world who intends to use our UK Virtual Addresses for Business purposes.

What documents need to be provided to set up a UK Virtual Office?

With any Virtual Office application that we receive, we need to perform a certain amount of due diligence. The main part of this is called “KYC” which is short for “Know Your Client.”

This is the process of verifying the identity of our clients and assessing their suitability, along with the potential risks of illegal intentions toward our business relationship.

Sadly, the aspect of “anonymity” that comes with a Virtual Office Package is often appealing to people with ill intentions who plan to engage in criminal and other questionable activity.

To deter this, we need to establish the identity of all of our clients. When an application for a Virtual Office is received from a company, we require a photo ID of one of the directors in the form of a copy of their passport or driving licence.

We also require proof of the Director’s residential address. This must be in the form of utility bills or bank or credit card statements dated within the last 3 months. 

We also need 2 selfies: one holding you photo ID and the other holding a sign confirming that you are the director of the company.

For detailed information see our ID guide here: https://iconoffices.co.uk/id-page.php

All ID documents need to be uploaded and submitted from the ID upload section by logging into the customer login area.

We do not require any documentation relating to a UK company itself as this can usually be obtained by us online via the Companies House website.

If the account is being opened by a third party who is not a director of the company, then we also need consent from the director for us to deal with the third party on behalf of the company. This consent can come in terms of a letter signed by the director that we refer to as Letter of Authorisation.

If the client opening the UK Virtual Office Account is an individual who does not have a company and who is either a UK or non UK resident, then this is acceptable so long as they can provide us with their ID documents.

For non-UK registered companies and other Business Entities, the same set of documentation is required with the addition of proof of the company’s incorporation and who its directors are. For more information, contact us at info@iconoffices.co.uk 

A Virtual Office address provides flexibility, professionalism, and cost-effectiveness. It is a tactic implemented by modern corporations that aims to enhance the efficiency of operations and increase brand equity. Despite the listed disadvantages, a Virtual Office is a useful tool for many enterprises. Consider the advantages and disadvantages and decide wisely.

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