By Princess Jones
Not every small business needs a business location. Some exist solely in the home office of the business owner. Solopreneurs tend to have more flexibility than some other types of entrepreneurs. One of the biggest benefits to this style of business is that you can be officeless. I’ve been officeless for many, many years and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to work in their pajamas and cut back avoid on overhead.
But while I love being officeless, I don’t always love being seen as officeless. If it’s obvious that you’re working from your dining room table and using your personal cell phone as your business number, some people won’t take your seriously. Whether that’s right or wrong, it’s important that it doesn’t look like your business is a hobby, even if you’re just avoiding unnecessary overhead. So, how to fake an office? These tips will help you create the perception of a traditional office-based business.
Use a Business Address
The first thing you should do is get an official office address. The UPS store will rent you a business mailbox with a real street address. I believe FedEx and several other companies offer these services, too. To anyone who looks you up, it will just look like you rent office space in the strip mall or the building the store is located. The staff also sign for and hold on to any packages you may receive through the mail or delivery services. And one benefit this has over using your home address is that you never have to worry that you’ll be in the middle of a good night’s sleep when some client, customer or vendor decides to pop by for your nonexistent midnight operating hours.
Get a Business Number
Another good way to fake an office is to make sure you have a dedicated office and fax number. Nothing points outs your officelessness more than a cell number only. I like Google Voice for office numbers because it’s free, web-based, and I can forward it to almost any number I wish. I can even tell it which numbers to ring when. I can also make and receive voice calls right from my Gmail inbox through the chat feature.
I don’t know anyone who still faxes things. You can send a document much more easily through email or cloud storage. Still, some businesses still use faxes. For a dedicated fax number, I recommend you use the services at the same place you bought your office mailbox or perhaps your local library. You’ll have to pay per page but you also never have that uncomfortable pause when a client asks you what your fax number is, either. Just rattle off the one to the place you’ve decided to get your faxes and it’ll be there when you go to pick it up later. If you need to receive and send faxes very frequently, consider trying an electronic fax service instead.
If you have a business that handles a lot of incoming calls or administrative work, considering hiring a virtual assistant. Depending on your agreement, she answers your calls and handles admin work to free you up to do what you do best. While you’re in the park outlining your next big idea, someone else can handle calls from vendors. And you can do this without ever having to actually meet her.
Finally, I want to remind you that coworking is an excellent way to fake an office. Many coworking spaces offer dedicated desk space, a real mailing address and even fax privileges. A coworking space can also take it one step further by offering meeting space on site. This is valuable if you have a lot of meetings associated with your business. Instead of trying to meet up at Starbucks or always pushing to meet at their offices, you can just schedule some time in the conference room at your coworking organization.
Do you fake an office in your business? What tips can you share?