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Benefits and Pitfalls of a Home Based Business.

Starting a new business is an exciting and also daunting time, you have many decisions to make, which will affect your business for years to come.

One of those decisions is whether to work from home or rent an office.

Each have their own benefits

Working from home ensures that you can
  • work the hours you need to and
  • manage your time more effectively,
  • plus there is no commuting leaving you with more productive time.
Being at home you are in a comfortable space that means that you are able to relax, without the fear of the office politics and distractions. All in all you can maintain a good work/life balance whilst also benefiting from the low cost start up.

The downsides and the reason you may choose to rent an office is the fact that when starting to develop your products or services you will have to start dealing with suppliers and customers and provide them with your contact/delivery details i.e. your home address, telephone numbers.

Equally when you start online marketing, the website will need an address, as does the internet directories, such as yell, and you will need to consider what address you put on stationery, emails and invoices. We believe that having an address on your website, rather than a basic contact us by email form, will instil confidence in your business and for those selling tangible products you are legally required to provide a real contact/returns address for your customers. (read our article on things to consider if working from home)

If you are planning on starting a limited company, you will also need to provide Companies House with a registered office address and a director’s service address. If you plan to use your home address, you need to consider that any address you use for the company is kept on file and is publically available. (read our choosing a registered office service article)

The digital footprint is difficult to erase once you have put your home address onto the internet, so you should consider carefully what information you are willing to put out into the public domain.

Another consideration is whether you are living in rented accommodation, you will find many lease agreements have a particular clause which prevents the running of businesses from the residential property.

The positive side of renting an office is one of confidentiality and also it can create the feeling of “going to work” rather than going downstairs in your house to the office or opening the laptop on your kitchen table. Many people require the “going to work” feeling which enables them to switch into business mode from your family mode.
The solution – getting the best of both worlds…

One possible solution to this issue is to use a virtual office. If you have never heard of a virtual office service, this can provide you with a business/mailing address for your business, so you can continue to enjoy the benefits of working from home, whilst ensuring that you do not have to provide your home address to anyone. Protecting your home and family address from unwanted mail and unwelcome visitors. By using a virtual address, you benefit from having a real address for your stationery, online marketing activities, suppliers, banks and customers. If you plan to incorporate your company the address can also be used as the registered office address and as the service address for the company directors.
The prices are considerably cheaper that renting an office or a PO box, as you only pay to use the address and a mailing deposit to have your mail forwarded confidentially to your home address. Many virtual office mail forwarding services will offer you the options of how you wish your mail to be forwarded – they can be scanned and emailed/uploaded into a secure online account, or forwarded by post daily or weekly – this enables you to maximise your postage deposit.

A virtual office will usually also have meeting rooms that you can use to meet suppliers or customers privately and safely, so you will not need to invite strangers into your home and also provide hotdesks if you feel you need the sense of “going to work”.

Too busy to answer your phone, or are you failing to be productive, due to the fact that you are constantly answering your calls. You never want to a miss a call and letting it go to voicemail may put your callers off. Approximately 60% of callers never leave a voicemail as they prefer to speak to real people. A solution to this is telephone answering, where a real person answers your calls with your own personal business greeting and takes a message which is then immediately relayed to you via email. This satisfies the caller, as they have spoken to a real person and ensures that you can prioritise which calls to return immediately or filter out any sales/cold calls. Telephone Answering companies can also provide you with virtual telephone numbers, which you can use on marketing materials and divert to landlines, mobiles or the answering service directly – so you don’t have to give out your home or mobile telephone number.

In conclusion, using a virtual office for a low cost you can enjoy the benefits of home working (more productive hours and reasonable work/home life balance) plus the security of knowing your home address and contact details are safe. 

If you wish to discuss the virtual office options at I-Support please call us or contact us via live chat or the contacts page and we are more than happy to help.