If you’re looking into the benefits of a virtual office, you might be wondering if you need a business license to use one. After all, if you’re a freelancer, sole trader, or any other small business, a virtual office will provide you with your official business address, which you can use to receive important mail and phone calls.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the requirements needed to use a virtual office, and why getting one can be beneficial for any small business.
What is a virtual office?
First of all – what is a virtual office? If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a virtual office is a service which provides small businesses with a business address, without giving you full-time access to the office building. This is ideal for small businesses that don’t need a full-time office nor brick-and-mortar premises for their services.
What does a virtual office do?
Alongside giving your office a business address, a virtual office will also offer certain perks and benefits that you’ll be able to take advantage of in the day-to-day running of your business. These can include:
- Telephone answering service. You can’t be at your phone all the time, but missing important phone calls can mean missing out on important clients. With a telephone answering service, the virtual office will redirect all your phone calls and take important messages. A bit like a virtual secretary!
- Mail redirection. Having your home address listed as your business address isn’t ideal when it comes to privacy concerns. A virtual office will redirect any post or mail that arrives at your registered business address.
- Limited use of meeting rooms. Some virtual office packages will also allow you to use their meeting rooms on a limited basis. This can be a great idea if you want to host an important meeting with a client, or meet with an account annually in a professional working space.
So, do you need a business license for a virtual office?
Nope! You don’t need any license to use a virtual office, and there are no other legal requirements that you need to fulfil in order to use one. If you want to use a virtual office, all you need to do is rent one out.
That being said, whether you use a virtual office or not, you’ll still need to register any small business that you create in the UK. You’ll need to register with HMRC for tax purposes, and register any limited company with Companies House.
Who can use a virtual office?
When you register a business with Companies House, you’ll be required to register an official business address, which will become public once your registration is complete. Many small businesses register their home address as their business address, but this isn’t ideal when it comes to privacy and professionalism.
Virtual offices are suitable for various types of businesses, except those who require a full-time physical office presence. Most virtual offices will allow you some access to your business address, but it’s not a full-time traditional rental. You’ll also most likely need to book use of the office in advance, and for most packages, it will be limited to a couple of times per year.
Those working as the following can benefit from using a virtual office:
- Sole traders
- Small businesses owners who work from home
- Anyone who works from home
- Independent contractors
- New start ups
- Offices that work 100% remotely
Some large businesses even use a virtual office as a base for its customer service headquarters, where they’ll make use of the telephone answering services to help improve day-to-day administration and improve customer service waiting times.
In short, a virtual office is a great option for anyone whose work premises are at home, or any independent contractor who carries out their work in-person with clients or customers. A virtual office gives you an official business address, so you don’t need to register your home address with your company.
Why use a virtual office?
So, what are the benefits of using a virtual address? From increased privacy to enhanced professionalism, here are just some of the key benefits to using this service:
As we mentioned above, if you don’t have an official business address when you register your business, you’ll be obliged to register your personal home address. This can be problematic for a number of reasons, not least that you might end up with lots of cold callers, spam mail, and spam phone calls. It can also be a serious privacy issue, especially if you live with young children or other family members.
Using a virtual office means that you’ll keep your home address private, and won’t end up receiving hundreds of extra spam calls or visits a year.
A virtual office can be a great way to enhance the professionalism of your business or services, especially if you’re currently registered at your home address. Many potential customers and clients might be wary about using a business that operates from a residential address, so having a city-based postcode can help you build trust and confidence with your clientele.
It also just makes your business appear more credible when Googled or researched; postcodes in the capital are seen as something prestigious, so a virtual business address in London will end up lending credibility to your services or business.
More affordable than a traditional office
With rent prices, energy prices, and utility bills soaring, it’s a good idea to keep your business expenses as low as possible these days. If this means opting out of a full-time office presence and replacing it with a virtual office, why not? London rents are currently sky high for commercial, retail, and office premises, while you can obtain a virtual office in some postcodes for just £12 a year.
Extra perks and benefits
When you opt for a comprehensive virtual office package, you’ll most likely have access to a range of perks and benefits, such as telephone answering services and mail redirection. This can actually be one of the most significant benefits of using a virtual office: not only will you be able to protect your privacy, but you also won’t miss out on important calls or messages when you’re busy on the job.
If you’re living outside the capital, you might find it difficult to get clients or customers. Many who research your business might not contact you if they think you’re based in a remote area, and they’ll opt for a London-based business instead. Instead of losing out to your London competitors, using a virtual office can give you your own London postcode, increasing your chances of being able to work with any one of hundreds of thousands of businesses in the capital.
Is a virtual office right for my business?
If you’re offering a service which doesn’t require much (or any) office time, a virtual office is a much more affordable way to establish your business and give it credibility.
How much does a virtual office cost?
A virtual office can cost anywhere from £12 to £200 a year, depending on the type of package you opt for. A comprehensive package (including telephone answering services and