Thursday, November 6, 2014

Navigating Through the Organizational Logistics: Creating a Virtual Office

So you have a brilliant idea; the chances are, you read the first article to figure out how to validate it & take the first few steps toward realizing your vision. Here are a few more steps to get you set up on the track to success: organizing your virtual office.

There are many tools, products, & services that can help organize and manage a modern distributed team. Some important aspects to consider are: creating corporate email accounts, getting a virtual phone system, finding a fax solution, and registering a business address/mailbox. Let's explore some of these tools.

Set up a Professional Email Account
Creating an email address specific to your business is one of the first steps to establishing your brand identity. It also helps to separate communication pertaining to your personal life from your professional one, not to mention that looks better than If you want to take it a step further, creating aliases or setting up separate email accounts for sales, general info, and tech inquiries could be useful. In the future, you may split the handling of communication of each separate channel to the different people in your firm. A number of providers offer to free or inexpensive email hosting.
Select a Phone System
There are vendors who offer automated virtual phone systems, with sophisticated auto-responders that forward calls based on extension to your cell phones or specialized online voice mailboxes. Providers such as,, & are some of the most popular choices, with pricing that starts between $15-20 per month. For entrepreneurs on-the-go Bluetooth enabled headsets such as the Plantronics Voyager Legend, allow you to take a call in a middle of the Time Square & have your caller enjoy virtually the same sound quality as though you were in your office.
Your Scanning and Faxing Solution
Forget the days of waiting around that old fax machine! Handy services like,, and allow you to send & receive faxes electronically for as little as $2 per month. You may also find that you need a scanner. The Fujitsu ScanSnap mobile scanner is tiny enough to fit into laptop bag and is great to use on the go.
Get a Mailing Address
You do not have to have an actual physical office to have a mailing address that looks like you have one. UPS provides convenient mailbox rental and allows to refer to your mailbox number as a  "Suite". Pretty convenient for a team of one or many more! Picking an easy to access central location can allow to keep your mailbox as your official mailing address even after you create an physical office. Prices range $12-$18/month depending on the size of the mailbox.
Piecing Together a Few More Parts
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): a number of vendors such as Zoho, Insightly, or many others offer free or affordably-prices CRM solutions.
Web conferencing: could be as basic & free as Skype screen sharing, Google Hangout, to the more specialized FuzeBox, GoToMeeting, Webex & others going for $20-40 per seat.

Hosting: a world of options, with many starting @ $10 per month.
Digital data storage: too many to list :). It is important to consider data security practices of the provider in the context of your specific business.

Accounting: FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Xero or others. Prices start at $10/month for basic packages with discounts offered the first year of service.
Let's tally up the scores: your total investment to setup a virtual office and keep it going can add up to about $60-$71/month. We are not endorsing any of the products or vendors listed here. There are many more other types of services available and not all of the ones listed here would be relevant or you. Make sure you do your homework to pick the optimal solution at the right time for your business.

Whether you are setting up a daycare center or building a software product for the cloud, getting your company off the ground can take a number of steps. Find the process that works for you and your specific needs. During the course of your activities, never stop your quest for the like-minded – and not so much - individuals who can help realize your vision.
Rachel & the team

Hungry for more?
Look out for more information coming out shortly! Next time we will explore designing the logo/website, thinking about business insurance, opening a bank account, and setting up a corporate credit card. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite suggestions for setting up a virtual office?

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