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Is office space essential to your business image?

Setting up your own business is an increasingly popular option these days. Part of the attraction is the flexibility of being your own boss. This is especially true for business owners who work from home. While there are many lifestyle advantages, the great challenge for businesses that work from home is how to maintain a professional image.

Looking the part really matters, so here are some tips for polishing your professional image and looking like you mean business:

Office space

It used to be every business owner’s dream to see their name up there on the brass plaque or in flashing lights. But the exorbitant cost of commercial business premises is one of the key factors that has fuelled the growth of home businesses.

Few businesses these days can afford the cost of buying or renting, especially if the only real use of the space is somewhere to keep a dusty old filing cabinet and a kettle. This applies equally to smaller start-ups and established global enterprises, with their flexible footprints and hot-desking.

Even the smallest business may have an international aspect, and many have only international suppliers or customers, so the facility to make international phone calls to different time zones while sitting in your dressing gown is far more important than where your office is.



A whole new wave of virtual address services and virtual office solutions has emerged, encouraged by demand and by technological innovations. Gone are the days of dusty old PO boxes projecting a slightly dubious image.

The alternatives to buying or renting full-time office space are to rent occasional meeting space when required, pay for a virtual address at which to receive important correspondence, or see clients at their expensive offices while continuing to work from home.

Stationery


This is one area in which modern home businesses can smarten up to compete effectively. Digital printing has revolutionised the look and cost of business stationery. A good logo and co-ordinated business colour scheme can help a small business to look bigger and punch above its weight in terms of professional image.

Cost-conscious businesses no longer have to settle for plain black and white or photocopied notepaper. Full-colour digital printing in small runs means most businesses only have to invest a few pounds for great-looking business cards, and they can save in stationery by printing their own notepaper from an ordinary desktop printer.

This works because hardly anybody sends documents out by post these days; most business correspondence is done by email.



Communications

Innovative telephone businesses such as Vonage are rewriting the rules when it comes to business communications. Being able to respond effectively to client or customer enquiries when they come in is probably the most vital part of a business.

This can be hard if you work from home and don’t want to confuse your business line with your home number and risk having your four-year-old pick up the phone to your largest customer. And it can be hard if you are often on the road or travelling internationally.

In these situations, using VoIP phone services can be a real life saver and help you field and return calls with the same consistent professionalism wherever you are, whether you are on the beach or in your pyjamas at home.



Resource box


Small business resources
Useful resources for small businesses starting up

Digital printing
An in-depth look at digital printing

Voice over Internet Protocol ‘VoIP’
How VoIP technology works