I am assuming looking professional and acting professional is extremely important in closing sales or dealing with clients.
So I am thinking of setting up virtual office such as ringcentral.ca but don't know if it's legit.
Basically, I am selling software in a very specialized niche. If I sell basically to one client then I am okay for the rest of the year. So, I don't think I will ever need employees or office space (b/c I can just work on my laptop anywhere).
currently, I am located in my home, school etc., and operating under Sole Proprietorship. I do not like having to advertise my home address, but would like to be incorporated to mitigate any potential liability or debts from the business away from my personal assets (nothing much right now but still I need my pots and pans).
When incorporating, I want to avoid having to put my home address down. Is there a proxy service that lets me use their office addresses ? So if a client google maps the address, he will not find a suburban home but a building..
So is virtual office right for me ? Any other outsourcing or services to make me look professional ?
Tell me your experiences with virtual office setup or any guides for a one man software dev operations. I've been working on web programming on LAMP stack for past few years but now interested in Java Swing development, and Java EE platform. Anyone experienced with these ? Any guidance?
Thank You so much for reading this long question.
Rather than looking professional, I believe clients judge professionalism based on actions. Keeping your word, delivering what you promise and great customer service is key.
I have a LLC, use a PO Box for business correspondence, have a business hard line for voice and fax, and a website but I work out of my home.
I now have a part time employee but when my company was just me, many clients thought I had more people working with me.
Closing sales and dealing with clients comes down to trust. The potential client must feel they can trust you to deliver what you promise for them to close a deal with you.
There are virtual office providers like regus who can provide a business mailstop, basic telephony & conference room rentals by the hour if you feel that sort of thing is important to your business. More techie digs can be found at techspace.
A virtual phone service is a different beast - there are commercial - ringcentral.ca, phone.com - and open source - asterisk, openvbx - that can handle your voice routing needs.
But I would say that being professional is the most important step here - looking professional is the easy part.
The more honest you can be, while being professional the better off you are has been what I've been reading on the blogs and inherently feels like a good practice. So given that I do not know the specifics I would default to the suggestion that having your home as the HQ of the business should be fine.
This maynot be true in the industry that your going into but many very transparent companies are out there and some right out of there home that do just fine because what they talk and how they walk is consistent with what really is.
I agree with the other comments on acting professional instead of creating a professional facade. How well do you respond to phone calls and email? Does your competition have offices and if so, does it give customers in this niche a warm fuzzy?
Do you install these apps on the customer's site? Do they have an office? If so, they would rather you come to their office instead of them coming to yours even during the sales process.
Are you selling a product or are you doing custom apps for each client? Gathering specs is easier face to face, but for something already online you can do virtual meetings for demos, training and support.
Check out stackoverflow.com for the Java / technical stuff.
Do any of your niche clients have available office space? If so, would they consider swapping your product/service for office space? Such an arrangement can also work well for referrals. If interested in a virtual office, you might start with http://www.abetteroffice.com/
I am a small business and feel that having a professional corporate identity is important. I use Packet 8 voice over IP service which provides me with an auto attendant so when customers call me it appears that my company is larger than what it really is.
You may have certain legal requirements about providing an address when incorporating a company. Here, we have to give a street address, but may use the address of our accountant (with their permission.) This is quite common here.
You may want to check with your accountant/lawyer/relevant body about what the requirements are for your area.
(Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and you should check your situation with a relevant expert.)