Imagine the following scenario.
You’ve been hashing out the details of your new business model over the last year, investing countless hours of your time, and now you’ve got yourself a perfectly serviceable business that needs to get some polish.
You only have a few issues to sort out and you will call yourself ready for a soft launch.
Fake it until you make it
First things first: your business was built in your garage with some servers, a high-speed internet connection, and a series of ever-increasing processing speeds to power your online offering.
You definitely can’t hold your first investor’s meeting in your parent’s basement, but you can demonstrate your professional bona fides with a virtual office. They’re basically a mainstay of the office space market now, with locations in most major cities.
For a one-off meeting, they’re perfect. No lease, no salaries, no overhead. Just everything you need for a pitch meeting to angel investors, including a smart administrative assistant, comfortable boardroom chairs, and an interactive blackboard.
It doesn’t stop with the real estate, either. Many virtual offices offer professional phone-answering services
Pricing varies based on how amped-up your needs are. For most start-ups with low cash flow, there is little risk taking on a virtual office for a day’s work, especially if it allows you to present your offering in a professional setting.
Longer-term commitments are also available once your business has grown, should you need more regular access. If you are more interested in a collaborative working space, these too are par for the course in the modern economy, and they have the additional benefit of giving you access to the minds of other creative people who can actually add value to your business.
Given the cost advantages and the low risk, there is absolutely no reason why you should feel compelled to sign a lease to rent, lease or purchase an office and all of the associated equipment.
Protect your business with an army of one service
Your company now has a lot of data: literally reams of vital user information, including financial and highly secure documentation, some of which is proprietary.
It is absolutely essential that you protect your business, and in your case, this means protecting all of that data at a reasonable price.
You are not quite in the same league (yet!) as Google or Amazon, so purchasing a server farm in the desert is not in the immediate future.
There is an immediate solution in the form of a cloud computing service. Rather than make the rather huge investment on physical infrastructure to meet your data processing and protection needs, you can save a lot of time, headaches, and ultimately, cost, by signing up to a cloud computing service.
There are ups and downs to the concept of cloud computing, but there is no doubt about its popularity and its ability to give the security of your business a professional touch for an affordable price.
Safety in numbers
If you are reading this blog, chances are that you are already well-aware that there are virtually limitless (and free) resources available through various organizations and groups that are oriented towards business development. The MyStartUp blog is a great source of insight, resources, and tips, often straight from the mouths of highly successful entrepreneurs.
Getting away from the computer, don’t ever discount the professional and educational value of networking opportunities, plus you’ll make a lot of contacts for a low price of admission to an event. Circulate around the booths and learn as much as you can, then bring your intelligence home and start modifying for your own purposes.
And did I mention how much you’ll gain from an experience as a mentee? Again, it costs nothing except your time and initiative, and it’s likely that you’ll gain credibility and insight from the experience.
You’d be surprised how many free templates, guides, or intelligence you will be able to add to your offering, just by exposing yourself to a broader group of similarly situated people.
In short, your business doesn’t have to invest a million bucks to act like a full-scale offering.
Throughout the month of October we will be exploring some of the options presented above so check back often for more info. In the mean time, here are some resources to get you thinking about how you can look like a pro without spending a mint:
Virtual offices: http://www.intelligentoffice.com
Cloud computing: http://exocloud.ca/
Entrepreneurial mentoring: http://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/mentoring/
Design your own website: www.wix.com