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Getting to Big from your Home Office - Part 2

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In the first of this series we discussed the use of a virtual office to help a home office business look big. Virtual offices provide a professional point of contact through which your clients and business associates view your business.

In this article we will discuss a couple of other ideas that can help a small business look larger and help create a more professional presentation to outsiders. 

Get a Website

One of the greatest tools available to all business is that of having a website. In today’s environment it is very difficult to take any business seriously without a professional looking websites.  I know one of the first things I do when checking out a potential business associate or client is to go to their website.  If it looks good, has solid information about them, I am more confident that I am dealing with a substantive firm.  If it looks like it was put together using a template or is a one page wonder, I become skeptical and in many cases won’t go to the next step in developing a business relationship.

Small basic websites are cheap.  There is no excuse for not having a good one.  If you do not know where to go to get one developed, try elance.com to find a multitude of both local and offshore web developers. Even after finding a developer, you will still need to put some time into making sure the information you provide them about your company is accurate and complete, but it is worth the effort.

Your website should have at least 5 sections:

  • The home page with your unique selling proposition clearly stated with a call to action
  • An about us page to tell your story
  • A contact us page to tell visitors to contact you with a contact form
  • A product and services page describing your specific products and services and
  • A site map page so that your visitors can see your whole site in one place.

Of course, you can do more, but if you have at least these 5 sections and a professional design, your image will be that of a serious player in your marketplace.

A Big Phone System for a Small Business

Another great tool that small businesses can use is the use of a virtual phone system.  For under $20.00 per month you can turn your phone system into one that sounds and acts like a large office. These systems include:

A Local Telephone number in the city and country of your choice (subject to availability)
Auto Attendant

2 extensions (addition extension available at $9.99 / month)
Day-n-Night Greetings
Dial by Name Directory
Follow Me
Your own On-Hold Message
Call Routing
Call Screening
Live Call Transfer
Voice Mail
Voice messages delivered to your email
Fax Receiving
Fax messages delivered to your email
Send “Talking E-mails”

To find out more, check out the American Voice Mail site.

Just because you are a home based business doesn’t mean you are not serious about your business.  These tips help to show outsiders that that is the case.

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General , Home Office

Getting to Big from your Home Office - Part 1

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You have your own small business and you are home based. Are you concerned about your image? Do you tell your clients that you work from home? The typical answers are yes and no, respectively. If that sounds like you, what can you do to enhance your image while still being able to enjoy the ability to run your business from home?

Probably one of the easiest and least costly is to sign up for a virtual office. A virtual office is just what it sounds like, virtual.  You won’t really have a permanent office, but you can use the prestigious address of the provider as your own. You will also be able to have access, on an as needed basis, to conference rooms or even a day office on a pay as you go basis. Not only that, but you can also use their  administrative staff to do work for you and only have to pay for the time you use and not have to file any tax forms or provide any other employment related paperwork.

Virtual Offices offer an A La Carte Menu of services. You can get their staff to do your work, have them answer and forward your phone calls and they can collect and even forward your mail. The typical provider has all of the office equipment you could ever need and you can use it, once again, on an as need basis which will allow you to avoid big capital outlay to purchase yourself.

If you have a home based business and want to look big, a virtual office is your answer.

For more information on Home Officing, read The Home Office from Hell Cure.

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Executive Suites , General , Home Office , Office Space

Five Ways to Save Money

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I just found an article by INC magazine titled “Insight: Five Ways to Save Money (Layoffs Not Included)” which builds on the Blog post we did on October 21st, “Scary Times” Office Space Tenant Guide.”  In the article they suggest five cost saving tips for small businesses which I thought were pretty good. Here is a brief summary: 

Send Employees Home – Savings of around $3,200 per telecommuting employee. Communicating with them is the biggest challenge.

Share Your Staff – Outsource or job share employees with another company to keep valuable employees who might otherwise need to be laid off.

Get Customers to Put Away Their Credit Cards – If you have a lot of credit card sales, you know the 3.2% fee on each charge adds up. Offer perks or rebates for check or electronic debits to discourage credit card usage.

Cut Back on Travel – There are lots of great technological advances that can put you effectively in front of clients or associates in far away places.

Try Do-It-Yourself Marketing – Consultants and advertising are expensive.  One company offered employees bonuses for Blogging about their product in their spare time and it has been a huge success in generating new business.  I guess Blogging is the way to go :-)

Check out the full Article for more.

General , Office Space

Thank God I’m in Texas!

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Texas is certainly taking some hits while the economy in the US as a whole is suffering.  It is certainly not hurting to the same extent.  DFW is the 4th largest metro in the US, but it created 83,600 new jobs in 2007 (3rd in the nation) and 54,300 from September 2007 to September 2008 (2nd in the nation).  Unemployment stood at 5.3% while the country as a whole was around 6.1%.  These numbers may be adjusted later as often happens, but they show that it’s a good time to be in Texas.

Costar reported that the 3rd quarter of 2008 ended with 16.6% vacancy in the office market – a slight 0.1% increase over the 2nd quarter’s ending rate.  While absorption year-to-date posted a positive 2.8 million square feet, vacancy is expected to increase as the economy slows and 6.2 million square feet of new properties are delivered.  Subleases are becoming more of a factor as well with 2.6 million square feet now available.  As sublease space increases, greater pressure is put on landlords to decrease direct rental rates to compete.

What does this mean for corporate tenants?  There will be more options for tenants for sure.  And it probably makes sense to start testing where the bottom is for rental rates.  For example, I recently completed a transaction where the landlord originally quoted $11.20 per square foot.  When I told him that the high-credit, international tenant was focused on another building he continued to pursue the deal anyway and eventually made an offer at $9.05 with a construction allowance 25% higher than the original offer.  He got the deal.”

Posted by one of our top Dallas Tenant Reps
Check out his Overview

Dallas Office Space , General , Office Space

Executive Suite Office Space on EBay?

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Here is a novel idea, get an Executive Suite rental on EBay. Two Las Vegas Area Executive Suites have each placed an office on EBay to allow potential occupants to bid on them.  The bidding price starts at $.99 per month with an initial term of 3 months at the bid price. One executive suite auction has already closed at $279.50 per month, well below the usual price of $600 - $800 per month. Both require security deposits of $400 - $800 to move in. The other one is still open for bidding. This is a very creative marketing idea in a down market.  Depending on whose numbers you use, the office space vacancy rate in Las Vegas is among the highest in the country at around 17%. The hope is that after the new tenant has been in the office for a few months and experienced the office and services provided by the center, they will choose to stay on at a higher price.

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Executive Suites , Las Vegas Office Space