Virtual Offices Improve Bottom Line
According to recent studies, home-based businesses represent 52 percent of all small businesses and provide 10 percent of the total receipts for the economy. Virtual means having an actual office and a prestigious address for a minimal cost. Small and home-based businesses are opting for true virtual offices, while working from home or in a small office. Business owners rent space at a virtual office location and benefit from having a professional receptionist who handles calls, mail receipt and faxes. Professional conference rooms can be used when face-to-face client meetings are needed. According to Dan Manheim, president of Global Business Centers, companies using virtual offices benefit in the following areas:
• Reduced start-up costs and overhead – renting a traditional office is one of the largest expenses small business owners have
• Improved technology – with today’s technology, employees can work from anywhere
• Professional image – instead of business owners answering their own phone, virtual offices provide a professional receptionist
• Increased productivity – cuts out commuting time to physical office
• Expansion – companies can set up short term virtual offices to test new markets.
Virtual offices, once considered a way for small businesses to look bigger, have emerged into an entirely new way to do business.
Small Business Owner Optimism Reaches High
Small business owner optimism reached new heights as the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index set a record high index score of 114, up four points from the previous year and is the highest level since its inception in 2003, when it stood at 69. The Index is calculated based on a nationwide survey of small business owners conducted by the Gallup Organization and sponsored by Wells Fargo. “While many economists are forecasting a weaker economic environment for 2007, small business owners, according to the results, are expressing no signs of an economic downturn,” said Dr. Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo. Looking ahead, many small business owners are optimistic about future growth. Of the respondents surveyed, 63 percent expect revenues to increase and 75 percent expect their cash flow to be in good standing in 2007. The Index is comprised of two dimensions: owners’ ratings of the current situation of their businesses, and owners’ future expectations regarding how their businesses will perform over the next 12 months. The overall score is the sum of these two dimensions with the largest improvement coming from the future expectations dimension.
IPA SBRB Study: Manufacturers Confidence Declines
According to the results of the International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board (IPA SBRB) survey recently released, small and medium-sized manufacturers are slightly less confident in their business prospects over the course of the next 12 months. The index fell to 43.2 points, a drop of 1.8 points from the index reported in August. However, the 43.2 points is higher than the survey of all business owners and managers. The greatest concerns of the manufacturers responding to the poll were cost of materials, healthcare costs, taxes and government regulation. The key factors for determining the confidence index were attitudes about the direction of the economy, revenue predictions and hiring plans. Manufacturers are projecting revenues to increase over the next 12 months, with nearly 60 percent indicating sales will be higher. Less than 30 percent believe they will add employees over the next 12 months, as opposed to the last poll, when 38 percent said they intended to add to their staff. Nearly 53 percent said staff levels will remain the same and 7 percent said they expect to see staffing decreases. Less than 41 percent of the manufacturers polled believe the economy will improve. “Manufacturing companies are entering 2007 with goals similar to nearly every other small business sector – increase revenue, decrease expense and improve productivity,” said Gregg Steinberg, president of IPA.