Virtual Offices – The Preferred Route For Startups

The desire to be one’s own boss. Financial freedom. The urge to pursue one’s passion. Whatever the motivation, more people are turning to entrepreneurship than before. According to figures from the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), between 4,661 and 6,369 business entities were set up every month between January and June 2016. While getting excited about potentially making it big in the world of business, budding entrepreneurs will have to plan their steps carefully. One of the early considerations is obtaining a registered address for the business.

ACRA mandates that any legal entity that is registered with it must carry a registered address. Unless the business has received investor funding and is ready to rent an office or a warehouse, the owner of a startup typically works from home. This leaves one without a ready business address, and will have to source for something that can be used. There are several considerations in choosing a registered address. While anyone is free to use a home address as a business address, it may not be the best choice. Image is important to a business and nothing can be worse than having a residential address show up on a professionally-designed business card or a corporate website that is accessible by prospective clients and partners around the globe.

Even if the address is not displayed on marketing material, potential investors might be put off by a residential address when they search for the startup’s publicly-available business profile on ACRA’s BizFile website. Starting a business is never easy and it would help matters if the business came with a professional business address. For a small fee, a startup could consider using the virtual office service of a professional accounting firm. All mail destined for the business arrives at the firm’s office for self-collection. For the business owner’s convenience, there is an option of having the service provider forward the mail to his or her actual home address. Engaging such services not only gives the business owner a prestigious address to work with, it also accords the entrepreneur privacy. It prevents the home address from being publicized, and attracting potential spam mail.

A virtual office address serves not only local startups but also foreign companies that maintain only a small presence in Singapore. A company that is involved in trading may base itself in Singapore, with just a country manager taking care of the sales and administration, while the actual movement of goods takes place elsewhere in the region. The same scenario applies for a manufacturing firm dealing with low-value goods, where siting the factories in neighbouring countries to leverage the lower cost of goods and labour makes perfect business sense. A virtual office service may also prove useful to a foreign firm that is exploring the prospect of doing business in Singapore. While it registers a representative office with ACRA and conducts market research and feasibility studies, subscribing to a virtual office address helps keep costs low, freeing up funds for more critical groundwork.

The advantages of using a virtual office are many. A virtual address has helped many startups bloom into larger companies and will continue to do the same for years to come.

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