Don’t Settle for Starbucks: Book a Meeting Room

For virtual office users, startups, freelancers and traveling professionals, most of the time a home office works just fine.

But what happens when you need to meet a client? Or impress a potential investor?

You don’t want them in your home – unless of course you’re an interior designer living in a beautifully-kept show home. A coffee shop might be the next best thing. It’s free, and the coffee is good. But the downsides – wobbly tables, cramped corners, noisy chit-chat – don’t exactly give the right impression.

So why not hire a meeting room for an hour or two?

It’s professional, it’s a real business environment, and it definitely sets the scene. No doubt your client will appreciate the effort you’ve gone to, and will recognize that you’re serious about your business.

On the subject of cost, take a look at these examples (prices correct as of September 2014):

  • High-rise downtown Jacksonville FL business center on Bay Street, meeting rooms starting from $35 per hour with Wi-Fi, phone access and AV equipment. More >
  • Smart business center in Boca Raton, with a shared lounge from $25 per hour or a private meeting room from $35 per hour. More >
  • Meeting rooms in Orlando FL. Large conference rooms starting at $35 More >

That’s just a flavor. Not likely to break the bank, right?

Whether you need a meeting room for a day in Jacksonville or already have an office with us and need a room when traveling Executive Suite Professionals and our resources can help you. If you need a meeting room or day office while traveling click here.

Simple. And what’s more, virtually all conference room venues offer a great cup of coffee too – so there really is no excuse to hold your next meeting in a coffee shop.

Goodbye wobbly tables, hello new business partnerships!

Blog edited from

Walking the Walk: How close to the courthouse is ESP?

OT reported back in March on the Independent spirit of Lisa Gufford’s thriving Executive Suite Professionals ‘ESP’ business center in Jacksonville.

Undaunted by competitors, including the ever-present specter of Regus, Lisa continues to, in her words “put 100% of our efforts on anticipating and delivering to exceed the expectations of our clients.”

One of many cool things about ESP is their close proximity to the local court house, a strong draw for local attorneys, of which ESP has several within its walls at the EverBank building in downtown Jacksonville.

But just how close is ESP to the court house? Lisa, not one for idle claims, decided to take a walk the other day to demonstrate to her clients just how close ESP is to the courthouse. Below is her short journey of exactly 576 steps, door to door.

Oh and you’ll see how many calories she burned up as well. Enjoy the video. It’s a great example of making a point in a simple, yet creative and fun way. Kudos to Lisa and the ESP team!


-Blog courtesy of Officing Today

8 Ways to Build a Business on a Budget

They say money makes the world go round. But when cash is tight, how do you grow your business without growing the size of your budget?

How do you build a business on a budget? To answer this, we asked some of the world’s best entrepreneurs for their advice. Here’s what they said:

1. Knowledge is Power

Amber Armstrong ‏(@ambarmstrong), Program Director at IBM Commerce, Mobile and Social, said: “Identify your network and find people who know what you do not know.” As a small business owner, you want to oversee everything – but sometimes you get drawn into affairs of which you have little knowledge or experience. So identify people who can help fill the void.

Amber lives by this rule, although she admits she didn’t come up with it herself. “Brian Fanzo told me that one” she says. So naturally, we asked Brian for his advice too…

2. Are You Likeable?

Brian Fanzo ‏(@iSocialFanz), speaker and self-confessed evangelist of social technology and change, says: “People buy from people they like.” He advises small businesses to focus on relationships and customer engagement, and not just marketing.

It’s easy to plough headfirst into marketing, branding and advertising when you’re running a fledgling business. Those things are important, but like Brian says, you need to think long-term. Focus on your relationship with your customers and they’re more likely to come back to you – and to recommend you to others, too.

3. Referrals Are Important. REALLY Important.

On the subject of recommendations, Ken Varga penned a great article on how to grow a small business on a budget. Many of these tips ring true, including this one: “Referrals are one of the most important tools you can use to grow your business,” says Ken, explaining that two ways to generate referrals are to “pay for them per lead; or bribe people in a fun way.”

Naturally, we prefer the latter. Ken advises: “Referrals are the least expensive way to grow your business on a budget. The key is to start writing down the ideas you get, and then start doing them.” He also adds a word of caution: “If you haven’t done your job on making your clients happy, you shouldn’t ask for a referral.”

Wise words.

4. Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Like we said earlier, branding and marketing is important. Digital Sales & Marketing Professional Gary Creigh (@gscreigh) offers these words of wisdom for small businesses:

“It is important to promote your business before it is launched, as marketing and promotion can take a while to gather momentum. By pre-promoting yourself, prior to launch, you can get a buzz going and hit the ground running.”

To start, Gary suggests: “Create a simple one-page webpage which sets out your mission, feature and benefits, as well as a sign-up form for users who are interested. Use Twitter and Facebook as well as networking on LinkedIn to create a pre-launch buzz – and get those potential customers intrigued and ready to buy from you!”

5. Continuous Improvement

Mike Sullivan, Chief Marketing Officer of yours truly, Alliance Virtual Offices, says it’s all about “continuous improvement”. Some know this better as the ‘kaizen’ approach, or ‘good’ (kai) ‘change’ (zen) – read more about this here.

Mike says that whatever size of business you’re running, you should always focus on continuous improvement by looking for ways to progress your enterprise. “Always look and learn,” he says. “Take a non-judgmental standpoint and find ways to improve. Rather than being overly critical, instead take a broad look at the situation and consider how you can make it better.”

You can do this in your own business, and also by looking at your competitors. Look at what they’re doing – both good and bad – and then identify ways you can improve on it.

6. Think Big, Act Small

Ben Weeks (@REGV1), Founder and Managing Director of workspace search Real Estate Grapevine Limited, works with startups every day. He’s seen plenty of great businesses take off, but he’s also seen the effects of poor business decisions – particularly where expensive real estate is concerned.

“Never bite off more office space than you can chew,” he says. “Many young companies have visions of exponential growth and needing stacks of office space to accommodate such growth… but only when you are well and truly ready would I seek leased premises over serviced or coworking space.”

Real estate is one of the most expensive parts of running a business, and the hard truth is that most companies don’t even need it, at least in the beginning. As Ben says, “there are so many derivatives these days”. For instance, a business address can come from a virtual office instead of a physical workspace.

Ben says “there is a juncture” where a private office may be needed, but advises startups to always “think big, act small” in the early days of running a business.

7. Think Partnerships

Vanessa Merit Nornberg (@vanessanornberg), President of Metal Mafia, says: “Identify companies who provide services or products that are complementary to yours.” As an example, she cites placing catalogues in each other’s mail orders. This, she says, eliminates the expense of extra mailing fees and can virtually double your readership overnight.

A “cross-pollination partnership” like this, she says, also acts as a silent endorsement – so it’s well worth seeking out suppliers with an existing client base and a good reputation. “(It) can also be done digitally – just ask to do an email exchange, or to trade advertising space on each other’s respective sites.”

8. Outsource

Gemma Falconer of GoToMeeting recommends outsourcing tasks that you aren’t comfortable doing yourself.

“If the public is going to see it and you aren’t an absolute pro at it, just outsource,” she says. “When it comes to building your website, creating a logo or designing marketing materials, you really will get what you pay for. If you can, use more of your marketing budget on the tasks that you can’t do yourself.”

With websites like Task Rabbit, Odesk, and People Per Hour offering expertise at affordable hourly rates or set fees, you really don’t need to take on the world. You can now outsource everything from SEO management and blogging to cold calling and receptionist services.

So, armed with these 8 tips on how to grow a business on a budget, where will you start? Keep us posted@AllianceVirtual – and good luck!

-Article provided by Alliance Virtual Offices: