Dormant Company

This Week – A Registered Office Address For A Dormant Company

Usually the clients that I blog about are active companies, but this week I thought I would write about one of the dormant company clients that we have.

What is a dormant company?

A dormant company is a limited company that is registered with Companies House, but is not actively trading or receiving any income.

A company may become dormant for a number of reasons, it could be that the director wanted to reserve the name with Companies House before beginning to trade, it could be that a company which has been trading becomes dormant due to restructuring, ill health, a sabbatical or any other reason why they may not be trading.

A company can be dormant for any amount of time, however, during this time the directors will still need to file dormant company accounts and company directors are legally required to inform HMRC and Companies House in writing as soon as the company becomes dormant.

If a company is dormant they will not need a trading address, but they will still need a registered office address.  This is the address that you provide to HMRC and Companies House for all your statutory legal notices to be sent to.

If your company is not trading many directors will not wish to link it to home address or a trading address of another business for reasons of privacy.

It is possible however to use a registered office address service from a virtual office provider to help keep home and work separate and to maintain privacy for the business owner.

The client that I am talking about here is a multiple business owner, he has several active businesses but has one which has been active but is no longer trading and he is now keeping dormant for a while.  Why not just close down the company and start up again when he is ready?  Well, for one thing it reduces the costs of administration – to close a company down and then open another at a later date does have costs attached.  Making the company dormant is both a more straightforward administrative process and also reduces costs.  It will then be simple for him to start up again when the time is right with a company that already has a trading history.  Read here about restarting a dormant company.

A registered office address service is quite simple.  The address of the virtual office is provided as the registered office address to both Companies House and HMRC.  All the correspondence will be sent to the registered office address provider who will then forward the mail on to the company director at their home address.

Making a company dormant many not exactly be the entrepreneurs dream, but it is a useful and practical solution which is frequently used by business owners as a stop gap to moving forward.

If you know any business owners who may be looking to take a break for a while please do share this with them.

Networking Tips

Networking Tips

It’s been an exciting week for me.  My book, 101 Networking Tips was finally completed and went on to Amazon last week.

Writing a book is something I have always wanted to do but I never really knew what I wanted to write about. I had always imagined that I would write fiction but after several years of waiting for a fantastically witty and inventive story to come to me I decided to take the non-fiction route instead.

Networking is something I have been a passionate advocate of  myself for years and since we started running the Office Drinks networking events 5 years ago, it’s something that I have been asked about a lot.

Clearly on the part of the first time networker there are a lot of nerves to overcome.  Many people are apprehensive about networking because they see it as selling, rather than relationship building.  I wanted to write something which would first of all make first time networkers feel less intimidated about attending these events, partly by making it clear that it’s not about selling and partly by providing a step by step guide to researching, attending and following up after events.

Networking is important for small business owners.  Not only is it about promoting products and services, but it’s also about finding suppliers you can trust, bouncing ideas of people, being supported and generally keeping abreast of what’s going on in the business community.

Many small businesses will start up with just one person, or just one director anyway and trying to do it all by yourself can be lonely and you can wonder if you’re heading in the right direction.  Networking helps.  It makes you get out there and meet people.  It keeps you focussed on what you are doing and it does bring in business.

Whether or not you have read the book I urge you to give networking a go. (If you’d like to take a look inside the book click here). There is everything to gain and nothing to lose.

I’d be interested to hear what your experiences of networking have been.  Have you got some advice you’d like to pass on to our readers?  What do you think has been the greatest benefit of networking?  Please leave a comment below.

Writing an ebook

This week – Writing an ebook

This week instead of writing the usual blog about some work we have been doing directly for a client, I thought I would write about something else that we have been working on in Virtual Head Office, which has been quite a labour of love for me.  I’ve just finished writing my first eBook which is due to go live on Amazon on Monday 23rd November.  It’s not the novel I’ve always had ambitions of writing one day, but something much more closely related to Virtual Head Office, and close to my heart.  The book is about networking events, how to prepare for them, how to get the most from them when you’re there and how to follow up afterwards.

Ever since we started our Office Drinks networking events back in 2010 I’ve answered all kinds of questions and imparted various pieces of advice to new networkers, many of them slightly nervous about attending networking events.  These questions and tips I’ve put in to a book for anyone to download on Amazon.  My main motivation for writing the ebook is to make people aware that networking is actually not that difficult if you break it down in to different steps, and as much as I want to show people how to do it, I also want to give people the confidence to go out there and actually do it.

Writing an ebook has been a massive learning curve for me, but a hugely enjoyable experience, and definitely something I plan to do again.  (In fact there is another book already in the offing as we speak…)

This week, I have been in the final stages of getting everything formatted and prepared, ready to go live on Monday.  I’m happy and excited as well as nervous and apprehensive of what sort of reaction I will get when the book is actually launched as no doubt there will be rough with the smooth along the way.

Either way, I know that on Monday an ambition that I have had since I was a little girl is about to be fulfilled and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Pay As You Go Telephone Answering

This Week – Pay As You Go Telephone Answering For A Start Up

We’ve fairly recently started working with a new business, who are using our pay as you go telephone answering service.  The company are brand new having just started trading at the beginning of the month.  The three owners of the business are all employed full time currently and are looking to build up the new company to a certain level of turnover before they actually go full time in the business.

Initially this business team are going to work during the evenings and weekends, perhaps taking the occasional day off from their day jobs as they want to retain the income that they currently have.

They wanted to have the appearance to the outside world of being open for business throughout the working week and wanted to look at the most cost effective option.  Using pay as you go telephone answering they will only pay for the calls they use, so for them as a start up it allows quite a lot of flexibility.  The majority of start up businesses that we work with don’t have huge volumes of calls in the first instance, they tend to build up gradually over time.  Working on a pay as you go basis means that they don’t pay for large bundles of calls that they don’t yet need.

Their calls are answered by our team here, who are handling the callers enquiries, taking messages which are then sent on via email and they call back at their convenience, this allows then to carry on without interruption to their day jobs, as they can just check their messages when they are on breaks.  So far we’ve only answered a couple of calls for them, but it’s nice to be able to share in the excitement of our client when they get their first business enquiries come through.

Pay As You Go Telephone Answering

Virtual Business Address For Start Up Construction Company

This Week – A Virtual Business Address For A Start Up Construction Business

Starting a business is an exciting time for anyone, and something that we get a lot of pleasure from is working with those start up businesses and being able to share the excitement with them.  This week we started working with a new client who is in the process of starting his business and he wanted a virtual business address to give his business a local presence without giving out his home address.

The business owner has set up a construction business.  He’s worked in the family business for several years and has just decided to go it alone.  He wants to be seen very much as a local business and will use the virtual business address that we have, as well as the local telephone number we have provided him with as part of his marketing to show that he’s a local business and to help give him credibility.

He approached us right at the start of his start up process as he wanted to use the virtual mailing address as his registered address with Companies House when he set up the business, so he came in with his ID and started the virtual business address before then approaching Companies House to set up his business, enabling him to use this address from the outset.

Since the beginning of the week we have received mail from him which has included his certificate of incorporation as well as letters from suppliers from whom he is setting up trade accounts, as again, an established office address helps to give a professional impression.

As we always do with our business address clients, we have been letting him know as soon as mail has been arriving for him and he has been calling in to collect it.

It’s been great to see his enthusiasm every time he comes in and to hear about the work he is already picking up locally.  Seeing him pull up outside in his branded up van with his local mailing address and telephone number on and how proud he was when he got out of it brought a smile to my face as well.


Virtual Business Address

Time Management Skills

Time Management Skills

Time Management Skills For Business Owners

When you’re running a business there’s one thing that you never have enough of – time.  Improving your time management skills will have a significant impact on your productivity, your work life balance and the performance of your business.

Successful people have effective time management strategies to help them achieve their goals.  Here is a list of 10 time management techniques that will help you to get the most from your day.

  1. Take time to plan every day. Half an hour sitting planning your day is time well spent.  Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve not just by the end of each day, but also an objective for each call you make.  This will help you to stay on track and to focus and motivate you throughout the day.
  2. When you plan your day make sure you batch similar tasks together. For example, check your emails and respond to them at certain times throughout the day and deal with them all at once.  Don’t respond to emails and calls when they come in.  Plan your day to deal with them all together.  You will rattle through tasks a lot quicker as you are in the mindset for fulfilling that particular task and won’t need to flit between activities.
  3. Have a default diary. Every week you should have a diary of dealing with certain tasks at particular times.  This can always be referred to when planning out your day and ensures that no tasks throughout the week or month get missed.  If planned correctly this also means that if tasks are in your diary you can forget about them until they come up in your diary freeing up your mind to concentrate on the matter in hand.
  4. Use the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re not familiar with it, the Pomodoro technique is a technique whereby you set a timer for a certain period of time, say 25 minutes and in that amount of time you do nothing but concentrate on the task in hand and do not accept any interruptions.  At the end of the allotted time you can have a short break for say 5 minutes where you could grab a drink, a healthy snack or maybe check your social media, and then get back in to the next batch of time.  There are a number of free online timers that you can use to help with this.
  5. Always tackle the most important task of the day first. There is a finite amount of decisions anyone can make in one day, so as the day wears on it becomes increasingly more tiring and therefore harder to make decisions.  Fulfilling your most important tasks of the day first will not only sure you are performing at your best when you carry out those tasks, but also that when you have completed the most important task of the day this will boost you confidence for the rest of the day.
  6. Don’t multitask. Multitasking simply means that you are not giving your full attention to any one task.  In reality people who multi task don’t perform either task as well and take longer to do it.  Focus on one task and see it through to completion before moving on to the next task.
  7. Always work to goals. Have clear goals for where you are going, both in the long and short term, which will be broken down to specific goals for each individual day.  There should not be anything on your list at all which is not in some way goal related.
  8. Reduce meetings. Make sure that you are not participating in any meetings that are unnecessary as they are extremely time consuming, both in terms of the meeting itself and travel time.  If a half hour telephone conversation could achieve what you would achieve in an hour long meeting which you needed to travel half an hour each way to attend then it’s a no brainer.  If your meeting is essential then go with a clear plan of the objectives you need to achieve, keep it precise and ensure you stick to your time plan.
  9. It’s common for entrepreneurs to want to do everything themselves, but the sooner you realise that it’s simply more efficient to get someone else to do it the better and the quicker you can get on with driving your businesss forward and delegating or outsourcing all the non-core areas of your business.  You will soon see the difference in the amount you are actually achieving as well as the liberating feeling of being able to concentrate on what you are good at any what you enjoy while others deal with everything else.
  10. Wherever you can automate.  Have automated emails prepared for handling particular enquiries, automate your invoicing, your social media and plenty of other things besides.  It may take you a little while to set up automating your tasks but once they are set up you will reap the rewards.  It is the fastest, most efficient and cheapest way to get anything done.  (Read an example here of a client who is using automation to speed up his enquiry process).

I hope that these time management tips have proved useful to you.  Implementing even some, if not all of these will make a huge difference to your productivity.

Do you have any further tips to share on how to be more productive or to improve your time management skills?  If so we would love to hear so please do feel free to comment and as always if you know anyone who you feel would benefit from this then please do feel free to share with them or on social media.


Time Management Skills

Mail Redirection

Mail Redirection

Mail Redirection For Business

One thing is certain running a business – nothing ever stays the same.  Even with a solid business plan in place it is still difficult to judge how things will be in your business in the next five years, in fact for some early stage businesses it can be difficult to accurately predict the next 5 months.  For this reason, amongst others, many business owners will choose to use a mail redirection service.

Mail redirection, mail forwarding or mail handling as it is sometimes called is the process of sending mail on from one address to another.  So when it arrives at the business address, the mail forwarding company simply redirect the mail to you wherever you are based.

How does this benefit small business owners?  Quite simply it enables them to have a business address, which will be a real physical building, which to all intents and purposes as far as the outside world is concerned is the real address of the building.

This can be helpful to business owners, particularly in the early stages of business who may for instance start out working from home but want to keep their home address private, or for those who may be looking at moving premises, either to expand or to downsize.   Using a mail handling service means that even if the business moves premises the business address remains the same, which helps to give a stable and established impression to the outside world of the business.

It can be  a cost effective option to those wanting to keep costs down without appearing to be on too much of a tight budget to any clients and prospects as if it’s not necessary to be based in an office the business can be run from home.

A mail redirection service may often be used in conjunction with a telephone answering service to form a virtual office.  If you are thinking of using a virtual office service read our blog post on How to find the right virtual office for your business.

Remote Working

This week in Virtual Head Office – web support for a large decorating business with a remote working team

This week I thought I would write about one of our newer customers, a painting and decorating business with a team of decorators with a national presence.  This is a slightly larger business than most of the clients that we work with, with a team of just over 20 remote working staff to support.

The team are all based in different areas of the country and the business owner spends his time largely focussing on marketing to bring in new business and then on managing enquiries, chasing up quotes and relaying information to his team of decorators.

We have been working with them for about four months now and it’s been great to hear feedback from this client that already we have made a big difference to both freeing up his own time and speeding up the process of turning around enquiries.

The client has a website already, a huge website in fact with over 600 pages!  The website has good authority and is already doing quite a good job of bringing in enquiries, however, there is much room for improvement on the website.

One of the things we have looked at to date is the way that website visitors actually get in contact with the company.  Previously everything had been coming in centrally to the business owner.  At the point of getting an enquiry he had to look up on his database to see which decorator to allocate the job to, then contact the decorator to contact the person who had made the enquiry.  This was rather a long winded process, time consuming for our business owner, not particularly prompt as far as the person making the enquiry was concerned, and as calls or emails were being returned later the person making the enquiry in turn was not always able to respond to further details to get the ball rolling with the quotation.

We have created a widget to use on his website which has streamlined this process considerably.  The widget contains a map of the UK, linked to Google Maps, it gives the browser the option to either type in their postcode or to hover over the area they want on the map and click on a pin.  With either option when an area is selected the contact details of the decorator in that particular geographic area appear, including phone number (more about the phone later), email address and contact form.

On completing the contact form an email is sent directly to the decorator, copying the business owner in, simply so he is aware that an enquiry has been received, although he does not need to take further action.  The contact form has requested certain information, including requesting photographs, which the decorators are able to quote from without having to visit the premises, even though remote working means they all live nearby to their area, the process is still speeded up by being able to quote from photographs rather than having to visit the premises.  If no photos have been attached, the enquirer will then receive an automated email again asking them to send photographs in.

The appropriate decorator receives the enquiry immediately, and if all the information is not contained the widget has automatically chased this up.  The decorator can now concentrate on sending out the quote.  Our business owner hasn’t had to do anything.

If the person looking at the widget decides to call, they ring the number on the contact form, which is a central number answered by our pay as you go telephone answering service, who will take the details of the caller and then relay the message via email to the relevant decorator if they have further questions to ask.  Again the decorator is being contacted directly very quickly and again the business owner hasn’t had to do anything himself.  Having a central number for a remote working team gives a stable image to the outside world of an office with support staff within it.

Since the new contact form has been implemented on the website decorators are receiving all the information they need on the same day – previously this had been taking up to a week, and had obviously been time consuming for both our business owner and the decorator.

This week, our business owner has asked us to look at a forum that he has as part of the website and create a greater focus on threads with images on, a bit like the way Facebook works so we are working on this currently.  We’ll give you an update on this and will no doubt be blogging about this client again as we do quite a lot of work with them.

Could remote working work for your business?  It’s not always necessary to to take up an office.  Our article on whether to work from home or an office may provide some useful insights.

Virtual Office

How to find the right virtual office for your business.

So you’ve made the decision to use a virtual office.  How do you then go about finding the right virtual office for your business?  It’s important to make the right decision as you could be partnering with your virtual office service provider for a number of years to come so spend some time in advance carrying out your research to make the right decision from the start.

There are a number of factors to consider and you should weigh up all of them.



Location should be a major consideration for you in deciding on your virtual office.  The business address plays a crucial role in the impression of your business to the outside world.  You need to weigh up both the prestige factor that your business address will give as well as the likelihood of picking up business in that area.

Think carefully about who your ideal clients are.  Would they be likely to do business with a company in a more upmarket part of town or is something more modest appropriate?  Do your clients want to see you as a local business or is that not important.


The Premises

Although you will not be based from the virtual office it’s still important that the premises themselves, not purely the business address play a very important role.

Ideally visit the premises yourself, or if not at least take a look on Google Places to see the building and what sort of impression that conveys.

Again, just as you considered for location whether the location and address give the right impression for your business, think too of the premises.  Is the building smart, presentable, on a nice street?

Is it obviously a virtual office building or could it be conceivable that your business is actually based in there?


The services

Think carefully about the services you require from your virtual office.  Is it purely telephone answering and a virtual business address or do you require other services too, such as a virtual assistant service?

Make sure you clearly understand the services that the virtual office does offer.

Telephone Answering

What are the hours of business?  Do you need 24/7 telephone answering?  Most businesses don’t need this, but be clear when the opening hours are.  What happens if there is a call out of hours?  Is there a dedicated voicemail for your business?

How will messages be sent to you?

Mail Forwarding

Does the business offer same day mail forwarding?  If not find out how quickly any mail will be forwarded on.

Can you collect the post if you want?  If you do collect will you be informed if you have any mail to be collected?  How will they make contact with you? Will the mail be stored securely?


The size of the company

Think again about the impression that you are trying to convey of your company and choose an appropriate virtual office service provider to partner with.  A larger company with a bigger telephone answering team are likely to convey the impression of your business being considerably larger and busier with more of a call centre feel.  A small business answering service may be able to offer a more bespoke personal service.  Staff are more likely to get to know the businesses that they are working with and will often just know the information about the clients who they are answering the telephone for without having to look up information and may even get to know some regular callers, therefore becoming a convincing part of the team.


Make a phone call

Ring the business yourself and see how they answer.  A phone call to your company may well be the first contact a caller has with your business and it’s absolutely crucial that you make a great first impression.  Is the receptionist’s tone clear and well spoken?  Are they friendly, welcoming and professional?  Above all, ask yourself “Would you be happy if this person was answering the phone for my business?” – if the answer is no then go no further, but if the answer is yes give this company a big plus point as you continue weighing up your options.



Weighing up the costs is an important part of any business decision and this is no exception.  Are there pay as you go telephone answering options or are there virtual office packages available?  Think about how you are likely to use the service.  Are you likely to want them to answer every single call that comes in to your business, or just the overflow calls?  It can be difficult to estimate the volume of calls that come in to your business if you’ve never used a service like this before.  Try keeping a tally over the course of a week of the number of calls that come in to give you a rough idea.  Are you likely to experience periods of higher volume at certain times than others?

Pay as you go telephone answering will provide you with an accurate bill based on the number of call units you have paid – you are only ever going to get charged for what you use.

Virtual office packages offer bundles of minutes, and if you can reasonably accurately forecast the volume of calls you are likely to get this can work out cheaper, but not if you get it wrong.

Find out if the service can change and grow with your business.  If you are just starting up, the chances are you may not receive huge volumes of calls in the early days, but this may well increase as your business becomes more established.  Can you change your plan if needs be depending on your business requirements?

Find out if there are set up costs and what realistic monthly charges may be.

Cost is important but maybe not the most important factor.  If you estimate that one company may cost you £5 per month more, but the address is more appropriate and the telephone answering service is better it is probably worth paying the extra for.


Can you use the business as a both a trading address and a registered office address?

If your business is a Limited Company by law you are required to state your registered office address.  This is an address to receive formal correspondence from HMRC and Companies House.  Check if the price for the virtual office includes both trading address and registered office address if this is what you require.


Can you publicise the address?

Usually you can publish the address of your virtual office, but it is worth checking.  If you want to use this for marketing campaigns, listing on Google, your website, your business cards, any other marketing material do check that this is allowed.


Check the terms of the contract

Are you tied in for a particular length of time or does the contract work on a rolling basis.  If you are confident that you are going to be staying with your virtual office provider for some time there are often cost savings to be made by signing up for longer periods of time and paying up front, but paying monthly offers the opportunity for you to move on should you wish to.


There are quite a lot of factors to be taken in to consideration, but this is an important decision.  The address of your business and the way the telephone is answered is so influential in determining how the outside world views your business and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.


Unsure if a virtual office is right for you?  You might like to read this article on whether to work from home or an office to weigh up the pros and cons.


Do you use a virtual office?  How did you find yours?  Any knowledge you would like to pass on to our readers if you have been through this process yourself?  Please do let us know.


Small business telephone answering service

This week in Virtual Head Office – A telephone answering service and mail handing – how one small business relocates but appears to stay at the same business address

A small business who we’ve worked with for the past 5 years has relocated this week to London.  He has used our mailing address and telephone answering service ever since he started up his cleaning business, to give him a presence in the Bury St Edmunds area.  He lived in a nearby village and didn’t want to give out his home address.

His cleaning business was aiming at the commercial market and not really looking for domestic clients at all.  He wanted a dedicated office address to give his small business the appearance of being a bit larger and more entrenched than was actually the case to give his potential client base confidence in his business in order to help him win some corporate business.

Over the last 5 years this small business has grown substantially, both in terms of its number of employees and in terms of the volume of business they have won, some of which I’m pleased to say can be attributed to telemarketing campaigns which we have run for them, the rest through their own business development activities.

Our telephone answering team are always busy speaking to this clients callers, who may be new business enquiries, existing customers calling with queries or the cleaners employed by this small business.  The calls are always varied and frequently urgent.  This business owner is a very proactive busy person who is always on the move, whether he is visiting clients, out on meetings securing new business, managing his team or hiring new staff.

For a small business like this a telephone answering service means that there is a central point to coordinate his day to day activities.  His team and his customers all have his mobile number, of course, but the fact is they are unlikely to be able to actually catch him on it, and as he’s so busy if questions can be dealt with by someone else he would rather not have to call back.

He will often phone in or email our team to make us aware of his movements for the day, so that we can tell callers that realistically he won’t be able to return their call for 3 hours if they want to speak to him personally.  This really helps to manage the expectations of the caller and helps give his business a reputation for providing good customer service.  The answering service is bespoke so if he wants to let us know for example that there is a specific message for a particular person should they call we are able to relay that for him, so that quite often they don’t actually need to speak to him in person.  We just send him an email making him aware of the conversation so he is up to speed with what has been said, if he needs to contact this person further then he can do.

He currently comes in to the office when he is passing through to collect his post which has come in to his business address.  We always enjoy having a catch up with him when he comes in as he’s always got so much going on it’s really interesting to hear about.

Over the last few months he has been talking more and more about the business that he has won in London, as well as in Suffolk and he has been spending more and more time there.  Recently he made the decision to relocate to London, but to continue with the work that he is doing in Suffolk, which is now quite well established and able to continue with less day to day management from him.

Although he is not local enough to pop in any more to collect his post it doesn’t actually affect the virtual office service he uses.  Instead of coming in to collect, we will be forwarding the mail for him from now on.  The telephone answering service will remain entirely unchanged.  He will still maintain the telephone number that he already has and we will still continue to answer calls for his business in his company name and as far as they are concerned they are speaking to someone sitting in his office so he is very much maintaining a local business presence.

Going forward he may decide to also purchase a London telephone number, which can also be diverted in to our team so that he is able to give the appearance of having two offices.

For this small business owner using having a virtual office means that he is able to carry on with business as usual in a geographic area that he is now well established in, whilst being able to spend more time where he is needed more looking after those accounts which are still in their infancy and still need a lot of day to day involvement.

We’re really excited for him as he continues to expand his business and feel really pleased to be part of the team.  The only thing we’re a little bit sad about is that we won’t be seeing him in person now that he won’t be calling in to collect his post any more, but I’m sure he will be calling in to say hello when he’s in the area.