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"Any entrepreneur thinking about starting up in business needs to consider all the costs involved and decide which ones are really important. For example, it’s easy to believe it is absolutely necessary to invest in an office. Some of the best advice that I received when starting up Direct-Healthcare was to keep capital expenditure to an absolute minimum in the early days. We started to invest in the business when we knew it was taking off.

"But you still need to have a presence in the right locations. So how did we do this?

"We decided to use virtual office services from This gave us all the core services we needed to look as if we were established in London. We were able to avoid the high cost of leasing, equipping and staffing business premises. Instead, we were able to provide customers with a London address and telephone numbers.

"As part of the package, we get professional telephone answering services and post forwarding for example. These services start at only £15 per month. Later on we invested in additional services including email and fax forwarding. We’ve even used their fully equipped meeting rooms – this facility suits us perfectly as we can use it as and when we need a London based meeting room. It’s also very flexible and doesn’t commit us to an ongoing contract.

"Since our turnover increased to between £3m and £4m per year, we have invested in offices in Amsterdam and we can still work from home when in the UK. What’s most important to us is that we have all the presence of an established business based in London, while still avoiding the often onerous lease agreements that come with real business premises. Why would we need to take on such unnecessary costs?

"As an online business, we are beginning to receive lots of interest from overseas customers. We know that if and when we need it, we can use the network of global virtual offices that offers without taking the risks that are involved in setting up offices ourselves."

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