If you run a small business or a startup, you know that money is tight — especially when it comes to expanding your business and getting the maximum ROI for your efforts. That’s where virtual offices can help you gain a presence in untapped and underrated regions of the world such as South America.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what virtual offices are and how they can be used to gain a presence in South America — even if your business is located halfway around the world!
What is a Virtual Office?
A virtual office is a way of doing business that incorporates 21st century technology using the Internet to create a business presence without a physical presence in a desired country, region, or city.
Some of the components of virtual offices include:
- Website: A virtual office’s key component is a website, which serves as the nexus of all of your online activity that can both process customers through the Internet as well as interface with people in the country of your choice. Depending on which countries in South America you wish to expand to, it’s important to have the website written in the corresponding language (Portuguese, Spanish; and to a lesser extent, English, Dutch, and French), and the matching domain extensions for each country:
- Argentina: .com.ar
- Bolivia: .bo
- Brazil: .com.br
- Chile: .cl
- Colombia: .co
- Ecuador: .ec
- Falkland Islands: .co.fk
- French Guiana: .gf
- Guyana: .gy
- Paraguay: .com.py
- Peru: .pe
- S.Georgia and S. Sandwich Islands: .gs
- Suriname: .sr
- Uruguay: .com.uy and .uy
- Venezuela: .com.ve
- Online Collaboration Platforms: In order to handle office tasks that would otherwise occur in an office environment, online collaboration platforms take the place of delegating tasks and handling the day-to-day tasks of your business. Depending on your business model, you may want to use platforms like Trello, Slack, Teamwork, and others — each one can be used in different ways to augment how the “office work” portion of your virtual office is handled. For instance, you may find that you need to interface with South American contacts in real-time, which would lead you to prefer Slack’s instant-communication. For other projects that involve version-control and more abstract planning, Trello’s novel card system can help you delegate tasks in a more efficient manner.
- Virtual Phone Numbers: Because you are going to be processing business-oriented phone calls from clients and customers, you’ll want to open up lines of communication in South America. In this case, South America virtual phone numbers can be the ideal tool to virtually give your business a presence in South America. Essentially, when a virtual phone number is dialed by a caller, the call is instantly routed to another phone number, known as the “destination phone number.” This phone number can be located anywhere in the world, which means that calls can be funneled from South America to your call center in Los Angeles, for example. Similarly, calls can be made to individuals in South America by using the same call-forwarding principles.The reason why virtual phone numbers from a company like Global Call Forwarding are essential for establishing a virtual office in South America is that you can open up lines of communication that would otherwise be blocked by service providers. Similarly, those located in South America may prefer to only do business with entities that don’t require long-distance fees. With virtual phone numbers, you can bridge the gap and ensure that customers call your virtual office to handle their business.
As you may imagine, once these elements are in place, creating a virtual office in any South American country of your choice is a process of incorporating each method as efficiently and authentically as possible.
Why South America?
The countries that comprise South America, in order of the richest per-capita GDP in USD include:
- Chile ($24,600)
- Uruguay ($22,400)
- Argentina ($20,700)
- Brazil ($15,500)
- Colombia ($14,500)
- Suriname ($13,900)
- Peru ($13,300)
- Venezuela ($12,400)
- Ecuador ($11,200)
- Paraguay ($9,800)
- Guyana ($8,300)
- Bolivia ($7,500)
Also, there are three dependent territories in South America:
- Falkland Islands (United Kingdom) ($77,700)
- French Guiana (France) ($18,000)
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (United Kingdom) (n/a—inhospitable)
by Tom Senkus
Author’s Bio: Tom Senkus is a freelance writer and international traveler that enjoys sharing his knowledge of how businesses can expand their global presence in the most efficient manner possible. For more information on his list of services and published work, visit www.tomsenkuswriter.com