April 25, 2014 | Valerie Wong
Before anything else, here's a clarification of what business address services entail. At around $110 a month, you won't be getting an office for rent, but a fully functional office you can conduct meetings and appointments at, but isn't strictly speaking a real office rental since the bulk of your communications are done through a virtual office medium. Usually, these business address services are available alongside virtual office packages (which typically includes VoIP telephony or a telephone number that's online-based yet can be called through cellphones and landlines as well as online receptionist services and Internet fax services). This is because the paperless office has become a reality.
The Paperless Office Still Requires Brick-and-Mortar Representation
When starting a business in the Philippines, whether you're Filipino or a foreign investor, it's important to realize that having some brick-and-mortar representation of your company is still essential because not all transactions and client dealings are of ecommerce in nature. To penetrate other markets, like the Philippine Stock Exchange or franchising options, you need to start small yet have some sort of office to speak of so that you won't be looked down by your clientele. "Renting" out a business address should do the trick until you can afford to rent an actual, brick-and-mortar office complete with employees and staff.
It all begins by having some sort of "office" to speak of from the get go, even if it is just a representative address that's part of the virtual office packages of a given business solution provider. Instead of being limited to the "ecommerce" world just because you're using services that are mostly Internet-based (i.e., virtual office solutions), availing of business address services is the answer to that particular issue. It gives your customers the impression that you're an old-school, "legit" business with an actual office to speak of even though you're actually a startup and all you can afford as of the moment without going belly-up is a $110 per month representation of an office, rather than an office-for-rent.
How Business Address Services Affect Philippine Investment in Particular
Renting an office or even getting your own office in the Philippines as a foreign investor is problematic because firstly, you can't own land unless you're Filipino (which is why many foreign entrepreneurs apply for Filipino citizenship from the get go). Secondly, your best bet is to have some sort of local liaison serving as co-owner of your company to penetrate the Filipino market because courts are extremely biased towards "local" businesses. However, even with those difficulties in mind, many western and English-speaking entrepreneurs still invest in the Philippines for good reason: It's one of the most westernized Asian regions just short of Hong Kong.
Even in mind of charter restrictions and the like, the archipelago is ripe with a diverse market that's easier for westerners to appeal to than most other ASEAN countries. English is practically a second language in the Philippines. Filipinos equally love western pop culture along with their own local pop culture; in fact, they're familiar with both. The country is predominantly Christian (Roman Catholic) as well. This is why many an investor is willing to go through the hurdles of availing of virtual office startups with business address services (as opposed to renting out expensive offices with a Filipino liaison) to appeal to the Filipino market.
Do you wish to have a Philippine-based business? Then let Servcorp help your pursuit with its business address services and corporate registration solutions. The company is one of the most dependable service providers out there when going about startups in the Philippines.