The key to creating a virtual office on a budget is to address each aspect of your business so there is little or no sacrifice made when it comes to your customers’ expectations.
For a phone system, opt for a virtual phone number with an auto attendant (i.e. "press 1 for sales, 2 for customer service," etc.) which can then forward calls to your landline, cell, or to a colleague. These services are affordable and available on a subscription basis, and can save you money over a traditional system. You can set your system up to have multiple extensions and mailboxes for different members of your team.
Don’t buy a fax machine or a dedicated telephone line for sending faxes. Instead, opt for a scanner or mobile scanner. You can choose from a variety of online fax services that will provide a fax-to-e-mail number so faxes will be received as an attachment in your email—no paper, toner, or machines needed. You can also use e-mail to fax digital documents, or scan and fax paper-based documents.
Invest in a smart phone so you can receive and respond to e-mails on the go. For an Internet connection, choose a broadband access card for your laptop instead of relying on public Wi-Fi or hotspots, since these may present a security concern.