How to Get a Business Address for Your At-Home or E-Commerce Business
First Things First
Every businesses needs a business address, even when it's run from a home. Most home based business just starting out can use their home address as their business mailing address to help keep expenses low. This is certainly a viable solution for many entrepreneurs long-term, but you may want to consider whether an additional business mailing address will be of benefit to you.
If you're setting up an LLC or corporation and want to protect your home address, then you can hire a "registered agent" to accept all legal documents on your behalf. Otherwise, you'll have to go ahead and use your physical address on legal documents and certain registrations.
There are plenty of times you've got to enter a business address, even website domain registration requires a mailing address and unless you pay extra for a privacy feature, that registered address will show up on the Who-Is database of domain names. So if you are particularly cautious about privacy, then this is the time to get a more private address for your at home or online business.
Benefits of a Private Business Mail Box or PO Box
- Convey a more professional image.
- Peace of mind in knowing that your home address is not easily accessible to your business clients.
- Receiving your business mail in a secure location can also prevent accidental misplacement of important business mail by others in your household who may bring in the mail.
- Important documents or checks are received securely and can't be stolen from your home mailbox,
- No need to be home when packages requiring a signature are delivered,
- Your business address remains the same even if you move.
- eBay sellers can use the PO Box or private mail box address as the return address when they send out packages, keeping your home information private.
- You can impress friends by telling them, "Just send it to my business address."
For extra privacy, get a business address before you incorporate or file other documents that will become public record.
Official US Postal Service PO Box
The US Postal Service is likely your lowest cost option. Prices start as low as $14 and go up from there depending upon the geographic location and size of the box. Benefits and services include:
- Reserve a PO Box and pay for it online at the US Postal Service website
- Choose from nearby branch office locations
- 5 sizes of PO boxes available
- All US Mail types can be sent to a PO Box, including ones that require a signature to be delivered
- Cannot receive mail/packages from other carriers, such as UPS and Fed Ex
- If a package is too large for your PO Box, it will be left in a larger PO Box and a key with which to access it will be left in your box .
- Pay in advance for 3, 6 or 12 months
- Your address will look like this:
My Great Business
PO Box 1234
City, State, ZIP Code
UPS Store Private Mailbox
Visit the UPS website to see if a location near you offers mailbox serivces. UPS Mailbox services include:
- Call-in Mail Check - just call in to see if you have mail
- Accepts mail and packages from all carriers, not just the US Postal Service
- Optional text/email to you when mail or packages arrive (that's pretty cool, huh!?)
- Mail holding and forwarding to address of your choice (additional fees)
- 24 hours access at some locations
- Your Address would look like this:
My Great Business
PMB XXX or # XXX
12345 Wherever Street
City, State ZIP Code
PAK Mail, Mail Box Plus, & Other Mail Stores
Check the local mail stores near you, such as PAK Mail, Mail Box Plus, Postal Connections, or other regional or local options. Fees and benefits vary.
Questions to ask when choosing a mail-box store:
- What hours is mailbox access be available?
- What size of mailboxes do you offer?
- What's the price per month?
- How long is the rental agreement and does it have to be prepaid?
- Do you offer any extra services?
- Do you accept mail from all carriers?
- Will you accept packages with signature required?
- What do you do if an over-sized package is delivered?
Online Virtual Mail Services
Can you really read your paper mail online? Yes, you sure can thanks to virtual mail technology! There are companies that will receive all of your paper mail for you, scan the front of each piece and email the scanned images to you. After reviewing online, you then instruct the company either to shred it, open and scan that contents to you, or forward it to you unopened.
The down-side of this convenience is that it could add an unnecessary expense or create a delay in the reception of the actual paper mail if you ask the mail processing company to forwarded it to you. It also will not be a mailing address solution for businesses that deal with sending or receiving tangible products, such as e-commerce businesses.
A virtual mailbox might be a great option if:
- Your local post-office box options are limited.
- You desire more privacy than a post-office box would provide.
- You travel frequently.
- You want the convenience of checking your mail anytime and anywhere.
- You would rather hit the "delete" button that deal with junk mail disposal.
One Last Note...
Before you commit to the expense of a PO Box or alternate mail service, consider whether your business will support the additional expense as you start out. Sometimes the small expenses can add up when you're a small new business. If start-up money is very tight, then you don't want to end up underwater from all the little things. You can always update your address at a later time when the business is established and profits are flowing.
Remember that you may not be able to use your PO Box for everything. Check the terms of the website or service your registering for and check the terms of USPS.
Think about your reasons for wanting a business address, research your local options, remember to do the numbers, and congratulations on your new business venture!
What About You?
How will you handle your business mail?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2012 Amanda Rose