How To: Set Up a Business Mailing Address
by: Larry Bills | ChooseWhat.com
Getting a mailing address is one of the first steps you should take when starting a business.
A business mailing address is important because without it, your young company won’t be able to perform the most basic functions. The business address allows you to receive mail, open bank accounts, and provides you with an official location to receive written communications.
For the startup or sole proprietorship, the most frequent and common method is to use your residential address. That option carries risk, though, and we recommend alternatives such as private mailboxes, which will suit you better in the long run.
Before you set up your business mailing address, you should:
Select a physical location for your business (e.g. your house, rented office space, commercial office space, etc.)
While many new businesses work out of a residence, we recommend against using your home address or obtaining a P.O. Box from the United States Postal Service. Logistically these options create more problems than they solve. For more information on the drawbacks of those options, read our STARTicle.
The best option for your business is to sign up with a Private Mailbox Service offered by companies such as UPS or Pak Mail. The cost of a private mailbox depends largely on your location and the size of the mailbox. For example, in Austin, Texas a medium-sized mailbox from UPS starts at about $75 for three months.
The benefits of a Private Mail Box include:
- You receive a real street address, which provides you with advantages in business dealings that require a physical location.
- Private mailboxes offer additional services that the United States Postal Service does not such as package acceptance from all carriers, email or text notifications when packages arrive, and the ability to call and inquire if you have any mail.
- A private mailbox will continue to receive mail if you move your business location.
At the more elaborate end of the spectrum are Virtual Office and Executive Suite providers. While these services are considerably more expensive (around $100 to $300 per month) than a private mailbox, they offer a much higher level of services. We recommend virtual offices for business owners who are interested in exhibiting a more traditional professional image without incurring the overhead of paying for office space.
- You receive a real street address instead of a P.O. Box number, which provides you with advantages in business dealings that require street addresses.
- Like private mailbox services from UPS and PakMail, virtual office mailbox services will accept and sign for packages from all carriers and will give you mail and package notifications.
- Virtual offices also offer other services, such as office space or conference room rentals and virtual receptionists.
- A virtual office will continue to receive your mail if you move your business location.
Our virtual office service of choice is Intelligent Office. Other top providers of virtual offices include Davinci Virtual Office Solutions, CES Virtual Offices, and Regus. Check these providers’ websites for availability and pricing information in your area.
- Zoning Laws: If you have a home business, make sure that your physical address is properly zoned for your endeavor. Check your local zoning laws to make sure your home business complies with them before you start listing your home address as a business mailing address.
- Receiving Mail: You will receive a lot of mail at your business address, so keep that in mind, especially if you plan to use your residence. In addition to bills, invoices, and other important mail from business contacts or clients, you should expect junk mail and random offers. It’s important to exercise caution when mentioning your address online or offline, as it could increase your junk mail.
- Receiving Packages: Consider how frequently you expect to receive packages. Typically, someone must be present to sign for your package. If you expect to receive packages frequently, don’t use a residential address if someone isn’t always at home to sign for parcels.
- Receiving Customers/Publicizing Your Address: If you frequently meet customers or clients, using your home address probably isn’t the way to go. You might not want clients or business contacts knowing where you live or randomly dropping by without an appointment. Conversely, if most of your work is done from home and you rarely meet with clients, then the home address is a good option for your business address and makes checking your mail extremely convenient.
- Problems with Changing Your Address Later: Small businesses typically need maximum flexibility when it comes to office space. An average startup might move office locations three times in one year. Avoid having to change your mailing address on your business cards, website, corporate documents, and other official forms by getting a Private Mailbox or Virtual Office, both of which will continue to receive your mail no matter where you move.
- If you go with a private mailbox address or virtual office (or even a P.O. Box despite its problems), make sure it is centrally located. If you end up moving offices, you still want to be relatively close to your mail. For example, we selected a virtual office in downtown Austin to receive our mail, which was relatively close to each of our physical business locations.
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