An address is necessary for a new startup, but does the type of business address matter? Yes it does.
It can seem overwhelming to sift through all of these options and decide what is best for you. Guess what, you don’t have to stress because we did the work for you.
Here’s a comprehensive list of business address options to consider when deciding what kind of business address to choose. Before we look at those, let’s dive into the details of what business addresses are and why they can help your business.
What is a Business Address
A business address is an address that is separate from your home address that can be used for all official communications. It is a base of operations for your business that can both receive mail and be used on official forms. Your business address can be your commercial office or another physical address.
Why Do You Need a Business Address
Deciding on what should be your business address is often one of the first things you need to do when starting a new business. You may not think it’s something important and decide to start off in your home. Many startup owner’s do this and begin out of their home, think Steve Jobs. But per the definition above and the problems you’ll have as a startup it’s not ideal (more on that later).
A home address might save costs initially, but there will quickly be other aspects to consider, including privacy issues, zoning rules, and other problems surrounding liability. Those are big risks with just working from home.
So now this is where using a separate business address can help.
Using a separate physical address as your business address (instead of your home) can make your company look more legitimate and encourage others to do business with you.
A physical business address that’s not the same as your residence can boost your credibility and professionalism and build trust with your customers, suppliers and partners, plus protect yourself and your business privacy.
For example, think about yourself as the customer doing an online search of “Pete’s Business” and you see a house. Do you want to pay money to that business? Is it a scam?
Often customers will not trust you by seeing a home address and that’s why using a separate business address is ideal. Plus, you don’t want angry customers knocking on your door.
When Do You Need to Get a Separate Business Address
There are some cases you’ll absolutely need to find a separate business address. Here are the reasons you’ll need to find another option.
You Have a LLC, Corporation, or Partnership
Most of the mail for your business must be sent to a physical street address. This is especially true if your business is forming an LLC, corporation, or partnership. The address must also be valid in the state in which you formed your company.
You Run a Remote Business
You're a free soul un-attached to one single location. Sadly, you’ll still need a permanent address to do a lot of your business and there are solutions, such as a virtual mailbox, that can help you live your best life.
What Are My Options for Getting a Business Address
Once you know exactly what your business needs, it’s time to find the kind of address that will benefit your business the most. Here are some of the best business address options available.
1. Home Address
A home address is where you personally live. This is the go-to option for many new businesses, especially startups. According to 2017 data from the Small Business Administration 60% of companies without paid employees operate out of the home, and it is therefore the obvious choice for them.
The Pros of a Home Address
The biggest advantages of using a home address include the ability to easily receive important mail and packages, no commute, convenient, and free!
The Cons of a Home Address
The most significant problems of using a home address are with potential legal consequences (liability).
Other cons of using a home address include looking unprofessional and leaves your personal address and information vulnerable for anyone to see.
Certain cities have zoning and HOA laws that prohibit a business from being run out of a personal home so you might not even be able to run a business.
Who is a Home Address Best for
A home address can be a good option for those selling their time rather than a product (think consultant or freelancer). It’s also good for sole proprietors.
Who is a Home Address Not Best for
While you may want to use a home address, especially at the beginning, it is not a good choice for those businesses that sell physical products, run an online business, or are forming an LLC.
It is not ideal if you care about protecting your privacy and want to look professional. It can be viewed by customers and clients as unprofessional and even untrustworthy to use a home address for a business. There is also the high risk of privacy violations, as you will consistently be exposing your personal details.
2. PO Box
A PO Box is a physical mailbox that is located inside an actual postal office. It is a simple solution for those looking for a secure mailing address that is separate from their home.
The Pros of a PO Box
Because PO Boxes are hosted by the Post Office, mail typically gets delivered faster to a postal box than to a residential or business address. There is no waiting for the postman to drop mail off at your home or office.
Another primary reason why people rent a PO Box is to protect their privacy. There are certain times when you don't want certain people to know where you live. By getting a PO Box, you get another mailing address that you can use for selected contacts and transactions.
PO Boxes are normally inexpensive and affordable. Depending on the PO Box location and size, a 6 month term starts for as low as $10. However, you need to make sure that you get the proper box size that fits your incoming mail and package volume.
A PO Box is great for people who move constantly. If you've ever relocated, you know the pain you go through - changing mailing addresses for bills, bank statements, and magazine subscriptions, updating personal information with the IRS and the government, and sending email or emailing friends your new address. It's very easy to miss updating an important service. Next thing you know, you end up with identity theft because someone happened to get his hands on your personal mail. A PO Box reduces this problem by cutting down the frequency required to change your mailing address every time you move.
The Cons of a PO Box
There are some big disadvantages to using a PO Box as a business address. You cannot be used to register an LLC or corporation, a physical street address is required for that. PO Boxes are not accepted.
A PO Box can only receive mail from USPS due to being located inside post offices. This means that you cannot receive mail and packages from FedEx and UPS. That basically means you’ll have to get another address on top of a PO Box if you expect mail and packages from those other courier services.
Other cons of a PO Box include overfilling if it is not maintained regularly so you’ll have to stay on top of your mailbox and travel often. It is limited in size for mail and packages. Lastly, forwarding of mail and packages from a PO Box can be expensive, as USPS charges extra.
Who is a PO Box Best for
A PO Box is best for those who have basic mail requirements, such as a limited number in letters and small packages. It’s also ideal for individuals who want to protect their privacy and not use their home address for the world to see.
Who is a PO Box Not Best for
When registering a business, it’s important to remember that PO Boxes cannot be used by LLCs, corporations, or partnerships. If you are forming any of these business entities a PO Box won’t work.
PO Boxes are not always the best choice if you are registering an LLC or corporation. PO Boxes are also not the most convenient mail solution if you work and travel remotely. As an alternative you might want to consider a virtual mailbox. See the article PO Box vs. Virtual Mailbox for more detail.
3. Private Mailbox
Private mailboxes tend to be located in areas such as retail centers and are linked to their store address. They can be rented from places like the UPS Store, PostNet, or any mailbox company that is owned locally.
The Pros of a Private Mailbox
A private mailbox will give you a physical street address. Your mail is signed and held securely by the mailbox provider on your behalf, which reduces the risk of theft. Another perk is you can get extra services such as faxing, copying, and packaging.
The Cons of a Private Mailbox
The main issue of having a private mailbox is that it requires someone to physically travel and maintain them regularly. This may suit businesses that are local to the mailbox location, but for more remote businesses this is not ideal.
Who is a Private Mailbox Best for
Private mailboxes are a good fit for those who need a permanent mailing address, as well as extra business services, which often don’t cost extra.
Who is a Private Mailbox Not Best for
Private mailboxes require someone to regularly check them by physically going to them. This means that they may not suit businesses that are remote, for those who travel often for business, or those that live far away from the mailbox itself.
While renting a private mailbox is an effective and inexpensive way of ensuring privacy, it comes with certain disadvantages. See the article Private Mailbox vs. Virtual Mailbox for more detail.
4. Virtual Office
Virtual offices are a good solution for businesses that are looking for the benefits and features of a traditional office without the expense of renting a brick-and-mortar space. They do not require a lease and you don’t have to pay for utility and maintenance costs.
The Pros of a Virtual Office
A virtual office can provide a professional business address and a phone number dedicated to your business. It provides receptionist services and call handling. Plus, rentable meeting spaces.
The Cons of a Virtual Office
Virtual offices are one of the more expensive alternatives to a business address.
They lack flexibility where many virtual office services don’t allow the business to pick and choose which specific services to rent. Many businesses end up paying for more than they need.
If you plan on holding many meetings there is generally a maximum amount of hours of meeting time in day offices.
Also, if you travel often you will not utilize the virtual office space as much as you would like. This can be a waste of funds and one of the other business address options might be a better fit.
Who is a Virtual Office Best for
Virtual offices are ideal for those looking to combine the benefits of remote working with those of traditional office environments.
Who is a Virtual Office Not Best for
The main drawback that is often attributed to virtual offices is the lack of centralization. This isn’t so much a problem for businesses with only a handful of employees, but for larger companies, this can be an issue, especially in the long term.
Virtual offices are also not be the best choice for those looking for a physical location in which to work everyday.
While a virtual office comes with many benefits for small business owners, we will show you why a virtual mailbox is the better and more flexible option. See the article Virtual Office vs. Virtual Mailbox for more detail.
5. Coworking Space
Coworking spaces are shared areas in a building for teams to collaborate or for individuals to work in. There usually is no reservation system, and workers must find a space table to work at.
The Pros of a Coworking Space
The nature of coworking spaces practically encourages community, and you may meet fascinating strangers who can give unique insights into your business ideas. It’s about connections, relationships, networking, and mentorships.
The advantages of coworking spaces include meeting rooms, reliable internet, work desks, and 24 hour access to the facility.
The Cons of a Coworking Space
While coworking spaces can suit some, for others they may not be suitable. For example lack of security compared to more traditional offices. Many will also find coworking spaces too noisy and crowded. Certain coworking spaces can also be expensive to rent.
Who is a Coworking Space Best for
Coworking spaces are for those looking for a physical office space to work in, either regularly or occasionally.
A virtual mailbox will give those using coworking spaces the ability to maintain a permanent business address while traveling and working anywhere. They can still maintain their remote lifestyle with a virtual mailbox, since they can access, manage, and handle any important documents and pieces of mail with a click of a button.
Get a permanent address with a virtual mailbox so you can work at any coworking space in the world without ever worrying about updating your address ever again. Learn the Benefits of Combining a Coworking Space and a Virtual Mailbox.
Who is a Coworking Space Not Best for
Privacy is the biggest concern with coworking spaces. You’ll find yourself working around complete strangers, and for many, this lack of security is impossible to work with. Picture dozens of people walking in and out and peering at your screen. That’s not secure.
It’s also not best for those who need silence to be productive in their work days because you’ll get the same distractions as a traditional office (noise, surprise conversations, and water cooler talks).
6. Commercial Space
Commercial spaces are physical buildings that are specifically designed to provide rented office space to businesses. These can be in industrial zones, office buildings, business parks, warehouses, and other free standing buildings.
The Pros of a Commercial Space
A physical office space gives businesses a place to hold meetings with clients and let employees work in everyday. It also lets customers find your business with foot traffic.
The Cons of a Commercial Space
The main disadvantage of commercial spaces is the extra expense. They are often offered on a contract of monthly rent payments and will almost certainly be the most expensive option you consider for your business.
As well as the rent, there will be other bills to consider, such as utilities, furniture, etc. It’s your responsibility to maintain your commercial property and those costs can add up. It’s even more expensive if you choose to buy the commercial space.
Who is a Commercial Space Best for
This might be the best choice for those who plan on having clients and customers walk in. You also want a physical office for your employees to collaborate in everyday.
Who is a Commercial Space Not Best for
If your business does not require foot traffic, you have no employees, or don’t need a meeting space, then it might not be worth the expense.
7. Virtual Mailbox
Your virtual mailbox is similar to email, where once your mail item is received it is scanned and sent directly to you. This eliminates the need to travel to a physical mailbox. Plus, you get to decide what to do with your mail such as recycle, shred, archive, or use features such as package forwarding and mail forwarding.
The Pros of a Virtual Mailbox
Subscribing to a virtual mailbox service provides more than a mailing address. Read on to learn more about the advantages of a virtual mailbox.
A Permanent Address Linked to a Commercial Office - Linking your business address to a commercial office will create and maintain a professional image and makes you look more trustworthy to customers. A permanent address also makes it easier for customers to find and contact your business on a local level.
A virtual mailbox enables a company to have different location addresses across the country, thus spurring market presence and helping the company expand.
Privacy Protection with a Business Address - When you register an LLC or corporation the forms require a business address. This business address will be on public and state websites for the world to see. A virtual mailbox that is tied to a commercial office lets you use that as your business address instead of your home address. This will protect your privacy by not exposing your personal home address.
Additionally, this will protect your personal information when you:
- Open documents with your suppliers and vendors.
- Receive statements, invoices, payments, and bills.
- File for legal contracts, licenses, and permits.
- Expose contact information on websites and marketing materials.
Immediate Access to Mail - A virtual mailbox enables you to handle your mail from any device. You'll receive an instantaneous notification when mail is scanned and processed into your account. You then will need to log into your online account to open and view the mail scans and decide what to do from there.
Document Management Solution - With a virtual mailbox you will be able to store and archive all your important business documents. This gives you a paperless office solution that automates, eliminates junk mail, and lets you skip the hassle and wasted time of opening and sorting your mail manually. Get effortless record-keeping and save time by scanning documents.
Deposit Checks The Same Time Your Get Mail to Any US Bank - When your check lands in your virtual mailbox all you have to do is request to have it deposited into your bank account. Your check deposit request is then processed, and within one business day, your deposit is mailed out. Your bank processes the deposit and puts the money into your account, and the money is at your disposal.
The Cons of a Virtual Mailbox
Despite the benefits, there are also several disadvantages to having a virtual mailbox. These are all dependent on the needs of your particular business.
Some of the main ones to note include your cancellation might be difficult, as it will require you to notify every contact individually of your address change. There are extra costs, depending on the services you select to include as a part of your virtual mailbox. Your level of effort will require daily logins to maintain the mailbox and manage mail.
Who is a Virtual Mailbox Best for
Virtual mailboxes are affordable options for businesses that require a permanent address. This provides privacy and professional image. It is a flexible option for many businesses that may be roaming and are not located in one place.
Who is a Virtual Mailbox Not Best for
A virtual mailbox is not suited for business owners that requires customer foot traffic. It’s not a fit if you need to meet with clients for meetings in person or you need a physical location to work in everyday.
Basically, a virtual mailbox is the alternative if you don’t need a physical space. Want to learn more about a virtual mailbox? Here’s The Ultimate Guide to a Virtual Mailbox.
Common Questions About Business Addresses
Are a Business Address and Registered Agent the Same?
As a new startup business you might find yourself confused by the difference between your business address and an address for your registered agent. Are they the same? Are a business address and registered agent address both required?
This may seem odd right now, but promise many have asked this question and many think it is one and the same.
TRUTH BOMB IT IS NOT!
A registered agent and a business address are two separate requirements that serve separate functions for your LLC or corporation.
You must designate a registered agent in order to form a business entity, such as an LLC or corporation, to operate in the state. The registered agent is necessary to guarantee reception of and forward legal documents, notice of lawsuits, and any other communication from the state.
A business address, on the other hand, is used to indicate the main location from which the business operates. If you run an LLC, this is your commercial office location. For other types of business it’s the address to which your bills and mail are sent. This could be a home address or the address at which your business is located. Your business address is also the place where a person or an organization can physically be found or contacted.
Are you running into this problem? Get more information about how a registered agent is different than your business address.
What Business Address Can I Use For Opening Business Bank Accounts?
Contrary to popular belief mailbox addresses, PO Boxes, and registered agent addresses are not allowed. When banks are not able to have a proper physical address on file for your business, they will usually close or suspend your account after 30 days.
So what address can you use to open a business bank account?
You can use the following address options below that will comply with federal banking regulations for proof of address.
Home Address - If the bank accepts a home address and you happen to have a home in the States, then this is a viable option.
Commercial Office - This will likely be the least flexible and high-cost option, but it will get the job done. Find the smallest office suite you can find out there to reduce the cost.
TruLease Plan - With this service, you will obtain a real lease contract and will satisfy one of the primary requirements when opening a U.S. bank account.
Business Address Alternatives for Every Kind of Startup
As you have seen, there are many choices to choose from when looking for a business.
However, a virtual mailbox will be the best solution for most businesses. Some of the main reasons why a virtual mailbox is the best choice for most businesses are:
- You get a permanent business address.
- It’s convenient if you need real time notifications and actions on mail and packages from anywhere you are.
- You get a professional business image.
- You can use the address to protect your privacy.
- It’s flexible where you can combine other services such as check depositing, to be a full business solution.
- Most affordable if you don’t need a physical location.
- Is complementary to coworking spaces where you don’t have to worry about changing your address. You can work in any coworking center and have a permanent address.
A virtual mailbox is the perfect combination of traditional mail and office solutions. Don’t wait choose the better address option! Get your virtual mailbox today!