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Running a business

Does your company need a business address, virtual address or PO box?

It’s quite a challenge to keep your business’s operational costs at a minimum. This is especially the case if you are a new small-business owner.


Every new small business is in search of ways to keep the costs related to running the business as low as possible without compromising their business reputation.


Also, home-based businesses face challenges like privacy and safety issues while using their home address as a business address. There are some home-based business owners who use a PO box number as their business address because it gives them a formal mailing address without compromising on privacy and safety.


However, your small business needs a physical company address for a variety of reasons if you do not want to invest in renting an office.


A virtual business address is one of the cost-effective ways to run your small business without any geographical or physical limitations.


So, let’s understand what a virtual business address is and the advantages and disadvantages of using a virtual business address. We will also discuss the pros and cons of a PO box.

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What is a PO box address for business?


A PO box address, also known as a PO box, is a lockable box with a unique address. The PO box is located on the premises of a post office. PO boxes are typically used to receive mail or packages on a regular basis for people who work from home. This is a secure and convenient way to collect packages and mail.


PO box service is a premium service offered for a fee. The box can be accessed with a key. You can access the PO box during the post office location’s lobby hours, and some may even be available up to 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.


Furthermore, the PO box address for your business lends privacy and efficiency. You can even choose the size of your PO box, depending upon the mail and packages you receive for your business.


There are locations that allow access to your PO box 24/7. Besides this, your location may also offer free PO box services like email alerts to let you know when you receive mail.


Why reserve a PO box?


Reserving a PO box helps you:

  • Keep your documents confidential
  • Receive mail at your own convenience
  • Choose a mailbox size that fits your requirements
  • Have a safe and secure way to receive your mail
  • Plus: they are relatively affordable


So, you will need to reserve a new PO box if you do not have one. However, if you already have a PO box, you need to renew or manage it.


How to apply for a PO box


Applying for a PO box is quite simple. You can apply for a PO box in person at a post office or online at the Australia Post website. Also, your identity and current permanent physical address must be verified to get your PO box completely approved.


To apply for a PO box online, you need to first access the local PO box online portal and search for an available PO box. You also need to select an available PO box location, PO box size and payment period preference. Then you will need to choose a payment method while filling in the online application form for reserving a new PO box.


To apply for a PO box, there are certain points that you must remember:

  • You must be 18 years of age to apply for a PO box online.
  • You’ll need to have acceptable forms of identification like a primary photo ID, a secondary form of ID, etc.

Why you may want a business address


Running your business from home is ideal if you’re an online service provider or a small business owner. Home-based businesses and remote lifestyles are becoming popular. This is because more and more small businesses or digital nomads take the place of traditional office workers.


So, having a physical business address is useful to deal with customers, suppliers, banks, etc. Home-based businesses or remote workers typically give their home address as their business address.


However, there are both safety and privacy issues involved with using your home address as your business address.


Some home-based businesses also use a PO box as their business address. Remember that using a PO box can help avoid putting  your business privacy or safety at stake. However, there are a number of reasons why you need to have a physical address for your business.


Business credibility


Getting your business registered and developing a website is fundamental to starting your business today. However, the biggest challenge while launching your home-based business is to legitimise your business operations, that is, to develop trust and credibility with your target audience.


Building trust and credibility are challenging for home-based businesses, as they do not have a separate physical address. In case you do not have a physical business address, you need to work a lot harder in order to build a professional reputation for your business. One of the first steps in that direction is to obtain a PO box number or a virtual business address.


Professional meeting place


As a small business owner or an independent contractor, you would certainly not want to meet your customers or prospective clients at home. Booking meeting rooms in hotels can be really expensive. Furthermore, meetings at coffee shops may lack a private and confidential environment that is a must for business meetings.


Therefore, you can set up a virtual business address, as many virtual office providers also include professional meeting rooms. This gives you a professional setup for your business meetings.


Lack of privacy


Home-based businesses find it easier to give home addresses as their business address. However, they overlook the fact that they are sharing their personal address with their customers and suppliers.


Besides this, home-based businesses also have to display their home address as a business address on their website and business cards (though it is not mandatory for home-based businesses to provide addresses on their website). However, it is extremely important for businesses to use their home address on business documents.


This means compromising on work safety and privacy.

Zoning restrictions


Some cities may have laws that prohibit people from running commercial activity from their homes. This is because the local authorities do not want to disturb the residential status of an area or region. Therefore, the local authorities have zoning laws in place that prohibit individuals  from running some home-based businesses.


So, if you are starting a home-based business or do not want to have a physical office space, you need to contact local authorities to find out which postcodes prohibit running a home-based business.


In addition to the above laws, a specific zone may not allow displaying any sort of advertisement outside of a home. Community members may also discourage running a home-based business with parking or traffic rules.


Rules regarding leases


There are many apartment buildings that do not allow you to run your business out of your home. Therefore, you need to go through the covenants, rules and conditions laid down by the building owner. However, laws and restrictions on running your business from home do not necessarily mean that you cannot undertake commercial activities out of your home.


You can generally undertake business activity out of your home when it doesn’t become a cause of disturbance for the other residents. Furthermore, you must be able to describe the situation to your landlord.

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How to get a business address


There are a number of ways in which you can get a physical address for your business. The following are the various options to have a real physical address for your business:


Renting a private mailbox


Renting a private mailbox gives your business a real street address. This is quite beneficial for home-based businesses as it gives them credibility.


Furthermore, a private mailbox can accept parcels or packages on your behalf and can hold them until you pick them up. Besides this, you can also receive regular text and email notifications regarding the status of the mail that you have received.


Also, there are some added services that a private mailbox may offer, including mail forwarding, mail tracking, etc.


Obtaining a PO box


You can use a PO box, which is usually accessed by a lock and key. The PO box is generally located in the lobby area of the post office.


It’s a premium service that is offered to anyone who requires that their business mail be delivered to or received at a PO box address or number.


Post office boxes receive mail only from Australia Post. Therefore, it is a challenge to receive mail from private courier services in case your business uses a PO box address.


The benefits of using a PO box service are many. Some of them include:

  • The convenience of receiving mail or packages
  • Affordability
  • Allowing businesses to expand out of their area
  • Faster delivery
  • Renting a virtual office space.


Virtual office space provides you with a virtual business address to receive mail, deal with customers and suppliers and much more.


Besides providing a professional business address, it offers a host of other features like (i) well-furnished conference rooms for conducting meetings, (ii) forwarding mails to a place of your choice, (iii) using private offices or hot desks for a day and (iv) getting phone calls answered by receptionists.


Thus, renting a virtual business address offers cost-efficiency, flexibility and professionalism. It can be used on your business documents, company website and business cards.

What types of business addresses are there?


A business address lends a professional image to your business. This is because it is your business’s official headquarters. It can be an actual business place where your business is carried out, a mailbox or a virtual address that lends credibility to your business.


You would certainly not want to use your residential address as a business address. This is regardless of the fact that whether your business address is an actual physical place or a virtual one.

Reasons to get a physical business address


It is quite typical of small business owners to use their home address or PO box as their business address to save cost.


However, it is important to note that your home address or PO box will not provide you with the requisite privacy or credibility your business needs.


A formal business address is mandatory to start off with your business in the right way. As mentioned above, a business address is one that provides a street address to your principal place of business. It is the place where either your business operations are carried out or is the one that is used to communicate with the customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.


The following are reasons why you need a physical business address:


Trust


Your prospective customers will not be motivated to trade with your business if you do not have a proper business address.


It is immensely important to have a physical business address because this helps your potential clients to contact you. Also, it helps your business build trust and credibility.

Privacy


You’re likely to encounter privacy and security challenges specifically if you’re listing your home address online. Furthermore, using your home address as your business address does not lend a professional image to your business.


Also, certain zoning restrictions prohibit tenants from using their rented spaces for commercial purposes. Thus, having a separate physical business address would overcome such privacy and security issues.


Trust, privacy ranking


Your business loses the opportunity to be found on search engines like Google if your website does not have a business address listed. Also, your business will not be listed on Google Maps, which is mandatory today to rank high on Google for local business searches.


Client meetings


A separate business address is mandatory to meet your customers or prospective clients for a business meeting.



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