I Need a Business Address for My Business: What Are My Options?
New Business Startups and Home-based Businesses Surge
There is a good reason for this blog post. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, around 50% of small businesses in the U.S. are home-based businesses, and this number increases to over 60% for businesses without any employees. Further, more than half of small businesses start at home, and 69% of startups are home-based businesses.
The number of home-based businesses is growing at the same time. Before the pandemic, the number of new business filings (in 2018 and 2019) sat at around 3.5 million per year. This number increased 20% (to 4.38 million) in 2020 and an astounding 35% (to 5.39 million) last year. The pandemic certainly accelerated the decision of many professionals to start their own businesses—83% surveyed by Intuit indicate it was a factor. There are a number of reasons for this surge in new business applications. For those who lost jobs during the pandemic, starting a business is one way to acquire lost income. Others see new business opportunities as a result of the pandemic. Still others—having experienced remote, flexible work arrangements because of the pandemic—do not want to go back to working from a fixed workspace and rigid work schedules.
Countless Industries, Broader Diversity of Small Businesses
A wide range of industries are represented when it comes to small businesses: professional, scientific, and technical services (3.7 million), other professional services (2.9 million), real estate (2.8 million), construction (2.6 million), administrative, support, and waste management (2.5 million), transportation and warehousing (2.5 million), and so forth. Information, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical service industries are the most likely to be home-based businesses.
One exciting trend is that new business startups encompass a broader segment of society than in previous years. Women, Black Americans, and those without college degrees represent a much larger percentage of new micro-business applications (those with fewer than five employees) than before. Women are started 57% for those businesses since March 2020 versus 48% before, Black Americans founded 26% of them versus 15%, and those without college degrees founded 44% versus 36%.
Reasons Not to Use Your Home Address for Your Business Address
When starting a business, there are a number of different issues that a solopreneur or small business must address. One of them is the address for the business. Unless the business has a permanent office space, many may assume that their home address is fine to use. But is it?
Not a great brand impression for your business
Many legal documents require a physical mailing address. For example, as part of forming a business entity, state and local jurisdictions require new businesses to supply an address. These are public. Additionally, contracts and other legal agreements with your customers also require a physical mailing address. Simply using your home mailing address creates questions on the part of your clients; you lack the formal and professional attributes of a “real” business. Finally, small business owners with addresses in questionable neighborhoods or even apartment complexes (viz., an indication you rent and don’t own a house) also can impact your brand, as people and businesses by human nature want to do business with others who are successful. First impressions count after all.
Private residences become public with home addresses
On a similar note, your home address becomes public to your prospects and clients—and for that matter the general public. There are various things that can go wrong here. First, clients can show up at your door unexpectedly and interrupt dinner with the family or a weekend of activities with family and friends are not surprises that you want to experience. They can also show up when you’re not home. Second, malicious actors can retrieve personally identifiable information (PII) about you as well as information about your business to steal your identity and hack into your accounts. Finally, there are risks as well, such as mentally unhinged clients arriving at your door at all hours of the day or night.
Legal risks of a home business address
There are also legal risks when you use your home address for your business. Many assume that by forming an LLC that their personal assets are protected. However, the benefits afforded to a business via an LLC (or corporation) can be lost if a court deems that business and personal activities are intertwined and using a home address for a business is one of the factors that can be considered in these instances. A small business owner suddenly can be responsible for various legal and financial obligations such as business debts, fines, and penalties.
Local ordinances and HOA/housing regulations
In some cases, you simply cannot use your home address because of where you live. Some homeowner associations (HOA) prohibit residents from using their home addresses for business purposes. Apartment and condominium communities build documented policies into lease and community agreements that prohibit residents from operating businesses out of their homes.
Loss of SEO rank
For nearly every businesses, being discovered on internet search engines is critical. If you cannot be found or don’t rank high on the search results, then you’re likely headed out of business. Using your home address can diminish your SEO rank and search results—specifically Google My Business listings.
How to Get a Virtual Address for Your Business
In addition to the reasons why you cannot (or should not) use a home address for your business, there are a number of benefits to do so. A virtual office address comes with various services, such as mail and receipt forwarding, a lobby directory listing, and incorporation and registered agent services.
Finding and setting up a virtual address for your business is simple and quick with the right provider like Davinci Virtual Offices. The following is a checklist that you can follow:
Find the right location
Choosing the right location is important. You need to consider factors such as proximity to your customers, brand recognition associated with the location (e.g., if you’re a financial consultant and most in your area are in a specific location, then you want to have an address there), and the availability of other services in the location such as coworking space, day offices, and rented meeting rooms.
Make sure you are listed in the lobby directory
If you’re spending money on a virtual address, you need to ensure that your company appears in the lobby directory listing. Assuming rented meeting space is also available in the location, then having clients show up in the location and find your business listed in the lobby is important.
Verify the presence of lobby greeters
On a similar note, presence of a lobby greeter for incoming clients can enhance your brand first impression and make it easy for clients to find what they need when they come to office location. Hence, check to ensure that the virtual address provider has lobby greeters.
Help forming your business entity
For entrepreneurs just starting out, help forming your business can be a big boost. Not all virtual address providers include entity formation services, and thus it is important to find one that does so.
Scale your business to new locations
Working with a virtual address provider that has numerous locations across the country or even around the globe is important. As you scale your business, you want to work with one virtual address provider rather than multiple. Doing so enables you to focus on growing your business rather than dealing with the complexities of managing multiple vendors.
It truly is an exciting time to start a business today and laying the groundwork for success is crucial. And this includes finding the right virtual office address provider and securing a virtual address.