4 Critical Factors to Consider Before You Register Your Business

In the rush leading to registering your business, you've likely not paused to think about what address you will use. So, it’s likely you'll default to your home address, thinking that you can change it later. Lack of careful consideration on the street address used when registering a business leads to unintended consequences, so we've put together a useful guide on this topic.
1. Anyone registering a business with their state's secretary of state often defaults to their home address. Not advisable because it puts your privacy and security at risk.
  • Using your home address means it will be listed on the secretary of state's website and instantly becomes public record. There are some exceptions, such as Wyoming.
So, if you're starting a business and considering using your home address as your business address, think about whether it's okay for it to be listed on the secretary of state's website for the whole world to see. Most importantly, you may not want your home address doing double duty as a business address that is now publicly available to your customers or clients.
  • There will also be times when you need to provide your business address, such as buying a domain name for your online shop or website. All domains have WHOIS data that anyone can look up online. This shows anyone all of your contact information.
You can choose to buy WHOIS Privacy Protection, which runs between $10 and $40 and hides your data from the public. But it's not that secure. Having a buffer by using a separate mailing address that's not your home address provides an extra layer of security.
  • You also need to provide your address for the legal documents required in the course of operating your business. These may include getting a business license in the state you sell in or securing a credit line with a bank or credit card company.
If you do email marketing (and you should!), you're required to list a physical address at the bottom of your emails to be compliant with CAN-SPAM laws. So, imagine all the administrative headaches you’ll have to go through when you move or sell your house!
2. You may consider using a PO Box as your business address. But there are multiple disadvantages you need to keep in mind:
  • Some states won’t allow registering a business using a PO Box. So, make sure that your state permits this before you go through the process of setting up a PO Box.
  • Using a PO Box as your business address will likely raise issues when obtaining your EIN number from the IRS. The IRS often does not permit PO Boxes. Banks and credit card companies may also not allow the use of a PO Box as an address.
  • You should also avoid a PO Box because it may not look credible to your clients or customers. It creates a perception that you're a sketchy fly-by-night operation that will disappear and run off with their money.
  • Getting a PO Box can be more cumbersome than it appears. There are forms to fill out, fees to pay, and fingers crossed that you get the location and box size you requested.
  • And even after driving, or calling around, checking multiple locations for availability, you might still end up on a waiting list for a PO Box to be available.
  • Finally, pricing for a PO Box varies by city and the size of the box. For example, in the Los Angeles, California area, you can expect to pay between $20 to as much as $50 a month for a PO Box.
3. Spending limited cash on office space can be an option.
  • This is a necessary expense only if you are a business that must run from a physical location, requiring office space to meet with clients, store inventory, or host events. This is not an option for the majority that typically has limited funds. Small monthly costs (utilities, maintenance, equipment) add up. When starting up, it’s essential to allocate your limited startup resources wisely.
4. You can obtain a virtual mailbox that includes a business address.
  • A virtual mailbox is a postal mail handling service that provides an actual street address. You can use it as your business address when you register your business with the secretary of state. There are several compelling reasons you should consider this option:
  • Your virtual mailbox staffed location will receive your postal mail and packages for you and notify you when you get new mail or packages. Your mail sits safe and secure in your virtual mailbox instead of on your porch or doorstep, where anyone can steal them.
  • Using your smartphone or laptop from wherever you are, you can then select how you want your mail handled for you.
    • You can have the contents of your postal mail scanned so you can read the contents using our app.
    • Forward your mail and packages to your current address.
    • Discard unwanted mail or have them shredded.
  • The actual street address you get with your virtual mailbox adds an extra layer of privacy and protection. It insulates your home address from crooks, spammers, and con artists who want to sell your business services you don't need.
  • The monthly cost is usually very affordable, usually in the $9 to $19 range, which can be noticeable savings from a traditional PO Box.
It is crucial to be savvy about securing the privacy of your home address by separating it from a business address. The decisions you make regarding the address you use when registering your business will matter to you and your family's privacy and security. Beyond that, it can impact the image of your business and its bottom line.
Have you decided that a virtual mailbox is critical to protect your privacy when registering your business? Learn more or browse locations with Anytime Mailbox.