In today’s competitive business landscape, it is more imperative than ever to be able to present your business services in an elegant & professional way. People want to do business with reputable firms & services that are offered by professionals with integrity and a strong moral code.
Considering most people will do a search on Google to find the majority of products or services they need, that means you – as a business – are most likely going to be discovered there as well. Your address, phone number & business name are the first things people come in contact with before even having a chance to look up your reviews.
Yet, while we are adapting as consumers to online business approaches faster than ever before, there is a skepticism that comes along with not being able to see the service provider in person. Chat boxes & auto bot responses have replaced even the traditional phone call. And when you do get to hear from your to-be customer on the phone, they probably know more about your business or organization, than you do!
As we know, first impressions is everything in all areas of our lives and that includes business. Imagine for example, that you are located in Houston, service customers locally, but the area code of your phone number listed starts with a 404 (Atlanta) area number. That creates an instant disconnect and negative first impression, leaving the customer wondering, why the business owner couldn’t go as far as getting a local phone number.
Turns out, the same goes with business addresses. If you have a business that is listed on Google, Yelp or any major directory and has a PO Box reference listed next to it you might as well have an out of state phone line to go with it. Sarcasm aside, ensuring your presence is professional, will go a long way. It will also help you avoid trying to explain to customers, that you operate from home.
Indeed, leasing an empty space, just for the sake of displaying its address online, is not ideal. The good news is you can leverage a virtual address for business and have the same effect as a physical address.
Below we are going to dig a little deeper into everything you need to know about virtual business addresses, helping to shine a light on this core business asset and illuminating why so many businesses – and individual entrepreneurs/freelancers – are signing up for these kinds of services on a daily basis.
What Exactly is a Virtual Business Address ?
A virtual business address is a real, physical street address where a business can receive packages and mail.
Most importantly, it’s an address you can use when registering with your state & can be used regularly for tax fillings (like you would with any other address.) It’s a great alternative to a PO Box from the USPS for the simple reason that a PO Box isn’t able to conjure up the same kind of legitimacy or the same kind of credibility that a physical street address will. That is why so many businesses (particularly small businesses and startups) are flocking to virtual addresses.
A virtual business address allows you to provide customers and clients with a physical business address that they can find on a maps and directories. Even though you may be able to work from virtually anywhere in the world, being able to display a local business address, will help bridge that sense of mistrust and remove any concerns of not being able to communicate with a local service provider.
Virtual mailing addresses, offer the best of 2 worlds: the functionality & benefits of a physical address at the cost of a PO Box. Real estate prices for physical office space are only going up and add on features (phone, secretary, mail handling etc) usually will come in with an add on fee. When you get a virtual business address, you are also given the option to have a local phone number and fax to come along with it. Depending on the service you sign up for and the plan you pick, you may even get a virtual secretary who is able to take inbound calls on your behalf.
Virtual Business Address For LLC
One of the biggest benefits you’ll enjoy when you decide to sign up for a business address, is the the privacy and the anonymity that comes with this service. You are able to separate business from home, ensuring the protection of your family while maintaining a professional business presence. The last thing you’d ever want to have to worry about is an irrational and irate customer figuring out where you live and harassing you just because you included your home address when you provided your business address details.
On top of that, a virtual business address also provides a much more secure and speedier service for facilitating your business mail. For one thing, it keeps all of your business mail separate from your personal mail (something that can really pile up quickly) but it also allows you to operate your business from pretty much anywhere and everywhere on the planet while having a singular, secure location for your mail to arrive.
What’s more is, that when you sign up for a virtual address, you will be given a virtual mailbox. All incoming mail items will be uploaded in your mailbox. From there, you can choose what documents you want scanned (interior,) allowing this way for you to stay on top of everything, virtually. If there is an item you need shipped, just click the “ship button” and get up to 80% off retail shipping rates. Have sensitive information in such document that you want to get rid of? Just click on the “shred” option in your virtual mailbox and you’re good to go.
Here’s another amazing feature you wouldn’t believe exists: virtual check deposits. Old are the days when you had to drive up to your local bank to deposit a check. Now, from the comfort of your own home, you can log into your account and request that a check is deposited to your bank, with just a tap of a button. If you happen to need more users added onto the account (e.g a secretary or administrative assistant) you’ll also be able to do within your account as well. This streamlines things significantly, with everyone having an opportunity to go to that centralized location to get the business mail rather than having to go to someone’s home for the same purpose.
Finally, another perk to consider is that with a virtual mailing address you have the ability to accept (and hold temporarily) packages for your business that may not have been able to be held at your local post office or a legitimate physical address; at least not as safely or as securely. You’ll be able to have packages from every individual shipping company or mailing service accepted, safely stored on premise, and available to you on a 24/7 basis.
You won’t have to worry about porch pirates stealing your packages. You won’t have to worry about important documents left out in the rain and the elements, and you won’t have to worry about hearing the fury of a local postmaster that’s sick of your boxes taking up space in their back room.
Are virtual business addresses legal?
Yes. Virtual business addresses are real physical addresses, and as such, can be used legally for the registration of any business and the receipt of business mail.
Virtual business addresses are frequently used by both, small businesses that want to distance their current business address or home address, and larger companies that want to outsource their mail operations or access mail remotely.
Large corporations such as Netflix, Shell & Chub equip their expat employees with virtual address accounts, in order to be able to receive mail from the US.
How much does a virtual business address cost?
Virtual business addresses, depending on the provider that you sign up with, will cost anywhere between $29.95 to $79 per month. That covers the membership fee, but then there are add on fees such as mail scans, storage fees etc.
How To Get A Virtual Address For Business
At the end of the day, the process of figuring out how to get a business address through a virtual service is pretty simple and straightforward.
There are a variety of different companies out there that provide these solutions, including:
- Virtual Mailbox Solutions
- Private Mailbox Stores (like the UPS Store, for example)
- Shared Office Space and Business Centers
- Co-Working Setups and
- Commercial Office Locations
Finding the right one for you is going to come down to finding a service that offers the right features for the right price tag.
Some people are going to want a virtual address that offers them complete and total anonymity and privacy. Others are going to want more of a virtual office, where they can bring clients to should they need a face-to-face meeting. Others are going to be interested in the digital mail scanning solutions we made mention of earlier, and others are still going to want to make sure that they have 24/7 access to all of their mail and all of their packages (keyed and secured access) – something that even the USPS cannot provide.
When you get right down to it, though, it’s all going to boil down to a virtual business address service that you know you can feel totally comfortable with. Look for a service that provides an address which lends credibility and authority to your business immediately and a flexible & affordable pricing structure designed to match your budget perfectly. With all the great options out there on the market today you should have total confidence that you’ll be able to find a business address solution that checks off all of those boxes, without a whole lot of headache & hassle.
But at the end of the day, and considering the current trends of digitizing business operations, virtual business address services are only going to be more popular and more ubiquitous than they already are right now.
There’s never been a better time to take advantage taking your business online, than right now. If you want a real physical address associated with your online business or need more streamlined mail management, here are some things to look out for, in your scouting for a virtual address.
Streamlined Sign-up Process
As a busy entrepreneur and business owner today, you’ve got a lot on your plate. The last thing you’d want to worry about, is a complex sign up process with thorough documentation.
Look for services with applications that can be filled out and about 15 minutes, services that can accept digital copies of your ID (usually two forms, one of which includes a photograph), and services that let you use your virtual address almost immediately after sign-up is completed. Keep in mind, that regardless what service you end up working with, you will need to complete the 1583 form, which will enable the virtual address company manage mail on your behalf.
Virtual Mailbox Capabilities
The mail tracking that comes along with a virtual address services is one of their biggest benefits. This can be completed from within your virtual mailbox account, and you’ll want to make sure the company you move forward with has full-featured and fleshed out solutions in this department.
Look for virtual address services with a reputation for fast and consistent mail tracking features. The ideal company will have a long history of providing clear, high definition images/scans of all envelopes and packages as they are received. Through the virtual mailbox system, you are able to stay on top of all mail pieces and decide whether you need some envelope’s items scanned, or have that package shipped directly to you.
Mail Forwarding Solutions
If you decide to move forward with a virtual address, make sure to check on their track record with mail forwarding. Some of the better virtual address companies provide automatic mail forwarding that you can set and schedule for certain times of the month. This allows you to get “mail drops” to your physical address on a semi-daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis – all of which remains under your complete control.
This is a bit of a “set it and forget it” kind of approach to mail forwarding that works well for most business owners. At the same time, you want to make sure that the service you’ve picked can forward specific pieces of mail to you quickly when important bills, documents, or packages come in separate from your scheduled drops.
Reputation and Longevity
It’s hard to imagine having to deal with a company that is more of a headache, and with whom you need to chat every other day to sort out issues. Make sure you select wisely, because transferring to another virtual address company can be quite the challenge once you have completed a change of address.
Obviously you won’t be able to predict what the future of your collaboration looks like down the line, but you will want to have a look at their reputation in the industry. Look at their reviews, ask for reference, compare them against other competitors in the market. Only once you feel you have done an exhaustive due diligence on this matter, should you proceed with the address change and getting the virtual mail service.
Hopefully by now, you feel a bit better and more equipped on identifying the best virtual business addresses out there, and ensuring you make the right choice for your business.
Investing in these kinds of services immediately gives your business a lot more professionalism and credibility, but it’s the mail collection, recording, and forwarding services that really help to separate virtual address options from more traditional solutions like PO boxes.
Here at US Global Mail, we have been offering streamlined mail management & virtual address solutions for Fortune 500 companies such as Netflix & Shell, while working with over 80,000 customers since 1999. For any questions about our virtual addresses or if you need help with identifying the best virtual address option for you, please reach out to us here.