If you are like most of the small business owners just starting out, you begin with an idea of how you’d like to create income for yourself and/or your family. Perhaps this is a hobby that you’ve honed over the years and are ready to consider developing this hobby into a full time profession. Where do you start?
The tip of this week will be focusing on those of you that are still a home-based business. Many small businesses start out in your very own home, simply based on costs. You either do not have the capital to rent or lease out space immediately or cannot qualify for a small business loan; and with the present situation with the economy, small business loans are increasingly harder to come by.
Other reasons are there aren’t any real need for you to have an office space right now since your business revolves around being “on location” or visiting customers. This is especially true for those with delivering a service – many successful photographers, plumbers, videographers, electricians, maids, etc. never feel the need to rent out office space until they begin hiring employees.
Right off the bat, you’ll need to consider how you will be contacted and what information you want readily available about your business on the internet. Do you want your potential customers to know where you live? If not, then the tip of this week revolves around leasing a personal mailbox.
I will start by letting you know that you do not want to lease a post office box through the USPS. A USPS mailbox address would look something like “PO Box 123 Any Town, Any State 88888”. The primary reason that I’m advising you to not have a po box is simple: if you have any hopes of being found for your business name or service on Google Local, then you will need to have a valid address that the major search engine, Google, will allow.
As it stands now currently, Google does not count PO boxes as physical locations but will allow addresses listed with suites. As such, my solution for you is to lease a personal mailbox with a UPS or FedEx office. This will allow you to list your address on the internet as “123 Any Road Suite 456 Any Town, Any State 88888” and take advantage of the suite address without actually having a physical office. That “suite” in your address is what we are aiming to have with your new business address.
By having a private mailbox for your business, it will enable several things to happen:
1) Search Engine Rankings – You can now get listed in Google Local (as explained above) and reap the benefits of potential search engine rankings and therefore generating leads.
2) Image – Potential customers will have the impression that you have an office. You will find out that some customers feel that they can take advantage of you when they learn that you work from home and attempt to negotiate your costs. It is best to streamline your impression to the world that you are professional, are very serious about doing business, and will be providing an excellent service for a very long time. Many customers fear doing business with home based ones simply because they are unsure if they will be scammed out of their money. You cannot avoid your customers from directly asking you if you work from home, however, having your business address listed with a suite will lead them to assume that you have an office space and may quell any questions that they may have had previously with whether or not to do business with you.
3) Low Cost – Most personal mailboxes can be leased out for as little as $10 per month for a small box.
4) Privacy – This new address will serve as a “virtual firewall” from unwanted visits from customers and a way for them to send payment via snail mail. Other things down the line to consider will be that your eventual website that you will want to launch with a domain name www.xxxxxx.com (that is not registered privately, an added cost) will need to have an address listed on the domain registration. Another thing to consider with privacy, is that you’ll also be able to prevent mail pilfering and identity theft, which is a growing concern in our changing world.
*One more tip* – You’ll want to rent out your private mailbox within a town that you are targeting to promote your business in. So if you are hoping to generate potential leads from your hometown, that’s great! However, there are many businesses that would like to gain leads from a larger town that is near them, so in that case, you’ll want to then rent a mailbox in that town. Having proximity to the center of town is one of the factors that will be determining your search engine ranking when you get your business listed in Google Local. In either case, you’ll want to base your decision upon what is best for your business and your customers.
The best way to find a personal mailbox near you is to call your local UPS or FedEx store and inquire if they rent out mailboxes. Or Google search “mailboxes + your town + your state”. There are many other private businesses that rent out mailboxes that are not affiliated with UPS or FedEx, but offer those services with shipping out, etc. The advantages with private businesses is that their service hours are much more flexible, allowing you to check your box after 5pm and some even offer mail check via telephone, saving you the extra trip.
Hope to see you next week and please feel free to share your thoughts or questions below.