2

Can someone provide insight on the pros/cons of registering a business using (1) a real home address vs (2) a PO Box vs (3) a private mail service? The company is a small software consulting business/startup that does not yet have an office, and the company is working from home/garage/coffee shops/etc.

  • Real Home Address: I've been advised that it is not safe to publicize your home address because it leaves one vulnerable to an "unwanted visit". Additionally, using one's real home address can be unsafe especially if developing something in a potentially activism-related arena.

  • PO Box: I have also been advised not to use a PO box because it can be seen by clients as shady. On the plus side, it provides a layer of protection from an unwanted person finding the company's home address. Also, the company owner does not need to update it if they move.

  • Private Mail Service: An alternative to a PO box is using a private mailbox service, although it is more expensive than a PO box. Plus, a simple web search of that address will reveal that there is a private mail service company at that address, which may make clients uneasy (assuming they bothered to perform a web search on the address). Still, a private mailbox company can offer an address that superficially does not look like an anonymous mailbox, and may be safer than a government-provided PO box.

So, my question is, does anyone have strong advice on the above options? Has anyone experienced a bad situation arising from using their home address for their company's registration? Or is this issue only a concern for the small fraction of shady businesses and extreme activists in overly-oppressed scenarios?

  • This strikes me as unanswerable because it depends too much on your situation. A company doing custom Python development for a small number of relatively large corporations probably doesn't have much to worry about from an "unwanted visit". A company running an eBay clone where hundreds of strangers exchange goods, on the other hand, will undoubtedly involve some small number of people feeling disgruntled enough to show up at the corporate address. – Justin Cave Aug 15 '15 at 0:08
  • @JustinCave The OP does state it's a consultancy business so I assume a professional "front" is important :) – Jane S Aug 15 '15 at 0:10
  • IANAL, but I think you have to register your business (meaning with the gov't) with an address that can receive legal service. You should consult an attorney for specifics. – Wesley Long Aug 15 '15 at 0:41
  • "consulting business/ startup" could encompass a lot of things, though. Concerns about the unwanted visit go up if you're, say, building web sites for a lot of small local companies where you might reasonably expect an occasional disgruntled client that could potentially decide to drop by for an uncomfortable chat. They go down if you're doing back end office work for large companies that are generally far away. And the "startup" bit potentially expands significantly on the "consulting" bit if the goal is to do consulting for immediate revenue while funding a startup. – Justin Cave Aug 15 '15 at 0:48
  • @WesleyLong When we did our consultancy start up years ago, we registered the company with our business address as the home address of one of the directors, whereas our public address was a virtual office. Remember I'm not in the US, your mileage may vary :) – Jane S Aug 15 '15 at 1:07
3

Being a consultancy, if you are just looking for a professional address to put on your website or business cards then perhaps a virtual office may be what you are after.

It's effectively a CBD address to which you can direct mail, have a formal "office" number, a virtual receptionist and some also offer on-premise meeting rooms that you can hire on an as-needs basis to to reinforce your professional presentation. When I worked for a startup umm... many years ago, that was what we did and it was very effective until we got big enough to rent a proper office space.

I'm not sure if this is available in your area or what the costs are, but it may be worth a quick Google search :)

  • 1
    A virtual office is a little pricy for our needs, but it looks like a nice option! This seems to be the best of both worlds - private yet professional. – mrNiceGuy Aug 24 '15 at 22:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.