Small business owners and solopreneurs—particularly those with service-related businesses—face many challenges while growing their company. The address they'll use for their business is usually an afterthought at best.
For those without a physical office location, their default business address is often their home. It requires no additional work on the part of the business owner and it incurs no additional cost. It also makes sense, considering that an estimated 60% of business owners work from their homes—whether from their home office or a kitchen table.
Legal Downsides of Home Addresses
There are some downsides and legal issues when business owners use their home address as their business address. The following are some of the more notable risks:
- Lease and HOA rules. Some home addresses cannot be used as a business address. Specifically, apartment and condo complexes may restrict the ability of residents to run a business out of their homes. Some single-family homes may also have home owners' association (HOA) rules that have comparable restrictions.
- Zoning restrictions. Some cities may have municipality codes that restrict or prohibit homeowners from running a commercial operation from their homes. Or, in some instances, only certain types of businesses may be prohibited.
- Privacy concerns. Business owners intermingle their personal and professional lives when they list their home addresses, which they must provide to customers for legal contracts and other matters. Suddenly, they may find the privacy of their families compromised, with customers showing up on their doorstep unexpectedly.
Beyond the potential legal and privacy challenges that occur when business owners use their home addresses, there are also various missed opportunities.
Business Advantages of Virtual Office Addresses
An alternative to providing your home address is to use a "virtual office." Virtual office services can include mail receipt and forwarding, a live receptionist, and a lobby directory listing. Some virtual offices also provide individual office space, conference rooms, and business services.
There are measurable business advantages to using virtual office addresses instead of home addresses, including:
- Professional presence and trust. When customers see an apartment or home address on a contract, statement of work, or invoice, it certainly won't give them a feeling of trust or professional presence. Your business address plays a critical role in building trust with prospects and customers, as well as giving you a local professional presence. A virtual office address can provide this benefit.
- Meeting location. You may not want to meet prospects or customers at your home address. Hotel meeting rooms are expensive, often twice the cost of a rented meeting room space, and coffee shops lack the privacy and confidentiality that many business meetings require. Since many virtual office address locations also include professional meeting room space, businesses reap the additional benefits this offers.
- Business expansion. A home business address goes only so far. For example, for businesses that expand to new locations, they require local addresses. A virtual office address gives the business a local professional presence and a meeting location for clients and partners.
Business owners have a huge number of priorities on their plate. A virtual office provides administrative services and infrastructure that many businesses need, often at a price that fits their budget.