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Summary:

As my business grew, so did the distribution of my business card, which contained my home phone number and address. I grew uncomfortable with the wide distribution of my personal contact information. I was surprised at how exposed this made me feel.

A while back I wrote about the reasons that I didn’t hide that I work from home. However, something has gradually changed my mind the past few months: the desire for privacy.

As my business grew, so did the distribution of my business card, which contained my home phone number and address. I grew uncomfortable with the wide distribution of my personal contact information. I was surprised at how exposed this made me feel, especially my personal address being on the footer of my new newsletter that is now distributed to 1,000 people each week.

I decided to reclaim my personal privacy by moving my business’s location out of my home.

For my business, the perfect solution was the “business location service” offered by my coworking facility. Similar services are offered by many coworking operations. The service provides my company use of the facility’s mailing address, and also a dedicated toll-free number answered by the facility’s receptionist. Now callers will be greeted by the ever-cheerful Lateesha, instead of probably getting my personal answering machine.

Since I didn’t physically move locations, there were no boxes to pack. But as I have been discovering, even moving a business on paper is an involved process that has financial costs.

Just like when you move your home, there are many places to notify of your new address. Instead of their driver’s license, business owners have to change their business license. A business may have multiple licenses: state, county and city. You’ll need to check with each to find out how to change your address, and there may be fees involved. For instance, it cost me $25 to file my change with the State of Florida. To notify the U.S. Internal Revenue Service of your change of address, fill out form 8822 and mail it in.

Next up, you’ll need to change the address on your bank accounts, credit accounts, merchant accounts, and payment services such as Paypal or Square. Changing these addresses will cause some expense because you’ll need to re-order any supplies such as checks and deposit slips that have the address on them. Avoid using your bank to purchase these supplies, and use an outside printing service instead, such as Checks Unlimited, to save money. I saved 75 percent on my new banking supplies doing this. Make sure you change the addresses on the accounts before ordering the new supplies as the printer may verify the information with the bank.

After updating your financial accounts, you’ll need to change the billing address on any place where you are using that account (such as for auto-billing).

Two other groups will need to be notified of your “move”: vendors and clients. How you do this will depend on how many you have, and how you usually communicate with them. You can mail postcards (another expense), send emails, or attach notices to payments  bills you send. (If you use accounting software, don’t forget to update it to print your new address on forms.) Since your old address will continue to work, this can be done gradually.

Where else is your address hiding? It could be in your email signature, at your domain registrar, on your website, or in social media profiles. It’s likely on your business cards (and letterhead, if you use it), which is another expense. Inevitably, the address will pop up somewhere you’ve missed. It’s a big project, but I expect the result to be increased privacy and professionalism.

Do you use a business location service? Why?

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By Nancy Nally

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  1. I’ve used a UPS Store box for years for privacy and safety reasons. If I don’t have time to pick up my mail they forward it to me, the mailing address they give you appears as a real one instead of a PO Box address. Just another affordable alternative for work-at-home entrepreneurs.

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    1. I actually considered doing this but didn’t get to the point of committing to it before the option became available at the coworking facility I use. Since that is someplace I visit regularly anyway (saves me an extra trip), and it also includes the phone service, it seemed the way to go. It definitely would have been the preferable option to a PO Box if I hadn’t had the coworking facility option, though.

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  2. i’ve had a po box for a little over year…it helps…

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    1. Unfortunately a lot of my business mail involves packages that arrive UPS or FedEx so a Post Office box was never a viable option for me to avoid spreading my home address around. I’d have ended up having to give it out to many people to use for shipping anyway. And for certain other things, like the State of Florida business registration, the use of a PO Box is also not allowed.

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  3. I’m surprised that you used your home address for what seems to have been a substantial amount of time. Privacy would always be paramount although your profession would have little risk of customers making a personal visit. PO Boxes, UPS Store or even mail service at a an office suite like HQ/Regus would have been viable solutions. The latter has been for me!

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  4. I’ve had a PO Box for the past 3 years to collect my mail and recently signed up with a virtual office service that offers workspace and meeting rooms when required.

    So far (it’s only been a month), it has worked well.

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  5. [...] Change of Address Web Life [...]

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  6. [...] Change of Address Web Life [...]

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  7. Crazy that I literally JUST walked in from changing my business address using UPS Mailbox service. I like the idea because it will allow me to use a physical address rather than a PO Box. Plus they’ll accept packages for me if need be. Thanks for this post. Whew…didn’t think about how much I’d need to change!

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  8. [...] Change of Address Web Life [...]

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  9. I’m stuck in the situation of living in a suburb outside of Atlanta that does not allow an address from a UPS store. They recognize the address. Even though I am conducting a 100% online business with no customers coming to my home, they say that’s a home business and they must have my home address. Since I am in an apartment, they also require a letter from my apartment office stating that they are aware I have a home office. When I contacted my apartment to get that, I was told they don’t write those letters. I’m stuck in loops of red tape. Meanwhile the city says if I DO use my home address, there’s no way they can shield that; it’s a public record. They can list the mailing address as a PO Box or UPS store, but it’ll still show my home address. I’m currently stuck without a license and trying to find some kind of loophole to keep me legal and retain my privacy. It’s ridiculous.

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    1. The fact that my home address would still have to have been public record at the city/county/state level like you mention was one of the reasons that I never bothered to get a UPS store address or PO Box. It would only have partly hidden my home address and so didn’t seem worth the hassle.

      A business location service like I use would be the perfect solution for your problem! Legally, my business’s location is the coworking facility that I work at.

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      1. Perfect in every way except for the cost. I looked into it recently, and I recall the minimum including taxes was still over $100 per month. That’s out of my budget at present. Someday…

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