Guest Author - Violette DeSantis
Depending on the type of business you run, if you run it from your home, you may prefer to protect your privacy. Here are a few areas to give special consideration to when starting a business in your home.
In many business transactions, your mailing address is given out often. Outside of sharing your home office address with necessary clientele, you should reserve a PO Box to protect your home address. You can reserve a PO Box from USPS in person or online at USPS.com. If you reserve one online you need to show two valid IDs and your online receipt to pick up keys.
PO Boxes are available in five sizes but not all sizes are available at every Post Office. Fees start as low as $14 based on size and location.
If you think that you need a service for your business allowing shipments that don’t deliver to a PO Box, you can find a Mail Boxes Etc. near you.
There are many options when considering business phone services. The easiest, if you have a landline and a cell phone is to designate your cell phone as your business telephone number. However it is easy to have a second telephone number at your residence or to sign up for a custom ring number (both numbers share the same line but have a different ring). There may be limitations to using a custom ring service, so check with service providers on things like which number is seen on caller ID for outgoing calls and can more than one voice mail system be used.
Many are dropping landlines and moving to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). If you are not familiar with the term VoIP, think of video and chat services like Skype and Google Talk (a service that works in Google’s Gmail). These services are usually free if you are communicating with others using the same service. You’ll also find that fees for international communications are more affordable. You can upgrade both Skype and Google Talk for additional services. Google Talk users need to upgrade to Google Voice to communicate with users outside of Gmail.
Setting up email is the easiest task since there are many options and most are free. If you are a small business and own your own domain, set up a free Google Apps account. You can create up to 10 user email boxes. In addition each can have email aliases. Aliases are helpful if you want department email addresses protecting business names.
Be careful posting your information online. Use your data only where necessary and never post your actual email address anywhere if you can help it to protect yourself from spam.