Starting a home-based business can be difficult, because you need a definitive line between your business and personal life. Personal security and a professional appearance with a home-based business should be a top priority. There are ways you can maintain the freedom that comes with managing a business from home, while having the appearance of a traditional business.
Whether you are selling a product or service, it can be difficult to promote your business and gain clients without a good web presence. Registering for a domain name requires that you input real information about yourself, such as your name and contact information. Public domain information is fine for a short period, while you are designing your website or learning how to manage your site.
However, before your website goes live and you start promoting yourself, you must purchase domain privacy. Your contact information will not appear in databases, and you can protect sensitive information. If you already have a business address that is not affiliated with your personal information, you may choose to forego domain privacy.
Business Mailing Address
You should have a business mailing address, whether or not your business sells products. If you simply need an address that is different from your personal address, a post office box may be sufficient. Post office boxes are available in many sizes, and you can choose the least expensive option if you will not receive large volumes of mail. If you are selling a product, even the largest post office box may not be enough.
Some shipping companies offer parcel acceptance services that use a physical address, not a post office box. You may choose to receive supplies from warehouses and accept customer returns at your business mailing address. Unlike a post office box, there are not the same mailing restrictions. Many warehouses and businesses will not ship to a post office box. By using a parcel acceptance service, you can overcome this obstacle without using your home address.
Business Phone Number
In the past, you would need another landline or mobile number to serve as your business phone number. Now, there are many resources to serve this purpose without spending a significant amount of money or using your personal phone number to manage a business. Many web hosting companies allow you to purchase a 1-800 number as your business number. Calls to your business number are forwarded to your landline or mobile phone to take business calls.
If you want a business number that is more personalized, look online for free or reduced cost services that allow you to choose a number within your area code and have those calls forwarded to your personal phone. You can choose a number that is both in your area code and has a prefix that is used in your city. Use a combination of local and 1-800 numbers if you will do business with local and long-distance customers. This way, no potential or current customers will feel they are limited to email correspondence, due to long-distance charges.
Virtual Office Space
Investing in virtual office space will give you the opportunity to meet more clients and make them feel confident in your services. If you offer a service, such as writing or photography, and want to target businesses in your local area, you want them to feel confident they are dealing with a real person. Meetings at your virtual office space are safer than meeting clients at your home and is more professional than meeting at a coffee shop.
Depending on the virtual office package you select, you can purchase office space, a mailing address and business phone number, from the same company. If you frequently travel, many virtual office providers allow you to use space across the globe. You can have face-to-face conversations with potential clients, even when you are away from your local area.
Starting a reputable home-based business requires significant planning to ensure your privacy, but no one has to know you are a home-based business. With a few strategic investments, you can improve your professionalism, without a significant start-up cost.