When you set up a business, there are a lot of things you need to consider – and one of them is how to handle your mail.
This is especially relevant to modern businesses that choose to use a virtual office, rather than a physical office space. This can be a really great choice as it can save you tons of money on your overheads, but it does require a different approach to staying in touch with your clients and customers.
But don’t worry! There are lots of options out there. Here’s your bumper guide to choosing the one that’s right for your business.
OPTION 1: PO BOXES
What is a PO Box?
PO Box is short for Post Office Box, and it’s a secure and private mailbox service provided largely by the Royal Mail, which is the national postal service here in the UK.
Unlike traditional physical addresses tied to a specific location, a PO Box allows businesses and individuals to receive mail and parcels at a separate, dedicated address registered with the local post office. It’s a safe and secure option for anyone who needs to receive their mail remotely, so it’s a great option for business owners who have chosen to set up a business without a physical office space.
A PO Box example (using a made-up address!) would be:
Addressee’s name: Mrs Jade Smith
Company/Organisation: Company Ltd
PO Box Number: PO Box 789
Post Town: London
Postcode: W5 5YZ
What are the benefits of using a PO Box?
- It’s great for protecting your privacy.
If you’ve registered your business to your home address, a PO Box allows you to have a separate postal address that you can share with your clients and customers. It’s really useful for maintaining a healthy balance between your home and work life.
It’s worth remembering that there are some disadvantages to using your home address to register your business. If you’ve registered your business to your home address, your home address is visible on the Companies House website, which is a public and searchable website. If you’d like to change that, a virtual office is the right option for you!
- It helps to give your business a professional image.
Which company would you be more likely to trust? The one that has a professional PO office Box in a prime commercial location? Or the one that has a business address starting with ‘Flat 5A…’?
Getting a PO Box can add a touch of professionalism to your business communications. Rather than suggesting that your business is small enough to be run from your kitchen table, having an office PO Box shows your clients and customers that you are a serious and established business. And you can choose to rent a PO Box in any location, giving you the option to run your business from your home but use a postal address that sits your brand in the heart of the city. This can be hugely helpful to building trust and credibility for your business.
- Your mail handling is taken care of while you’re away.
If you’re someone who travels frequently (for work or fun!), getting a PO Box gives you the peace of mind that your business mail will be sorted, stored and secure while you’re away. And you won’t open your front door to a messy pile of letters when you get back!
A PO Box is also a great option if you’re someone who moves around a lot. A PO Box provides stability by allowing you to maintain a consistent mailing address, regardless of your physical whereabouts. This is a big win in terms of the mailbox vs PO Box battle!
- You don’t have to worry about overlooking an important letter.
If your business post was arriving alongside your regular post, you might accidentally flip through the pile and mistake an important company communication as something that can be left in your personal pile.
If you get all your business mail addressed to a PO Box, you know that everything in there is company communications that require your full attention. That means you have to use way less brain power when sorting through your post!
How much does a PO Box cost?
The cost of a PO Box tends to vary depending on your needs. You can choose either to collect your mail directly from the PO Box, or you can pay slightly more to get your mail forwarded directly to your home address. There are also services that will give you the PO Box for free, but charge you per piece of mail. And of course, you can select whether you pay monthly or annually, which can affect the overall postal box cost. So it’s worth checking out the options – start with Royal Mail, and go from there! There are plenty of mailbox services in the UK.
How to get a PO Box
Getting a PO Box is relatively straightforward. First, decide which post office you’d like to use for your PO Box service. If you’re using Royal Mail, it’s worth remembering that not all post offices offer this service, so check with your local post office or visit the Royal Mail website to find a suitable location.
Then, you’ll need to fill out an application, providing personal details including your name, address, contact information, and proof of identity (usually a government-issued ID or passport). You’ll also need to let your provider know how long you’d like to rent the PO Box for – usually the options start from around three months.
Then, you just need to pay the fee and collect the key! You’re all set up and ready to go.
Can I use a PO Box to register my business?
Some argue that there are loopholes here, but this is a very murky area – so the short answer to this one is no. If you need an address to register your business, you’re much better off using a virtual office. Which brings us onto our next option!
OPTION 2: VIRTUAL OFFICE BUSINESS REGISTRY
The alternative to using a PO Box is to register your company using a virtual office like Impact Brixton.
Unlike a PO Box address, which you shouldn’t use to register your business with Companies House, a Virtual Office provides you with a professional bricks-and-mortar address that it’s perfectly fine to use as your official company address. As well as making your business look extra professional, this has the added benefit of meaning that you don’t have to put your home address online at Companies House, so it’s great for protecting your privacy.
Just like with a PO Box, you can choose a prime location for your business address; use the address for all of your business correspondence; and have all your mail sorted and stored securely. Some virtual offices also offer you the option to have your mail forwarded to your home address, or offer mail scanning services that allow you to get your mail on the same day. And if you choose a hybrid option like Impact Brixton, you can gain access to coworking, networking events, training programmes and more, giving you the perfect flexibility to work with your team remotely or in-person.
Sound good? Check out how to set up a professional business address with a virtual office in just five easy steps.