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Your Business Address and Phone Number
The second thing that you have to determine is your business address and phone number. You can optionally use your home address, however I have always avoided using my home address just because I do not like mixing my business operations with my home as much as possible. Although I have a home office since I do a lot of work from home, that space is totally separate from my living space. I have started a few businesses from scratch and opted a few different ways to establish my business address - here are a few options:

1 - Get a mailbox at a UPS Store or similar business that will offer you a street address that you can use for your business - this is better than getting a PO Box because many applications will not accept a PO Box as your address.

2 - Search on Craigslist in the commercial real estate section and do a search for offices in your area that have the rent listed below $200 (or something like that) ... you will likely find some shared office opportunities where a business is trying to rent just one small office out in their building. They will usually not charge you for electricity, and sometimes they furnish it and even have options to take messages on your phone while you are away. The packages are usually really flexible and really affordable and this is a great way to establish a legitimate business address in a commercial location.

If you do go with option 2, then I would suggest getting a PO Box in addition to the office. Try to get as much of your mail and your accounts with the PO Box address - a lot of times, businesses want to have your "physical address" on file, but will still honor your request to send your mail to a PO Box. Since option number 2 is usually not a long-term solution, this will make change of address efforts very minimal if you have a PO Box which can be a very long-term location for your business to accept mail.

Once you have an address, you will also need a phone number. Part of what I am going to walk you through in this guide is establishing some basic business credit and a business credit profile. For this reason, you should have a real land line for your business. For this reason, Option 2 above for your business is ideal, and then you can get a landline installed - call all the phone services in your area and find out what the cheapest is for both monthly service and installation costs. Make clear that you are calling around to get rates and that you are shopping around so that you get the best rate. Once you have the best rate, call the company with the second best rate and tell them the rates you were quoted by the first best company ... these fees are often negotiable - by investing an afternoon on the phone, I was able to get free installation on my phone line, and service for $40 a month. I did not get any special services on my phone because for the most part, my business phone only takes incoming calls and I really do not need any fancy features in the beginning so do not let the sales people talk you into anything that costs more.

If getting a landline is not possible, then you can also get a virtual phone line. I like using Ring Central, which can be found here:
http://www.ringcentral.com/

This will also cost about $40 a month, but it gives you a phone number that you can either forward to a number (which your clients will not see), or set up a voice mail, or set up a message where your clients can press 1 to connect with you and then the call gets forwarded to whatever number you want. There is a ton of flexibility and you can really project a very professional image.

I personally have a landline in my office and I use Ring Central in tandem with that. You can always work towards that, and do not feel pressured to use options that are unaffordable at this moment in time. You can work toward it as your cash flow increases.

In fact, the free option is to register a Google Voice number (which is free) and directing that phone number to a prepaid cell phone (so that you know that when that phone rings, you answer it with your business name). A prepaid phone costs about $20-25 and is a one-time cost, and you will likely not use a lot of minutes in the beginning since you can make outbound calls from any phone (ie. your home line, your cell phone, etc.). You can always port your Google voice number to your business landline when you get to that point, so that is a good sensible option to establish a phone number too.

When I started my first business, I got a business phone line installed at my parent's house. I then hired a local answering service (just look up answering services in your local phone book) and I forwarded the calls to them so that the phones were answered professionally and they took messages for me, which I returned at my best opportunity. An answering service can run about $75 or more per month, however for my business, I was able to afford that and it made sense to have. What I wanted was a live person professionally answering my business line which is why I wanted to have such a service.

There are lots of solutions here, and you basically need to figure out what will work for you, and be ready to upgrade as your business grows.

Source: Content Machine
Category: My articles | Added by: Marsipan (05.12.2012) W
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