Seattle Community

Posted by Tamera Nelson, Moore, Oklahoma | Sep 17, 2009

Subscribe to The Biznik Community Physical Address vs. Post Office Box for Home-Based Businesses

Many small businesses are based out of the home and not everyone feels comfortable displaying their home address on business cards and websites. Does using a PO Box instead of a physical address give a business an unprofessional image?


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12 Bizniks have posted replies

  • Local Search Optimization & Small Business Marketing 
Bellevue, Washington 
Richard Geasey
    Posted by Richard Geasey, Bellevue, Washington | Sep 17, 2009

    Get a non-USPS box and call it a suite. No one cares in my opinion. Many large businesses use a PO Box as their address.

  • Technical Writer, Software Trainer 
Seattle, Washington 
Suzanne Melton
    Posted by Suzanne Melton, Seattle, Washington | Sep 17, 2009

    Some time ago (maybe 5-10 years), the Post Office decided that too many scammers were using Mail Boxes Etc. (at the time) to pretend they were a large company.

    I was actually standing in a MBE while a scammed person was insisting the MBE clerk give up the information on who the scammer really was. She refused, of course, because keeping customer information confidential is part of the contract.

    The Post Office now has a policy that anyone using a UPS Store (or any non-Post Office mail distributior) must use "PMB" for Private Mail Box instead of "Suite."

    By the way, a gazillion years ago (yes, I AM that old!), I worked at a direct mail concern and learned how to address a piece of mail:
    Tamera Nelson
    PMB 123
    456 Main St
    Moore, OK 73170

    The Post Office reads addresses from the bottom up and, especially in this case, they surely don't care about the "PMB."

    Check with your local post office to confirm. I tried the search box on usps.com and decided not to wade through their twenty thousand pages.

  • Virtual Assistant 
Moore, Oklahoma 
Tamera Nelson
    Posted by Tamera Nelson, Moore, Oklahoma | Sep 18, 2009

    @Richard - I also feel that the majority of people will not care. The majority of payments that I make to creditors are sent to PO Boxes.

    @Suzanne - I was unaware of the USPS 'PMB' policy. I will visit their website to see if I can find out more info.

    Thanks to both of you for your input.

  • Engineer of Creative Identity • Author of "Identity Crisis!" 
Portland, Oregon 
Jeff Fisher
    Posted by Jeff Fisher, Portland, Oregon | Sep 18, 2009

    I've used a PO Box for my business address for most of the past 30 years with no negative impact on my business. About 80% of my business is done in other cities throughout the U.S., or in foreign countries, so a street address is of little importance to my clientele.

    I've used the PO Box for two major reasons: 1.) I don't want sales and marketing people, or potential vendors, showing up at my home-based studio at all hours of the day/evening; 2.) I also don't want clients feeling as if they can just show up on my doorstep at all hours.

    My sister used a non-USPS mailing address for her business mail - and a ridiculous number of people would show up at the street address expecting to meet with her without an appointment/unannounced.

    In the past I've designed quite a few business cards without a mailing address at all. A phone number and email address is sufficient contact information for many people. Once a business relationship is established, a mailing address may be shared if needed - on stationery, an invoice or elsewhere.

    I do think the issue of personal safety plays into the decision as well. I always recommend that individuals who work alone from home not put a home address on any marketing/promotion tools.

    Jeff Fisher | Jeff Fisher LogoMotives | Tweet! Tweet!

  • Internet Sales Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Howard Howell
    Posted by Howard Howell, Seattle, Washington | Sep 18, 2009

    Tamera... I've used a P.O. Box for years because it can remain forever while my business (and home) address periodically changes.

    BTW: In a few of my past businesses I have used private mail boxes PMB (ie. mailboxes etc.) and when I discontinued using them, the US Postal Service refused to accept mail forwarding. It appears they will only give you the service of mail forwarding from a USPO box or physical mail box.

    People may want to consider this when they choose between USPO and PMB.

    ...Howard

  • Technical Writer, Software Trainer 
Seattle, Washington 
Suzanne Melton
    Posted by Suzanne Melton, Seattle, Washington | Sep 18, 2009

    Howard, you are absolutely right!

    I've had PMBs in five locations but it's pretty simple to keep two, in my case, MBE/UPS stores for a few months. AND, if the UPS store you're moving TO is owned by the franchisee you're moving FROM, they will drive your mail from the old to the new.

    OK, it's probably not a special trip but your mail does get moved.

    Something else I neglected to mention: the Post Office won't accept deliveries from FedEx or UPS. Your local UPS or other private third party accepts deliveries from any delivery service.

    Oh, the irony: I"m pushing a private entity and Howard is pushing a government-like entity.

  • Internet Sales Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Howard Howell
    Posted by Howard Howell, Seattle, Washington | Sep 18, 2009

    Suzanne... LOL with a big smile.

    It is ironic isn't it. I never thought it about when I commented but it is great to have a choice isn't it?

    ...Howard

  • Virtual Assistant 
Moore, Oklahoma 
Tamera Nelson
    Posted by Tamera Nelson, Moore, Oklahoma | Sep 21, 2009

    @Jeff - good suggestion to share a home address once a business relationship has been established.

    @Howard - I like the idea of hassle-free mail forwarding. There are not alot of PMB centers in my area which would result in me more than likely having to go out of my way to get mail if I decided to move.

    @Suzanne - I enjoy hearing different viewpoints. When it comes to shipping packages I actually prefer the private entities.

    I appreciate the feedback from everyone.

  • merchant services / credit card processing Art Torelli 
Seattle, Washington 
Arthur Torelli
    Posted by Arthur Torelli, Seattle, Washington | Sep 21, 2009

    I use a small company that gives me a private mail box for about @140.00 per year. I've had no negative response from my customers because of it. I believe its just better than putting my home address on everything. I meet a lot of people and you just don't know who you are meeting all of the time. Art T.

  • Practical Marketing Expert, Business Lifestyle Architect, Speaker, Author 
Seattle, Washington 
Stacy Karacostas
    Posted by Stacy Karacostas, Seattle, Washington | Sep 22, 2009

    Hi Tamera, I'm definitely in the PO Box camp as well with my preference being go with the regular PO if possible.

    The only negative is that I think there is a touch more credibility to having a physical address listed on your Website.

    However, I'm willing to lose that in order to keep people from showing up at my home office unannounced. And there are plenty of other ways to build credibility on your site (including a phone number, email address, headshot, testimonials, etc.).

    Best of luck! Stacy

  • Studio Owner/Photographer & Designer 
Bellevue, Washington 
Jack  Young
    Posted by Jack Young, Bellevue, Washington | Sep 24, 2009

    I'd like to use a mailbox but it will be a hassle to drive to the closest office, so I have been using my real home address. There has been no strangers showing up so far, except that new family of raccoons.

    Other things to consider: delivery or email marketing, you will need to have a real address.

    Best, Jack

  • Graphic Designer 
Richmond, Virginia 
Kristina Davis
    Posted by Kristina Davis, Richmond, Virginia | Sep 24, 2009

    Just a thought.. but there are ways around both of these. I know of a place here in Richmond called PostalPal that serves as a mailbox center just like the post office but instead of a PO Box, they give you a number so it looks like a suite number. With that you can always receive packages.

    It's like the best of both worlds.. :)