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3 Essential Steps to Create a Practical and Affordable Virtual Office

Setting up an office or even a business address for a startup or side hustle can be expensive. You don’t need to throw precious cash at this or be tempted to use your home address as your business address (don’t do it!).

  • In the post-pandemic era, leasing office space to start a business is often unnecessary. Putting a month-to-month coworking office space or hot desk on a credit card also runs upward of $400 a month!

  • It’s safer, scrappier, and financially savvier to create a virtual office using a virtual mailbox that already includes a virtual business address! For about $30 a month combined, this means a virtual mailbox and a business phone number. Be frugal at the beginning and expand as your business grows.

Why a Virtual Mailbox is the Backbone of a Virtual Office

Most virtual office plans are based on executive office and flex space locations, charging $99 or more for a ”virtual office” package. Conversely, traditional PO Boxes lack credibility and are downright sub-optimal in a digital world.

But a virtual mailbox fits squarely in the middle; it's the “backbone” of a virtual office. Here’s why:

  • A virtual mailbox comes with a virtual business address. You can use it to register your business and it adds credibility to your venture, website, business cards, and collateral. It’s also handy for invoicing clients and vendors and establishing a business mailing address separate from your home address.

  • A virtual mailbox is in a staffed location–either a mailbox pack and ship store or a coworking space. It’s like having a virtual assistant handle your postal mail and packages.

  • The location you select is authorized to receive postal mail and packages on your behalf, store them securely, and fulfill your requests on mail items and packages. Requests range from open & scan, forwarding packages, or shredding sensitive postal mail. You can conveniently make these requests via an app on your phone or laptop.

Here are the three steps to a low-priced yet, intelligent virtual office solution:

1. Sign Up for a Virtual Mailbox

  • Select Your Virtual Business Address Location Go to and select a location that works for you. Typically, people choose a location that’s within their local area. But remember, you won’t drive to that location often because you’ll be managing your mail from your phone. Selecting a virtual business address in a business-centric area, like a coworking location, helps because it adds credibility to your address.

  • Pick a Plan and Sign Up Depending on services, plans range from around $10 to as much as $20 or more. Generally, people receive 30 mail items a month. Don’t get stuck on this detail if you’re not sure. You can always upgrade or downgrade your plan. Just get started. Some providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so it’s no risk if you change your mind.

  • Complete the USPS Form 1583 and Get your IDs Verified Most people don’t know that after signing up, there’s a second step to activating a virtual mailbox: completing and notarizing the USPS Form 1583. Your selected location needs this to receive postal mail and packages on your behalf. It's mandated by the United States Postal Service and is not unique to virtual mailboxes; it had to be done for old-school PO Boxes, too. Every provider requires it.

2. Get a Business Phone Number From a VoIP Provider

Now that you’ve set up a virtual business address at a staffed location for about $10 a month, the next smart move is to get a phone number to use for your business.

Avoid using your phone number as your business number. Create a new business number using a VoIP provider instead. Google Voice offers a free version for personal use and a business plan starting at $10 per user per month. Vonage, eVoice, and RingCentral are other popular providers.

You can monitor a VoIP business number anywhere you have internet access, including your personal phone. The beauty here is that it keeps your personal information secure while allowing you to make and receive calls for your business without commingling your personal phone number.

3. And Now, Register Your Business

The number one mistake people make when registering their business is using their home address. When you use your home address as a business address, the Secretary of State in the state you registered in will post your information into the public domain.

But you’ve read this far and are more innovative and savvier. You now have a virtual business address and phone number in hand to register your business safely and securely.

How you register your business depends on your state's guidelines. The usual process is to:

  • Register your business with the Secretary of State of your state first, and then

  • Register with the IRS to get your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is needed to open a bank account for your business. The Small Business Association has a very informative article on all this.

You’re off and running with a virtual mailbox and a business phone that’s only costing you about $30 or less a month. And your side hustle or home-based business gives off credibility and legitimacy. Share this information with your friends who are thinking about starting a business!

Sign up with Anytime Mailbox and you’ll have a practical and affordable virtual office ready. The important thing is to decide and get started in making those critical first steps in setting up your business.

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