How is a Real Address Different from a Virtual Address?

11th July 2019

Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and startups often struggle at the beginning with financing. Whether it’s obtaining sufficient startup capital to spend on office leases, equipment, or labour expenses, any reduction in expenses should be balanced with the trust and credibility you’re hoping to build with clients.

When deciding upon a business address, most small business owners feel that they have little choice but to use their home address or to purchase a virtual address from a virtual office service. How is a “real” business address different from a virtual address? This article will clarify the differences and allow you to make the best decision for selecting your business address.

What is a Real Address?

Simply put, your real address is the place where you receive mail, parcels, and where customers can expect to find you. This could be your home address or it could be another address to a property that you lease or own.

What is a Virtual Address?

A virtual address is a service provided by virtual office providers that enables you to receive mail and parcels at another physical location that you don’t necessarily own or lease.

What’s the Difference?

Like a real address, a virtual address is also a “real” address for your business only without the high cost associated with leases or ownership. A real address doesn’t require much explanation or investment because it’s yours. On the other hand, a virtual address is a service that you must purchase in order to receive mail and parcels there.

Below are some of the reasons why you may wish to use a virtual office in lieu of your home address:

Problems With Using a Home Address

Most small businesses operate from a home, such as at a kitchen desk or a dedicated home office space. Using your home address as your business address carries with it many risks worthy of consideration, but it’s also easy as you don’t really have to do anything nor do you have to pay for office space or a virtual office.

Privacy

If your home address appears on your website, email correspondence, stationery, or business cards, you invite the risk of unwanted visits to your home. While this may be acceptable for some, it isn’t ideal for most people, especially if you’ve got a family and valuable personal possessions you’d rather keep private.

Zoning Bylaws

Depending on your local jurisdiction, it may not be possible to operate a commercial enterprise from a residentially-zoned property. This means that you may not be able to use your home address to apply for a business license unless you apply for a zoning bylaw amendment, which may be costly and impractical.

In the UK, changing the use of your home to a business does not normally require requesting permission, but if your business is attracting abnormal traffic or creating higher noise levels then you should contact your local council for more information.

Benefits of Using a Virtual Address

A virtual address allows you to present your business as being legitimate and trustworthy without having to pay for a costly office space lease. Here are some of the benefits of using a virtual address:

Professional Appearance

Clients considering doing business with you will likely notice your business address if it’s advertised (and it should be). A virtual address located in a business district or high street rather than a residential home looks both professional and boosts your impression on customers as being a legitimate and trustworthy business.

Ideal Meeting Location

Hosting clients at your home address may not be preferable or safe. Likewise, coffee shops and public spaces may not afford you the privacy and confidentiality you and your client are looking for. Virtual offices often allow businesses to use dedicated meeting spaces or conference rooms for a fraction of the cost of renting a hotel meeting space.

Expand Your Business

For business owners looking to expand and reach a broader market, virtual offices provide you with a low-investment alternative to leasing or purchasing property in another location. The localisation of products and services is more important in the digital age than ever before, so take advantage of a virtual office to give clients in other regions or countries a better impression of your company with a local address in their area.