If you office from home, or even in an office space that doesn't have people there all the time during normal business hours, you may want to get a private mailbox for better management of your mail and packages. A private mailbox will give you:
- Reliability - No more missed deliveries - there's always someone there during normal business hours to receive your packages or oversized mail.
- Privacy - Using a private mailbox allows you to keep your home address unpublished.
- Security - Your mail and packages are kept safe and secure until you pick them up, rather than being subject to possible theft from an unprotected home mailbox. Also, if you're away from home for a couple of days, your mail won't stack up, letting people know that you're gone.
- Mobility - If you move within the same part of town, your address can still say the same on all your printed materials, Web site, etc. Also, if you are in another location for an extended period of time, you can have your mail and packages forwarded to you at that location.
Now your first reaction may be to go to the post office for a post office box. However, a private mailbox offers a couple of advantages over a box from the postal service:
- Full-service package receiving - The U.S. Postal Service will not receive packages from other carriers (UPS, FedEx, etc.).
- An actual street address - You may find other situations in which you need an actual street address, not a P.O. Box. A private mailbox uses the street address of the mailbox provider plus a "#" sign and your box number, e.g., "123 Main St. #123". The street address also is perceived by some as being more credible. One important note, though - you are allowed to use "#" for the designation of your box number, but do not try to pass it off as a "Suite". The postal service prefers "PMB", but allows "#", which is certainly what I recommend.
The private mailbox provider also can provide you with a variety of other products and services, such as packaging (USPS won't do that for you) and shipping (most private mailbox providers offer at least one other shipping provider in addition to handling USPS services). They're also usually much less crowded than the post office, so you can get in and out of there quicker.
Some popular providers of private mailboxes include The UPS Store, PostNet and PakMail, in addition to independent local providers.