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Paper Chase

You work at home but still want to retain some privacy-so what address do you put on your stationery?

Question: I'm starting a homebased employment recruiting firm on a shoestring budget. I'm ordering business stationery, and my friends and family can't agree on any one answer to the following question-what to put for a business address. A P.O. box makes people appear flaky and not established, yet I don't want anybody showing up at my home. If I need to meet with anybody, I'll rent a conference room at a local business court. How do other people who work at home handle this?

Rita
Whittier, California

Answer: Today most entrepreneurs who work from home offices use their home addresses on business stationery. One-third of all Americans currently do some or all of their work at home, and announcing you own a homebased business is more likely to be met with envy than derision by your clients, customers and peers.

If your principal concern is preventing unwanted visitors from showing up on your doorstep, withhold your address from certain types of advertisements and marketing materials, as other employment and recruiting companies tend to do. While the general use of a Post Office box in place of a street address on your stationery can make your business look less than permanent, it's not uncommon to see a P.O. box number used on select materials to prevent exactly this type of problem.

From the paper you select to your choice of colors and typeface, your stationery package should communicate that your business is solid, stable and here to stay. Choose high-quality paper with coordinating envelopes, and enlist the services of a professional designer to create your company logo and help you pick the correct typeface. Typefaces can be formal or informal, contemporary or traditional, and choosing an appropriate typeface can positively impact the way your new business is perceived.

Color plays an equally vital role. Select at least two colors for your stationery package to convey the right image to your target audience. Picture yourself as a prospective client or customer and consider what certain colors communicate about your business. For example, green is the color of money and growth, while medium and dark shades of blue commonly connote a masculine image of power and strength.

As your business grows and you become more comfortable working from home, you may want to reduce or eliminate the cost of holding meetings at your local business court. It's not uncommon for homebased business owners, particularly in urban settings where space is limited, to retrofit living spaces to serve double-duty as conference rooms. So unless the number and size of meetings you'll conduct on a regular basis makes holding them at home untenable or unlawful, consider furnishing your home office to accommodate visitors and save on outside rental fees.

Kim T. Gordon is a nationally recognized expert on home business success. She is the author of two books, including her newest, Bringing Home the Business: The 30 Truths Every Home Business Owner Must Know, a top-rated speaker and an Entrepreneur magazine columnist. For more how-to's, advice and a book excerpt, visit www.smallbusinessnow.com.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.
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