Congratulations, you’re in business! You’ll now be putting your personal information out into the world more than ever. Are you doing all that you can to protect it? Here's three things you can do to protect your personal information!
Disclaimer: this article may contain referral or affiliate links in which I would receive a small kickback if you used my link to make a purchase. All opinions are my own.
You need an alternate mailing address
When you start building your email list, which I always recommend that you start sooner rather than later, you’ll need a new mailing address. Thanks to anti-spam laws, you’re legally required to add an address to the bottom of every email you mail out. I wouldn’t recommend using your home address for that.
Additionally, if you are a product based business, you’ll be shipping products to customers. All shipping labels are required to have a return address. Again, I don’t recommend using a home address for that either.
So how do you get an alternate mailing address?
The easiest and cheapest way is to get a Post Office Box. It’s relatively inexpensive and is worth every cent of the peace of mind it gives you. Pro tip: I never pay extra for a bigger box. If anything doesn’t fit in your box, the Post Office will hold it in the back for you or put it in a package box where you’ll be able to retrieve it. One thing to note is that you won’t be able to receive non-USPS packages at your PO Box. If you also want a place where you can send all your packages as well (which might be unnecessary), get a box at your local UPS store which gives you a street address instead of a PO Box number.
You need to protect your digital accounts with strong passwords
In this day and age you absolutely need strong passwords. And don’t go around repeating ANY passwords! Especially as a business owner, you’ll be creating an insane amount of new accounts. I’m pretty sure my digital footprint expanded 200% as a business owner--at least! You’ll have new email accounts, website management accounts, email marketing accounts, social media accounts, retailer and wholesaler accounts, and more. If these would ever get hacked, it would compromise not only your personal information but your business and potentially your customer’s information as well. Imagine if one site got hacked and you had repeated that password all over the web? The hacker could have access to your entire digital life. I can’t stress the importance of strong passwords enough!
I know I already have too many passwords to remember and once I opened my business, I had a gazillion more of them. So how do I manage all these passwords? I use a password manager! I use Lastpass to remember my passwords for me. I love it because I can generate new strong passwords for every site and I only need to remember one password. Whenever I get the inevitable email “our site has been compromised, we recommend you change your password” I don’t worry. If I had repeated that password everywhere on the internet, I’d be in for a bigger headache having to go in and change every password. You can sign up for a free month of Lastpass premium here.
While we’re talking about digital security, one other important thing you absolutely should do is enable two-step verification on any site that offers it. To log in you’ll need to enter your password and verify it’s you, usually through a text or email message. I know it might be a little more bothersome, but it could save you in the event of your password getting compromised. A hacker could remotely try to enter your account, but unless they also have your phone, they’ll be unable too. Please enable two-step verification on any account that stores your personal or financial information.
You need a business-only phone number
As a business owner, you’ll have to pass out your phone number to countless companies and people. We’re talking legal agencies, customers, clients, suppliers, etc. I realized pretty early on that I didn’t want to be handing out my own personal cell phone number. If I ever experience tremendous growth or “go viral”, I don’t want my personal cell phone number everywhere on the internet.
I’m not recommending you to go get a business landline. That is still pretty expensive. The cheapest way to solve this problem is to get a FREE Google voice number. You can text and call within the US for free. The problem I had with this is that I will still get alerted on my cell phone and I wanted a way to unplug from business calls and texts. I don’t work 24/7 and neither should you. The next cheapest way I found to solve this problem is getting a $3 pre-paid line from T-mobile. Yes, it really is only $3 a month on a basic phone. I had this line for three years and it suited my needs perfectly. I ordered a used t-mobile flip phone from ebay for $20. I then purchased a new SIM card and activated it with this $3 per month plan. I got 30 free minutes or text messages a month and then it was $0.10 per minute/message after that. Even though I had this line for three years, I think I only went over the allotment once. It was perfect for basically keeping a number available and being able to accept calls or messages when I rarely needed to. However, that line quickly became too expensive once I started Business Coaching and talking to clients over the phone on a regular basis. Instead, I added a new line to our family plan. We have unlimited talk and text anyway so I only need to pay for the line access fee, which for us is only $20.
There are a lot of affordable ways to get your own phone number for business. I highly recommend it as a way to protect yourself, your personal phone number, and maintain your sanity.
Of course business should be personal, but you don’t have to put your personal information at risk. What are you doing to protect your personal information?
Hey! I'm Christine, I'm an entrepreneur and small business owner who has learned by trial and error. I write helpful articles that help you take your next steps in business. Occasionally I like to mix things up and dash in a bit of lifestyle topics. Thanks for being here!