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Why You Shouldn’t Use a Personal Email for Business

A woman with red hair looking at a laptop with interest.

Email is the primary mode of communication for most businesses. It’s a way to market your products, give customers important information about their orders, and reach out to potential business partners. But if you’re emailing on behalf of your company using a personal email address, you might be sending the wrong message about your professionalism. And it could even be illegal. We’ll explain why you should never use your personal email for your business.

Personal Email vs. Business Email Address

A personal email address is, as you could guess, an email address set up for personal use. Unlike a business email address, a personal email won’t have a unique domain name. The username, which is the part of the email address before the @ symbol, like “fluffyunicorns1919” or “Samantha.Percy”, is yours, but the domain, the part after the @ symbol, like yahoo.com or gmail.com, belongs to Yahoo, Google, or another company.

A business email is one you set up with a unique domain name that you’ve registered, specifically to contact customers and vendors for your business. You can use the [email protected] format if you want. So if Samantha Percy owns a bookstore named after her grandmother Betty, she might set up the following business email: [email protected].

She could also set up more general business emails like [email protected] or [email protected]. That way, if someone wants to reach a specific department, they can do so without needing the name of a particular employee. Plus, having multiple business email addresses makes your business appear larger and more established, even if it’s really the same one or two people answering all the emails.

Need a professional email address for your business? When you hire Northwest to start your business or be your registered agent, you can get Business Email service free for 90 days. After that, it’s just $9/month.

4 Reasons Not to Use Personal Email for Business

Let’s take a closer look at why you really shouldn’t use your personal email for business matters.

1. Customers may not trust you. Or even read your email.

You worked hard on starting your business, and a business email from a personal address could send the message that you don’t take your business very seriously. Or worse, that your business is a scam. And that’s if your customers see your email at all. Most email services filter marketing emails sent from personal accounts, so your emails to customers are likely to end up in the spam folder.

2. Personal email accounts have weaker security.

Ever had someone hack into your email? It’s a common occurrence. Personal email accounts tend to have pretty weak password security, making them easy to hack into just by guessing the answer to a simple security question. A good business email account will be secured with multiple layers of password protection.

Why do business accounts need greater security? For one thing, you’re storing important information about your clients, vendors, and general business operations. You don’t want to store that information in a place that isn’t secure.

3. You can’t control who has access to your business communications.

Say you decide to let an employee we’ll call Steve use a personal email account to conduct official business. What happens when Steve decides to leave the company? In this case, the emails would go with him. Steve could communicate with customers long after he was supposed to stop representing the company, and there’s a good chance he could say things that you would never authorize an employee to say.

A business email ensures each email account is tied to the company, not the individual employee. You can activate an employee’s email when you hire them and deactivate it after their last day on the job. This helps ensure you don’t lose control of your company without realizing it.

4. You might be breaking the law.

If you’re sharing confidential documents over email, you may be legally required to use a secure business email account. Legal compliance is especially important if you’re subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA requires you to take precautions around Protected Health Information (PHI). PHI includes medical records as well as medical bills, as well as some information a doctor tells you verbally.

While HIPAA doesn’t specifically prohibit sending PHI over email, it does require covered entities to take certain measures to guard said information, and those safeguards are much harder, if not impossible, to manage with a personal email account.

But medical businesses aren’t the only ones that have to worry about emailing confidential information legally. Your company’s Human Resources department has to comply with state and federal record-keeping laws, and that’s true even if you’re a small business owner acting as your own personal HR department. You may be required to keep some or all emails archived for a specific amount of time, which is hard to do if you’re sending important emails from your personal account.

Check out our guide on How to Write a Professional Email.

This entry was posted in Opinion.