Do you use your smartphone for both business and personal calls, and share a single number? I did. When I first started freelancing I set up a separate business line in my home office. But over time, I communicated with my clients more often by email and from my personal mobile phone, and less from my office phone. And I had to remember to forward my business calls to my mobile whenever I left the office for more than a few hours, which was frequent.
Over time, the expense and inconvenience of the business line made it hard to justify keeping the service, so I dropped it and ran all calls through my mobile. That’s when a new set of issues came to light:
- The announcement that callers heard before leaving a message had to be very generic. I didn’t want personal callers to get a business vibe when leaving a message, or vice versa for business callers.
- It’s a real challenge for folks like me to let a business call go, even after hours. First, there’s the potential for lost income. It also seems unprofessional to disregard a call, even if it cuts into personal time. Because my mobile was with me constantly, I felt compelled to answer whenever it rang.
- I had to guess at the percentage of time I used the phone for business versus personal reasons for tax purposes. I was never audited (nor did I have to track calls for billing purposes), but if I had to produce a list of business calls for some reason, what a time-consuming mess that would have been.
If you’re in the same boat, a cost-effective and professional work-around is to sign up for a service that uses a smartphone app to add a business line with its own number to your mobile device.
Outbound calls show your business phone number, so clients don’t know you’re using your personal device. When business calls come in, they appear as such on the display and have distinctive ringtones, so you know the difference between personal and business calls whether you have the phone in your hand or if it’s in the next room. Plus, business line apps are provider agnostic, which means you can run the app and get the service regardless of your wireless provider.
A business line app is ideal for any micro business, such as a real estate agent, with highly mobile needs. It’s also a boon for professionals who use co-working spaces since they can’t install their own phone system in those environments. If you’ve got a small group of employees (up to four, for example), you can install the app on each employee’s mobile to enable them to share the same business line.
Here are a few more benefits to a business line on your mobile device:
- You can set business hours. A virtual receptionist answers incoming business calls 24/7, or just during the hours you specify (non-business hours). You can set up a menu for callers to use, such as press 1 for office hours, press 2 for directions or press 3 to leave a voicemail.
- Unified messaging enables all voicemails and texts to be saved to the app, keeping them separate from your personal messages.
- It’s easy. Once you install the app (which takes seconds), set up your business announcement and configure the auto attendant settings, the line is ready for use.
Finally, you’ll save money by not having to maintain a separate landline or a separate mobile device and plan just for business. It’s worth your time to look into a business line app today. It could be a real gamechanger for your business and a way to protect more of your personal time.