Before you set up a business phone number you should:
Once those steps are complete, you will be ready to set up a phone number using one of the following options:
Google Voice: The Free Way
Google Voice is a free service that provides customers with a local phone number that can be forwarded to any of your other phones. We previously didn't recommend this option, because Google Voice numbers weren't "portable," which meant that when you wanted to shift to upgrade to a business phone system, you would have to get a brand new number with a new provider and change your contact number with all your customers, vendors, etc. Google recently changed this policy and now allows customers to port their Google Voice number to a different service for a $3 fee.
Here is our recent STARTicle explaining how to use Google Voice as your business number as well as the pros and cons of doing so.
Google Voice doesn't include any business phone system features, but it does provide a distinct number for your business. You can also use the website or the smartphone app that will show your business number as the Caller ID. It also offers a separate voicemail greeting.
Google Voice isn't a long term solution, but it's not a bad place to start. And of course, it has the advantage of being free.
Business VoIP service: The Best Way
The best way to get a business phone number is through a business VoIP service.
Phone.com offers a $9.99/ month plan, which is the lowest priced entry level plan for these services. This plan includes a business phone number, access to their smartphone app, 100 minutes of calls per month, unlimited extensions and all their oher phone system features.
Nextiva, RingCentral and Jive (as well as Phone.com) all offer cloud based VoIP services that include dedicated business phone numbers, VoIP based landlines and business features like auto-attendants, conference calling, virtual extensions, etc. Most of these services price base on number of users (each user having their own unlimited minuted phone line). Compare prices of these VoIP services here.
The benefits of obtaining a business phone number through Business VoIP include:
- Business VoIP phone numbers are portable to any telecom provider. Once you sign up for a number, it is yours for life. Therefore you may maintain this number for the life of your business even if you switch service providers.
- Business VoIP requires no expensive setup fees or monthly contracts. Phone.com's shared minute plan starts at $9.99 and unlimited minute lines from all the VoIP providers cost about $35 to $40 per month and become significantly cheaper as you add additional lines. Because there are no contracts like those with landline or cellular plans, you may switch service providers at any time without incurring a penalty.
- Avoid services that do not allow you to port your phone number quickly and cheaply. As your business grows, your business phone system requirements will grow with it. To ensure that your business phone number moves with you smoothly, do not sign up for any lengthy contracts when first obtaining your business phone number.
- Inform any business contacts to call you at your new business number. You will encounter less miscommunication the quicker you separate your business and private communications. Friends will know they’re not interrupting your business when you answer your private line.