How To: Set Up a Phone Number
by: Casey Jones | ChooseWhat.com
A distinct business phone number is necessary for effective and professional communication.
We suggest immediately obtaining a phone number for your business that is separate from your private phone numbers. In the first few months of starting a business, you will be distributing your business contact information for many different purposes such as incorporating your business, applying for an EIN number, for use in marketing materials, and in contact with bill collectors and customers, among others.
You could obviously use your personal cell or home phone number as your business number, but that is not an ideal option for several reasons:
- You will find establishing your business as something that exists beyond yourself and your private life difficult since your social and business contacts will only be able to reach you through one avenue.
- You will have to reprint any physical materials publishing your information such as business cards, pamphlets, checkbooks etc. if you later decide to separate your business and personal numbers.
- If you wait to obtain a separate business phone number, it may be difficult to inform clients of the updated information.
- You will have to update most important business filings if your personal information changes such as bank, credit card, and legal formation documents.
If done correctly, the contact information you get for your business should never have to change and you will avoid these logistical problems.
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:
Use an existing secondary phone number.
Perhaps you have an additional phone line separate from your main personal number that you bought for another purpose and hardly use. This might be a home landline which you generally don't give out as you primarily use your cellphone. Conversely, perhaps you bought a cellphone plan that you ended up never using because your landline at home or some other number was completely satisfactory. If so, you may dedicate one of these existing numbers as your business phone number. Just make sure it is used solely for your business.
Sign up for a Business VoIP service.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services allow you to send and receive phone calls over an Internet connection while using desktop phones. Business VoIP services combine VoIP phone line technology with business class call routing capabilities. VoIP services do not charge the costly installation fees of traditional business phone systems or have the lengthy contract requirements of landline and cellular services.
Business VoIP is an ideal service for any office with multiple employees or anyone who anticipates growth in the near future and will need low-cost desktop phones and business-grade call routing functionality. Business VoIP lets you easily add additional lines to your plan.
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. Individual lines cost about $35 to $40 per month and become 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.
Because Business VoIP phone numbers are portable, use it to obtain a second phone number even if you do not need to receive long term separate phone service for that number. If you have sufficient phone service, you can sign up for a Business VoIP number and port it into a virtual PBX service to forward calls to your personal device.
Sign up for a virtual PBX service.
A virtual PBX is a business phone system that includes a virtual number (i.e. a number that is not connected to a physical line with phone service) and an online account dashboard, which gives you access to call logs, messages and system settings. Your phone system is hosted online and maintained by your service provider, eliminating maintenance on your end.
A virtual PBX is our recommended choice for new business owners or entrepreneurs with existing phone lines who want to save time and money connecting their phone system under one number.
The benefits of maintaining a business phone number through virtual PBX include:
- Maintaining a virtual PBX account is very cheap. 300 total minutes and 10 extensions can cost as little as $10-$15 per month. 1000 total minutes cost and an unlimited amount of extensions costs $20-$30 per month.
- Virtual PBX services provide automated attendant menus that give a professional appearance to callers while forwarding calls directly to preexisting lines.
Note that not all virtual PBX services allow you keep a virtual number they have provided when you leave their service. Therefore we recommend porting an existing second phone number for your business into a virtual PBX service rather than using the number that they provide.
- 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.
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