It’s odd to think that something as small as your phone number can mean the difference between getting approval for a loan, or not. It can though. Your business definitely needs a second phone number to be fundable.
This blog post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links for some products and make a purchase, Credit Suite receives a commission at no additional cost to you.
How to Get a Business Phone Number
Getting a business phone line is more than deciding on virtual phone numbers and adding the right area code.
Step 1 – Define Your Needs
Make sure to define your expectations from any business phone system. For instance, if you want remote working capabilities, flexibility, scalability, more control over your phone system, etc. Consider how many business phone calls you make per month.
Do you need toll free numbers? Can you get a specific phone number or a custom phone number if you want one? Will an incoming call ring on your mobile phone? Do you want or need VoIP (voice over internet protocol) for outbound calls?
Be sure to differentiate necessities from features that it would be “nice to have” for your small business. Now is not the time to be dazzled by the latest and greatest business phone system if all you need is a virtual phone number or two, to get the job done.
For example, call barging (where a supervisor can enter a phone call if a representative is having trouble with customers) is likely to be overkill if you have fewer than ten people working in your small business.
But no matter what, you don’t want them relying on their own personal phone number or cell phone number when answering a business call.
Step 2 – Define Your Current and Future Budget
Is there any value to getting a free business phone number? You likely get what you pay for. You certainly won’t get vanity phone numbers for free.
Consider your setup costs and your recurring costs. If your small business is seasonal in nature, will you be able to afford monthly payments during the leanest times of the year?
Buying the most expensive system you can currently afford will not help you if inflation hits hard again. But getting an inexpensive system where you have to pay more every time you need or want to add a feature will not necessarily cost your small business any less over time.
How many virtual numbers do you need now? Will you possibly need another virtual number or two in the future? As an entrepreneur looking to save money, does it make sense for more than one employee to share a single virtual phone number?
Step 3 – Pay Attention to How a Provider Treats Customers Like You
Does the business telephone number provider offer a mobile app? How much are you expected to do yourself? If there’s a lot you have to do on your own, what are their instructions like? Can you follow them easily?
Is there always someone available to take customers’ calls if you have questions or concerns? Do they have a particular service level agreement? Do customers have to pay extra to get better support than just a forum? How much?
Check out the provider on the Better Business Bureau website and on rating websites such as Yelp and SoTellUs. But recognize that sometimes people will rate a service provider poorly just because they (the person doing the rating) simply have an axe to grind.
Step 4 – Determine Your Privacy Needs
If you do business with customers who are in Europe, then you will most likely have to comply with GDPR. Make sure that any phone numbers provider you are seriously considering understands GDPR and already has a plan in place to comply with its requirements.
You may need international numbers to comply. A local number with a local area code could be less important to you.
If your business is connected to the medical field, then you may need to comply with HIPAA regulations. Make certain that any small business phone number provider under serious consideration understands HIPAA and already knows how to comply with its requirements.
Lawyers and personnel connected with them will need to be sure that any provider can help them maintain client confidentiality.
A business which works with minors or with a hotline (like for people who are suicidal or leaving an abusive situation) will have its own privacy needs. Does the business number provider know how to address your concerns about keeping your clients safe?
Step 5 – Take the Plunge
The best recommendation anyone can give a small business owner looking to buy a phone system is to start with a trial period and try not to sign a contract. That way, if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t put any money down or can get at least part of your investment back.
Put any phone system you are considering through its paces. Determine how it performs when call volume is high, or you have issues outside of the provider’s normal business hours.
And don’t hesitate to change to another provider if the one you’re working with isn’t fulfilling your needs.
Why Do You Need a Business Phone Number to Be Fundable?
When you start a new business, it is vitally important for that business to have separate contact information from yourself. This includes a dedicated business address, phone number, and email address.
When you first tell a new business owner this, there are a ton of questions. Why does it matter? Why can’t I just use my own contact information? If I need separate contact data, how do I do that? How do I get phone numbers and an address anyway?
Do I have to have a separate phone line and location for my business? I mean, I was going to run my business out of my home. How does this all work?
We are going to try to answer each of these questions right now. The first question to answer is the one about how to get a business phone number and address if you are running your business out of your home or virtually.
Many new small businesses are run from anywhere the owner can access the internet. Local coffee shops, libraries, etc. can all act as a business location if the business is run online.
Even if you never meet a customer in person, your business has to have a dedicated business address and phone number.
The question of how to do this becomes much more complicated however, when your business exists solely on your cell phone and computer.
The answer to your question is no, you do not have to have a separate cell phone, a land line, or even a building to get phone numbers.
What Are My Options for a Telephone Number for Business Only?
When it comes time to get a business phone number, you have a few options and many decisions to make. For example, you’ll need to decide first if you are going to use a landline or a cell phone.
Next, you’ll need to determine if you want a local number, a toll-free number, a vanity number, or regular phone numbers. How do you choose?
Get a Phone Number for Business Only: Landline vs. Cell Phone
If you get a traditional landline or small business phone system with a business number, the process may be as simple as contacting the telephone company for phone numbers. That’s where the simplicity ends.
A business landline is considerably more expensive than a residential one. It is also a somewhat invasive process to have a landline installed.
You are probably thinking it is much more expensive to get an extra cell phone. The truth is, however, that you do not even have to do that. There are many services now that will offer a business number and forward it to any number you want using the internet.
They offer other services as well, including transfers, multiple numbers, vanity numbers and even live receptionists. Of course, the more bells and whistles you choose the more they cost, but generally speaking these services are super easy to get started with.
Some even offer base packages for free. It’s as close to a free business phone number as you’re likely going to get.
Local Phone Number vs. Traditional Toll-Free vs. Vanity
Usually, you need a toll-free number regardless. If you cater to a local market as well, having a local phone number with an equally local area code could also be useful. A vanity number can be nice for ease of remembering.
What’s a vanity number? Those are the numbers that go along with your business, for example, 1-800-55-Pizza for a pizza joint. This type of local number is not necessary, but it can help with branding.
They are easy to acquire with the new virtual business telephone companies out there. You simply request your number, if it is available, it’s yours!
Is it Better to Get a Small Business Phone Number Online?
It seems like new options are popping up daily for getting a virtual phone number using the internet. Known as VoIP, these services are gaining popularity for business phone service. Here are just a few reasons why.
First, they are by far the best value for your business call needs. You can get all the features you need for a fraction of what it would cost with a traditional landline.
Most small businesses simply do not have the budget to set up and handle on an ongoing basis a complicated PBX system with a receptionist and extensions for each desk phone.
When you choose the right VoIP package, you have all of this and more built right into a low flat rate each month. The following are just a few of the features you will find available with most VoIP companies.
- Automatic Call Recording so you can have a record of all calls coming in and going out, if needed.
- Conferencing allows you to give clients phone numbers to call that will allow everyone to be on the same conference line.
- Call Forwarding allows calls to ring on all your devices, and even more than one phone, at once. In addition, you can set for calls to forward only during certain hours.
- Auto-Receptionists can make your business sound more professional.
- Extensions let you use a single main number to reach everybody.
- Voicemail and voice to text will send you emails with the voicemail, and can even put them into text form if needed.
Online Phone Number Business Options?
While there are many companies that offer a VoIP phone service for business, and new ones are coming into the picture each day, these are a few of the most popular currently.
Phone Number Service Provider: Phone.com
Phone.com is a great in-between option for phone service for multiple users. It provides a VoIP solution without the requirement of a traditional phone, and has solid basic features.
You can make and receive calls from your business number as well as view call logs and your address book when you have an internet connection. From your computer you can:
- Queue calls
- Live receptionist
- Schedule calls
- Caller ID
- Personalized greetings
- Call forwarding
- Call screening
Phone Number Business: Ring Central
RingCentral has all of the features you would expect or need, and most plans have a free trial period. So you more or less start off with a free business phone number. No upgrade is necessary to get a 1-800 number.
They also offer upgrades that will allow you to integrate with Zendesk, Salesforce and more.
Inbound Caller ID is available to all RingCentral MVP Premium and Ultimate customers.
Business Phone Provider: CallHippo
With CallHippo, you can buy a business phone system and have it up and running in less than 3 minutes from anywhere in the world.
Route calls through the internet and avoid having to pay for expensive equipment.
Get call monitoring and forwarding and voicemail, with integrations with HubSpot, Zapier, and Salesforce, among others, for better customer service.
Get a local phone number for your customers. Or get an international phone number, a vanity phone number, or even a toll free number.
More Tips for How to Get a Business Phone Number
The thing you need to remember is, do your research.
Try to consider not only what you need right now, but what you may end up needing in the future. You need to find a service that will offer everything you could need going forward.
If you simply go with the free or cheapest service for right now and do not consider future needs, you could end up having to change in the future.
That’s not only a pain, but it could mean changing your phone numbers, which means printing all new materials and updating directories. That is all doable, but much easier to avoid if possible.
What Types of Things Should You Consider when You Get a Business Phone Number?
So when you are choosing a company to go with, what should you consider? Well first, your current budget is obviously important. If you cannot pay for it, it won’t do you any good. After that, consider what you need currently.
Once you have a few options narrowed down based on these needs, narrow it down further based on what you think you may need in the future.
For example, are you going to remain small, with any other employees being local? You may not ever need conference calling ability. Is it possible you could need to add extensions or need a live receptionist option in the future?
Then be sure you get phone numbers with a company that offers these options.
You Need to Get a Business Phone Number, Start Now!
If you do not already have a business number, start by considering exactly what your budget is and what you need. Then, do some research.
Find out who has what you need for what you can afford right now, with the option to add on anything you may need in the future. That should narrow down your choices significantly.
Whatever you do, do not use your personal number. That will not help you when it comes to running and growing your business.