by Kiera Abbamonte
Running your own business is exciting, especially when you’re first getting started. People are beginning to hire you — they want your services and your products. Maybe your referral generation machine is moving so quickly that you have to turn people away, or maybe you’re still figuring out how to get customers. Either way, it’s exciting to think about how the business will grow.
When you meet potential clients, you start handing out your cell phone number like it’s candy. “Call me,” you say, as though your voicemail greeting is more professional than an Armani suit and tie.
Unfortunately, many small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t realize that a cell phone for business is wildly unprofessional. It’s time to face it — your personal cell phone isn’t a great communication tool for your company.
It’s Not Professional
How are you answering your cell phone? Do you say “Hello, M & S Consulting,” or do you simply mutter a gruff “Hello,” as though you’re talking to your sister? In business, perception is everything, and if you want clients to respect you, you need to perfect the way you answer the phone.
If you’re using the same number for business as you are for the people you date, the process is impossible. Even if you’re more concerned about your child’s babysitter than your love life, you don’t want to mix up who’s calling. If a random number is ringing you, it’s hard to figure out if it’s for business, pleasure or something else.
How about your voicemail greeting — is it personal or business oriented? The last thing you want is for potential customers or investors to be confused about whether or not they’ve reached the right person, so a professional voicemail greeting is key.
When it comes to sounding like a capable, reputable business, there’s nothing quite like a professional main greeting, extensions for different types of inquiries or people and a business-only voicemail box.
It Can’t Scale With You
So, maybe your personal cell meets the needs of your business today, but what about next month? Next year? The capabilities you need from a business phone are just like any other aspect of business — they’ll grow with you.
Say a few months down the road you decide it’s time to hire your first full-time employee. How will partners, investors and customers get in touch with him or her? Will they have to keep track of an additional cell phone number? Will you cover your new employee’s cell phone bill?
Now, let’s say your business explodes. You’re fielding phone calls left and right about a wide range of topics. How do you keep track of all the different calls, customers and messages? Sometimes you have the answer, but other times you need to delegate to an employee. How can you assign inquiries to someone else or to a whole department?
Once you’re at this stage of business, you simply need a phone system with more robust capabilities than your standard personal cell phone. Extensions, more than one voicemail box and a host of other features will make your life as a small business owner a lot easier and less stressful.
It Mixes Business with Pleasure
Using your personal cell phone as your business phone can also make it difficult to differentiate between business and your personal life.
With all of our devices and connectivity today, it’s already hard to manage work-life balance. It gets even harder when you can’t turn off or unplug from your business phone. If you’re doing business with people across the country, or even the globe, that means you could be getting phone calls at all hours of the day and night.
When you can’t tell if a call is business or personal, it makes it hard to really shut off and focus on the non-business parts of your life — something that’s important for your health and productivity when you are at work.
So, What’s a Business Owner to Do?
Get a virtual phone system that works with your cell phone.
Just because your cell phone doesn’t make a great business phone doesn’t mean you have to go with a complicated and expensive phone system. Your best bet is a virtual phone system that can be integrated with your personal cell phone.
A virtual phone system will help you sound professional, separate business from personal and handle as many calls as your business can get. You’ll be able to forward calls to your cell phone or your employees’ phones, record your own greeting, organize callers and messages and even set hours for when calls get forwarded to your cell. It’s a win-win!
Kiera Abbamonte is a Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper and a student of Merrimack College. She loves pumpkin coffee, baseball, and the beach.