A business phone number allows potential clients to contact a small business to inquire about services or goods. A business phone number can be toll-free so potential clients can call for free regardless of their location, or it can be a local phone number with a local area code. Regardless of which type you choose, it's important to set up a business phone number early when establishing your new small business.
Decide who you want to pay for long distance calls to your business. If you want to encourage callers outside your state to call your small business, you may wish to get a toll-free number so that the business pays for those calls. Toll free numbers begin with 1-800 or 1-866, which allows people to call you without getting billed for long distance. However, if your business is largely local, you may be satisfied with a local phone number.
Choose where you want calls to go. Just because you have a new business phone number doesn't mean you have to get a new phone. With applications such as Google Voice and Skype, it's possible to reserve a phone number and have it forwarded to an existing number, such as your cell phone or home phone. The other option is to get an entirely new line, such as a land telephone line, in your new business location or a cell phone that can be shared among partners.
Determine if you need a "vanity number." A vanity number includes words in the phone number to make it more memorable for clients and potential clients. For instance, a vanity number for a hairdresser might be 703-555-HAIR. Traditional telecommunications companies that run land lines allow you to ask about vanity numbers, and Google Voice offers limited vanity numbers so you can search by word, cross referenced with an area code if desired. Regardless of whether you choose a vanity or a traditional number, choose it carefully because it's detrimental to change your business phone number once you have already started advertising.
Contact the provider you wish to use, whether online or brick and mortar, and set up your new business phone account. This is usually no different than opening up a personal account, unless you need special features such as multiple lines to support a switchboard system in a busy office. For small businesses starting out, however, such features are usually not necessary and can be cost prohibitive. Link your new business phone account to your small business bank account so that in the future, you can designate anyone to make changes to the account and you can write the monthly bill off as a business expense without any complications.