If you’re in the early stages of starting a business, you’re probably considering using your personal cell phone number for business. This is normal—it’s affordable and convenient, and most people prefer it out of habit. Switching to something new seems like a hassle.
However, “personal” and “business” are very different fields, and they require mutually exclusive approaches. Using your personal number for business is inviting conflict and inefficiency into your life.
There are 3 widely accepted ways to combat this:
- carry two phones with different numbers;
- expand your plan with a service provider like Verizon or Sprint;
- or get a virtual phone number for your business.
You know the first two options, but if you don’t know much about virtual phone numbers, here’s a crash course. Regardless, all 3 options are safer and just plain better (to varying degrees) than using your personal number.
Top problems of using a personal number as a business line and feasible solutions to them
1. You are exposed and vulnerable to numerous threats
We live in a world that’s connected to the internet in almost every facet, and in that world, information is king. Your personal information is under constant threat from hackers, scammers, and pranksters, and everything you put out into the world risks being used the wrong way by the wrong kind of people.
It’s not just you either, it’s even big companies that help make life what it is—Android and Apple have both dealt with serious bugs in the past and some compromised security measures. More recently, the giant credit rating company Equifax revealed they had been hacked, exposing nearly 150 million people’s personal information.
With so much risk out there, why would you want to expose yourself to more by advertising your personal number? If you’ve ever used your smartphone to pay for something online, a skilled hacker could get your credit card info simply from having your phone number and going from there.
All of those autosaved passwords to your social media accounts? Those can be easily accessed too. Have any compromising or private photos on your phone? Not safe either.
It’s not even hackers that pose a danger: every day people fall for phishing scams, willingly giving away their information precisely because an email has been created to trick them into believing it’s personal.
How to counter this: Simply having a second number and keeping your personal number out of the spotlight will significantly decrease the chances hackers target you. This will preserve the safety of your personal data without affecting mobility and convenience.
If you choose a virtual number, any calls to that number will be forwarded to your chosen devices, meaning you only need to have 1 phone on you. A potential cybercriminal cannot target you directly (only the business number is publicly available). Therefore, any threat will be directed at the servers of your virtual service provider, and these providers are much more equipped to deal with such attacks than either the average citizen or company.
2. You can’t avoid robocalls
If you use your personal number a lot, chances are you’ve had the infuriating experience of dealing with automated calls.
This isn’t unusual. According to Consumer Reports, 3 out of 10 phone calls in the U.S. are pre-recorded marketing messages. Each month the FTC and FCC receive more than 150,000 complaints attributed to robocalls. Live marketing calls are a point of lesser concern, but they also do exist.
Aside from affecting your quality of life, robocalls can serve as a tool for telemarketing frauds, totaling losses in the U.S. alone at an estimated $350 million per year. These scams can look quite authentic, and once you answer a call your line is marked as “hot” and can be ― and will be ― exploited later, even if you try to remove your name from the call list.
For small business owners, the impact of spam calls can severely drag revenue down. Automated calls will clog your line and nullify your accessibility to customers.
Although the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has designed a National Do Not Call Registry to prevent unwanted telemarketing calls and more than 220 million Americans have used this option, this service doesn’t always work as intended.
«Even though it’s typically illegal for robocallers to contact a consumer who hasn’t given his or her express consent to receive such calls, many robocallers simply ignore the list, betting that the FCC and FTC are too busy to come after them, Consumer Reports explains. »
If your number has been compromised, there might be no choice other than to change it. While this method is the simplest and the most effective one, entrepreneurs are naturally reluctant to do so, especially if the number is already on promotional materials.
How to counter this: Deploy an automated attendant. Instead of ringing you directly, a robocall will reach a voice menu and get stuck until it times out. Virtual phone systems use cloud technology that allows you to tailor every parameter specifically to your business. This allows you to set up black lists to automatically drop certain calls and to use multiple inbound lines for your virtual number, so if one is blocked, customers can still get through.
3. You are effectively bound to your number
Your phone number is a big part of your life, and most hesitate to change it unless they have to.
Many services ask for your phone number during the registration process, so you may even need it to have access to some things. Mobile numbers are used for two-factor authentication by online banking and digital currency services too, making it even more inconvenient to change your number.
This connection to your number is even worse for business owners. Once it’s widely distributed in marketing, changing it renders previous campaigns useless. That means wasted money and old printed materials in the trash.
Imagine a customer calling an old and inactive number and getting nothing – don’t you think they’d be ticked off, or at least confused? If you tried to call a business and discovered the number had been disconnected, how hard would you hunt for the new one? Probably not very.
If you’re using your personal number for business and decide to change it for any reason, you’re opening up Pandora’s Box.
How to counter this: The best way to prevent this problem is to use different numbers for business and private affairs. Opting for a virtual business number will save you a lot of trouble if you‘re forced to switch mobile carriers/numbers. Once you have a virtual phone number, it stays with you, so the inconvenience of switching mobile carriers or numbers is limited to your private affairs.
And if you want to go to another virtual phone service provider, porting an existing number is a common practice.
4. Your communication capabilities are severely limited
If you’re thinking, “Any mobile number will do for now. I’ll come up with something more professional later if the budget allows,” then you’re falling into a trap.
If the time comes to increase your call-processing capability (like adding features designed for business use), you may find it difficult to do with a normal phone number.
It may also be too late to switch to a professional solution—if your business is on the rise, the worst thing you can do is change your contact info.
How to counter this: Cloud phone services are praised for their flexibility and scalability. You can start with a cheap plan with basic features and adjust appropriately. With an advanced virtual phone system you should only pay for what you want.
5. It’s impossible to control employee-customer interaction
If your employees use their personal numbers to deal with customers, you are willingly giving up control over that part of your business. It’s important to keep track of all of your company’s business activities: logistics, sales, customer service, etc. When clients interact with your company through employees’ personal numbers, you don’t know how often and when your employees speak to your customers, how they handle conversations, and what they fail to do.
Even if you wholeheartedly trust your employees, giving them free reign curbs your ability to help and opens up possibilities for your employees to lose customers through ineffectiveness or deceit.
How to counter this: Any decent virtual phone system solves this problem with ease. All your company’s business interactions are conducted within a consistent communication environment, which gives you full awareness of what’s going on.
You can record calls, monitor detailed call statistics per employee, and much more. With the ability to add extensions to your virtual phone number, customers can even still reach particular employees directly.
6. It compromises privacy and disrupts work-life balance
Being too accessible to your clients is a real thing. It’s perfectly fine to be able to answer calls promptly during business hours, but customers shouldn’t be able to reach you whenever they want. Entrepreneurs work hard, but you’re entitled to having some sort of a work-life balance.
Solution: One of the core ideas behind a business phone number is preserving privacy without compromising accessibility. This idea is mainly embodied through intelligent call routing. You can easily configure the system to forward calls to you and your employees depending on the time, day of the week, and the caller’s number.
You can set the system to forward calls to your cellphone during business hours and to direct calls to voicemail after hours. You can also include a VIP list, allowing for certain people to call you anytime.
In a nutshell
Personal numbers aren’t meant for business; they’re inconvenient, inefficient, and even dangerous.
You can carry two separate mobile phones, try your mobile carrier’s “business” options, or use a virtual phone system to combat this.
Each option has its pluses and minuses, but a virtual phone system is the most balanced solution in terms of affordability, convenience, and security. It will effectively protect your personal data from scammers, preserve your work-life balance, and improve your accessibility. What’s more, it will make your company sound professional to potential customers.
MightyCall has been providing virtual phone services for small/medium business owners for decades. It is one of the most flexible, powerful, and easy-to-use call-processing solutions on the market. With affordable packages and a wide range of advanced features, MightyCall is designed to make your business communication efficient, professional, and transparent.