Research shows a great majority of business owners use their personal phone number as their business contact number. If you are just starting out in a new business venture things aren’t so bad – not many people will have your number. But as time goes by or if your business has been established for some time you will notice the difficulties with this state of affairs.
The short summary and fix for those with little time
Late-night calls from unknown numbers, interruption of holiday, weekend or personal time, cold callers – the list is endless. What to do? Check if your personal contacts are much fewer than business contacts get a new number and make that your personal number. If not get a new separate “attached” number to your personal phone that allows you to share the “minutes” on your current deal. This will be around £10 a month for sim so at least it won’t break the bank. Add the new number to your contact list and at the end of your email signature. Leave the phone at work. Anyone who truly needs to get in touch will find a way.
The 6 main reasons a dual personal and business phone is a problem – number 5 is the real shocker
- Unable to distinguish between business and personal calls
A call from a relative is indistinguishable from a cold call unless you painstakingly change the ringtone for business and personal contacts. Calls coming from a website visitor could just as easily be from an acquaintance or the local school – how will you answer on pickup, company name or just hi? Two phones eliminate this dilemma, by always answering professionally to business prospects giving prospective clients more confidence in your business.
- Personal and Business become one
You cannot just ignore any calls and as such your personal life becomes your business life – “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon” paraphrasing Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. A separate business number will set limits to when you are available to clients. There is always email if it is “life and death” and then it is up to you to decide. To a client the printer, not printing is life and death – give them 5 minutes and they will realise it works better when they switch it on or the paper is put in the right way.
- Not being able to easily delegate responsibility for calls outside office hours
If you are on holiday or lunch you can leave the “business phone” at the office, you still have someone able to speak to potential clients. If you have a support email that goes to you and a team member, then again you decide if it is important enough to interrupt your holiday.
Having a different phone number for personal and business reasons allows forwarding to another person within your organisation. Two numbers help separate your personal and business life while protecting your privacy.
4. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression
A professional image and a good first impression both depend on the way you answer a phone, whether personally or by voicemail.
There is nothing worse for a client (prospective or otherwise) being greeted by a full voicemail and the default “robot” voice. A more professional impression would be, “Hello, thanks for calling Super Dooper Plumbers, please leave a message after the tone and we WILL get back to you as soon as we can.” If this is your personal phone, you cannot make that good first impression.
- Tax evasion?
Ignorance they say is bliss, but when it comes to tax the government only looks after its own and you are not one of them. So what has a mobile phone got to do with tax evasion (accidental or not)? Well, when a company pays towards your, or an employee’s phone (part or fully) it is deemed a ‘Benefit in Kind’ which the staff member (or you) need to pay tax on. Failing to declare this on your self-assessment form is tax evasion, and HMRC don’t like that. Don’t think they won’t go after such cases, because they have and they do. The easiest way to ameliorate the situation is to get a second phone number for business calls – the other way is to go through all the statements and only pay for business calls. Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof https://www.ross-brooke.co.uk/mobile-phone-tax-trap/. Yes we know that a blind eye is turned, but you could get someone who argues with his or her spouse in the morning and decided to take it out on the first business he/she was investigating – you have been warned.
6. Kicking the can down the road…
The longer you leave your personal number doing dual duty, the more difficult it will be to have a separate business number. Not only will you have to change the number on on your website, but social media pages, email signature, invoices etc – that’s the easy part – the hard part is getting the family to use your NEW private number, unless you have very few clients with you on speed-dial. If you have many clients who have you in their contacts – then it’s not a personal number, bite the bullet and make the change.