Thinking back to yesterday’s post about business cards for social networkers, it occurred to me that aside from a brief period when I was living in my “palace,” there has never been a time when I have had a landline dedicated to my business.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been running to payphones or borrowing other people’s phones. I have always had my mobile phone, and I get the majority of my work through email correspondence anyway. Despite all of this, I do feel… awkward giving out business cards with no physical address or landline number.
Were I in the retail trade, I would beg, borrow or steal office space to make my position look more legitimate. A quick Google search for “virtual office” would help me set up a quick front that I could print on my business cards to reassure clients that I was not a fly-by-night organisation. Does it really matter, though, in the age of e-commerce and electronic transactions?
I have no idea where the Amazon distribution centre is, but I do buy from them because they are a large company, and I trust them to deliver the goods I order. Smaller companies, on the other hand, can expect to be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny, including having their contact details checked. I would never order from a company that had only a PO Box listed, but I do wonder if it is the same for independent contractors.
Generally, I do believe that anyone who is selling products via retail would do well to have a physical address where their customers could reach them. Those who carry out consultancy services are less constrained. I understand why a number of entrepreneurs would want to keep their home address concealed from their customers, but the fact remains that buyers want to know where their goods are coming from. If your house is rundown, undergoing construction, or simply filled with children’s toys, rent garage space.
For freelancers and independents, it shouldn’t be a problem if the only numbers you provide are to your iPhone or BlackBerry. Provided you are available and able to work, it shouldn’t make a difference. Regardless, bear in mind that your clients may not be as technologically advanced as yourself. In addition to your numbers, you also need to make sure that you can be contacted via email, instant messages, or any other means that your clients may use.
Overall, I think the sentiment for landlines is changing. However, for more formal (ie. the bigger) companies, there might still be a mental block as far as mobile and landline numbers go. Despite this, I am not fully convinced that there is a conspiracy against mobile numbers. As such, at the moment, I believe that fast movers – whether with mobiles or landlines – hold the initiative. I just hope they all get an equal chance.
[Image by alexkerhead]