Everyone and their dog has a mobile phone these days, so why would you bother with a landline, right? With a mobile, you can be reached no matter where you are, pick up messages without having to go to the office and even manage some details of your business via the internet if you have a smartphone handset. A clunky landline handset tethered to a cable and tied to one room seems like an anachronism.
However, there are certain aspects of business that are still tied to the past. For instance, in the UK, if you are selling goods online, by law you need to provide a physical address and phone number where consumers can reach you. That isn’t a problem for a large business, but for a one-man band that could mean having your home address and personal mobile number on view to all and sundry.
Another factor to consider is how trustworthy a business appears when its means of contact is a mobile number. Despite developments, most people still consider a business with a “proper” landline number as being more legitimate than one without, and consumer guides are full of warnings to nervous shoppers about handing over their credit card details to potentially fly-by-night operations. For a business seeking to reassure potential customers, a landline could have a small but significant influence on whether a sale is made.
There are ways around the landline question, though, for the budding entrepreneur. Just as you can rent a mailbox to substitute for a physical address, you can also rent co-working space with the option of call forwarding. Calls to “your” landline number can be answered and messages taken on your behalf for you to deal with at a later date. This has the advantage allowing you to get on with other things rather than having to be tied to a desk in case the phone rings.
Alternatively, you can get a Skype online number. This will give you what appears to be a landline number while being linked to your Skype account and can be accessed by your mobile handset or your computer. Again, it gives you the freedom to be out of the office while still giving customers the reassurance of a “proper” telephone number to reach you on.
Although modern communications promised to free us from the tyranny of the normal working day and “core office hours,” business in general has yet to catch up with the flexibility that has been made possible by recent advances. Despite knowing that it is perfectly possible for a business to be totally above-board, most people still expect it to have a landline. But there are ways around the conundrum, which may very well work out cheaper than running a separate phone number in the long term. Hopefully, we may eventually reach the stage that a business without any sort of phone number at all no longer raises an eyebrow.
[Image by Looseid]