Entrepreneur’s Guide to Virtual Phone Numbers
What entrepreneur’s need to know about virtual phone numbers
What Is a Virtual Phone Number and Why You Should Use One?
What Is a Virtual Phone Number?
A virtual business phone number is like any other phone number. You can make and receive calls and have a voicemail box. However, unlike a regular phone number, a virtual phone number allows you to have a dedicated business phone number alongside a personal phone number on the same phone. There is no additional hardware required to use a virtual phone number. You keep using your phone as you have been.
Why Should You Use a Virtual Phone Number for Your Business?
There are several benefits to using a virtual phone number for your business. One of the biggest is being able to keep your personal number private. Another being, as you grow your business, no matter how big you become, you can use your virtual phone number for your company. More on this later.
10 Benefits of Using a Virtual Phone Number
- Keep your personal cell phone number private
- Have business hours
- Call screening and incoming call notifications
- Have a professional voicemail
- Have calls forward to multiple phones simultaneously
- Have a greeting message for your customer
- Separation of business and personal communications
- Phone trees and extensions
- Consistency for your branding and business listings
- Work from anywhere
To read in more detail about each of these benefits, visit our page on ten benefits of a business phone number.
Example of How a Virtual Business Phone Number Can Help
Let's suppose you started a landscaping and lawn care company. Initially, it is only you, and you are utilizing your cell phone number, which manages okay for a while. As time goes on and you keep obtaining more customers, you need to hire an employee or five. Pretty soon, you have a small office for your customer service employees to answer questions and make sure you get paid.
Nevertheless, you had been using your cell phone number and not a virtual business phone number. Now you are forced to get a new phone number for your business, so people calling your company are directed to the people in your office. Since you had continued using your cell phone up to this point, you continue to receive business calls on your cell phone. Now when a customer calls with questions, you have to explain to them they want to call your new number to allow the office to answer their questions about their invoice.
How Does a Virtual Phone Number Work?
A virtual number operates like any other phone number. You can make and receive calls. Yet, now you have the added benefits of a dedicated business voicemail and the ability to have business hours.
Let's look at a few scenarios with how a virtual phone number works with GBPN.
Someone calls your business phone number. You have your number configured to forward to your cell phone. If you don't answer, you have the call go to your dedicated business voicemail.
When answering incoming calls, a message plays that only you can hear. The message will ask you to "press 1" to accept or "press 2" to ignore the incoming call. This way, you can be prepared to answer that business call.
If you "press 1," the call will connect, and you will speak to the person calling you as you would on any other phone call. They won't know you are using a virtual phone number.
If you didn't answer the call or "pressed 2," the call will go to your dedicated business voicemail (or to another person's phone). On the voicemail, you have a custom voicemail message thanking them for calling and letting the caller know what information they should leave.
You can also configure your calls to have a greeting message when someone calls. Additionally, you can set up a phone menu and direct calls to different people or voicemail boxes as needed too.
To make an outbound call, it is quite simple. Call your business phone number and "press 1" to place an outbound call. Then enter the number you want to call followed by the pound sign. That is it. The phone call is now active. The person you called will see your business phone number on their caller ID. They will not know the number of the phone you are calling on.
One feature of a virtual phone number that you don't have while using a cell phone number is the ability to have business hours. Having business hours is entirely optional and not required.
Business Hours When Open
Most likely, during open hours, you will have calls forwarded to your cell phone or a phone menu. Nonetheless, you can configure it to do anything you require. If you want calls to always go to voicemail, you can do that too.
Business Hours When Closed
Most likely, while your business is closed, you will have calls go to voicemail. Alternatively, you can easily set up a phone menu that says, "If this is an emergency press 1," or "press 2 to leave a voicemail." If someone pressed 1, you could send that call to someone who is on call for after-hours emergencies.
Text Message Notifications
You can also enable text notifications where we will send a text message from your business number informing you of an incoming call. This way, you will know it is a business call without having to answer the call.
How Do I Get a Virtual Phone Number?
To get a virtual phone number with GBPN, go to our sign up page and then start receiving calls in minutes with three easy steps.
Start Receiving Calls in 3 Easy Steps
- Find a number in a local area code for your business. Alternatively, get a toll-free number to have a national presence.
- Select the exact number you want and finish the sign-up process.
- Start using your new virtual phone number right away — instant activation upon successful payment.
Recommended Steps to Enhance Your Business Phone Number
- Add a greeting message for when someone calls your business phone number
- Set up a custom business voicemail message
- Enable text message notifications for incoming calls
Optional Steps: Features You Might Need Depending on Your Needs
- Add and configure business hours
- Set up a business phone menu
14 Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Phone Numbers
Can I Port/Transfer in My Existing Phone Number?
In the U.S., as long as you are not behind in paying any bills, you can port your number to another provider. Your current provider cannot refuse your port. Also note, "Companies may not refuse to port a number because a consumer has not paid for porting." Find out more about this and other rules about porting on the FCC's website: https://www.fcc.gov/general/wireless-local-number-portability-wlnp
Can I Switch to Another Provider After Signing up for a Virtual Phone Number?
Yes. You can port/transfer your number out, or you can port in a number. The same rules apply. See the faq above for more details.
What Is a Vanity Number?
A vanity number is an easily remembered sequence of numbers used for marketing purposes, such as 1-800-PET-FOOD or 1-800-Go-FedEx. When you dial 1-800-PET-FOOD, you are calling 1-800-732-3663. Vanity numbers are not limited to toll-free numbers. You can have a vanity number with a local number too. If you had a local number of 555-555-3663, your vanity number would be 555-555-FOOD.
Can a Virtual Phone Number Be a Local or Toll-free Number?
Yes. You can have both local and toll-free virtual phone numbers.
What Area Codes Can I Have a Virtual Phone Number?
Virtual phone numbers are available in every area code in the U.S. From time to time, in specific area codes, the supply of numbers can be restricted or unavailable. If you need a number in an area code that doesn't have any phone numbers available, your best course of action will be to contact the company directly. They may be able to acquire one for you.
What Kind of Installation Do I Need?
There will be no installation of any kind required. After you sign-up for a virtual phone number, calls will forward to your current cell phone or landline.
What Kind of Additional Hardware Do I Need?
There is no additional hardware required to use a virtual phone number. You keep using your current cell phone or landline.
Will People Know I'm Using a Virtual Phone Number?
No. When you call someone, it will show you as are calling from your virtual phone number. The only way they will know is if you tell them.
How Long Can I Keep a Virtual Number?
Theoretically, you can keep it forever. As long as you stay current on your payments and don't fall behind, you will be able to retain your virtual phone number(s).
How Many Virtual Phone Numbers Can I Have?
There is no technical limit as to how many virtual phone numbers you can have. However, a service provider could set restrictions on how many virtual numbers you can have. We do not have any limits on how many virtual phone numbers you can have.
How Much Does a Virtual Phone Number Cost?
Virtual phone numbers can vary wildly in price, ranging from free to $100+/month. We charge $20/month. We don't believe in locking features that you need behind a higher tier plan. We believe everyone should always receive every feature we offer at one affordable price.
Can I Make Outgoing Calls From My Virtual Phone Number?
Yes. You can make outgoing calls from your virtual phone number. How you do so will vary from provider to provider, but in the end, an outgoing call is the same.
Can I Make International Calls?
Maybe. While there are no limitations to a virtual phone number's abilities to make international calls, many providers will limit you to only domestic calls.
Will a Virtual Phone Number Work Outside of the U.S.?
Yes. If you live outside the U.S. and have a U.S. virtual phone number, you can call any other U.S. phone number from your virtual number. That is because that call is domestic. If you are outside the U.S. and place calls from your U.S. virtual number, you may be subject to international call fees from your phone provider.
Tired of using your personal cell phone number for your business? Use a virtual business phone number instead.