Short answer: You look professional and it’s a tax write off. But you might want to dig deeper.
How does this decision affect your business model, your brand, and your leadership style?
I know you are probably thinking: “Malla, I’m just getting a phone. It’s not that deep”.
Yeaahhhhh. It is. Adding an additional expense has a direct impact on your business. You want to consider a few things.
- Extra time – Someone has to answer it
- Extra money – There is a new bill
- Extra time – It can be a distraction
So how do you decide?
Before you jump into the final decision, consider creating a decision matrix. While it takes time to develop, it will save you in the long term. It’s pretty likely that you’ll make future business purchases. With the decision matrix in place, you’ll make them based on strategy AND your gut intuition. So consider these ideas:
Speak to 3 people in your advisory circle
Why did they opt to use a business line? Or why have they chosen to rely on their personal line? It’s good to talk with other entrepreneurs in your circle to get a a few opinions.
But don’t make your final decision yet. While their opinions are helpful, you need other perspectives.
What does your business coach or mentor use?
It’s good to get the perspective from someone who is a few years and dollars ahead of you. For example:
- Do they use it for scheduled calls or just emergencies?
- Do they pay someone to answer it live?
- Do they prefer phone or in person meetings?
- What are the pros and cons for their business?
This feedback can be invaluable. They are operating a few stages ahead of you in business. This can give you a sense of how the decision will impact your future. Kinda like an older sister. Without the annoying factor!
Can you afford it for 12 months?
Many people consider the first month’s cost. But calculate your annual numbers. Can you really afford it? Even if you don’t earn any extra profit? You might not see a return on your investment immediately. Don’t make the investment if it’s not in the numbers.
If you can’t afford it, don’t stress that you are “unprofessional”
You probably already know that there are some free (Googlevoice) or low cost options like Ooma or other VOIP/voicemail service.
But it’s a challenge. Because how will this make you look?
Drop the ego. Seriously.
Just do your best to handle the tech glitches that happen if you go with the free/low cost option. Or use your current cell and draw boundaries. Return calls as quickly. Don’t answer on weekends. Leave voicemail messages with specific instructions when you are available and/or returning calls.
Can you handle the investment of time?
If you have a service based business, you get paid for your time. You need blocks of undisturbed time.
It’s not as simple as just pushing the button on the McDonald’s register for the transaction. You need time to brainstorm. Create. Solve problems. Handle crises. Cure world hunger.
And your clients won’t value your time in the same way. Their issues are the most pressing. They are not factoring all of your projects. Theirs is the only one that matters.
If you have to answer 3 calls, you’ve been interrupted for at least an hour. This cuts down on productivity.
Can your business handle that interruption?
There is no right/wrong answer to whether you should invest in a professional business line. Some businesses can sustain with a person cell phone for years. Others need to invest in a business line to “professionalize” their offerings.
But if you look at the broader impact, it will help you make the best decision for YOUR business.