A good phone number is still one of the principal methods of doing business. Most small business still list the phone number in yellow pages or other small business listing service. A phone number allows your customers to reach you about your store hours, store locations, and available services. A good domain name, Twitter account, and Facebook page are important but a business phone number is essential.
There are a lot of online services that can help you manage your phone line and number for your small business. At this point I would not use a fixed land line, but a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service to provide all my telephony needs. The primary phone number I give personal friends and contacts to reach me is provided by Google Voice. For my small home business, I use Skype phone service. And there are other telephony services that can be useful for small business owners.
What I like about Google Voice is that your GVoice phone number can be forwarded to any other phone, or multiple phones. You customers call you at your GVoice phone number and Google forwards the call to your cell phone, store phone number, or any other number until someone answers it or it goes to voice mail. If the call goes to voice mail Google will transcribe the message and email you the text transcription.
I also use Skype and have a Skype Call-out account which provides me a phone number where my customers can reach me at from a cell phone or landline. In addition, Skype also has some great chat messaging, video conference, screen sharing, and collaboration option that make it an integral solution for my small business communication needs.
Yahoo! has the Yahoo! Voice phone service that fits somewhere between Google Voice and Skype. All of these services can be managed and used to call out and receive calls on your smart phone. The iPhone and Android app for Google Voice allows you to call out and receive calls. In the US, the iPhone app for Skype only allows you to call out when you are on a WiFi internet access.
The one feature I really wish either Google Voice, Skype, or Yahoo! Voice had was the ability to send and receive faxes. Fax support is a popular and commonly request feature in Google Voice that I think that Google will build support for it but there are other online telephony services that already include this feature.
Ring Central is a paid mobile business phone system that includes internet fax services. You don’t need a fax machine in your office to send and receive fax documents. Ring Central also provides a 1 800 toll free number. In addition to Ring Central, I would consider Grasshopper. Grasshopper is a virtual phone system designed for businesses and entrepreneurs. Grasshopper has toll free numbers, unlimited extension, call forwarding, voicemails transcriptions, and other feature suitable for small to mid-sized companies.