Options for getting a business phone number for a very small business (2 people)

Hi, I wondered if anyone had any suggestions for the most cost effective way to get a business phone number.  It is for 2 people, who will be out and about for half of the week, and based at their respective homes for the other half.  My first thought was a cheap pay as you go phone each with new sim.  But one home does not have very good mobile reception so a mobile would not ring for incoming calls (although there shouldn't be that many phone calls anyway as most correspondence will be via email).  Are there other reasonable options?  I got lost in a minefield of VOIP which I don't understand.  Would that be a way of calling via the internet and on a mobile phone app, so calls could be picked up at home using home broadband?  Do you have to pay for a phone number from someone else first?  Are there other options I am overlooking?  We would like the capability for callers to leave a voicemail.  I presume getting 2nd lines fitted at each home would be expensive and somewhat overkill given that most days there may well be no calls in or out. 
Any pointers would be much appreciated.  
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Comments

  • bris
    bris Posts: 10,548 Forumite
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    Skype was the most popular and probably still is for what you need. Zoom has for the time being taken over it's mantly though.
  • Sandtree
    Sandtree Posts: 10,628 Forumite
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    What are you trying to achieve?

    If you have two people with mobiles why not just use the mobile numbers?

    Are you wanting connectivity whilst they are out and about or just at home or the office?

    If you dont want to use mobile numbers then VOIP is a good option and if you pay for a virtual switchboard you could have a number that rings both phones, a number for each phone or all three. With VOIP they can put the software on any smart phone, tablet or computer and it will work whenever they have internet plus you can buy physical VOIP phones if you prefer a more traditional device. 

    We've been using VOIPfone for years as the cost of international calls are so much cheaper. Its £1/extension per month and £3/phone number. When the Mrs had friends in Spain we also used to have a Madrid number for £5/month which meant her friends could call her for free... used to also have a USA number back in the days of my company having USA clients but appears they've stopped that option now anyway
  • martindow
    martindow Posts: 10,215 Forumite
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    Sandtree said:
    If you have two people with mobiles why not just use the mobile numbers?
    I must say that web sites or businesses with just a mobile number always make me hesitate, as do those that don't show a postal address.  There is something reassuring about a local landline number, even though I know it could just be forwarding to mobiles and not really exist.

  • Sandtree
    Sandtree Posts: 10,628 Forumite
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    martindow said:
    Sandtree said:
    If you have two people with mobiles why not just use the mobile numbers?
    I must say that web sites or businesses with just a mobile number always make me hesitate, as do those that don't show a postal address.  There is something reassuring about a local landline number, even though I know it could just be forwarding to mobiles and not really exist.

    I think it depends a little on the business, I'm ok with a plumber operating from a mobile but would be concerned by an insurance company only having mobile contacts. 

    Certainly I got our USA telephone number to give certain clients confidence but also because too many americans dont seem to know how to make an international telephone call!

    From my limited understanding, much of "landline" calls now use the same infrastructure as VOIP other than the first and last legs of the call so whats a real number and whats not is a bit harder to answer. Our calls can be answered on mobiles but its via the VOIP app and so its not "forwarded" to mobiles (as we'd have to pay the call from the VOIP to out mobile)
  • smith_616
    smith_616 Posts: 15 Forumite
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    Thank you so much for your responses.  
    I have had a bit of a look at Skype now, and it does seem that that would be an option which could work.  I had no idea you could buy an actual number from Skye.  
    Yes - I am keen to have a landline number (but appreciate it depends on the business/company).  Ideally, I would like clients to ring the landline number and it rings for both of us as we will be working at home, and then out and about on our own too.  So whoever was free could answer it.  
    With VOIP, do you have any recommendations for who to go with?  I got a bit lost looking at various providers.  Simply having the app on our phones and computers would be fine.  No need for a 'hard' phone.  
    And is there any benefit to Skype versus VOIP?
  • smith_616
    smith_616 Posts: 15 Forumite
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    I presume with Skype, provided we sign up with the company email address, then we could both download the Skype app on our various devices and access all the calls?  
    Or would this only be possible via VOIP?
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,018 Forumite
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    smith_616 said:
    I presume with Skype, provided we sign up with the company email address, then we could both download the Skype app on our various devices and access all the calls?  
    Or would this only be possible via VOIP?
    I suspect if you sign up with one email address, you'll have to share a name / photo / logo - which may or may not matter. However, there's nothing to stop you downloading it before you commit to it to see what happens? 
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • Sandtree
    Sandtree Posts: 10,628 Forumite
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    smith_616 said:
    Thank you so much for your responses.  
    I have had a bit of a look at Skype now, and it does seem that that would be an option which could work.  I had no idea you could buy an actual number from Skye.  
    Yes - I am keen to have a landline number (but appreciate it depends on the business/company).  Ideally, I would like clients to ring the landline number and it rings for both of us as we will be working at home, and then out and about on our own too.  So whoever was free could answer it.  
    With VOIP, do you have any recommendations for who to go with?  I got a bit lost looking at various providers.  Simply having the app on our phones and computers would be fine.  No need for a 'hard' phone.  
    And is there any benefit to Skype versus VOIP?
    Skype is a VOIP provider, though they use their own proprietary protocol rather than one of the standard ones that most VOIP providers use. 

    I already recommended who we use but I simply followed a recommendation many years ago for a company at the time who were rated as very good rather than very cheap. I havent revisited that decision in recent years... I did a brief look at very cheap providers but some of their call routing was exceptionally long (so more risk of problems) but we mainly make international calls.

    One thing that you'll need to check is if your provider supports multiple devices signed into the same extension... with VOIPfone it causes some problems. This is solved by having an extension for each device but that adds £1-2 a month... the advantage though is if you answer the call on your computer and want to transfer the call to your mobile or your colleague you can. Similarly you can call between extensions for free etc. One number can ring all extensions and you can set what number displays when you call from an extension to an outside line.
  • MattMattMattUK
    MattMattMattUK Posts: 8,648 Forumite
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    Most of the mobile providers provide virtual landlines these days, which is probably a good option. If you set up your phone to use Wifi Calling then you will not have any issues with mobile signal as the call will go via your Wifi.

    Depending on what sector you are in might depend if you even need a landline though, when I set up my business I did not have one for the first three years, as far as I am aware it never caused any issues as most people are quite comfortable with that as a small business (after all it is not the nineties any more and does not cost any more to call a mobile) and my company was a VAT registered, limited company. I deal with companies from other SMEs through to multi-nationals turning over tens of billions and mobile numbers were never a problem. I would suspect that a landline is an entirely avoidable cost. 
  • smith_616
    smith_616 Posts: 15 Forumite
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    This is all so useful again - thank you!  I am going to print off the thread and work my way through the different suggestions and pointers, including different VOIP providers and looking at mobiles / wifi calling.  
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