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New solopreneuers or small business professionals need to stay on track with entrepreneurial budgeting. How can you save without cutting out the essentials that will make or break your reputation? One way is using your cell phone as a business line.

Nowadays, most small business transactions and networking happen on the go. You don’t work the usual nine-to-five, so why buy a business line and all the equipment that goes with it? All you need is an open line of communication with your customers, and you already carry it in your pocket.

Your cell phone is the most accessible solution, and you can use your cell phone for business without customers even knowing that it was never originally a business line. Here are five tips for keeping it professional and building your reputation while using your cell phone for business.

1. Update Your Voicemail For Business Calls

What’s the difference between a personal vs. professional voicemail greeting? What should a business voicemail say?

With both types of voicemails, you must know your audience. The issue is that you have two different audiences, and your voice messages will differ accordingly. So, be tactful and friendly in voicemail greetings for work.

A personal voicemail greeting typically includes your name, represents your personality and may include a joke. A professional voicemail greeting contains your name and the business name, represents the brand and may include your company’s social media or alternative contact information. The most thoughtful professional voicemail tells callers that they will receive a return call, not that you are going to “try” to call back.

How can you record a voicemail that suits both your personal and business worlds? Remember, your voicemail serves as your first impression:

  • Keep it short and to the point, allowing a pause before you begin recording.
  • State your name and the name of your business, and provide a brief directory if relevant. Allow callers to press # to skip the greeting and leave a message.
  • Skip the jokes.

Default voicemail greetings are not welcoming and are confusing for all callers. Think of your business voicemail greeting like a good elevator pitch, and practice before you record.

2. Always Answer Professionally

What kind of language and tone do you use when you talk to your mom vs. your best friend? How would you greet someone that follows up with you from a conference?

What do you say when you first pick up the phone personally vs. what do you say when answering a business phone call?

Much of communication remains unseen when on the phone, so your tone is even more important to building rapport. Different tones affect the mood of the listener and make a powerful impression.

However, your nonverbal language still affects how you communicate. Sit up straight. Make sure your voice is clear, and stay hydrated. Smile into the phone as you speak.

Always answer a phone call professionally, not casually. You don’t want to sound dry. The energy of your tone sets the energy for the call. So, be tactful, warm, and confident. Pace yourself as excitement and anxiety can make you speak a little too quickly.

The most professional answer is similar to recording a professional voicemail greeting in that you state your name and the name of your business: “Hi, this Joe, CEO of The Greatest Business Ever.”

Always assume it’s a business call. Answer consistently to build trust which in turn builds the reputation of your business.

3. Stick to Your Business Hours

Define your typical business day upfront. What are your normal business hours, and what are your non-business hours?

Consider how personal contact might affect your availability for business contact. This consideration also links to how you schedule your day. When are you available, and for what?

It’s important to schedule moments to invite positivity into your business day, whether that’s meeting with a mentor or going to the gym for 30 minutes midday. Don’t schedule the most stressful meetings back to back.

Relating to business phone calls, do you consider yourself available when in a noisy environment? Some professionals think it’s important to take client calls wherever they are, but the client, or even a relative, may not see it this way. Accepting calls at this time, for business and personal, can make the other party feel unimportant. Let calls in noisy environments go to voicemail.

4. Set Rules for Personal Calls

Set rules for personal contact, which means your business hours must be kept firmly in mind. Will you take personal calls at work?

If so, when? Will you accept return personal calls during your lunch or for a short period in the afternoon? Must personal calls and texts wait until after you close for the day? It’s very important to practice proper cell phone etiquette at work, even if you’re a solopreneur.

Set boundaries for personal calls, and clearly communicate your business hours. Communicate under what circumstances you will take calls and when you will return calls. Keep your promises to loved ones and clients. Setting boundaries will keep you focused and present for both.

Consider directing friends and family to connect with you via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. This will help keep the personal and professional separate.

Extend phone call etiquette into texting etiquette, and determine rules for yourself. Will you only text friends and family? Will you also text clients? It’s important to be mindful of whom you text, so you don’t get into any tricky or embarrassing scenarios.

5. Be Prepared to Handle Various Types of Calls

Consider sales and customer services departments and how prepared they are to handle all kinds of calls. How will you handle calls for quotes, demos or a followup? What if someone is interested in having you as a speaker? What if your mom calls and texts you that it’s an emergency?

Which procedures will you follow? If you don’t have a confident way of handling circumstances, it can lead to the perception that you are inexperienced in business due to your inconsistency. In matters concerning loved ones, it can look like you don’t care.

You are the best advocate and knowledge base for your business. The more you have ready to go, on the go — the more confident and informed you will feel and come across to others. So, know your mission, your products and your pitch. Where do your products ship from? How well do you know the industry? Have you read the latest research? Where do you see your business going in the next five years?

You’ll also answer customer service calls, so be prepared to address concerns with empathy and action. Customer service calls provide vital information for your business, especially when it comes to feedback and areas of improvement. So, don’t provide stop-gap solutions.

You won’t have all the answers, but be determined to find the answers and work through problems. Engage with your clients, and you will build loyal, powerful business relationships.

Yes, you can use your cell phone for business. You gain an office in your pocket when you use your cell phone for business, increasing your mobility and accessibility which makes a professional and positive impression.

However, you need to set a few ground rules and protocols. Make your first step updating your voicemail to a professional greeting that states your name and the name of your business. Set and stick to your business hours, and determine rules for personal calls so you can be available for both clients and loved ones.

By using your cell phone as a business phone, you get to take advantage of endless mobile tools to take your business to the next level. This allows you to build your reputation as a budding business who will fundamentally change the market for the better.