How to Set Up a Dedicated VoIP Number for Your Business

How to Set Up a Dedicated VoIP Number for Your Business

Keep in mind: This article is intended primarily for a U.S. audience. Service availability in other countries is not guaranteed.

Email is a wonderful invention, but sometimes you need the instantaneous feedback of a conversation. This is where having a business phone line comes in handy. With VoIP services, even freelancers can have call handling that mirrors corporations.

The main goal of this article is to show you how to have multiple points of access via phone lines, while keeping it separate from your personal accounts. Unless you enjoy interruptions, your existing cell phone is not a primary business line. I’ve outlined my preferences below, but feel free to tweak it to suit your own needs. I’m not everybody.

Open a Google Voice Account

Google Voice Overview

There’s a reason people love Google. Google Voice (formerly Grand Central) is one of those products that further cements this idea. In short, i allows you to register a number (of your choosing) for free, and then forward to whichever phones you’d like. This will help us put a filter in between business and personal.

One of the other useful features of Google Voice is the ability to sort through incoming calls by contact. I could, for example, set it so when Brendan (our Officeal editor) calls the number, he is forwarded to a personalized voicemail. These filters can be applied by a number of criteria, including people or time of day.

It’s also nice to have a log of all calls, including the ability to record and add notes to specific ones.

It’s Not a Free Phone

Don’t get overly-excited just yet, because this is not a calling plan. While you can send and receive SMS for free, it’s essentially just a way to organize and forward calls to a single number. As Google explains, it’s “…a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location.” Especially for traveling web entrepreneur types, this is incredibly useful in and of itself.

Buy a Calling Plan with Skype

VoIP with Skype

If Google Voice is the face of this arrangement, Skype is the backbone. If you’re unfamiliar with the company, Skype is a VoIP phone service that allows you to make calls directly from your computer.

It makes discussing a design on your screen easy, because the window is already there. Going over revisions is much easier when you don’t have to balance a phone on one shoulder.

Why is this worth the money?

I’m all for saving money when it comes to business expenses. But as Seth Godin pointed out in a recent blog post, spending money is not always a bad thing. In this next section I’ll outline how to take a Google Voice number and link it to a Skype account.

There are plenty of utilities out there that can do this in one way or another, but this route will save you a lot of headache by keeping things simple. I recommend that you buy a second number through Skype. Doing so will enable you to directly forward Google Voice calls to your Skype account without involving any third parties.

What am I buying?

The funding for the basic Skype set up break down into two parts:

  1. Unlimited US & Canada Calls 12 months – $30
  2. Online number, 12 month subscription – $30

At a rate of $60 yearly for the full package, it’s not going to be a huge dent in your business’ wallet. If you’re like me, you find yourself on the phone with clients fairly regularly. Most of these conversations occur during daytime hours, which can cause overages on cell phone minutes or long distance fees. Having a VoIP line solves both of those problems.

As an added bonus, since this Skype number would be considered a business line, it is also entirely tax deductible.

Mixing Services Together

At this point, some of you might be wondering why Google Voice is needed at all. Here’s five reasons why it pays to have Google act as middleman:

  1. Free phone number
  2. Transferable number
  3. Free SMS messaging
  4. Call filtering and scheduling
  5. Recordings and text translations of voicemail

Splitting the Roles

With both services up and running, you’ll now have two separate numbers at your disposal. The public number should be from Google Voice, while your “behind the scenes” number was purchased from Skype. Linking up Skype is as easy as adding an additional phone to the Google Voice forwarding system.

You can set up additional phone lines once logged in through the Settings>Phones screen.

Google Voice Add Phone

Google Voice will be responsible for the voicemail, SMS, and overall number. Skype will be responsible for the phone and unlimited domestic calling plan. Playing together as a team, how about that?

Phones in Action

We’ve recently made the switch to this set up for One Mighty Roar. Since establishing a single centralized number, Sam and I have been able to manage our communications much better. Because both Google Voice and Skype are integrated through the computer, we find ourselves using them much more out of convenience.

I’ve put together a rough outline of our current set up below:

One Mighty Roar Phone Chart

For those of you feeling particularly social, go ahead and leave us a voicemail. It can be a comment, suggestion, or even a simple hello. Give it a go!

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Posted Thursday, September 24th, 2009 · Back to Top

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Add Comment

15 Comments 1 Mentions

  1. Brian Author Editor

    Do you ever have an issue with clients storing your public GV number in their contacts to call you with, then not recognizing your private number when they receive a call from you?
    .-= Brian´s last blog ..Contemporary and Innovative Mice – Not Your Father’s Mouse =-.

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    • Zach Dunn Author Editor

      @Brian

      What I failed to mention above is that Google Voice allows you to call back using your GV number. You can do this either by calling your GV number from a tethered phone and then inputting the recipient number, or by submitting the call from the GV website.

      In both cases, Google will ring the receiving phone with the GV number and then connect you. Think of it like a middleman for all conversation.

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  2. Dave Author Editor

    Zach – Great article! Can you explain what you mean by the above comment regarding a tethered phone? So say my GV # is 123-456-7890. I call that from my cell phone, and then do something like press # and then enter the number I’m trying to call…and their caller ID will show my GV number?

    If that’s the case, does it get annoying if you’re just trying to call a contact because you have to remember their number to input when you call your GV number?
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..MIT Taking Carbon Fiber Down To A Nanoscale Level =-.

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    • Zach Dunn Author Editor

      @Dave

      Exactly right on the tethered phone concept. Honestly, Google Voice is easiest when you’re able to access it from a browser. Making calls out directly from a mobile phone is doable, but it’s much simpler by way of computer or smart phone.

      In the month or so that I’ve used this system, it’s surprising how few unplanned calls I’ve had to make directly from my cell phone. In my case most conversations occur as the result of a call, or can wait until I reach a computer again.

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  3. Yasser Author Editor

    I liked this article :)

    Thanks Zach , but you say
    Keep in mind: This article is intended primarily for a U.S. audience. Service availability in other countries is not guaranteed.

    how can i know that my country is supported ?!
    .-= Yasser´s last blog ..Piwik : Open Source Web Analytics Software For Your Website =-.

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  4. Jimmy Fuentes Author Editor

    Soooooo i was on my way to check all this out and it appears that you need to wait for an invite from google to be able to sign up? :/

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  5. Josh Blackwood Author Editor

    Very informative article! I got in on Google Voice shortly after the switch from Grand Central, after reading an article on A List Apart. It really is a great service.

    Where I live, unfortunately VOIP is not an option as my internet connection is dialup, but I had no idea Skype was so affordable for a dedicated number and unlimited calling! I will definitely be looking into that once I move to an area where I can get cable.

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  6. Zach Dunn Author Editor

    Since Google Voice is still in beta, you have to submit your email address for inclusion. I was accepted within two weeks, so it’s simply a matter of when.

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  7. Ulrik Hvide Author Editor

    Just requested a google voice, thanks for the information Zach… Very grateful

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  8. Ejaz Author Editor

    Good Article, but I don’t live in US. So what are the options available, any thoughts?

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  9. Zach Dunn Author Editor

    @Ejaz

    You should be able to simply get the Skype end up and running. Skype also allows call forwarding, just not to the same level of control that Google Voice does.

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  10. Joe Author Editor

    What exactly do you gain by adding Skype to the mix? You each have (cell)phones already, and the mystery hidden direct line? Skype can utilize your bandwidth to route other users’ calls as they see fit. Hello proprietary software/protocols!

    Also, it’s worth noting that most smart phone platforms have Google Voice dialers that install on the phone and can initiate calls via GV from your phone’s existing contact list. Android and Blackberry dialers are provided by Google.

    There is also a Firefox plugin that will dial phone numbers from a webpage. Saves me a lot of time.

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    • Zach Dunn Author Editor

      @Joe

      As I said in the article, one of the biggest benefits is Skype’s ability for low rate calls. By paying $30/month for unlimited domestic calling, you’re saving a considerable amount of cell phone minutes.

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  11. Joe Author Editor

    If you’re using GV to call out bound all you really need is a VoIP provider with free incoming calls or free local/regional calling.

    For example VoicePulse.com provides both and a phone number for $15. This is *real* VoIP and can be used with any SIP software/hardware including the Asterisk PBX.

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  12. Hernan Author Editor

    I tried this even before reading your article and it did not work for me. What could I have done wrong. I have skpe and the number etc…

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