Expanding your app-titude: Add a business line to your personal cellphone

A monthly look at apps and websites that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

Many people simply resign themselves to having one phone number for both business and personal use. It's sometimes messy, and there are some clients that you'd rather didn't have your personal cell number, but it is easier than carrying two phones, right? Among other options, call-forwarding systems have been around for a long time. Think Google Voice. Great price — it's free. But the support? Well ... you get what you pay for, right?

If you want a separate virtual phone number for your practice, you can purchase a cloud phone service to provide it, but it usually comes with premium pricing and, historically, the services haven't been well-supported. I've been testing a new product from GoDaddy called SmartLine, and you should probably know about it, as well as some others in the space. All the products in this genre, including SmartLine, give you the ability to get a second phone number on your smartphone. Most work on Android and iOS platforms.

When you sign up for SmartLine, you're asked to select an area code for your new "business line." I was not surprised that the iconic New York City 212 code resulted in a "we have no numbers in that area" message. My second try was South Dakota's 605 code, which resulted in multiple pages of available numbers. I selected one, downloaded the app, approved the connection to my cellphone via multifactor authentication, and was up and running in no time.

My first test was to call my newly issued number from my desk phone. Perfect! The incoming call showed on my cellphone as specifically coming to my new business line, thus allowing me to answer (or not) appropriately. The service enables both placing and receiving calls from this "second business phone" number so you can keep your personal number private and eliminate carrying a second phone. Note that it's not a traditional VoIP service in that it connects directly via cellular service as opposed to a data connection. An extra device or other equipment is not required. Just install the app and it works.

The service also allows you to send and receive SMS from the second business number. I found this feature especially valuable since my professional life seems to revolve around texts. Although I don't use WhatsApp, the documentation indicates these types of apps should work just fine.

I was pleased to see that the caller ID accurately displays the business number to those whom you call. Finally, I've saved the best for last: The app automatically transcribes your voicemail messages and sends them to you as text. It's not the most accurate transcription ever, but it is most certainly correct enough to give you a solid understanding of the message.

  • Website: godaddy.com/smartline
  • Cost: Monthly subscription — $4 per month for limited use (100 minutes/100 texts) or $10 for "normal business use" (up to 2,000 minutes and 2,000 texts per month).
  • Operating systems: iOS, Android

Other products in this genre:

Greg LaFollette (greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs.

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