By Princess Jones

Small businesses often go through awkward growth stages. Sometimes, you’re big enough to need something, but not necessarily big enough to go all out. This happened to me when I first started my copywriting business. I needed a business phone number but I was working from home. I didn’t exactly need an eight line set up from the local phone company. Enter Google Voice.

Google Voice is a telephone service that allows you to have a separate phone number forward to your current lines. You can access calls through your cell phone, landlines, and the Google Hangouts app on your computer. It’s great because it’s a free service that adds a layer professionalism for solopreneurs, freelancers, and other one-man operations.

The thing about your business number is that it’s plastered everywhere. Anyone can pick up a business card or check out your website to get your number. And if they get the idea to call you at 3:00 a.m. about a possible consultation, you don’t really want your phone ringing, do you?

It’s time to set up office hours and if you use Google Voice, it’s a quick and painless process.

How to Set It Up

Log into Google Voice. Click the settings wheel in the top right corner. Click the Phones tab to see all of the phones your Google Voice number forwards to. Select the one you want set office hours for and click “Edit.”

Now you’ll see a section called “Ring Schedule.” (Click “Advanced Options” if you don’t see it.) Select “Custom Schedule” and next to it, input the times you don’t want your business number to ring. Don’t forget to click “Save” when you’re done. You can change your office hours at any time. If you’re on vacation, you can put it on “Do Not Disturb” until you’re ready to take calls again. There’s no delay in the settings taking effect.

For example, I’m available by my business number between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. So, my Google Voice is set to never ring from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. On weekends, I have it set to not ring. If someone has a copywriting emergency during that time, they can email me or leave a message, which also sends an email to me. I can definitely call them back, but calls don’t come through unless I take my office hours off.

How do you control your accessibility by phone in your business?