Running a business can be challenging no matter who you are. But kids running businesses face special challenges.
Yes, the Internet has made the business world far more kid friendly. We don't have to be in an 'office' to run Balloon Zoom. We have a website and an email address, and can answer emails before or after school, and on the weekends.
But if we wanted to list our business on Yelp or Bing, we needed a phone number, too. And getting a business phone isn't a simple thing when you're a kid.
Using our home phone number was out of the question. People who have your home phone number can easily find your home address. It's just not a good idea to hand your personal information to strangers. We did not want to put our cell phone numbers online, either. What if we got calls at weird hours? And how would we know whether to answer the phone with a hello (for friends), or something like, "Thank you for calling Balloon Zoom. How can we help you?"
Getting a separate business phone seemed impossible. Phone companies don't give kids telephones, and we did not want to be responsible for a telephone bill.
Enter Google Voice. It's a kid entrepreneur's dream solution to this problem. Anyone with a Gmail account can sign up for a free Google Voice phone number. The number is linked to a phone you already have, whether it is a cell phone, or a land line. But, you can set it up so that your actual phone never rings.
It took us about a half hour to set up, but Balloon Zoom's new phone number (202-750-0228) connects directly to the new, business voice mail Leila recorded. Our physical telephones never 'ring,' and we will never have to answer the telephone. When we get a phone call, Google Voice helpfully sends us an email. It tells us the phone number of the person who called us, and when the call came in, and attaches a recording of any messages left. We can listen to the messages in our Gmail account, from any computer, at any time.
The cost for the options we chose: $0 a month.
Perfect for most kids' budgets.
And now we're on Yelp and Bing. (Google+, too!) Check it out!