How can you tell it’s time to get a business phone number for your company? Check out this small-business hypothetical and see if it has a familiar echo:

Christine fled the corporate world and soon started gaining ground with her new solo enterprise. Clients came from her professional network. People knew her by name, so she didn’t really need a separate phone line for her business.

In a couple of months, things started to accelerate. Intriguing opportunities popped up outside of her professional network. A friend recommended her to a company where she didn’t know a soul. Before long, the company recommended her to all sorts of new people.

Christine’s life got complicated. Calls arrived at all hours, many from complete strangers. She was phoning new people every day, and her personal number showed up on their caller ID.

And when she had a free moment to think, she couldn’t help wondering: How many prospects wandered off because the most mundane detail — her personal phone number — didn’t seem professional?

Fortunately, it’s an easy problem to fix (and doesn’t cost much). Let’s look at four arguments for getting a separate phone number for a small business like Christine’s:

1. There’s no need to buy a new phone

Before the internet came along, Christine would’ve had to acquire a handset telephone to get a separate business phone line. That meant time-sucking calls to the phone company, waiting a week for a technician to install it, accepting a rather pricey monthly bill, and then paying through the nose if she had to call somebody on another continent.

Things got better with the arrival of voice over internet protocol (VoIP), which converts human voices into packets of digital data and delivers them via any internet-connected device. VoIP service providers developed soft phones, which use software to mimic the operations of a telephone.

Then the age of the smartphone arrived, soon followed by the explosion in cloud-based phone systems. Today, Christine takes her smartphone everywhere. And her smartphone can run a soft-phone app.

Thus, every solo entrepreneur like her can add a separate business phone line without much fuss via a dedicated phone app. And the fees are typically easy on the budget — often less than $30 a month.

2. Automation lightens the communication load

A high-quality business phone app provides an interactive voice response (IVR) menu to screen calls. Callers can tap a “1” to talk to support people, a “2” to leave a voicemail, and so on.

Christine has a friend who knows a voice professional, whom she hires to give her IVR and voicemail a more polished impression when people call her business. She also sets up the app to forward calls from her personal number to her business account when she’s on duty — and turn it back off when she’s kicking back on the couch.

These and many other features of a digital phone put minutes back into Christine’s workday. Minutes add up to hours and days over the course of a year, giving Christine more time to her customers.

Best of all, Christine doesn’t need to hire an extra person. Her digital phone acts as a virtual receptionist for her.

3. Work-life balance improves

It’s Friday afternoon. Christine is tired and must have the weekend off. Last Thursday, she was at the doctor’s office because her 9-year-old son broke his wrist on the monkey bars at the playground.

With a modern digital phone app, she can pivot quickly, rerouting calls to voicemail when she has to step away from work. When she’s back on duty, she just taps a few times on her mobile app and she’s ready to roll. The scheduling feature lets her put boundaries between business and life at times of her choosing.

Work-life balance wasn’t such a big deal when Christine’s business was new. Her passion was high and she couldn’t think about anything else. Once her business found a rhythm, however, she started to realize no amount of money, status or power would give her back the hours she devoted to work.

A business phone app frees her to set aside time for family, hobbies, civic engagement and just admiring the sunset from her back porch.

As her friends at the gym remind her: Rest and recovery are foundations of building strength.

4. Scaling up gets easier

Eighteen months later, Christine has the problem every solo entrepreneur owner craves — more work than she can handle.

Fortunately, she has the infrastructure in place to scale up. She can easily connect new users to her phone system. She can add phone extensions and create one-to-many capability (forwarding calls to a team).

Best of all, she’s experienced with basic call management features, which paves the way to the future.

How did she get to this point? She signed up for Grasshopper, the business phone system created especially for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs.

Curious about how it works? Try Grasshopper for free.