To be clear, any business can operate with a standard telephone number. Whether you have a mobile number that is given out to clients or simply have a fixed-line set up for you – something that will mean a telephone exchange engineer will assign a local area number for you almost at random – your phone can still receive inbound business calls. However, this is not what many businesses are after from their phone line or lines. 

Instead, they will want a business telephone number that is memorable, that encourages people to call and that sounds professional. Most homes don’t have fixed-line telephone numbers that offer this and mobile numbers are often even less useful from a commercial point of view. This is why business telephone numbers are so sought-after but what are they?

To begin with, big enterprises tend to have more than one number. There’ll be a mainline number that rings on the switchboard, often with a memorable number, and then a raft of DDI (direct dial-in) numbers that ring on particular extensions or hunt groups. Although the expense associated with such a set-up means such an approach is often out of the reach of small and medium-sized enterprises, businesses telephone numbers are still available to use. There are three basic categories, so let’s look at each in turn.

Geographical Business Telephone Numbers

If you buy a number that starts with 01 or 02, then it will relate to the geographical area served by the exchange in that location. For example, 01245 is the local area code for Chelmsford while 0207 relates to London. However, you can obtain memorable 01 and 02 virtual numbers that will redirect to any line you currently have.

on the phone

So, for example, your business could be located in rural Dorset but still publish a number that makes people think they’re calling Edinburgh, London or Manchester. According to Cleartone Communications, you can even set them up to ring a mobile phone if you like and switch around where such a virtual business telephone number connects to depending on the time of the day. 

In other words, the old-fashioned approach to geographical business telephone numbers no longer applies. Rather than being tied to a particular location – as is still the case with fixed-line geographical phone lines – virtual telephone numbers mean you are no longer restricted by geography at all.

You can work wherever you like in the country but still appear to be local. Alternatively, you can use a virtual geographical number to make it seem as though you have offices in a big city when, in fact, you might operate from a rural workshop, home office or a similar setting. 

Non-Geographical Business Telephone Numbers

Virtual business lines that can send inbound callers to any phone line you like do not have to be geographical. They can also be memorable 0333 numbers, 0345 numbers and 0845 numbers. These numbers are widely recognised in the UK as offering people the chance to call long distances at local rates.


By publishing one, people will not only think your business is more professionally organised but it will also mean they won’t worry about their call charges. These sorts of memorable numbers are idealgood for customer support lines and for sales promotions but they are also just as good serving as a mainline business telephone number.

Freephone Business Telephone Numbers

The truth is that a freephone business number that begins with an 0800 dialling code is also a non-geographical type of number. The difference with the ones mentioned above is that 0800 numbers are completely free for the caller to dial.

These can also be set up in a virtual way so that they will ring on any line you like, either a fixed landline or a mobile phone. Not only are they memorable and trusted but they also encourage people to phone in even more than other types. This is the ideal number for a business that wants to drive up enquiries and sales.

You can see this clearly in research that has been conducted into the use of 0800 numbers in the UK as well as the United States. Studies on both sides of the Atlantic have demonstrated that inbound call rates tend to shoot up if a freephone number is published.

Of course, the degree by which calls will see an upturn will vary depending on the nature of the business and how heavily, or otherwise, the number is publicised. That said, many firms report they see as much as a fifty per cent increase in the number of inbound telephone enquiries they receive simply because they switch to an 0800 business telephone number. Given that freephone numbers can also operate virtually, just like the other types of virtual numbers around, they are often the best choice sales-focussed businesses.