If you are in home business and are serious about it, you need to be serious about who answers your phone and how they do that.

It’s no different from any other business. If you phone a company and you get someone on the other end who is abrupt, vague or even rude, doesn’t that put you off doing business with them?

And yet, sometimes when I’ve phoned someone in a home based business, instead of getting the person I wanted to talk to I get a grumpy spouse who grills me about why I’m phoning, who am I anyway, doesn’t really want to take a message and generally treats my call as a nuisance.

And what about “I’ve no idea when he/she’ll be home and I really don’t know anything about his/her business.” OK, so don’t pick up the phone!

And what about the people who – apparently to please their kids – have a child’s voice, or an inane joke, or – in one memorable instance, their dog barking, as the recorded message?

What if I were ringing about a $10,000 or $100,000 project? How confident could I be that the person I was calling was serious about business? Not very.

Do yourself a favour. Don’t let anyone answer your business phone for you who is not briefed fully on what your business is about, or who is not competent and willing to answer the phone in a fully professional way.

And, sorry, that means no kids answering the phone or kids messages, or jokes (unless you are in the joke business) on answerphones. No matter how much you love your family, you are not doing them or yourself a favour when your phone answering “system” makes you look like an amateur.

Incidentally, how many teenagers do you know who actually pass on the message they faithfully take down and promise to deliver?

And if you only have one phone for home and business, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a family conference and explain how mishandling the calls could mean no fruit on the sideboard for a few months? Time to get some understandings and workable agreements.

Or better yet, get a dedicated phone line, handset (with a “please don’t answer this” sticker) and an answering machine or service.

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