This is part two in a two-part series. You can read part one here.
In part one of this two part series about finding affordable phone solutions for your business or practice, we discussed the important questions you should ask yourself before starting your search, but now it’s time to discuss today’s phone solutions.
You have more options than ever when it comes to business phone solutions, which has made this a more confusing process than it has ever been.
But, if you’re in the market today, these are the main choices you’ll be presented with:
Individual mobile phone. Although not strictly a business phone solution, a lot of solopreneurs continue to use their mobile phone as their one and only business phone. There’s not a thing wrong with this until you start to expand your operation, then it can get costly to change the phone number on all your marketing. However, if you don’t see an expansion in the future, you may be just fine working from your cell phone for a very long time.
Computer-to-computer calling. Virtual businesses that do practically everything via email don’t necessarily need to spring for high dollar phone systems for the one telephone call they make each month to Domino’s. Instead, they may want to consider using a computer to computer calling system to connect with business associates. Programs like Skype allow for one-on-one calling and small conference calls over high speed internet.
Voice over IP. Voice over IP (VoIP) has been around a while, but the technology was considered somewhat lackluster for years. It’s coming into its own these days, although crackling, echoes and interruptions are still occasional problems. That being said, these systems are highly affordable, require very little equipment and can support additional features that traditional landlines cannot. Some even support videoconferencing!
Virtual phone system. A virtual phone system can provide a cheap way to get your phone calls answered, but without additional services like a VoIP, you won’t be able to call out. So, in addition to a virtual phone system to automatically handle your callers, you’ll need a phone system to dial out in order to return messages. A system like this can’t handle calls that have been answered by a live operator or answering service, so keep that in mind. Either you answer the call or it goes to voicemail, there’s no other way to handle callers.
Hosted PBX. A hosted PBX system is a mid-range piece of software that can connect your company’s extensions and route calls between them. Unlike a virtual phone system, you have options with a hosted PBX — an operator can answer the call initially and then route it to the right employee manually, for example. Hosted PBX systems are good for widely distributed employees or companies that simply have no idea how large they intend to grow. Others choose hosted PBX systems because they want the option to work with an answering service.
If your business needs affordable phone solutions so you can grow a little faster, or maybe just free up some capital to do some much-needed improvements, now is definitely the time to be shopping. From computer to computer calling, VoIPs, virtual phone systems and hosted PBXs, there are more options than ever before for small business phones.