When you have a small business or a startup, one of the more underrated but most important decisions you have to make is your phone system. Modern phone systems, including VoIP, are more than just a way to make and receive calls—they typically have features for conferencing, messaging, and more.
Overarching goals when choosing a phone system should be scalability and reliability, but there’s more to it than that.
When you’re selecting and setting up a business phone system, the following can serve as a foundation and help you make the right decision for both current and future needs.
What Are the Options?
There are a few primary options when it comes to business phone systems. These include:
- Key services unit (KSU): This is a traditional type of phone system, and it’s usually what you would see in an older office with quite a few employees. These options can handle multiple lines and include extensions within the office. They are fairly inexpensive and simple but have limited functionality.
- Private branch exchange (PBX): These are for companies that have more than 40 employees typically, and they are managed onsite with hardware. As with a KSU, this phone system requires a landline and service with a local phone company.
- Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP): VoIP systems use a computer network and broadband internet, and they require the installation of dedicated equipment so that calls can be routed over the network.
- Cloud-based VoIP: Another option is a cloud-based VoIP requiring no onsite equipment. While this can be initially inexpensive and flexible, you have less control with this option, and if there’s a service outage you’re at the mercy of your internet service provider.
Is a Virtual Phone System Right for Your Business?
Virtual phone systems are an option where you can appear professional and maintain a certain brand image, no matter where you or your employees actually are at any given time. A virtual phone system is one in which there is a phone number, and when that’s dialed, it connects the caller to remote workers on their mobile devices.
These systems have a lot of advantages for small businesses and startups, which may often use contractors and remote employees to reduce overhead.
The systems have advanced and customizable features as well, such as call forward and automated receptionists. You can get a lot of value for your money with a virtual phone system.
The downside of this option, however, is that they’re not full-fledged phone systems. A VoIP system can offer that sense of flexibility to provide remote employees access to the business system from their mobile device.
As far as VoIP specifically, some of the businesses that might be well-suited to this type of system include online businesses, and especially online stores and other types of businesses that have to provide a lot of customer support, as well as restaurants that take reservations.
What Are the Benefits of VoIP?
For modern businesses exploring the benefits of VoIP, they can be extensive and include:
- VoIP offers a high level of flexibility to decide which tools are needed and which aren’t. This can help you save money, which is important when you’re a new or small business. For example, you might not need video conferencing at this point, but since VoIP systems are scalable, it could be fairly easy to add it as you grow.
- VoIP phone systems can offer unique collaboration tools to improve overall efficiency.
- As was touched on, VoIP is good if you have remote workers, including freelancers and contractors. As more workplaces are supporting a flexible model for employees, VoIP is simultaneously becoming more popular.
To sum it all up, when you’re comparing phone systems for your business, you have to first start by thinking whether you want a landline or a virtual connection. Many modern startups want flexibility and scalability, which is why they go with a virtual option. VoIP systems have a lot of benefits for small businesses and startups, and they don’t create the geographic restrictions of a landline phone system.
When you take the time and choose the right phone system, it can ensure your business operates at a peak productivity level, and also that you can provide excellent customer service. The right phone system can keep your operational budgets low, promote collaboration, and can help you convey a professional brand image, all of which are essential for business growth.