Starting a small business involves lots of choices. What's your starting budget? Where will you have office space? But, most importantly...how are people going to get in touch with you?
This is where Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, comes in. Even if you don't think you'll use all the features, there's plenty to consider as you get your business going.
No two ways about it: VoIP is a cost-effective way to quickly set up your business, especially compared to traditional phone systems. All you need is an Internet connection and a VoIP capable device; with the right microphone, you can even make and receive calls from the computer on your desk, or get them on your laptop at home, and speak with customers while finding the information you need. No expensive business headsets, no switching networks hooked up in your office...just the tools you already have.
VoIP is also efficent. Most VoIP system integrate with your email and instant messaging systems to allow you to contact clients or employees instantly, in the way you want. It also enables your employees, and yourself, to take the office wherever you go: if you can take calls on your laptop, after all, all you need is a strong WiFi connection and a fairly quiet place.
Making a call with VoIP is a snap; with most systems, it's as simple as saying a name or clicking a link. Similarly, if you need to loop somebody else into the call, that's fast as well. Click their name or number on a list, and you'll immediately loop them into the call. Similarly, you can juggle client calls easily, so everybody feels important and nobody gets a voicemail message.
Similarly, VoIP offers a lot of flexibility, both in contacting and in terms of growth. Unlike adding a phone line to a desk as your business grows, you can just add a new user to the program, and all you need to install is an Internet connection. It can also offer options like number forwarding, so, if you keep getting a call that should go to your sales manager, you can simply forward the number to him, and he gets the call with no muss and no fuss.
#5) Ease of Use
Finally, there's this advantage: these systems are far, far easier to set up and use than they ever have been.
If you're not technologically inclined, and not all of us are, for a long time setting up these systems was a fairly daunting task. But VoIP providers and software designers have spent years making these systems simple to set up and use. Many solutions set up in an hour or two and are usable right away to start making calls.
It's true that VoIP isn't for everyone. If you're only going to have one central phone line, or few employees, or are concerned primarily with brick-and-mortar sales, then it might not be a good option. But if you're starting a small business, it's worth looking into, especially if you need flexibility and to keep budgets down.