Is VoIP good for small businesses?

If you are a small business and you need a telephone line of your own, yes, VoIP is definitely good for your business. In fact, it’s the only sensible choice. VoIP is more flexible, scalable, mobile, feature-packed, and cost-effective than a standard telephone service, so it’s absolutely the best option and frankly, that’s true for any size of business.

It’s particularly good for any small firm that needs to watch the pennies and only take on more cost when it can afford to – but might s need to ramp things up fast when new opportunities come along.

With VoIP it is easy to start small – with just one line and device, if that’s all you need – and add to that as and when you need to take on more people. You can take your VoIP with you wherever you go and use it on just about any device – a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone. Or you can use a special desktop VoIP handset, so it’s ultra-flexible.

You can also choose the features you want. Most services come with all the basics you’ll need anyway, but you can add more if you need something special, such as an auto attendant or call recording.

VoIP can adapt to your needs and that’s perhaps what makes it so brilliantly-suited to smaller businesses.

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Will I need new hardware?

No and yes. You will be able to use your everyday desktop or laptop to pick up and make VoIP calls, but you may find it useful to use a headset if you do that on a daily basis. If you want the VoIP set-up to look and feel like a conventional telephone system, that’s OK too, as services are usually provided with a desktop VoIP phone or handset that works in exactly the same way as an analogue telephone.

If they don’t come as part of the deal, they will certainly be available as an option – and there are VoIP phones you can buy yourself as well, so if you want to, you can buy them outright.

If you’ve had one in the past, you may also be thinking that you will need a PBX (private branch exchange) – a switching system through which all calls are routed, so that they can be picked up by any of the team and transferred and redirected. Well, you don’t actually need that at all. All the clever stuff with VoIP happens in the cloud and is entirely software-based, so you don’t need the physical exchange – that’s all done virtually.

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Flexibility and scalability

These really are the killer benefits of VoIP for any business. For smaller firms they are truly liberating.

The flexibility VoIP gives you is utterly amazing; as long as you can log-on (i.e., have access to the Internet), you can be anywhere and have access to all the features and benefits of your service, and still make and take calls. Your number goes with you. This also applies to any member of staff. They can be anywhere, all they need to do is log-in and they can be up, running, and working in seconds.

This is a huge benefit for businesses that are operating remotely now – and may perhaps never return to working in on central location again. It makes operating as a totally virtual business truly viable.

Another aspect of flexibility VoIP gives you is the ability to have several different numbers that all lead back to the same central point. If you cover several towns and cities in a region for example, but from one central base, you could have local numbers in each of those places. The same applies if you have broader horizons and serving customers on a nationwide basis; you could have numbers in all the major UK cities, all routed back to a central point.

When it comes to scalability, as all the magic takes place in the cloud, scaling up is just a matter of adding new users to your service. That can usually be done within a few hours, or even minutes. Of course, new users will need to have log-in credentials, such as a user-name and password, so it may take more time to set up at your end. But you can be sure that it won’t take as long to add new users as it would with a traditional telephony system.

Of course, if you want new or additional staff to use desk style phones, you will also need to think about the hardware, but your service provider should also be able to offer you the necessary options as part of the subscription.

If you need to scale down for any reason, it is just as easy. If you take on temporary or seasonal workers, for example, there will be a time when they join and a time when they leave. OK, you may be committed to a number of users for that month or quarter – that all depends on the agreement you have with your service provider, but it will be much easier and quicker than it would have been possible with an analogue system.

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Monthly subscription service

VoIP is usually paid for on a monthly, per-user, subscription basis. You will get so many calls (those made to UK landlines – and sometimes mobile too – are usually free) and features for that fixed price. There will be extras to pay on top for anything that falls outside those allowances – international calls, for example. But here too, there are deals available that can include vastly reduced international calling rates, so it is worth thinking about what you will really need and looking at a few options before deciding on which service is best for you.

That said, you also need to consider factors other than the cost of the service and any extras you are likely to pay on top. You will want your VoIP to be totally reliable, so the reputation and track record of your supplier should also be a consideration.

In summary, is VoIP good for small businesses? Unequivocally, the answer is “yes”. It’s the only logical and common sense option for small and SMB firms. It has especially big benefits for companies that work on projects or do seasonal work. For any busines that is thinking of operating virtually from now on, it’s essential. Really, whatever line of business you are in and whatever the future may hold, VoIP is the always going to be the best bet for smaller firms.

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