How to Choose the Best Small Business VoIP Solution
Copyright 2005 Gobala Krishnan
Telecommunication cost is always an obstacle for small business owners, especially if you need to call domestic or international long distance. The long distance cost factor alone, depending on the type of business you're in, can make the difference in the success of any small business.
The telecommunication market today is one of the most competitive. Rates for both local, domestic long distance or DLL (long distance in the same country) and international long distance (ILD) are going down every day. The new player in small business phone systems, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), adds a whole new dimension when it comes to choosing a phone system for your small business or home based business.
There's so much hype today about VoIP, or Voice over IP, or Voice over Broadband, whatever you want to call it. Everyone's saying that VoIP is the "future of communication" and that VoIP will replace regular analog phone calls. Is all this true? If it is, how do you, as an entrepreneur, decide how to choose and invest in what's best for you? Firstly, if you have no idea what VoIP is really about, here's where you can get educate yourself: http://www.mybusinessvoip.com/start
There are two things you need to consider:
1) Level of investment
2) Cost vs. Quality
To go full out into using VoIP, you'll need to invest in IP phones, and possibly even in IP PBX. Otherwise, you should go for IP phone adapters, which allow you to maintain whatever system you already have, but also gives you the option of converting some of those phone lines to VoIP. Most entrepreneurs are reluctant to go 100% into VoIP, and yet they still want the benefits that come from it. That's why IP phone adapters are so popular today. In fact, here's a list of the most popular providers for comparison: http://www.mybusinessvoip.com/compare
When is comes to quality vs. cost, the direction is pretty clear. Before choosing the proper VoIP phone system for your business, you need to figure out exactly what your business needs. If your business relies heavily on the phone for prospecting customers, providing customer support, or giving out important information through the phone, then you should definitely opt for better quality.
If you use the phone for short communication with your business partners or agents, or any other reason which is NOT your main business function, it would be better to save a little and go with the low cost option. The difference in quality is not very apparent in most cases.
If you are just starting your small business, VoIP phone cards also provide some sort of temporary solution until you can get enough financing to develop a better system. Phone cards usually let you dial international and national long distance at a lower cost because they use either VoIP as the back end provider or through a special promotion or arrangement between telecommunications companies.
Today, you can even get "virtual phone cards" which allow you to make phone calls by dialing a toll-free number in a long list of countries. This is especially useful if you spend more time travelling and doing business overseas than you are at home.
Regardless of which VoIP phone system you choose for your small business, make sure you are getting the most out of the money you spend for these long distance or international plans. Forget the bells and whistles. The purpose of having a good phone system is, and always should be, to communicate and express yourself.
About the author:
Gobala Krishnan is a small business entrepreneur and publisher of the "VoIP and Me" newsletter, designed for smart entrepreneurs who want to avoid all the technical jargon and get straight to the information that really matters. Learn how you can drastically cut communication costs by 70%, get more customers and expand to new markets using VoIP. Join the VoIP and Me newsletter now at http://www.VoipAndMe.com