Starting a new business is a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. Often, you’re flying by the seat of your pants and need to change directions quickly as new opportunities present themselves. This is where choosing a hosted telephone system can offer immense benefits. Hosted phone systems are a win for small business, thanks to no hardware and low costs.
Benefits of Going Virtual
Essentially a hosted phone system is made up of one or more virtual numbers connected with one or more hosted services. It can be as simple or as sophisticated as you would like.
A virtual phone number is simply a number that is hosted in the cloud, rather than tied to a specific line and physical location. You can choose a virtual number from any number range you wish, such a toll-free number, a standard number, or maybe a phone number from an increasingly popular range in your city or state.
Here’s a look at why hosted telephone services are the best option for today’s modern small business:
Using a virtual number can make your new business look more professional and more established. It also precludes you from having to give out your personal mobile or landline. This also helps to protect your privacy and allows greater control over your free time.
By linking your company’s virtual number to hosted services you can create the perfect phone system for your ever-changing needs. If you’re always on the move, it’s a simple matter to direct calls to wherever you are. So, if you’re in the office calls can reach you there, or if you’re out on the road you can receive calls on your mobile instead. Similarly, if you’re working from home you can just as easily transfer all of your calls.
Location independence offered by virtual phone numbers also makes switching premises easy. As you grow from a spare room, to commercial office space your number and phone set up stays the same – you just simply transfer all calls to your new location. It’s a lot less hassle than setting up redirects and the transition is seamless as far as customers and suppliers are concerned.
Ease of Use
Hosted telephone services are also incredibly easy to manage. Most can be set up in just a couple of minutes via an online control panel and all changes are instantaneous. You can easily scale up to as many numbers as you require in a short period of time, without affecting existing services or call quality.
This is perfect if you get a sudden surge of inquiries after a media mention, or successful trade show exhibit. You can, of course, always choose to send your calls to voicemail instead. With a hosted voicemail service any messages received will automatically be emailed to you as an audio attachment which can be accessed online or over the phone, so you will never miss an important message.
Hosted phone systems don’t require a large investment to get going. They are a very cost-effective way of managing your calls. Traditional phone systems require you to purchase expensive PBX (switchboard) hardware if you want to have all but the most basic of functionality. This might seriously limit your options until you have made enough money to upgrade your equipment.
A hosted solution gives you access to all features from day one, without any upfront costs. Also, there are no maintenance costs, repair fees, or expensive upgrades to consider – they are all handled automatically by your provider. Meanwhile, if you want to keep your monthly business phone bill down, you can choose to use a VoIP service for your outbound calls.
VoIP stands for ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’, which basically means calls made over the Internet. Business grade VoIP services are common today, and are highly reliable with call quality indistinguishable from ‘regular’ phones.
Scaling with Hosted Phone Services
As your small business grows, you can use a virtual PBX (switchboard) and other more sophisticated services to handle calls whichever way you choose. You can set up direct dial numbers for key staff, set up group transfers so inquiries are distributed evenly to your sales staff, or use features such as the call menu so callers can press a button to reach the right department.
As Forbes contributor Gene Marks, who has used a virtual PBX for several years, explains, “You call our toll-free number. An automated attendant answers the phone … You’re given the choice of “sales” or “service” … or you can choose the dial-by-name directory. You can leave a message. If you wait to get me on the line, the call is automatically routed to my cell phone (I can choose to route calls to whatever number I want).” This is one example of how leveraging small business technology can work for entrepreneurs with ventures, large and small.
As you can see, hosted telephone services offers huge advantages for startups and small businesses. Its flexibility is a perfect match for your startups’ need to stay agile. What’s more, it’s not just a short-term fix, as it allows your phone system to naturally grow and develop, seamlessly changing as your business does.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Matthew Guise is a digital marketing expert for Callagenix Ltd, a UK-based telephony services provider that specialises in business grade hosted phone solutions. To find out more about hosted telephony please contact Callagenix today. We work with a number of start-ups and small businesses and can offer expert advice on the right solution for your fledgling enterprise. Connect with @callagenix on Twitter.
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