Does Your Startup Need a Business Phone Service?
Starting a small business can mean lots of tough choices, and picking a phone service is no exception. Do you need a business phone service? The answer can depend on what business you're building, and how much flexibility you need.
First, we need to look at the options available. There are three most startups use: all cellular service, where the business, which is usually just one person, uses a cellular phone; VoIP, or voice over Internet protocol, which uses your Internet connection to make and receive phone calls; and the land line we all know. VoIP and cellular are cheaper than a business phone system, which is why they're popular with startups. And they all will fit your basic needs pretty well, but land lines are better suited to certain types of business.
For example, if you've got an office or storefront you're working out of, whether it's at home or a space that you rent, a business phone service makes sense for a few reasons. First of all, it's a solid building block to rest the majority of your communications on. For example, in the US, you can configure a service such as Google Voice around your business land line, so that any calls will ring your business phone, your home phone, and your cell phone, collect voicemail wherever you are, and forward it to your email account. You can be in touch, even when out of the office, and can keep easier track of messages.
And, if for some reason those digital services don't work, you've got a land line tied to your office address that people can always find you at. If your business lives and dies on communicating with clients, it's good to have that foundation to build off of. It's especially useful if your business caters to older clients: not everybody has an email address or is comfortable with a computer
Secondly, a land line is stable. VoIP relies on power being constantly on, and if somebody calls you during a power outage, they may get a busy signal. Or, even worse, if there's a brownout while speaking to a client, you can drop the call entirely. Land lines are more secure; calls are dropped a lot less frequently, and you won't have to worry about missing anything, be it an important voicemail or just stayed connected with an important client.
Also, if you think you're going to grow at your current offices, and may need to add a lot of capacity quickly, a business phone service will be worth the cost: everything you need will be built right into the system already, and revisions are fairly simple to implement.
On the other hand, if you're going to be on the road a lot, or need more flexibility, VoIP or cellular service may make more sense. A land line can still serve as a strong communications foundation for your business, but if you're a one-person operation and have no plans to expand your employee base, such as running a consulting business, the cost may not make sense.
Still, when starting a new business, it's always worth considering a business phone system. Stability is rare in the startup world and hey, it's nice to be able to rely on your phones.