With the popularity of small office, home office (SOHOs) growing and becoming a smart choice for start-ups, more and more entrepreneurs are looking at some of the same tools utilized by larger firms. The more costly equipment commonly purchased for today’s small business include computers, printers and other technological devices. But that does not have to be the case when selecting an appropriate phone service for your company.
Landlines, old-school technology?
With the introduction of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), many companies (both large and small) have migrated from analog landlines and legacy telephone networks to VoIP services to save cost. Between unlimited cellular usage and very inexpensive VoIP, business owners can attend to both their domestic and international communication needs without adding a large expense line item to their P&L.
By selecting VoIP services, users are able to take advantage of high-speed Internet connections that make communications more intuitive while keeping one’s calling information more organized and well managed. And this can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of major telecom services.
No such thing as a Free Lunch?
If you were wondering if the best things in life are still free, a few VoIPs cost virtually zero dollars to activate. Both Skype (now part of Microsoft as of 2011) and Google Voice both offer an adequate freemium service if your SOHO business works with a quality and speedy broadband connection. However if your desktops or mobiles lack the bandwidth, Internet to Internet calling may not be for you.
If you’re presently a Skype user, this year the company also made group video calls free for all users on supported platforms. If you’re using Skype on a Windows, Mac, or Xbox One system you can now initiate a group video call and pay nothing. Eventually the plan is said to offer free group video calls on ‘more platforms’, which could include mobile devices in the foreseeable future.
Skype’s paywall for group video calling was most likely eliminated based on the free video call service offered by Google Hangouts. Both services now allow up to 10 users to talk at a time. Google Hangouts — which many report will take the place of Google Voice — has been free since the company launched the group video calling service a few years ago.
Upgrade to Premium
Transitioning from freemium to premium services, SOHOs will be particularly sensitive to the cost/value proposition and if ‘buying up’ is truly worth the outlay. For instance, Skype and Google Voice charge for calls to landlines and mobile phones.
Whereas SkypeOut charges a user $13.99 a month for this service, Google Voice in most of the world costs two cents for landlines and usually 10 cents for mobile phones. However before signing up for either, make sure the countries you call on a regular basis are included in the plan (e.g. China and India.)
Grasshopper, which operates more like an old-school switchboard, than a traditional VoIP is an automated system that starts at $9.95 per month and offers a few more bells and whistles. Instead of focusing as much on outbound calls like Skype or Google Voice, Grasshopper bases its business model on the traditional plain old telephone system (POTS). This allows for cost efficiency and permits mobility without the fear of missing important calls. For the small business owner, not missing a call is of the utmost importance. With Grasshopper, callers can reach them on their cell, in the office or at home.
The Next Generation of VoIPs
Telzio is the next generation VoIP phone system that offers the best of both worlds. Offering unlimited users, that low monthly includes a standard or toll free number, unlimited extensions and a full-featured business phone system.
On average, it’s been estimated that SMBs can eliminate on upwards of 75% off their monthly phone costs with a cloud based system.
Designed with today’s mobile user in mind, Telzio can also be used to forward calls to any mobile device or IP phone, filter calls through a menu, make conference calls, and route calls anywhere in the world at local rates.
Will you be transitioning?
According to IBISWorld in 2012, 30 million Americans were paying for VoIP services and the industry at that time was expected to generate about $15.4 billion in revenue. It was also estimated that over a 10-year period, up to 2017, VoIPs contribution to the economy is expected to increase at an annualized rate of 15.3%.
While those stats are significant, you should not be making the switch just because so many others are doing so. More importantly, your decision needs to analyze the larger picture. Instead of just looking at the isolated cost factor – you should be considering the best cost/value proposition for your company. The question to be asked is: What service meets your essential criteria based on demographics and the other pertinent factors mentioned in today’s post? At the end of the day, if you’re going to pay for one of these VoIP services, you want to make sure you are indeed getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Ron is part of the marketing team at Telzio, covering everything from tips and tech for growing businesses to customer success stories for the Telzio blog. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.