Starting a new business? Choose the right phone system.

First thing first, realize that Internet, choice of telephone line provider, and choice of telephone system all tie together.  Don't sign up with a telephone company and box yourself in until you have reviewed your options and have planned a complete solution. If possible, I would even recommend nailing down your Internet, telephone service and system needs before choosing office space.  Your office address can impact what technologies will be available to your business for years to come! For more on this please check out; before you sign an office lease.

For many start-up companies on a tight budget, a VoIP hosted telephone system will be the obvious choice.  VoIP technology enables voice calling and transmission of data through the Internet.  Choosing a hosted system from a proven provider will eliminated the need to purchase a costly premise phone system while providing a level of functionality you will [VoIP Telephone]  not find by combining discount office store multi-line phones with telephone company voice mail or even on many higher end premise systems.

I recommend making a list of your business needs and then reviewing the different types of phone systems that are available.  Understandably many business owners will attempt to only list the bare minimum of what they might need or could use.  The rationale being this will keep cost down.  I recommend doing the opposite, start by brainstorming the best case scenario telephone system for your business.  One key feature could help you gain thousands of dollars in sales or productivity gains.  When considering a VoIP based system a high level feature may not add any cost to your system at all.  It may just be a matter of finding the right vendor. With VoIP, telephone service costs are often lower.  In addition, installation and maintenance costs are often less than traditional telephone lines and systems.

Features of hosted IP systems a start up might find most useful:

1. Total Control: User-friendly on line tools allow you to control your telephone numbers, call routing, automated attendants, and voice mail options.  Eliminates the need to pay a technician or deal with an inflexible phone company to make changes 

2. Reduced monthly cost, VoIP based services typically allow for cost effective line options and reduced call costs vs. traditional telephone and cable company services.

2. Easily connect multiple sites.  Hosted VoIP allows you to connect multiple offices, home offices, soft phones, and cell phones into a single PBX telephone system.

3. Message Access: All messages/mail can be accessed through Internet portal, phone or email.

4. Per user find me, follow me on line tools.  Each user can control when and how accessible they wish to be.

5. Big business call center features and options are typically offered at no extra charge or at a fraction of the price of premise systems.

6. No maintenance surprises and free upgrades.  Since your functionality comes from a hosting center and not premise equipment housed at your site, you should receive free upgrades and new features everytime your provider upgrades.  Also, since you did not purchase a processor, system cards, or system voice mail, you do not have to worry about the sudden expense and hassle of an out of warranty system component  going bad.

If all this seems a little too cutting edge for your business, please understand that hosted IP technology has been around for years and hundreds of thousands of organizations utilize these services every day with great results.  The key is to find a trusted source for the service, to put a reliable commercial grade computer network in place, and to have a reliable and adequate broadband Internet connection.  A hosted IP telephone system can be great option for a new business or almost any company looking to replace or upgrade a system.

Richard Hill has worked in the telecommunications field for over 20 years, 15 of those as the President and owner of SafeCall, a Charlotte, NC based company offering business telephone systems, VoIP telephone service, carrier consulting, and voice/data cabling.

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