A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald asks why small businesses are letting VoIP pass them by.
“A report from ACMA from January this year found that just 28 per cent of businesses with fewer than 20 employees were making use of IP-based telephony,” the paper reported, “and 39 per cent of medium-sized businesses (20-199 employees) were making use of the technology.”
As soon as I started reading, I felt the weight of an old hat I used to wear – that of the manager of a small nonprofit business. The kind of business where your miniscule staff serves many more people than they should be capable of; the kind of business where too many meetings with my bookkeeper included the words, “Ask if they’ll let us do a payment plan.”
Our legacy phone system worked, though it was decidedly old, lacking even voicemail. When we held telephone fundraisers the PBX (News - Alert) had to be rejiggered and our volunteer tech wizard spent hours troubleshooting rollover glitches. But it worked. So when a local VoIP representative started getting pushy about setting up a meeting with me I begrudgingly accepted an appointment. He explained the cost savings, simplicity of setup and management (this was even prior to cloud hosting and web portal management), and increased add-ons and options. I thanked him and filed his proposal away. For my financially strapped little company, at that moment, the devil I knew was better than the devil I didn’t.
And that seems to be the thought for many small business owners counting every penny, just trying to weather the roller coaster of small business income. Nextiva did a rundown of myths small business owners have bought into which keep them from leveling up to the benefits of VoIP. The myths include:
1. Minimal cost savings: In reality, since local and long distance are grouped into one package the costs drop significantly. It’s similar to the way cell phone plans work.
2. Inferior call quality: With ever improving technology this is really on old wives tale and shouldn’t ever be an issue. And since many small business owners are using Skype (News - Alert) anyway they’re probably actually getting a lower quality call than VoIP could provide.
3. VoIP is for large businesses: Like any technology VoIP started out as an answer for one market segment and has expanded to be available to the entire market range. Since small businesses usually need more flexibility and scalability than large, VoIP is actually even a better deal for them than for larger organizations.
4. Setup and management is costly and difficult: With cloud hosted options and web portal management VoIP systems are easier than anything else to setup, maintain, and change according to seasonal needs.
5. New technology is more troublesome: This was my sticking point. Learning any new system is a hassle and a potential source of real friction within the ranks of a small company. Since VoIP has been around for years now, deployment and integration systems have been designed to be as simple and trouble-free as possible, making it easier than ever for small companies to get in on the savings.
VoIP options are worth a serious look for every small and medium size business. With anything as important to a company’s lifeblood as the telephone system it’s scary to make changes, but in this case the savings and simplicity of VoIP has already been proven in the large-scale market, and in more than one-fifth of the small business market. These days, this upgrade could be one of the least painful a small business owner will ever make.
Edited by Alisen Downey