In this day and age many small businesses are operated from a home office. This setup has benefits that include a short commute, working in your sweat pants and very low overhead. All you really need are the basics; an internet connection, a computer and a phone. Sounds good, I’m in!
But the dilemma for me was how do I maintain a home phone and a business phone without co-mingling them?
Initially my solution included:
- a home phone number
- an office number
- a dedicated fax number
- a mobile (cell) phone
Great, problem solved!
Well, until I realized the phone bills were mounting and only one of the four numbers was getting any action.
Hmmmn, time for a new solution.
What I discovered, is a home business phone service can come in many varieties. Whether you base your requirements on price or features. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a one size fits all solution. What works for me in my business may not work, so well, for you.
Here are 7 things my small business phone service can do:
- Allow me to choose the number. The number can be in or out of my area code and I can keep trying combination’s to score a vanity number. At any point in time I can change my number without any charges, hassle or drama.
- Ring on multiple phones. Finally one number that can ring everywhere I am with no limits on the amount of possible phone numbers. On vacation. At a friend’s house. Long hospital visits. This feature is amazing! For certain people or groups I can set it to ring on one number or all numbers. I can set specific days and/or times for the phone to ring or not.
- Provide voicemail transcripts. When a message is left a voicemail transcript is created then emailed. Great, if I’m in a meeting I can check my voice mail simply by reading the transcript. No dialing or using cell phone minutes.
- Create custom greetings. I can create custom greetings for a specific person, groups of people and a general greeting for random callers. I can create as many greetings as I have contacts they all work at the same time.
- SMS text messaging. I can send and receive SMS text messages. These messages can be sent to one person or multiple people at the same time.
- Transfer a call. Not your ordinary call transfer, an uninterrupted transfer. Let me explain, say I’m in the car on my cell then I reach my office, with the push of a button the call will be transferred from my cell to the landline so I can just keep talking. NICE!
- Generate website widgets. This is the one of the coolest features. I can create call widgets to add to my website and blog. This will allow people to call directly from the website without them incurring any long distances charges. These widgets can be set to ring all my phones, none of the phones or a completely different number like an answering service. Or I can leave a voice message with specific instructions. I can add a different widget for each page or product with a different call to action message.
The seven things (they have plenty more) I described are all features of the free service Google Voice. Since I started using it, I was able to reduce my bill by getting rid of two phone numbers. Yippy, once again I have struck Google Gold! This is the small business phone service that has worked best for me.
Now don’t get me wrong Google Voice is not perfect. As a matter of fact there are some issues with Goggle blocking calls to and from certain numbers. In addition, I have created a “wish list” of services I am hoping they will include:
- ability to receive a fax
ability to receive pictures sent via text ability to port an existing number lower international calling rates apps for other smartphones (they have them for an iPhone, Blackberry and Droid)
Looking for the right tools to help run your business. Check out these no-cost or low-cost options from my small business toolbox.
Copyright © 2015 Rising Star Ideas, LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Photo courtesy: microsoft.com