Whilst it may just sound like a jumble of letters to you VoIP could be your best friend when starting up your business!
VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol” – in other words it’s an internet phone.
When I started out my business I was working full time and running the business on a part time basis. I was running the business from home and not sure if I would be moving to premises when I went full time or not.
I didn’t want to advertise a mobile phone number as I think this gives the wrong perception for this type of business, so I purchased a geographic VoIP number. This meant that my business phone had a local dialling code. You can actually purchase a geographic number for any UK area, not just the one where you live.
I started out just adding call credit to the account and diverting all calls through to my mobile, the cost of the divert being covered by the call credit, this meant that the caller didn’t know they were being put through to the mobile.
Once my business went full time I invested in a VoIP handset, it looks just like a normal telephone but gives me a business line without tying up the home phone. I don’t recommend using the free soft phone option that you can use via your PC as quite often the call quality is very poor.
Your VoIP provider should provide you with a dashboard that will allow you to set office hours, add extensions perhaps or even set diverts at specific times. My VoIP number rings the office phone first then diverts to my call answering team if I am unable to take the call.
There are several VoIP providers out there, shop around and find the one who offers the best deal for you. As with mobile providers they all have different call tariffs and contract/PAYG options so it wouldn’t be right for me to suggest one over the other without knowing the type of calls you will be making or the services that you will require.
However, I would suggest looking at Amazon for your handset, you don’t have to go for the most expensive model, but do take into account if you’re likely to want more than one handset, in hindsight a twin set would have been more suitable for my requirements than the single handset I went for.
The beauty of a VoIP number is that if you do decide to move business premises you don’t have to change your phone number or worry that you are now on a different exchange and cannot keep your number, it travels with you wherever you are.
Thanks to upgrades in technology you no longer need a VoIP handset, you can take calls on your smartphone. I use the Softphone app on iOS.
I’ve had my VoIP number for ten years this year, and in that time have moved house four times. It’s travelled with me which is more than I can say for my landline number, even when I only moved a few streets away!