Currently I am going through the throws of starting up my own work from home small business. It is a recruitment/head hunting company and so will be very much centered around using the phone... usually for a few hours a day.
So I have the target of getting a phone line in place that can ensure me quality whilst at the same time giving value for money.
Now there is no question that a normal BT business line, or another company running off such a line, can give me the quality that I am asking for. But with costs to have it fitted (as well as the delays involved), the large fees of calls to mobiles during the day and the not exactly cheap other calls it doesn't really give much value for money.
However I had thought that it was the only option. But talking to a number of consultants who had also started their own companies within the last year a number came up with an answer that surprised me, VoiP.
Now I had heard about VoiP before, indeed who hasn't heard of the main company pushing the system - Skype, But I was also led to understand that the quality was a little less than what it might be. However it seems that has changed in the last 2 years or so.
The consultants I spoke to have all sworn by the quality of it, that there is little to no difference between that and a normal business line.
Looking into it deeper brings up some other useful pieces of information. As I said before I was worried about costs. VoiP comes with the advantage of not having to pay for the line to be installed, always useful when you are on a start up budget!
As well as that the calls are cheaper, especially to landlines, again helping with the budget. In many cases you can get calls to landlines free of charge (the one I am looking at in particular costs ?5.99 a month and gives you free UK land line calls).
Another boon to the professional working by themselves is it is very easy (and usually free) to set up call forwarding, a lifesaver if you want to be able to go to meetings without worrying about missing an important call.
It is also to set up your 'office' anywhere. All you need is your laptop, an internet connection and a VoiP phone/headset. So you can, if you wanted, set up in any cafe or pub with a WiFi connection to run off!
Because, in most cases, there is no minimum contract needed this is something I will definitely be trying out, at the very most I will lose a few pounds and have a couple of weeks of less impressive phone line quality, at the most I will have gained a more flexible tool for a fraction of the price I would have spent on a more traditional line.
If you are interested in following more articles of one mans efforts in starting his own company Nick is currently blogging about the ups and downs of such an effort over on his starting a recruitment company blog.
It provides many hints and tips for those starting a business, recruitment or otherwise.