VoIP SAQ: Questions You Should Ask Before Getting VoIP

Are you thinking about making the switch to VoIP for your small business?  Make sure that you are getting the most from your new provider by asking the right questions.  There are a large number of Voice Over IP companies offering a broad variety of packages and features.  Sometimes it can be tough to make comparisons and get the information you need to make a decision.  Finding transparency with your current or future provider is important.  Here are a few ‘Should Ask Questions’ to help you make the right choice on VoIP providers for your small business.

What Internet Speed Is Needed?

While VoIP creates a relatively small footprint on your bandwidth, it is still important to find out what the recommended internet speeds are for a smooth connection.  This will vary depending on what else you are doing with your business internet connection and how many users you intend to have on the phone simultaneously.  For example a small business that is going to be streaming video content while having 10 concurrent calls will need a much more robust bandwidth than the business making just 2 concurrent calls with minimal streaming needs.  

A good guideline is to assume that each user will require 100 Kbps up and down while using their line.  Factor that in with your other internet requirements to get an accurate idea of your needs.   It’s also a good idea to talk to your ISP to make sure your connection will support VoIP.  For small businesses that plan on having less than 10 users making concurrent calls 5-10 MBps Up and Down should keep your service functioning smoothly. 

What Are The Features That Are Included With Each Package?

Every business has different needs and every VoIP provider has different ways of meeting them.  Make sure you make a quick list of the most important features to your small business.   Then when you are ready find out what is actually included in the packages you are being offered.  It’s important to find out if additional features mean additional costs.  Failing to find out how much additional features cost could run up a big tab as you scale up your workforce.  

At VOIPo we make things easy by offering 40+ standard features for small business accounts with no additional or hidden fees. 

How Many SIP Extensions Are Included?  What Is the Additional Cost To Add Extensions/ Users?

Does the provider you are considering charge additional fees for added users or extensions?  If you shop around you may find that many companies on the market charge on either a usage basis or a user basis.  It’s important for you to not only consider how much it costs today with the number of SIP extensions you need but to consider the future.  As you grow, what are the additional costs associated with adding new users?

Is There A Contract?

Contracts have their pros and cons.  While they may lock in your prices they also prevent flexibility and may have hidden costs to break them.  If your potential VoIP provider does require a contract make sure you find out what the cost is to break that agreement.  Sometimes providers may require you to pay additional fees for any equipment you leased from them for early termination.  

Are IP Phones Provided And What Are The Associated Costs?

One of the major benefits of Voice Over IP is it’s versatility.  There are numerous ways to put VoIP to work for your small business whether you wish to use a standard IP Phone or a Softphone.  Make sure you map out what you want your telecommunications setup to look like.  Equipment can require a larger upfront investment or be leased into your monthly agreement depending on your needs and your budget.  

How Many Minutes Are Included?

We offer unlimited calling for your small business within the United States and Canada.  And with low international rates, you are sure to get exactly what you need.

 

Still haven’t found the company that meets all of your expectations?  Give VOIPo a call today to find out why we are “The Likeable Phone Company.”  We offer a number of transparent packages to suit your needs at prices that won’t break your budget.  With a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee you’ve got nothing to lose.  Call us at 877-99-VOIPO to get started today.

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How VOIPo Can Help Your Small Business Thrive

VOIPO is fast becoming one of the leading providers of Internet-based phone services to small businesses, and it’s easy to see why. Businesses that switch from traditional, outdated landlines to VOIPo’s stellar phone services are saving as much as 75% on their monthly phone bill—potentially even more for businesses that make and/or accept frequent international calls—without any drop in call quality and with complete reliability.
 
If the benefits of switching to VOIPo stopped there, it would still be worthwhile. Cutting your phone bill down to 25% of what you’re currently playing eliminates a whole lot of wasted money, and that means more resources to devote to building your business or giving you bigger profit margins.
 
Right now, VOIPo has plans that provide unlimited calling in the US and Canada for less than $7 per month. That’s not a typo: you can get unlimited calling for less than twenty-five cents a day.
 
But the cost savings is just the beginning of the VOIPo advantage.
 
VOIPo’s phone plans come with over 40 standard features, all at the same low price. Things like three-way calling, telemarketer blocking, online voicemail, 411 directory assistance, online call logs, unlimited speed dial, and a whole lot more are all included. There are too many features to list them all here, but rest assured—you’re getting a whole lot more bang for your buck when you move from your landline to a VOIPo phone package.
 
You can hold conference calls, provide more timely follow-ups that help you close more sales, check voicemails from anywhere in the world, even have your calls forwarded to a different phone or an answering service when you’re away from your business’s physical location. You pay a whole lot less but get to deliver a whole lot more value to your customers, your team, and your business as a whole. And with no long-term contract keeping your phone line tied to VOIPo, you truly have nothing to lose by trying their service out.
Ditching your landline for an Internet phone plan from VOIPo is quick, easy, and effective way to save money and create new opportunities for growth. It just might be the best single decision you can make for your small business—and you can get started today!

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Small Business, Voip, Voipo, Startup

The Best Cities to Start a Business In for 2016 (Part One)

If you are thinking of starting a new business and have the luxury of choosing your startup location this list is for you.  These are the first few cities in our series of top cities to start a small business in 2016.

  1. Nashville, TN

    Nashville is known to many as ‘The Home of Country Music’ but it is also one of the best places to consider for your next venture.  The state of Tennessee does not have a general state income tax and Fitch Ratings stated that they also have the lowest debt ratio of any state in the US.  Nashville itself is home to a metro population of 1.5 million people and nearly 1/3 of these residents hold some sort of secondary education degree.  That comes at no surprise when you Nashville, Small Business, Voipconsider that Nashville is home to top Universities including Vanderbilt and Tennessee State University.  That means that finding potential new employees for your business won’t be hard.  Nashville is also home to some very well established businesses including Nissan North America, HCA Holdings, INC, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc, GM, UPS and Amazon.  It’s not all about work either.  The Home of Country Music has more than 120 live music venues and a major sports presence that goes year-round.

  2. Austin, TX

    If your small business is looking for a tech hotbed the Texas State capital may be your best bet.  Austin has seen a massive influx of high-tech companies and small businesses prompting residents to dub the city ‘The Silicon Hills.’  The tech boom can be in part attributed to an easily accessible workforce of young and talented graduates from nearby universities.  The University of Texas and St. Edward’s University lie within the city limits.  Baylor and Texas State University are both a short drive from the city as well.  Austin is also famously home to the South by South West Conference which saw more than 84,000 registered guests in 2015.  The city is also a haven for creatives and the perfect place to network and grow your business.  Austin has seen massive growth in the last decade with some estimating 110 new residents moving in each day.  The metropolitan area is now home to more than 2 million residents.  Although the cost of living is on the rise, the pros of starting your small business off in Austin may outweigh the rising costs.

  3. Raleigh, NC

    Raleigh, North Carolina ranked No. 2 on Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers in 2013 & 2015 and has consistently been in the top ten locations for the last decade.  The metropolitan area has 1.2 million residents.  According to Forbes, 42% of the adult population holds a college degree.  Population growth is also on the rise with more people moving into the metro area to take advantage of a below average cost of living and access to an economy which produced $61.3 billion in gross metro product in 2012.  Starting a new business is easy as the city was ranked 3rd in 2014 for regulatory efficiency by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.  Your new business can reap the rewards of some awesome tax benefits as well as access to Research Triangle Park which is hailed as the largest research park in the United States.

Don’t see your city on the list?  Leave us a comment and maybe we will review your city in the next edition.

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telecom, telecommunications, voip, facts

12 Interesting Facts about Telecommunications

The first phone call was made by Alexander Bell way back in 1876.  Fast forward more than 100 years and 47% of smartphone users in the United States say that their smartphone is something they cannot live without.  Here are 12 more interesting facts about phones and telecommunications:

  1. The first 911 system was introduced in the United States in 1968.
  2. A study in the UK revealed that 47% of all water-damaged mobile phones had been dropped in the toilet bowl.
  3. According to NASA your mobile phone has more computing power than the computers used for the Apollo 11 moon landing.
  4. In 2012 Apple sold roughly 340,000 iPhones per day!
  5. Nomophobia – the fear of being without your phone or losing your phone signal.
  6. Smartphones would not exist without 250,000 individual patents.
  7. Malaysia allows you to legally divorce your partner via text message.
  8. The first mobile phone call was made in 1973.
  9. The first phone book issued in 1878 was only 20 pages long.
  10. In 2014, the number of mobile phones in the world was greater than the number of people.
  11. Experiments with VoIP begin in 1973
  12. VOIPo is founded.

For more facts and our source click HERE, HERE & HERE.

 

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tools, apps, application, software, small business

4 Great Apps for your Small Business

Technology has done a lot to make our lives easier.  With so many options at our disposal deciding which programs to use may seem daunting.  When it comes to small business, selecting the best tools to fit your needs is a top priority.  We are here to help.  These are some of the most popular applications used by small and large businesses alike.

Finance & Accouting:

Wave is your go-to cloud accounting and invoicing tool if you are on a tight budget.  They’ve been featured all over INC., The New York Times and Forbes and have served more than 1.5 million customers.  So here’s the deal, Wave is mostly free to use.  You get to use a whole gambit of awesome tools including accounting and invoicing reports, recurring invoices, receipt tracking, and mobile invoicing for free.  The only catch is that you will have to put up with some sponsored offers within the software.   If you want to add features like payroll or premium customer support you are looking at less than $20 a month.  This is a small price to pay considering the rest is 100% free.

FreshBooks is a great paid alternative for your small business.  You gain a multitude of additional features without the disruption of offers from sponsored companies, however it will cost you.  Plans start at $12 and go up to $40.

Communication:

Slack has blown up in the last year as a fully integrated messaging application for your business.  Slack launched in 2013 and the company is now valued at $3.8 billion dollars. So why?  Integrate your entire small business on one platform with tons of different features for an extremely reasonable price.  Slack allows you to create “channels,” direct message and private message individuals, share documents by dragging and dropping them directly in the platform, and even integrates with your third-party apps like DropBox and Soundcloud.   This may just be the email killer that your small business needs to become more effective.  Slack is free to use with limited features for small businesses or “teams” and less than $7 a month per active user to get just about all the features.

Organization:

Saying the Evernote is an extension of your brain may seem like a bit of a boast, but the more you use it the more it becomes just that.  Evernote is an amazing cloud-based note-taking application.  It allows you to create notes and notebooks from just about any device.  You can add tags, upload images and files, and even create shared notebooks with other Evernote users.  It’s also great for creating checklists.

If you need to message someone you have a shared notebook with, you can do it seamlessly in the application with their messaging feature.  The Google Chrome extension also allows you to clip simplified versions of web articles, posts and pictures directly into your Evernote.  You can also record voice files and attach them to notes which sync automatically allowing you to access them from anywhere.  Evernote is Free for the basics (which suits most individuals) and they also have plans ranging from $35 – $60 annually for additional features, devices and memory.

 

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telemarketers, nomorobo, telemarketing, telemarketer, voip, voipo, phone

Best Tool for Stopping Automated Telemarketers

In this modern age of notifications, telemarketers are finding new ways to reach us no matter where we are.  Did you know that there are more than 200,000 employed telemarketers and 250,000 known robocallers out there? Probability says that you have probably been a victim of at least a few of their calls.

In 2003 the FTC implemented the Do Not Call List Registry in an effort to fight telemarketers off.  While that helped to stymie the number of unwanted sales calls, it also prompted telemarketing companies to search for new ways to reach people.

Today telemarketing remains a massive industry reporting nearly $500 billion a year in business.  That amount of money makes automated calling services aimed at selling you products even more valuable.  According to Private Citizen, more than 148 million telemarketing phone calls are made per day.  Many of these calls are dialed by robocallers which use computerized systems to call you with pre-recorded messages.  Fortunately, technology has also created services to help protect you from these unwanted disturbances.

The Only Tool You Need

Nomorobo, is the tool you need.  It uses a growing list of more than 250,000 known robocallers to screen your calls.  The FTC even chose them as the winner of the FTC Robocall Challenge which challenged entrepreneurs to find a way to prevent automated telemarketing systems for a cash prize.

The best part about Nomorobo: it’s free to use on your home phone as long as your service provider offers it!  They recently released an extension service to protect your mobile phone as well.

Check out their website HERE.

P.S. If you are already a VOIPo customer, it is easy to activate Nomorobo on your device.  Contact us today!

Sources:

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VoIP, small business

Why Your Small Business Should be Using VoIP

VoIP services have become increasingly popular over the last decade, especially among small businesses.  Small business owners are no longer limited to choosing between a handful of service providers for their business phones.  Today VoIP and PBX services have disrupted the telecommunications industry by offering a unique offering for business owners at an affordable price point.  It is important to educate yourself on what VoIP has to offer for your small business.  Here are the main advantages of VoIP and Hosted PBX services.

Flexibility & Ease of Use

VoIP and Hosted PBX services are incredibly mobile.  Unlike traditional phones which take time and money to setup and move, VoIP and Hosted PBX users will find it easy to transfer. In part, this is due to the fact that users can customize their setup.  All you need is a broadband connection strong enough to support audio streaming.  VoIP and hosted PBX services give you the ability to make calls directly from your computer using a microphone and soft phone application.  Of course you can always take the more traditional route and choose from a large selection of SIP phones to use with your system.

For small businesses that require one dedicated phone line, a basic VoIP setup is extremely easy to install without much technical know-how. Simply plug your phone into a VoIP adapter and plug the adapter into your router or modem.  It’s that easy.   Hosted PBX services cater to larger businesses that may be looking for multiple dedicated lines and extensions along with a host of other features like call menus, hold music and call waiting.  The old method of PBX required you to self-host your system which can be complicated and risky for your business.  If you don’t have an IT department, self-hosted PBX can quickly become a mess.  Today, hosted PBX provides larger businesses with an easy solution. Your PBX becomes effectively hosted in the cloud meaning less hassle for your business and less strain on your wallet.

Cost Savings

Saving money is important and extremely easy to do by choosing a VoIP or Hosted PBX service for your small business.  You can get your business phone system up and running for a fraction of the cost of a traditional line.  Since VoIP and Hosted PBX use mostly preexisting systems and are largely hosted on the web, infrastructure and maintenance costs are minimal in comparison to traditional lines.  As a small business owner you can expect to save money on:
  • Setup costs.
  • Monthly service fees.
  • Usage fees.
  • Cost for additional features.
  • Cost for adding additional phone numbers.

 More Features and More Value

Saving money does not mean that you will sacrifice call quality.  In fact, with advancements in technology and internet speed over the last few years, VoIP services have become increasingly more reliable and attractive.  VoIP services include standard features like caller ID, call waiting and 3 way calls supported.  Today you can also take advantage of the newest features to save you time and make you and your business more efficient.  Here are a few of the advanced features you can unlock with VoIP or hosted PBX, or for a complete list of features click HERE.
  • Online Call History
  • Online Voicemail
  • Call Blocking
  • Unlimited Speed Dial
  • Voicemail SMS and Email Notifications
  • Network Failover Forwarding
  • Simultaneous Ring
To see which service fits your needs best click HERE.

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State of the Small Business Landscape and What You Need to Know

The world is moving at a faster pace today and we all need to find ways to move with it.  For small businesses this means having an understanding of the current business landscape.  The 2013 U.S. Census revealed that the U.S. is home to more than 28 million small businesses.  Yes, that is not a typo; 28 million.  That number seems a bit less startling when you note the fact that approximately 400,000 new small businesses are started each month and 52% of these are home-based.  The turnover for small businesses is also high.  In fact 5 out of 10 new firms will not make it to their fifth birthday.
The best way to prepare for what is ahead, is to do your best to understand where we are at today. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is an amazing resource dedicated to helping small businesses with everything from acquiring funding to mentorship.  Earlier this month the SBA released its’ “Small Business Bulletin” which, profiles the important details of the state of small businesses in the United States.
Here are the 8 most surprising facts about startups and small businesses: 
  • Small businesses continue to add more new net jobs than large businesses.
  • Businesses with less than 50 employees added up to 39% of net new jobs in the first three quarters of 2014.
  • New business establishment openings are outpacing business establishment closings.  Q3 of 2013 through 2014 saw quarterly establishment openings of more than 375,000 while closings during that same period were all below 375,000.
  • Small businesses, between 250-499 employees, export value improved by 4.5% between 2012-2013.  Compare this to the growth of U.S. exports during the same period which was a mere 1.4%.
  • The first quarter in 2015 saw the most venture capital raised in a Q1 since 2000.  Traditionally the first quarter is a slow time for venture capital. Q1 2015 investments totaled $13.4 Billion.
  • The top five VC Deals in Q1 2015 were as follows: Uber $1 Billion, SpaceX just under $1 Billion, Lyft $530 MillionPinterest $367 Million, SoFi $213 Million.
  • Q1 2015 became the fifth straight quarter to see VC investments totaling more than $10 Billion.
  • Q1 2015 also saw the lowest number of seed-stage deals since reporting on this began in 1996.  Investors overlooked more early-stage startups in lieu of making investments into more mature small businesses.

To see the full report click HERE.

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Update: Is the War On Net Neutrality Over?

Back in February we reported on the debate surrounding Net Neutrality. On June 14th, a Federal appeals court elected to uphold the ruling to regulate ISPs in a 2-1 vote.  This is a significant victory for regulators who passed a ruling in February to impose strict guidelines on Internet Service Providers such as Comcast.  That ruling allowed the FCC to classify ISPs as utilities and barred them from dictating internet speeds for specific web pages.  Net Neutrality is the idea that everything on the internet should be treated equally.  However, Internet Service Providers like AT&T and Verizon argue that they deserve the right to control internet streaming speeds for specific sites.  For example, Netflix represents a majority of the streaming that occurs on the internet, so ISPs feel that Netflix should be required to pay more to use their services.  Proponents of Net Neutrality fear that if ISPs can pick and choose which sites they show and at what speed, they will be able to dictate what people see on the internet.  It is likely that major Internet and Cable providers will continue to fight the rulings.

For VoIP providers like us Net Neutrality is crucial since we rely on it for our audio streaming.  For a more in-depth look at the decision made Tuesday click here.

If you want a better understanding of what Net Neutrality really is, check out this video.

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