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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The 9 Must Have Small Business Tools You Can’t Live Without

So maybe that small business you started isn’t so small any more.  Or maybe you are just about to launch your new endeavor and want to make sure you don’t miss a beat.  

Here at VOIPo we have helped countless small business owners and teams save costs and improve their thriving businesses.  It’s no secret that it takes a lot to make your creation come to life.  Our goal is to make that process easier for you.  Unfortunately we can’t build your business for you but we can give you the tools to help! This is a list of the 9 small business tools that you won’t be able to live without.  Don’t just take it from us!  Try these tools out for yourself and drop us a comment of your favorite tool.  

  1. Slack (Messaging/ Communication)

In the early and late 90’s AOL Instant Messenger was the communication platform of choice among teens and young professionals while email prevailed in the work place.  Slack brought business communications into the 21st century by taking what we loved about Instant Messenger, cleaning it up, and giving it a professional spin.  Email will probably have it’s place in the business world for decades to come but in just a few short years Slack has become the go to source for small business text communications.  The service offers extremely affordable and easily scalable cloud or app based messaging and tools for you growing small business.  Do everything in one place.  Upload and share files, send individual or team messages, tag users, easily search archived messages and integrate your communications with a whole host of 3rd party applications.

2. Google Suite (Everything)

Google may have a plan to rule the entire world but you can start by using their GSuite to rule your small business domain.  The Google GSuite offers their entire list of services for your business.  From gmail to google docs, nowadays its tough to do much without using Google.  Check out the full list of features and pricing options here.

3. Freshbooks (Accounting)

Freshbooks is the “Small Business Accounting Software that makes Billing Painless.”  Ahhh technology.  If there is one thing technology has given us that we can all be grateful for it would have to be cloud accounting software.  If you are anything like a large portion of business owners who favor doing anything but accounting, then Freshbooks is worth a look.  They have taken all the headaches out of doing small business accounting and dropped it in one easy-to-use cloud based software.  That’s right invoicing, expenses, payments, time keeping, and reporting all at your fingertips.  

4. Evernote (Organization)

If you ever feel like you need a second brain to process everything you have going on Evernote is small business tool must have.  This is every note taker’s dream program.  Create notes, organize them into notebooks, add tags, upload images and audio, and even instantly clip text or full articles from the web.  If your entire team uses Evernote you can even invite them to collaborate on notes or notebooks with you and message them directly from the platform.  While they do over an extremely robust free account, you can opt into the premium account for a nominal fee.  The software is available in a cloud-based or app-based format with a mobile app and google chrome extension for increased accessibility.  

5. Trello (Project Management)

Trello is a great small business tool for visually inclined project management teams. Create projects, add members, labels and due dates and boom you have easy project management.  Once you have created your projects Trello seamlessly integrates with Evernote, Slack and Google’s GSuite.  The company started in 2011 and within a year had reached more than 500,000 members.  Today it is trusted by companies like Adobe, Pixar and National Geographic.

6. Kayako (Customer Support)

Customers are at the core of every business but when you are running a small business you can’t afford missing a single interaction.  Kayako keeps all of your customer interactions in one place.  Kayako allows users and support staff to open, close and manage tickets with due times and archived ticket history.  With a sleek interface and live chat as an add-on feature, make sure your team is winning every customer communication.  Kayako integrates with your small business email, social media, billing and even third party softwares like Zapier and Slack.  They also make it easy to add an ‘Help Yourself’ FAQ section to your site to give your customers accessibility to the things that matter.

7. Proposify (Sales)

Sales is the lifeblood of every business and when it comes to selling, eliminating friction points is critical.  Proposify helps your sales team generate professional proposal documentation using online templates that look amazing.  Using their online platform you can review and send proposals to prospects and even see when the prospect has received and opened the proposal. Accept online integrations and even connect your Proposify account to stripe so you don’t have to chase down your new clients.  They host everything in the cloud so you can access your proposals on the go and even use analytics to see how your business is doing.

8. Hubspot (CRM)

As your small business grows so will your relationship base.  Hubspot helps you manage that asset.  Heralded for their incredible marketing and award-winning CRM platform Hubspot makes relationship management a breeze.  They offer a free tool and more advanced Sales and Marketing add-ons for a fee.  The best part about Hubspot is the ability to archive your emails, calls, meetings and notes in one place.  

9. Zapier (Bridging Software & Service)

Alright, so now you have all the premier small business tools but how do ensure you are getting the most out of them?  Zapier has the answer.  Software integrations are great, but they don’t always work just right.  Sensing an opportunity in the market Zapier set out to build a service that could bridge gaps between programs and automate your workflow.  The company gained more than 600,000 users in three years and today supports more than 750 apps.  So how does it work?  Create a trigger, specify an action, add filters.  For example say you get new product orders via multiple gmail accounts with the heading ‘New Order.’  Instead of constantly checking each of the inbound email channels you create a new workflow with Zapier.  Each time you get an email with the title being ‘New Order’ automatically send a slack message to your fulfillment team.  See what Zapier can do for you! 

10. BONUS: VOIPo

Still need telecommunications for your small business?  We’ve got you covered.  Our small business packages include 40+ features out of the box.  Get unlimited calls to the US and Canada for less than $8 month.  Switch over to the Likeable Phone Company to start saving today! Get started HERE.

Let us know what your favorite tool is in the comments below.  

 

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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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softphone, voip, voipo, small business

Benefits of Using Your VoIP Service On Your Smartphone

VoIP is a great way to keep more money in your wallet while getting an awesome phone service.  Technology has helped drastically drop telecommunications costs without sacrificing features.  Now you can even carry your VoIP service with you by using a softphone application on a compatible mobile phone.  A softphone is simply a term used to describe software that allows you to make and receive phone calls using a device with an internet connection like your smartphone.  This allows you to easily enable VoIP services on the go.  While every VoIP provider is a bit different, you will generally be able to access a wide array of features on your mobile softphone. The VOIPo softphone app is free and exclusive to VOIPo customers and offers some amazing features like:
  • Caller ID
  • 3 Way Calling
  • Caller waiting
  • Voicemail to email
  • Custom contact lists
  • Quick dial
Softphones are ideal for:
  • Travelers and heavy commuters
  • Telecommuters
  • Small businesses with remote employees
  • Anyone looking to utilize VoIP on their smart phone
  • Someone who plans on making frequent long-distance calls
In order to use VoIP on your device all you need is a softphone client.  For VOIPo users, it is extremely easy to setup your VoIP soft phone for free on your iPhone or Android device.  All you need to do is go to your respective mobile application store and search for the “VOIPo” app.  Once downloaded simply log into your Vpanel from another device.  Click on the tab labeled “Beta” and then click “Mobile Softphone.”  You will be prompted to enable “Softphone/ BYOD.” Once done simply capture the QR code by using your smartphone device and voila.
Check out a full list of our VoIP features here.

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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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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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3 Ways to Save Money for Your Small Business in 2016

Being a small business owner means you have a lot of tough decisions to make.  When it comes to choosing where to allocate your money, you don’t always have to make big sacrifices to keep your business running smoothly. Here are three great ways to reduce business costs while continuing to grow your small business:

  1. Hire Interns:
          Are you understaffed and looking for some extra hands on deck? Adding a new full time employee can be costly.  Let’s say you decide to bring on a full-time hire and pay them $15 an hour. That’s a $2400 paycheck you are cutting them each month.  That doesn’t include insurance costs, taxes, benefits, not to mention training and overhead costs. On top of that you also have to consider how long it will take for that employee to get up to speed and the associated opportunity costs of bringing that individual on.  If you are
a small, cash-strapped business hiring a full-time employee may not be the best solution for your growing pains.  A great alternative is to start an internship program. Believe it or not many public and private universities require or strongly recommend that students get an internship at some point during their college tenure. Some course curriculums even require one or multiple internships in order for their students to qualify for graduation or in return for school credits.  With more than 2,500 accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States, it shouldn’t be hard for you to find a few eager students to temporarily join your ranks.
          Bringing on interns can have a number of big benefits for your business.  They can offer new perspectives and help you and your employees with projects that you have been overlooking in lieu of more important tasks.  Having a temporary intern is also the perfect way to find future employees and learn what works and what doesn’t in your organization.  By bringing interns into your business you are also continuing to get your business name known and you create a self-fulfilling recruitment cycle. As a business owner, you are always looking for new ways to bring valuable new people into your organization without having to hire a recruiting company.  Internship programs provide you with driven, low-cost workers who don’t expect much in pay.  And guess what, if things don’t quite work out with you and your new intern, you can part ways after a few months with some new perspective of your own. Not to mention supporting local students is a great move for your business.
  1. Take Advantage of Free Advertising and Marketing:
          Okay this one is huge! And we mean HUGE.  Traditional marketing and advertising can cost your business an arm and a leg.  Nowadays with the internet there are ample ways to run an extremely successful marketing and advertising campaign for an extremely low budget.  We aren’t talking about just setting up a few social media accounts.  This is still going to take some time and attention but the potential outcomes are huge.  Companies today are turning to online discussion forums, email lists, and inbound marketing to find potential customers by leveraging their expertise. Here’s how it works: You provide free value or advice related to your industry which potential customers find you through organic searches, online forums and discussion boards.  As you provide more and more free value to people, your perceived expertise increases along with your familiarity among potential clients.  If you are the industry expert in a given field, you are the clear choice next time someone enters the buying stage.  Here are a few examples of how you can start doing just this. You could start answering questions that people post in pre-existing online communities.  You could start a YouTube channel dedicated to educating people about something related to your business or service.  You could start an email newsletter offering people valuable tips, information or even case studies.  These are just a few ways to market your business on a low budget.
          And hey, maybe you aren’t about the internet or don’t want to deal with email lists or discussion boards, no problem.  You can take the same principles we have discussed here and take them offline.  Get involved in your industry or local area and offer free seminars or meet ups where you are able to offer valuable information or training to people who are interested in what you do!
  1. Outsource:
          For small business owners, the word “outsourcing” may seem like the downfall of their homegrown operation, but outsourcing today can be a lot more valuable and cost-effective for your business than you may think.  And no we do not mean moving all of your production and customer service operations overseas.  You can outsource just about anything to people domestically or internationally for much less than it would cost you to do it in house.  Do you need research done on your competition? Or maybe you need someone to cook up some hot new graphics for your monthly newsletter?  How about that marketing proposal that needs to get finished by next week?  Well guess what, there are thousands of individuals who are excited and willing to do all of those things for less than you think.  Sites like Upwork and Fiverr allow you to connect with individuals who can do just about any task for you.  Describe the project you have in mind, use their networks to get thousands of eyes on your project, get other people to bid on your project and choose the winner to complete the task on a budget that works for you.  And if you thought that these kind of sites only lead to unskilled workers you may want to think twice.  Today, it is not uncommon to find individuals with degrees and a running track record to base your decision upon.
We just wanted to lead you to the rabbit hole, but now it’s up to you to go down it.  If you are willing to get creative and spend a little extra time looking for ways to leverage your available resources, you will surely find ways to keep your business on top.

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