If you’re running a business, one of the first things you’ll need is a phone number. Taking business calls on your personal phone gets confusing and can easily lead to unprofessional mistakes. However, this is the reality for many businesses because having a separate phone and phone plan for your business can be pricey and inconvenient.
It’s much easier to take advantage of an all-in-one solution to get your business calls. There are many services available that offer this advantage with various pros and cons.
What are some options that you should consider when choosing an option for your business phone number?
Business Phone Features
There are some questions you should ask yourself when it’s time for you to get a business phone number. Let’s break down some of those questions.
Do I need a toll-free number?
If you are working with international partners or clients, a toll-free number is definitely something to consider. International calls are expensive, and you don’t want to take those expenses on, or even worse, force them onto your partners or clients.
However, if you only work within the US, it’s much easier to get a business number locally than it is toll-free. Keep in mind that if you want a specific number, you’ll have to pay extra for an activation fee. It can be a bit pricey.
Should I Use a Cell Phone or Desk Phone?
Most modern businesses will be using cell phones, so that is the type of phone service that is mostly listed here. It is not only the most affordable option, but it allows you to be mobile and take your calls from anywhere you go.
You can download apps onto your personal phone to manage your business calls, or you can purchase an entirely separate cell phone for your business. The choice is up to you.
Do I Need Unlimited Minutes?
Businesses that aren’t working with external clients may not need unlimited minutes. Plans with unlimited minutes may cost extra, and there’s no need to foot the extra cost if you don’t need it.
On the other hand, minutes do add up fast, and it’s very likely that most businesses will need unlimited minutes to handle both their partners and their clients.
If you’re including text messaging and video calling, you may definitely want to consider getting unlimited minutes.
What Additional Features Do I Need?
Many of the phone plans below come with all kinds of features that you can utilize to your business’s advantage.
The most apparent of these features may be free texting and incoming calls, but features you may not have thought of include:
- a live receptionist that fields your calls to the proper person
- an auto-attendant who does the same but computerized
- having multiple extensions for the various people you work with
- the ability to have conference calls so you can have large meetings with clients, partners, and coworkers easily and effectively
Of course, there are other features as well, including voicemail to text or email, and having additional minutes so you can talk longer on the phone.
These features may be of use to your business, but they cost extra money with each various plan, but they are options to consider investing in if your business would get great use out of them.
Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, you’re all set to browse the below phone services and find out what option is best for you. We will discuss all of the features that they have available, their price points, and if what hardware they provide if any.
With the information we provide, you’ll be able to make informed decisions on what provider to choose, knowing exactly what you’re looking for.
1. Google Voice
Google Voice is a perfect option if you’re already using Gmail and Google Suite for your business. It works on Android and Apple devices along with the computer to provide you with an easy-to-use phone number that works on any number of devices.
With Google Voice, you can even filter spam calls, forward your messages to other devices, and set up custom voicemail responses to ensure both you and your callers get the best experience.
The best part? It’s completely free! Get started with Google Voice by visiting their website. However, Google Voice is currently only available for local numbers, so if you need a toll-free number, another option on this list might be better for you.
Phonebooth provides two free phone numbers with its service. The service itself isn’t free at $20 a month per user, but with that price tag comes various features such as transcribed voicemail, intelligent call routing, a virtual receptionist, and unlimited minutes.
It’s an excellent service for businesses that have many calls coming in to help manage the volume. Phonebooth also hooks you up with 24/7 support, so if you ever run into an issue, they have your back. Check out Phonebooth today at their website!
Nextiva is a leading VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) provider for businesses both small and large. It is free for an entire two months after you sign up so you can get the hang of things and see if you like it.
After that, prices start at just $18.95 per user, providing you with unlimited voice and video calling, an auto-attendant, toll-free numbers, voicemail to email, online faxing, mobile and desktop apps, and 24/7 customer support.
They have more in-depth plans available so you can scale as your business grows and your needs expand.
WhatsApp is a completely free calling platform that allows businesses to do video and voice calls with encryption. It’s widely popular among regular users, but businesses are beginning to pick it up due to its high-quality calls and encryption capabilities.
While it does not have the conference calling or transcribed voicemail capabilities of many of its paid competitors, it is a viable option for businesses looking to save money and still have a high-quality phone service at the same time.
Download WhatsApp on any Android or iOS device, or use its desktop application for Mac or PC. Find out more about WhatsApp or download it directly from their website.
FreedomVoice is what you’re looking for if you want a custom phone number for your business, like the classic 777-FILM of good old Moviefone days. They also give you a 30-day free trial where you can use a local or toll-free number.
It’s perfect for businesses with international partners or clients who need to use that toll-free number frequently. Not to mention, you still get the virtual attendant, phone forwarding, unlimited voicemail boxes, and iPhone and Android app calling capabilities.
They have a no-contract plan so you can cancel anytime without hassle. If you’re interested in customizing your phone experience with FreedomVoice, check out their website.
RingCentral is one of the oldest VoIP companies out there, so they know what they’re doing. They have phone calls, messaging, and conferencing all integrated into their single platform, making it easy to navigate working together.
Their basic plan starts at just $19.99 per user per month and covers up to 20 users. It works well for businesses that work internationally, as you can get a toll-free number.
Ring central also includes transcribed voicemail, team messaging, document sharing, unlimited calls within the US, and unlimited texts. T
here are also many plans available so you can scale with your business. You can try any of the plans for free with the 15-day free trial. Check RingCentral out online and get started today!
One of the best parts about eVoice is that it provides a toll-free number so you can make international calls without charge. Their VoIP plans start at $12.99 a month, where you’ll receive 300 minutes, 2 extensions, and 6 numbers.
It’s a great start for a small business just getting started. The plans are buildable, so you can scale them up as your business’s needs change.
Another perk with eVoice is that you can have a live receptionist take your calls during business hours for Eastern Standard Time. There are many benefits to enjoy with eVoice at a low price. Start your 30-day free trial today on their website.
FreedomPop is an actual free cell phone service. When not connected to wifi, you can enjoy up to 200 minutes, 500 text messages, and 500MB of LTE data for free, with only a $19.99 activation fee.
Although it is actually a personal cell phone plan, you do get a separate cell phone and unlimited calls, texts, and internet as long as you’re connected to wifi. It’s perfect for small businesses. They even have small business packages with special features that make it easy to use the plan for your business.
FreedomPop may have limited features if you’re looking for extensive business features, but it’s definitely worth giving a shot if you’re looking for something free and simple. Check out FreedomPop today to browse their plans and get started.
Callcentric is a unique plan that allows you to choose a $1.00/month phone number from any of the following states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, or Illinois. With this plan, you can test inbound calls or make free outgoing calls to other Callcentric customers and VoIP phones.
For non-CallCentric customers, monthly plans start at $1.95 for 120 minutes for calls to the US, Canada, or Puerto Rico. CallCentric also offers text messaging to its customers with some of its plans. It’s an excellent way for a business to get started with its own phone number cheaply and easily.
Ooma is recommended for small businesses. You get a free toll-free number if you sign up for Ooma Office, allowing you to connect with customers all over the world.
Like most VoIP plans, their plans are tiered and scalable, meaning you can increase your features as your business grows over time.
Their plans start at just $19.95 per user per month. Ooma features a virtual receptionist, mobile and desktop apps, call blocking, call recording, and a multi-ring feature.
At a higher tier, you can even host online meetings and collaborate with your team from anywhere, whenever you need to. If you’re interested in trying Ooma out, check out their website for more details.
Grasshopper is unique in that you can select between a local number, toll-free number, or a vanity number right off the bat. They provide many of the great VoIP features, such as desktop and mobile apps, call forwarding, custom greetings, business texting, simultaneous call handling, and virtual fax.
With their service, you can forward calls to anywhere in the world with ease. The system is easy to set up, and plans are either billed annually or monthly. Monthly plans start at $29 per month. Check out Grasshopper on their website here.
CallHippo’s strength is in its user-friendliness. You can use CallHippo for any customer interaction, from answering questions, working out issues, to making sales.
You can run CallHippo entirely from cell phones if you wish; it does not require a desk phone. It’s a system for complete call management.
You also get excellent customer support from CallHippo’s team if you ever need help with the system. Check out CallHippo’s features on their website.
8×8 is one of the top phone systems for small businesses. Their cloud-based VoIP systems are full of features and reliable. Your business can enjoy features like chat, fax, real-time communication analytics, integrated voice, virtual meetings, and contact centers.
It’s also easy for beginners to navigate their systems if they’re not too tech-savvy.
Their plans start at only $12 per month per user, so it’s certainly one of the cheaper options.
Vonage is another cloud-based service that provides high-quality calls for small and large businesses. Its strength lies in its integrations. It can integrate with Office 365, Google Suite, Salesforce, and more to provide a more streamlined experience for yourself and your employees.
They also collaborate with Amazon Chime for communications like web-conferencing, screen share, file sharing, and chat. It’s perfect for a business that’s consistently collaborating with clients. Vonage’s plans start at $19.99.
15. Skype for Business
Skype for Business will work well for you if you’re already using Microsoft 365, as it integrates seamlessly. If you have large meetings, Skype for Business allows you to meet with up to 250 people, share your screen, send instant messages, and record your meetings.
The best part about Skype for Business is that it is one of the cheapest VoIP phone systems available at only $8.25 per user per month.
The downfall of this system is that it does not have as many of the features that many of the other systems on this list boast. However, if you’re looking more for a collaborative tool, then Skype for Business may be the option for you! Check it out online at their website.
VoIP versus Traditional Phones
In this article, we have discussed Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. This is something businesses need to seriously consider when picking their new phone plans.
What exactly is VoIP?
In these modern times of internet connectivity, there’s not a need for traditional phone networks anymore. Phone calls over the internet have a plethora of advantages that phones over the phone network can’t even begin to touch on. VoIP works either with desk phones or your existing cell phone through an app that you install.
What are the advantages of VoIP?
The major advantage that people look at is cost. It’s much cheaper to have VoIP than it is to have multiple phone lines or a complicated phone plan. Small businesses especially appreciate the cost-effective nature of VoIP. All of the features of a big-budget business such as receptionists and extensions are built into the VoIP system.
Here are a few more of the features that are usually built in to these low-priced plans.
- Transcribed voicemail and voicemail to email: Checking voicemails used to be tedious and even a little time-consuming if you had a lot to go through. Luckily, voicemails can now go straight to your email, so it’s easier to check them when you’re on the go.
- Auto-receptionists: Receptionists legitimize your business and assure customers that they’re in good hands. However, you don’t need to pay a real person for this. Auto-receptionists get the job done at a fraction of the price, while your business still looks professional.
- Call Forwarding: This feature allows you to set up your phones to ring on any devices, including multiple phones at once. Furthermore, you can also set up restrictions on what hours calls can be forwarded to your phone. This makes it easier to take calls as they come in.
- Extensions: Just like how extensions work on classic phones, you can use a single phone number to reach anyone in the business, and everyone still has direct numbers as well.
- Conferencing: This feature is perfect for meetings with clients! You can provide a number to your client and everyone can easily be on the same conference line.
- Internet Faxing: If you deal with outdated documents that still have to be faxed, you can modernize it with internet faxing. Internet faxing is a type of email faxing that is easy to use and does not require a fax machine.
- Automatic Call Recording: This feature is self-explanatory. If you would like to set it up, it can record all incoming and outgoing calls.
These features are just the beginning of what VoIP plans have to offer. Most of the plans are tiered as well, so you can make decisions based on what is best for your company at the time, and scale up in the future.
There are lots of options out there for businesses both big and small looking to get started with business phone numbers. Every service offers something different, and hopefully, this list breaks it down so you can determine what option is best for your business.
It’s easy to get started with any of these options; just visit their websites and get started with the free trials to try them out! Legitimize and organize your business today with a business phone number.