Small Business Phone Systems: 7 Things You Need To Know

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Maintaining systems for effective communication is critical for any kind of business.

Staying connected to customers, having good communication among team members, and having open channels of communication for other stakeholders are important for both small and large businesses. 

Today, as businesses increasingly rely on digital systems, the telephone system also needs to be upgraded to meet modern needs.

In the past, it was fine for organizations to have standard landline phones, but today things are a bit more complicated.

Unlike in the past when businesses were mostly local, modern businesses are all about being present everywhere in the world through the internet. They require a communication solution that will serve this need of the business. 

Today a lot of businesses rely on the hybrid company model where many people are working remotely, some parts of the business are based overseas and nothing is centrally controlled.

Small Business Phone Systems

So, communication needs to be flexible, so it can be integrated into such a system.

Phone lines as we know them have gone through many phases of evolution to meet the ever-changing needs of modern businesses. 

In this article, we will explore the main things you need to know, so you can make a calculated decision as to how you want to upgrade your business communication system.

Phone system options

Broadly speaking, there are four main types of phone systems that you should consider for your business:

1.    Analog Systems - the oldest available technology that transmits signals through copper wire.

2.    Private Branch Exchange - Commonly referred to as a PBX system, this is what a lot of medium-sized businesses use to increase phone lines without having to increase physical wired connections.

3.    PBX Over IP - This is a modified version of the standard PBX system where signals are transmitted through the internet rather than through a copper wire.

4.    VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol(VoIP) is the latest system currently available. It is a solution in which voice is transferred in data packets similar to the PBX Over IP system but in this case, the line can transmit more than just voice data.

If you are a small business that only operates locally and only has in-house employees, then you might be fine just using a standard phone line.

However, as your operations expand you will need additional functionality, and basic phone lines don’t have the capability to support these features.

If you want a future-proof option, even if you aren’t fully utilizing it right now, the VoIP system is a great choice. 

Even in your current situation, you can start to make use of the system, and later when you need to increase operations, or you need to handle a higher volume of communication, you will already have the bandwidth to expand upon.

In addition, to help you communicate faster, you can also try getting a second phone with an esim. To know how does e sim work, read more.

Selecting an option

Each of these phone systems has its own pros and cons, and one might be better than the other, depending on what your exact needs are.

Selecting an option

One of the main considerations when deciding which PBX business phone systems to get is whether you are starting from scratch or building on an existing interface. 

In the case that you have a system already installed, your options will be a little limited, or it will cost you a bit more to change to another framework. If you are starting off with an empty canvas, it's a lot easier to design the new system.

Generally, you are going to be choosing between a wired connection and an internet-based system. The main advantage to scaling up to a VoIP or any other internet-based system is that you get a head start on the competition.

Even if these services aren’t fully utilized right now, you will be a step ahead of the competition when it comes time for them to acquire bigger and better infrastructure.

When shifting to a new system, these are some factors that you can set as your selection criteria to make it easier to decide on an appropriate solution.

Selection criteria

Even within a certain kind of system, for instance, VoIP, there are several different options that provide very different functionality and of course, the price can also vary quite a lot. So to make your decision easier, consider these factors:

1.   Reliability

Regardless of what kind of system you choose, there is always going to be some margin of error. Ideally, you want the failure rate or the error rate to be as low as possible.

However, some things are inherent in the nature of the technology that can't be avoided.

For instance, if you overload a wired connection, there is only so much that it can handle; it has a physical capacity. The other thing to watch out for is the quality of service offered by the service provider themselves.

You don’t want to get stuck with a service provider who has poor service quality even though the technology itself is quite good and reliable.

2.   Usability

This pertains to how usable or how effective the system will be in your application. A telephone system is something that the bulk of your team is going to be using.

If you really enjoy using it, but the rest of the team is having a hard time figuring it out, it’s not going to be easy to integrate this into the business and efficiency will most likely fall.

Before you finalize an option, consider getting a demo version to try out with your team first and see how well it actually fulfills your needs.

3.   Availability

In the case that the system has some downtime, which every system will have at some point or another, how easy is it going to be to overcome that challenge and get everything up and running? 


Look into the uptime that different service providers offer for the same solution. Consider how critical it is for you to have your communication system online all the time.

If you can afford to have a system with a bit more downtime, you might be able to save some money.

4.   Cost

There are a lot of variables in a communication system, so it can be hard to determine what the most cost-effective solution will be for you.

For instance, there is the basic service charge, the price of the hardware, the cost of software, different rates depending on where you are calling, and also data charges if you are going to be using an internet-based system.

Different service providers can also have additional costs depending on their pricing strategy. You should also consider the long-term maintenance costs of the system and how much you will be spending on training the team.

Going for the lowest rates might not be the best approach when considering a bundle's service package, even if you feel that you won’t be using everything in the bundle.

5.   Scalability

Keep your long-term goals in mind when selecting a communication platform for your business. Scalability can become quite the challenge in the case of wired connections.

With internet-based solutions, it is a much simpler process to upgrade your bandwidth and get the appropriate hardware, so that you can handle more volume.

With wired connections, you are limited by the medium itself and in some cases scaling up might not even be possible due to other factors. Similarly, you might find that at some point in the future you don't need such a large system.

An internet-based system can be scaled down quite easily, but for physical connections, this will be a bit more challenging. Make sure you discuss scalability with the vendor beforehand.

6.   Vendors

A phone system for your business is going to be a near-permanent addition. You will be working with this company for many years to come, so you want to start off with someone that you are comfortable collaborating with.

Before signing the contract, discuss the vendor with other people who have used their services or similar services and try to find out whether this will be a good match for you and your business.

7.   Architecture

In some cases, the system won't need any additions. You simply buy the solution from the vendor, plug it in, and it is ready to use. In other situations, it is not that straightforward.


While the system itself might be easy to get, you may find yourself struggling through the installation process, or you might find that the additional hardware and software needed for the system is more expensive than the base service itself.

Make sure you discuss this with the vendor and that you understand exactly what you will need to get the system running.

Conclusion: Small business phone systems: 7 things you need to know

A good communication system for your business is an investment that will last you many decades and will help you take your business performance to the next level.

If you haven’t installed one of these before, then make sure you do your research in advance, so you know what is available and what will be the best match for your business.

Ideally, you want a good mix of something that is cost-effective, that serves your current needs, and that will be easy for you to scale up in the future. For example, you can use a telecaller app that will help automate many tasks.

It is also important that you engage with a reputable vendor who will provide this service to you at a competitive price.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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