Could your small business save with a VoIP phone system?

7 min read
Leeha Debnam

Business owners are increasingly looking for ways to cut costs. And one of the best ways to reduce costs is by switching to a VoIP phone system for your small business.

VoIP is a system for making phone calls over the internet.

VoIP is useful because it's cheaper than normal phone lines, doesn't rely on distance or time, and can be adapted to suit your needs.

If you’ve never heard of VoIP, or you’re still trying to figure out what VoIP is and does, let me walk you through everything you need to know before making the switch.

Related: How to help your business through the recession

What is VoIP?

You've probably seen the ads: "Get rid of your landline! Get a VoIP phone system!" But what is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows you to make and receive phone and video calls over the internet.

In Australia, VoIP is a popular alternative to traditional hardwired telephone lines.

Instead of making a call using your landline phone, you can make the call using a handset and your internet connection.

Why is it popular? Because you don’t have to fork out extra monthly bucks for a landline connection on top of your internet connection. VoIP is budget-friendly and offers you the best of both worlds.

How does VoIP Work?

You make or receive VoIP phone or video calls in three ways:

  • Using a landline phone and VoIP adapter
  • With a computer, Wi-Fi and VoIP app
  • On your smartphone using Wi-Fi and VoIP app

All you need to get started is an internet provider that offers VoIP and one of the setups above. If you’re in the market for a VoIP phone set for your business, check out the best VoIP phones as reviewed by Tech Radar.

VoIP is not new technology — the first consumer-ready business VoIP application launched in 1991. Surprisingly, many small business owners continue to rely on traditional landlines to manage their business calls, perhaps because of confusion around how VoIP works.

Graphic showing how a landline telephone works

To understand how VoIP works, you need to know how traditional phone calls operate. When you talk into a landline phone, the sound waves travel through wires into a box called a "switch."

The switch connects your call with another switch somewhere else in the world so that when you talk into one end of the line, your words are transmitted until they reach their destination at the other end.

With VoIP, there's no need for an expensive physical line connecting you to the telephone exchange — you just use your internet connection.

So how does this work? It's pretty simple! When you make a call:

  1. Your computer sends data packets to another computer somewhere else on the internet
  2. That computer then forwards those packets to its own destination (the other computer), where they're received and decoded back into sound waves
  3. They can be heard as voices by both parties involved in the conversation

The average VoIP phone system isn’t that different from traditional ones and has many, if not more, features that help you effectively manage your small business comms.

What are the benefits of a VoIP phone system for small businesses?

Now that we’ve covered how VoIP systems work, let’s explore why more small business owners should consider them for their business phone systems.

Lower costs

When you’re in business, every dollar counts and lowering your monthly phone bill is a great place to start for cost-cutting.

VoIP is cheaper than traditional landlines because you no longer pay a monthly ‘rental’ fee for using the copper phone line to your house or business.

Call costs are generally cheaper, and some telcos have unlimited calls for as little as $10 per month (in addition to your broadband cost) to local, national and mobile calls. If you need to call clients all over the globe, the international call rates are also very affordable.

Easier to manage

Woman in a pink dress using a smartphone

With bundled packages, VoIP phone systems for small businesses make tracking and managing your finances easier. You can say goodbye to separate providers, different billing cycles and worrying about who to call for troubleshooting. With VoIP, your communications are streamlined, so you save time and money.

Keep your current phone number

Switching to a VoIP phone system for your small business is pretty straightforward. In most cases, you’ll even be able to keep your current phone number, ensuring your customers and clients can continue to reach your business. Be sure to check this with your provider before making the switch. 

Extra features at your fingertips

Adding more features to your landline can be costly. But with VoIP, most bundles include features for little or no extra costs. These can include:

  • Caller ID
  • Voicemail
  • Text to speech
  • Additional numbers
  • Call blocking
  • Call routing and forwarding
  • Instant messaging.
  • Sharing files, images, and video during your call.

Perfect for remote working teams

If there’s one thing that small business owners have discovered over the last few years is the need for connectivity.

VoIP offers a whole range of options for remote and flexible working setups.

You make and take calls from anywhere in the world — all you need is a good internet connection and a PC or a mobile phone. Conference and video calls are a breeze.

VoIP phone systems can be integrated with CRMs (customer relationships management) and email programs, ensuring maximum productivity, collaboration, and communication with teammates and clients.

How do I know if a VoIP phone system is suitable for my small business?

All businesses have different requirements when it comes to managing their communications. And choosing the right phone system isn’t a decision to be made lightly. There are many things to consider when deciding whether you opt for a landline or VoIP phone system, including:

  • Cost
  • Reliability
  • Functionality

A traditional phone system is generally more reliable. It offers a higher quality of call, so if your internet connection isn’t stable or you’re constantly battling dropouts — a traditional phone system might be the way to go.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for all the bells and whistles in terms of functionality or your team works remotely, VoIP could be what you need.

Food server holding a tray of ice cream

What to look for in a VoIP provider?

Google ‘VoIP provider’ in Australia, and you’d be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed with the amount options. But if you’re leaning toward a VoIP phone system for your small business, here are a few points to consider when choosing the right VoIP provider:

  • Is the set-up and installation process easy?
  • Do they offer a variety of VoIP plans, and are they competitively priced?
  • Are features like voicemail to email, call forwarding, call overflow, and missed call notification included with your service at no added cost?
  • Do they have collaboration tools like SMS texting, video conferencing and online meeting collaboration?
  • Does the provider offer high-quality 24/7 customer and tech support?
  • Are they using end-to-end encryption for security?
  • What is their VoIP uptime?
  • Are existing customers happy with the service? What do the reviews say?

Short on time? Here are 10 Australian VoIP providers to consider.

Keen to get your VoIP on?

VoIP phone systems offer a cost-effective and flexible solution for small business owners in Australia.

Switching is generally straightforward, and you may be able to keep your existing phone number.

With many providers and plans on offer, you’re bound to find one that suits your day-to-day business needs — and save a little in the process.

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