Entrepreneurs have a lot of questions on their minds, especially when starting out or scaling up. How will I make payroll? How do I advertise my business? Is my product properly positioned in the market? Even, what’s the best phone system for my business? We’ve been entrepreneurs a long time, and we’d like to help answer some of those.
Check out our blog for some great tips for new business owners to help solve the first three questions and others about getting started in business. And as far as phone systems go, well, that’s our business, so we can certainly get you started off on the right foot there, too.
We think simple, fast, and easy solutions are the best solutions for entrepreneurs. So we believe that the best business phone system is not a particular make, model, or brand. The best one is the one that works consistently.
On a good quality phone system for small businesses, you don’t need to spend money on pricey upgrades, purchase extras/accessories to keep it functioning properly. Great virtual phone systems do what you need them to do without requiring an intervention. Probably, it’s not all that different from the phone system you already have in place.
Get Things Going On the Right Foot
The best phone system is probably within your reach right now. Yeah, seriously! So when it comes time to redesign, replace, or add a phone system for the first time, wouldn’t it be great if you could use the phone system you already have instead? No huge bills to pay. No tangle of new equipment to house. And no new software to train the team on. Just pick up the phone, dial, and talk.
It’s possible to do just that. You really can set up a complex phone system using the phones you already have. Here’s how:
Start With Any Active Phone Using Any Carrier
Do you have a smartphone or a landline? Good! You’re on your way.
You can route calls to any active phone using your virtual system. It doesn’t matter the carrier or the style of phone you have. If you prefer, you can even run everything using only your cell phones. In fact, many businesses are starting to do just that. Cost-conscious small business owners choose to eliminate all their desk phones and landlines & to run their companies using nothing more than their cell phones.
As businesses increasingly hire remote employees, contract with freelancers, and generally downsize the in-office team, we expect to see a lot more cell-phone-only operations.
It makes sense because you can save money and keep connected at the same time. You don’t even need special cell phones for this idea to work. Just use whatever is in your employees’ pockets or purses. Whether your carrier is Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or another one, those phones will work just fine with your virtual system.
Of course, you don’t have to use cell phones. You can use any other phone you have on hand, instead. If you operate a home business using a landline phone, for example, you can route calls to it just the same as you would your smartphone. You could even use a satellite phone if you have one. As long as the device maintains active service & its own phone number, you’re good to go.
Add Your Existing Phones to Your Forwarding Phone Numbers List
To get started, all you have to do is add your phones to the forwarding phone numbers list on your Talkroute account. Normally, this is an easy process, but if you run into a snag, don’t hesitate to give us a call, and we’ll walk you through it. Once all your phones are added, set them to receive calls and messages in any configuration.
Using the hours of operation or scheduled forwarding feature, you can route calls to different phones at different times, or route calls to all of your phones at the same time. For companies with employees working across time zones, this feature can be particularly helpful. This way, the right call goes to the right recipient.
It keeps an employee in Los Angeles from being pulled from their beauty sleep in the wee hours of the morning by a caller already at their desk in New York.
Next, create separate voice mailboxes on your account or only add one mailbox. Depending on how you have the system configured, you can set it to either send calls to separate mailboxes or have all voicemail messages sent to the same mailbox for everyone on your team. This option makes Talkroute’s system available for companies of all sizes and structures. The separate mailboxes for employees is useful, for example, if you are using the call menu and each menu option routes to a different employee or department.
Turn Whatever Phones You Have Into Business Lines
Talkroute lets you turn any phone into a business phone. That comes in handy whether you run a large corporation with stacks of old phones waiting to be put to use or you’re a sole proprietor who needs to keep business calls separate from personal ones. To reach you, customers will never have to dial your personal number, but they can still have access to you and your team whenever you allow them to.
Whether you port in an existing number or choose a new one from the inventory, that number will serve as your main business phone number. Similarly, when you call people back, your private number is always hidden, and the recipient will only see your business number on the caller ID — no matter which connected phone you call from.
When setting up your account, you can bypass your phone’s native voicemail & send calls to the business voicemail on your account. Alternatively, you can have your callers directed to your phone’s personal voicemail, too, if that’s what you prefer.
Text messaging is also included with our virtual system, and it works through your main business number(s), not through your phone’s internal text messaging. That way, personal and business messaging can never get mixed up with each other. Your clients’ texts stay in one place, and the text from family and friends in another.
Access your business texts from the Talkroute desktop, web & mobile apps as well as email with our text-to-email notifications. In the same manner as your calls, customers sent texts to your business number, and they see that number, as well, on their caller ID when you text them.
Running Your Business from a Single Cell Phone
Many small established enterprises as well as new businesses just starting out choose to take advantage of a virtual phone system. This approach allows them to run everything from a single cell phone, which is easy to do with Talkroute. With our mobile app, you can send and receive text messages, view your business call history, and manage voicemail.
Your customers can’t tell that they’ve reached your personal cell because you can make it sound like a professional system by adding features such as a call menu, custom greetings, or music for on-hold time.
Your personal number is always hidden, so even when you’re calling from your personal cell phone, customers only see your business number on their caller ID. No matter where you are, you can run your business from right there using nothing more sophisticated for a communication system than your own cell phone.
If you’re away from the office and need to change your settings, you can access your full account from a mobile browser or use our desktop, web & mobile apps to do so.
Some Systems Don’t Offer This Capability
As we go through the details of how to implement a virtual phone system with your existing phones, keep in mind that this information applies to a Talkroute system. If you have another virtual provider that also allows you to use your own phones, then the steps should be much the same.
Nevertheless, quite a few providers including most VoIP-based systems, don’t allow it at all. Those phone systems will require you to have certain types of phones and various pieces of equipment. Many of them even insist you use special phones they provide.
Talkroute on the other hand, employs technology that makes it possible to run your business from any location using any type of phone with any carrier. You may use a cell phone, landline, VoIP, Google Voice number, Skype number, or any other type of voice communication system.
Why Simple and Easy Is Smart and Efficient
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Apple used that line as its slogan in 1977. The idea took hold, and Apple’s cool and simple approach to sophistication has inspired a whole new way of making products and running companies. It has inspired us, too.
We started Talkroute because we wanted to make life easier for entrepreneurs. Starting a business is tough, we know. One in five small businesses fails in the first year, and by the fifth year, half will be gone, according to the Small Business Administration. How can you stack the odds for survival in your favor?
Having the right product, team & strategy is critical. But staying simple, lean, and efficient can go a long way toward keeping your business solvent. If your company doesn’t require a fancy phone system, don’t spend the money on one. Use what you have and make it work.
Too many entrepreneurs try to look savvy instead of being savvy.
Look, we’re entrepreneurs, too, so we get it. The temptation to show off your brand new stuff to all the people who thought you couldn’t make it can feel overwhelming..but resist it. Rein in your spending on everything you can (like phones) and invest in product development, marketing, and sales instead. Those things pay off. A swanky phone system won’t.
Always SEEM Professional, Even If You Aren’t
Setting up a virtual phone system using existing phones is simple, easy, and quick. Once you have the system set with your desired configuration, it will run without needing any maintenance. Later, however, if you want to change your settings in the future or add more phones to your account, you can. See if the Talkroute system will work for your business by taking advantage of the free trial to test it out!
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.