Over 600,000 business were started in the UK in 2015, up almost 4.6% over the previous year.
Unfortunately, Dave Millett of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox, is still seeing start-ups making these nine costly mistakes with regards to their telecoms:
1. A mobile number only on your business card. Research shows 30% of people do not trust them and therefore will not contact them. If you only have one mobile you also only have a single voicemail for personal and business calls. It is all about creating the right first impression.
2. Using your home phone number. But then you don’t know if it’s your aunt calling or that important new customer. It also means you can’t turn your business off at weekends. There is limited functionality for handling a second call and personalising voicemails. Also, if you move house you may not be able to take the number with you.
3. It is tempting to accept offers of free installation if you sign three or five year contracts. This has two downsides: your business may expand and/or move and you could find yourself facing penalties for cancelling the contract; you’re locking yourself into prices in an environment where prices usually go down.
4. In 2015 anything other than 0800 or numbers beginning 01/02/03 for post sales service has become illegal. If you still wish to use them then you must also publish the cost of calling them in close proximity to everywhere the number is publicised; websites, business cards and vans.
5. Many owners forget to read the small print in the contracts and forget to check length, notice periods and penalty clauses. Also, check your potential supplier is signed up to the Telecoms Ombudsman. See: www.ombudsman-services.org/memberlists/communications/
6. Don’t forget to plan for the future. How might the business develop? Are the telecoms flexible and scalable?
7. Many serviced office suppliers will expect you to use their telecoms services. This can create two issues. Firstly, the costs can be very expensive compared to organising yourself and secondly, they may not release the number to you should you move out. Always ask if you bring your own and if their numbers are portable if you leave.
8. Because of the popularity of Skype as a personal tool some owners think they can build a business around it. However, not everyone in business uses Skype and Skype phone numbers are not portable. Can Skype be an adjunct to telecoms infrastructure – yes but probably not at the core.
9. Many small businesses wonder if they should use an answering service. The key question is what do you want them to do? If it is to just take a message you need to ask yourself what value is that adding. If they can handle certain queries then that can enhance your offering.
What are the options for a new business? For micro businesses, a simple inbound geographic number can be set up for about £7 a month that will look for an available mobile phone or landline number. For a little extra it can have a voicemail on it and a whisper facility to tell you that it is a business call. That can help you utilise a single device for business and leisure. For those businesses worried about presenting a mobile number when dialling out then it is possible to have a landline on your mobile as an app.
Larger start-ups or businesses wanting a little more sophistication are faced with the choice of VOIP or traditional solutions. There are pros and cons of each solution. As a guide the more sites and greater the likelihood of growth in numbers of users then the flexibility and scalability of VOIP are advantageous. If you are looking for more sophisticated features and are communications intensive then a PBX may be a better solution.
Overall the key for any business owner is to be wary. Before you buy or commit to any telecoms consider whether they will support your business now and in the future.