VoIP vs SIP: Which Communication Solution is Right for Your Business?
How to Choose the Best VoIP Service for Your Small Business
For a small business, using a VoIP service can be yet another way to cut expenses, and also maintain reliable lines of communication with employees, suppliers, and customers—no matter where they’re located.
Most VoIP companies offer pricing plans that are easily scalable as a small business grows and its telecommunication needs change.
What do small businesses need to look for in a VoIP service?
Features Small Businesses Need from a VoIP Provider
• Flexible pricing
• Reliable customer service
• Ease of operation and setup that doesn’t require expensive hardware purchases
• Clear, quick connections
Video conferencing solutions that allow for unlimited meetings for small groups of people. (typically requires upgrading to a premium package)
Screen share for video conferencing
Small businesses have different needs than big enterprise operations. Chances are, a small business isn’t going to need video conferencing that can accommodate 100 or more participants, or limitless low-price calls anywhere on Earth, or say, a reduced rate on dozens of phone lines. What small businesses need are customizable, affordable pricing plans that provide them with a VoIP service that is easy to operate, with customer service that can help them out instantly if a problem arises.
Let’s take a look at some of the bigger names on the market, to help you make a decision that’s right for your business.
• Some of the clearest voice quality in the industry
• Salesforce and CRM integration
• Full mobile integration
• 24/7 customer service
• Amazon Chime included
|Monthly Cost||$14.99 + $0.03/minute metered plan|
|Minimal Subscription Option||1 unlimited extension + 1 phone number ($39.99)|
|Monthly Price per Extension||$39.99/extension|
|Metered Plans||$14.99 + $0.03/minute|
Vonage Business is an industry leader that made its name as a powerhouse in the residential VoIP market. Today more than 2.5 million homes and businesses use Vonage. The company has possibly the most extensive infrastructure of any VoIP provider so customers can expect some of the most reliable, clearest service of any VoIP service.
Vonage offers an unlimited US and Canada calling plan, but for a small business it may be best to sign up for their per-minute charge for calls.
The virtual extension service on Vonage allows users to receive calls to mobile devices, which is a big convenience for small businesses that need to be mobile and versatile.
And if things go sideways for some reason, Vonage offers comprehensive 24/7 customer serviced and tech support.
• Full mobile integration
• Extensive business apps integration (including Salesforce, Zendesk, Outlook)
• Full call management with standard plan
• Unlimited video conferencing with screen sharing
• 24/7 customer support
|Standard||$24.99/month per user (30-day free trial)|
|Premium||$34.99/month per user (30-day free trial)|
|Enterprise||$44.99/month per user|
RingCentral is one of the largest VoIP providers, and while the company is more geared towards medium and large businesses, it offers more than enough features that can make a difference to a small business.
Even with the standard plan – the cheapest offered by the company – users receive unlimited video conferencing with screen sharing, as well as full call management including call screening, call logs, advanced call forwarding, and integration with your mobile device so you can access company calls from anywhere.
Many of the integrations, such as Salesforce and Zendesk, are only available if you sign up for a premium and enterprise plan, which may not be relevant options for a small business.
• Unlimited calling minutes
• Calls can be taken on office phone, cell phone, or any other specified line
• Mobile compatible
• Full integration Microsoft Outlook
• Call attendant and call queues
• Simple setup
|1-4 Users||5-9 Users||10-24 Users||25-49 Users||50+ Users|
Jive may have a funny name, but the features and options the company offers are nothing to laugh at.
Jive offers a “pick n mix” method that allows customers to build their own service package. This comes in handy for small businesses that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles that a much larger enterprise operation could put to use.
Jive allows you to set up your lines so they can be answered from mobile devices at any location remotely, while call attendant and call queue options should keep you missing calls.
Also, some more good news for small businesses that don’t have time to fuss with technical matters – setting up Jive is easy as just plugging the phone into your internet port and setting your configurations.
• Near 100% uptime
• Affordable pricing
• Phone call auto attendant comes standard
• Instant messaging and video conferencing
• Integration available with over 30 digital office tools
• Simple setup that takes only a few minutes
|5-9 Users||10+ Users|
|Monthly Cost||$21.00/user||$19.99/user||Virtual Office Pro - $5 more/month + $10 more/user|
8x8 is an industry leader in cloud-based VoIP options for businesses, and has some of the best uptime and call quality available.
Though the company is fully scalable and has extensive options for large enterprise businesses, 8x8 can also provide tailor-made solutions for small companies. The service can be used on mobile devices, allowing remote management of the call system. In addition, 8x8 has some of the best software integration of any VoIP provider. More than 30 digital office tools can be integrated with 8x8, meaning you should easily find a tool that can help your small business.
If video conferencing is something your small business will need then you will have to upgrade to 8x8 virtual office pro, which can take a bite out of your budget depending on how many phone lines you run. Even the cheapest plan offers unlimited calling, online call management, auto attendant, voice to email notification, and a host of other standard options.
• “Pay as you grow” plan is tailor-made for small businesses on the move
• Fast and easy to set up
• Only offers outbound calling plans on mobile app
• 24/7 customer service
• No hardware needed – runs off current phone
• Easy-to-use call management and auto attendant
|Pay as you Grow||$12/month ($0.06/minute)|
|Ramp||$24/month (500 minutes)|
|Grow||$49/month (2,000 minutes)|
|Max||$199/month (10,000 minutes)|
Grasshopper is a VoIP that isn’t trying to compete with the big boys, and focuses instead on small businesses and their unique needs. The company offers an introductory pay as you grow payment plan that is scalable as a young company grows.
Luckily for small businesses, Grasshopper doesn’t require the purchase of any new hardware and works directly off your pre-existing phones. This could potentially help small businesses keep their operating costs low.
Grasshopper also prides itself on being a service that is easy to set up and operate with no tech training, and with 24/7 customer service to give you a hand if needed.
One place where Grasshopper maybe falls short is in terms of features and integrations. Unlike the other companies on this list, Grasshopper isn’t looking to cater to enterprise businesses, and doesn’t offer as extensive a list of features or integrations as their competitors.
Nonetheless, Grasshopper is a very solid option for small companies that want to help cut their costs with a VoIP service, and make leaps and bounds that are surprising for their small size (much like a grasshopper, get it?).
So what’s the bottom line?
A VoIP service is a guaranteed way to cut your phone service prices, after you’ve made up for the price of hardware and the VoIP membership plan. Besides the monthly savings, these services also help expedite a number of business needs, making operations more efficient, affordable, and easily manageable both from inside and outside the office. A VoIP service can be a great option for a small business looking to not only increase the efficiency of their communications, but also to incorporate the business tools of a larger business. Before ordering a service from one of the top VoIP providers, first determine which features your company needs and which will just window-dressing or only relevant for a larger business. After you’re all set up and running, you’ll see quickly how VoIP is the perfect phone solution for your small business - it will improve your company’s efficiency as well as your bottom line.