One of the great things about technology is our ability to appear as put together and ready as any competitor with a great Internet and contact presence. After all can anyone really tell what your offices look like over the Internet or telephone? Unless you spend a ton of money and get great photos of your shop like my friends at TruSpeed Motorcars, there is no way for someone to know unless they show up. As long as you don′t toss up picture of your cat sitting in the litter box and call it your business website, you are probably in good shape.
Recently I wrote an article about starting a business for less than a grand. That part is easy, it is the “doing” that is hard for most folks. A friend of mine read the article and followed it to the letter, thus beginning the creation of a new business for him. It was really cool to see first hand how someone interprets my thinking and how much I take for granted what people understand.
My friend called me to tell me about the adventure which showed me were I left some information out. I left out a couple of important steps in the section on how to use Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP to look big on a small budget. My office is a hodge podge of Vonage and Skype. My hands down favorite is Skype. If you called right now, chances are I would take the call on my computer and talk to you over Skype. It doesn′t matter if you call my cell number, my Vonage number or my Skype number. I have them all “ringing” or forwarded to my Skype account first, my cell second, and the Vonage phone third.
The handset phone in the office is used so infrequently that when my wife got locked out of our house by a real estate agent, she sat in my office for an hour waiting for someone. Her cell phone was inside the house, she didn′t know the password to my computer and didn′t even know there was still one plain old phone hidden next to our large color printer. She was 3 feet from freedom for an hour and didn′t know it.
The only real feature all of these VoIP systems are all missing is a time scheduler. i.e. at 10 pm stop forwarding to my cell, go directly to voice-mail. I do miss that part of the phone system we used when I was still paying crazy rent for office and retail space.
Within Skype there are a couple of options that I can′t recommend strong enough. First, get a local number for every area code you do business in. This is clearly ancient marketing and for some reason still works. No one calls our toll free numbers anymore and area codes are becoming a thing of the past for cell users. In the office, the old school phone systems still care.
The next must use feature is on your account page, it is caller id. No one wants to answer a call from 100012345 on their cell phone, can you blame them? Every telemarketing hack shows up that way. Separate yourself from this crowd of telemarketing hacks and look like you are ready to do business. If you are a Skype user you can do this now under the Skype menu, then select account. If you bought an on line number, you can use that for your caller id. It used to be that you could also use your mobile number if you connected the accounts, you can′t anymore, at least not the business accounts. The caller id isn′t always displayed, but it is worth it for the 80% or so times it does.
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