TechnologyTelephonesA Guide to Choosing a Telephone System for Your Small Business

A Guide to Choosing a Telephone System for Your Small Business

Are you looking for a new telephone system for your small business? And if you’re not sure of all things related to PBXs and VoIP then our guide will help you navigate and connect to the right specification and system for your company. And when looking at a new phone system, make sure you cover the system itself and the services to answer your calls to make sure you never a potential customer.

Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations and questions you’ll need to ask yourself so you can make the right choice for your business.

Factors to Consider While Selecting a Phone System

There are many factors to consider when looking for a phone system to meet your small business needs. Here are some of the most important ones to think about:

1.  Know Your Options

When it comes to selecting a phone system, there are a lot of options out there. And while it’s tempting to just go with the first one you find and hope for the best, that can be a recipe for disaster.

So here are the four most beneficial telephone systems designed for small business needs:

Landlines PSTN

PSTN landlines are still one of the most popular options for businesses.

Standard landlines use a physical telephone line and a piece of hardware that makes calls on its behalf. Over this connection, landline phones communicate through PBX or Private Branch Exchange software.

An analogue PBX is a hardware and software system connecting to traditional POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines to communicate voice data. Data travels over the line in both directions between the phone and the switch, allowing for calls between phones and voice recordings.

It’s a low-cost option, but because it uses outdated technology, it cannot support many modern business phone features and options. Plus, you can’t upgrade an analogue system to offer VoIP services. You’ll often find them in small businesses without IT departments or with limited budgets.

This service is best for small businesses that require simple telephone service with landline connectivity. This option may be useful if your business needs to retain an existing landline and can only upgrade to VoIP service after a while.

Virtual Phone

Virtual phone systems are a clever way to run your business. They’re ideal for entrepreneurs and freelancers who can be independent of one location.

Your virtual phone number will ring wherever you are, and you can decide how to deliver incoming calls. You can forward calls to a dedicated number, your mobile phone, or a second line at home or anywhere in the world that has internet access and can accept international calls.

Virtual phone systems are great for small teams to have an office number. But you will likely be disappointed if you want to connect more than two people.

It is a useful add-on for existing office phone systems but will not be around for a short time. If you want something that can grow with your business and change as your needs change, there is a better solution for you.

On-Premise VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) Solutions

On-premise VoIP business phone systems are one of the most common VoIP solutions. On-premises VoIP systems, like the one PBX solutions offers, are installed in a network closet or server room in your office and can be monitored by IT staff on-site.

It works like your office’s computers do: your phones connect through the office’s Local Area Network (LAN), not over wires.

Traditional telephony gateways, softphones, and IP-PBXs are some of the more common peripheral devices that interact directly with your VoIP phone system.

The PBX works with VoIP lines (SIP Trunks) and traditional phone lines (GSM, PSTN). It supports a wide range of codecs and audio resolutions, so you can optimise your network for optimal performance.

On-premise VoIP systems for small businesses allow you to combine the best of developing technologies, such as telephony and the internet, with powerful features like voicemail, call recording, conferencing, free internet calls, more scalability, mobility, and many more.

This solution is a great way to get the advanced features of modern VoIP technology like IVR and save even more money with lower call rates.

This on-premise VoIP system is a smarter alternative to traditional phone systems. With VoIP, you’ll get a high-definition, feature-rich experience that your entire workforce can use.

You’ll save money by eliminating the need for regular circuit upgrades, and that means you have more budget available for growth in other areas of your business.

Cloud VoIP or Hosted PBXS Services

Cloud VoIP systems, otherwise known as hosted PBX services, are shaking up the old model, turning POTS and ISDN phone systems into things of the past. Hosted PBXs are software-based. So, you can access them from anywhere through a standard Internet browser or by using a smartphone app.

Virtual PBXs provide an all-inclusive solution for your small business. You don’t need to buy or manage expensive hardware or software; you can always take advantage of new features with simple upgrades.

Cloud-based VoIP phone systems are perfect for small businesses or startups. You can be up and running in a few hours without hiring expensive consultants or in-house IT professionals.

2.  What’s Your Budget?

Setting a budget will help you narrow down your options. You’ll see which telephone system or service provider is best for your company and what you can afford to spend on it.

Also, talk to current customers or industry insiders to find out what types of telephony solutions meet the needs of small businesses like yours.

3.  Capacity and Size Requirements

If you are planning to purchase a business phone system, consider the size of your company and its employees. If it is an SME (small and medium enterprise), you should focus more on affordability.

On the other hand, if you are comfortable with a more expensive solution, you can choose from the many advanced features that come with larger systems. A good business phone system should provide support for your team’s needs. So always remember to consider their requirements before deciding to buy one.

telephone system for your small business

4.  Key Features

A telephone system is the hub of your business communication. The tool allows you to talk with customers and clients, make appointments, schedule projects or services, and stay in touch with the world.

So it makes sense to choose a phone system based on its core features and functions –especially considering that every business demands unique features from their business phone system.

Although there are multiple telephone features available for streamlining your business communication, most businesses need to pick from the following options:

  • Voicemail
  • Mobile Application
  • Call Routing
  • Multi-Level IVR
  • Click to Call Buttons
  • Text to Speech
  • Business Phone Number Integration
  • Smart Dashboard
  • Online chat
  • Music on hold
  • Call forwarding
  • Softphones
  • Real-time wallboards
  • CRM integration (click to dial and screen popping)

The list may look long, but you should pick at least two or three of the most important features for your phone system. For example, if many of your staff work from home. You can further narrow down your options by focusing on what’s most important for your needs.

You can select the best features by asking yourself: have you been happy with your current system? What do you like about it? What features do you never use? Is there anything you could do without that would save money?

5.  Employee Opinions

When choosing a phone system for your small business, getting your employees involved is important.

For this, ask them what they like and don’t like about their current phone system and how they use it. You’ll be able to create a list of important features that will cater directly to your employees’ needs. This way, you can install the best system for your business.

The result will be satisfied employees with an improved workflow and productivity in your business.

6.  Know Your Call Volume

When choosing a telephone system for your business, you should consider your company’s call volume. The number of lines and calls, as well as the cost of those calls, is important. So it’s worthwhile looking at your existing communication spend when deciding on your new system.

By keeping an eye on costs, such as call bundles and the number of lines, you can ensure that you find what’s right for you.

7.  Speed of Your Internet Connection

To work properly, IP-PBX and cloud-based VoIP systems must have a strong, fast internet connection. If your internet connection is slow or goes out often, you’ll experience glitches and dropped calls.

Although high-speed Internet access is becoming more widely available across the country, getting a dependable connection in some areas still needs to be possible. You can use free speed checkers to determine how fast your download and upload speeds are.

Before committing to a vendor, try testing your internet connection at various times of the day to get an accurate idea of the average speed. If your connection is too slow, contact your internet provider or landlord before deciding on your VoIP system.

8.  Check Compatibility

When choosing a new phone system, you need to consider how well it will work with the other equipment in your office.

Some systems may require upgrades to your existing network infrastructure to support their application, while others are compatible with your current hardware and phone lines.

If your current infrastructure is 100% compatible with the business phone system, you can use the same means of communication. If required, you can also make a compatibility assessment. Since such upgrades are inevitable, contacting your business phone system provider for a thorough evaluation is better.

9.  Support for Old Capabilities

One of the most important considerations is whether your phone system still supports your unique business requirements. If you need to be able to connect landlines to security or door alarms and require faxing capabilities, make sure your chosen system can support these functions going forward.

If you still have customers who use analogue or digital fax machines, many cloud VoIP phone services can also support those. All you need is an email address, and the service will send you a digital version of your faxes as an email attachment.

10. Trial Periods

If you’re serious about integrating phone systems into your business, it is important to ensure you get the most out of a demo or trial period.

If a trial period is available with your provider, take the time to schedule one as soon as possible. Taking advantage of a trial period is a good avenue to assess the chosen system’s functionalities.

To ensure that you have a smooth transition to the upgraded software, ask your vendor about their current upgrades and downtimes and how long they are expected to last. It helps you make an informed decision.

11. Vendor Expertise

Finding the right phone system for your business can be a daunting task. It’s not just about the hardware and software but also the vendor. They need the best technical expertise, provide excellent service and support, and understand your needs as a small business.

Besides, small businesses often need to pay more attention to one factor when choosing a phone service: customer support. With a cloud VoIP service, you should be able to count on your vendor to help resolve technical issues and ensure that your customers receive the best experience possible.

Ask them how quickly they can provide phone support, and make sure they have flexible hours so that you can reach them anytime.


If you own a small business, you are committed to providing your customers with the best products and services. That’s easy when you have the right tools and equipment. You rely on your phone system because it is the first line of communication with your customers, employees, and clients.

Therefore, we offer exclusive tips and guidelines to help you choose the right telephony solution for your small business. Make sure you do a thorough assessment and research before deciding on a reliable and suitable telephone system for your SME.

Written by

Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson is one of our expert writers. Mark is our lead researcher and editor who writes our main guides and expert topic coverage. He’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses with practical advice delivered clearly. Mark’s worked for a number of business magazines and titles and has started two small businesses himself, so has first-hand experience in setting up, managing and growing a small business and shares his expertise with our readers.

Latest articles

Related articles