Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Best Communication tools for Small and Medium Businesses

Many people that I have been talking to recently, like me, work from home. They do travel, they do get out sometimes but their main business is from home.

Since a large portion of the US economy is based on very small to medium size businesses I though that it only makes sense to discuss some of the latest coolest tools that I have seen that can help you build and be your own small business from home or anywhere, while projecting a very large professional footprint.

The three most important communication elements in my mind for creating the large footprint are:

- Online Presence.
- Professional Flexible Sounding and Acting Phone system.
- Conference Call Service.

- Online Presence.

For the on-line presence specifically if you provide services, a must have tool is a page on BitWine the benefits are simple to understand. You get instant presence on a popular site which is being scanned by Google every day. You can later link the BitWine page to a more sophisticated web site, or a blog, but BitWine provides the basic tools for doing business on-line, including a way for people to reach you by phone or Skype, and a way to charge people for services rendered using PayPal or Credit card. Imagine that all that is free, and probably consumes 10 minutes to establish.

- Professional Flexible Sounding and Acting Phone system.

When you travel or at home you want people to always call you on your own 1-800 number, or ‘corporate” number, leave messages, get to your accounting department, send faxes, search the corporate directory, in other words provide everything that a large corporate would provide.
The difference is that you want most calls to eventually land on your cell phone, or home phone. When you do hire an accountant you want the flexibility to change the destination of the accounting extension with few clicks.

You also want to be able to receive all your faxes to your mobile e-mail and get SMS or e-mail notifications and even the voice mails themselves onto your blackberry or outlook. You want the transition from home to mobile to be seamless. do all that automatically and much more.

The fact is that the service can even save you money. For instance you never have to give out your cell phone number, which means that you never have to pay number porting fees if you change the phone company in order to get a better plan from the other guys.

If all that sounds scary, let me tell you, you are correct it use to be that way and it use to involve words like IVR, Key Systems, PBX, DID and so on. Luckily it is not the case any more. is now providing all those features and more with only few clicks and plain English.

If you wonder about the cost, how does “less than $10 per month” sounds?

Mind you, it does not end there. has the best customer support ever, so a simple call can do the job. If you read this, then there are three months free waiting for you. Start here
or call 1-800-998-7087 and accept their 3 months free offer.

Listen to's CEO Ari Raban in an interviewed by Dave Mason Part1 part2

- Conference Call Service.

The last thing related to communication is Conference Calls. Specifically for someone who works from home, you are often required to put few people on the line for a work session. You can do that with your cell phone, if you pay the wireless companies and if you are using a GSM phone. I would argue that “wait let me connect the other person” statement, does not sound professional it is good for an ad-hoc session but not for a planned meeting. Plus, the obvious question is: why pay for a service if you can get it for free?

You can get a conference call service for FREE at confreecall
simply register, get your bridge code and you are done.

If your business involves mostly on-line participants than potentially you can try a new paid service called HighSpeed conferencing where participants actually talk using Skype (or phone). The difference is that the sound quality for the skype participants is like listening to FM radio vs. a standard low quality phone call. HighSpeed conferencing is not free, but they do offer a 10 days of free trial.

All the above services are free or almost free, for the proper disclosure I can say that the CEOs of all those companies are friends of mine and I help them whenever I can. When you do call or register don’t hesitate to say that I sent you, who knows, I might gain few friendship points if they hear about it. And hey, for a paid advice on all those services try my on-line presence here.