There is a range of business phone systems on the market which offer features for individual entrepreneurs, small businesses, and larger offices. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a business phone system for your company. Here are our recommendations of what to prioritize and which options out there deserve a closer look.
How to Set Up a Phone System for Your Small Business
Consider your location and whether you work virtually or in an office. Also consider your budget, how many employees you have, how they will be utilizing the system, plans for future growth of your company, and which services are available in your area. Once you figure out your needs, you can narrow down your options for business phone systems.
Deciding Which Phone Technology to Use
Key KSU-Less Systems
This system is ideal for small businesses that have 10 or fewer employees. KSU-less phone systems offer advanced features, such as call transferring, conference calls, and multiple extensions without the additional cost that comes along with setup of a central control box (or KSU). The main drawback of KSU-less phones is that the maintenance falls to the customer. These systems are inexpensive and aren't supported by most major telephone vendors. If you have trouble with your phone service, it can be a challenge to get the support you need. However, if you know phone systems, you should be able to get along fine.
Key systems offer multiple phone lines that are supported by a central control unit, or key system unit (KSU). KSUs are great for small to medium sized businesses that employ between five and 75 people. These systems are more expensive than the KSU-less phones because they typically include costs for installation and maintenance. KSUs are supported by major telecom vendors and offer the flexibility of expansion if your business grows.
RingCentral is our top VoIP choice for small businesses because of its unlimited domestic business phone and messaging, starting at just $19.99/mo.
- Adaptable to your business needs from equipment rentals to toll-free numbers
- Global infrastructure with an easy setup
- Easy to scale and find a plan that works for you—regardless of your business’s size
Private branch exchanges (PBX) are most often utilized by larger businesses that employ more than 75 people. PBX systems offer highly advanced features and flexibility but often come with a high upfront cost for setup and installation. While you may save money with these advanced features in the long term, PBX systems are generally recommended for medium to large businesses that have a variety of complex needs for their business phone system.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows businesses to utilize the Internet to make calls domestically or internationally. While VoIP is convenient in terms of connectivity, you should generally opt for a hosted VoIP system to help deal with any problems that may arise. While you can manage the equipment yourself through a traditional system, you may run into issues if you are not especially tech-savvy. Hosted VoIP systems generally require you pay a monthly fee to a telecom company for use of their equipment and support, but the expense is worth it if you can afford it and if it meets your needs.
You have many options for business phone systems based on your budget, needs, and number of employees. Once you've determined which system is a good fit for your business, contact your local telecom provider to discuss cost, installation, and maintenance.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.