VoIP services are hotter than the surface of the sun these days. Just trying to sift through the plethora of options can be enough to make your head spin. Things get even worse when you look for small business VoIP providers.
See, virtually every VoIP provider claims to be one of the best small business VoIP providers on the market. They want to lure in small businesses and hopefully go along for the ride as they grow. But the truth is not every VoIP provider is a great option for small businesses. Let’s find the real winners.
What Do VoIP Providers Do?
For the uninitiated, VoIP providers are companies that provide VoIP service. VoIP means voice over internet protocol, and it’s how we can use our internet-connected devices to place phone calls instead of relying on phone companies.
These companies used to provide nothing but phone calls using a virtual phone number that routed calls to your mobile phone or landline. My how things have changed. Today’s VoIP services tout powerful apps, artificial intelligence, and even additional services like video conferencing and webinar support built in!
But we’re most interested in what small business VoIP providers have to offer. How can you tell if a provider really has what a small business needs?
What Makes Small Business VoIP Providers Different?
If we’re being honest, most VoIP providers are not exclusively meant for small businesses. The vast majority cater to enterprise customers mainly because that’s where the money is. But some providers do have plans that appeal to a small business owner’s bottom line.
However, there are some providers that do focus more on small business customers. They aim to deliver an easy-to-use service through a mobile app or through a desktop app. There’s also a heavy emphasis on automating tedious tasks that you may not yet have the manpower to handle.
Many of the best small business VoIP providers also help your business appear larger than it really is. They give your startup or newborn baby business a professional appearance and sound.
What Should You Look for in a Small Business VoIP Service?
First of all, you shouldn’t pay more than $30 per month for your VoIP service, and that’s the cutoff we used to filter out any overpriced businesses. While you may be asked to pay the whole year upfront to get a discounted rate, you should always ask for a free trial first. Avoid anyone who asks you to commit to a contract but won’t let you take their service for a test drive.
Unlimited calling is a must, as are features like call forwarding or call routing. All of this should be available through apps that you can use on your mobile phone, since that’s where most small business owners get things done. Desktop apps are a plus.
You should also be able to choose your own number. Toll-free numbers or local numbers, as well as vanity numbers, ought to be available from your provider. Or, if you already have a business phone number, you should be able to port it to your new VoIP provider. Everyone we’ve selected today meets our criteria, along with some extra features you might appreciate.
The Five Best Small Business VoIP Providers for 2021
1. 8×8 Express
8×8 Express is one of those VoIP providers that generally targets enterprises, but they sit comfortably atop our list anyway. Why? Well, they actually have a separate service specifically designed to serve small businesses, and it’s quite impressive.
8×8 Express beats nearly everybody else when it comes to cost. At $12 per line per month, you can’t really beat 8×8. As if that weren’t enough, they also give you a free domain and a three-month subscription to Wix so you can build a website and get your business running. This is a great example of focusing on what startups and small businesses need.
And their phone service is solid. You get the apps you need to stay connected, unlimited calling, and even a few extra features like an auto attendant that can create phone menus or play waiting music or a pre-recorded message. 8×8 makes your business sound professional at a great low price.
But Wait, There’s More!
Oh, and if you still aren’t convinced, how about unlimited video conferencing? That’s right, 8×8 even has its own video conferencing app and it’s yours for no extra cost. Their price is less than what you pay for Zoom’s video conferencing alone, and you get a whole phone service on top of that!
RingCentral is a reliable choice for small businesses. Although they can provide service to just about any company of any size, their plans are reasonably priced and full-featured enough to qualify them as a good option for small businesses. They just barely eek by our pricing standards, however.
Their service costs $29.99 per month for a single line when you prepay the whole year. Sign up for two lines and it’ll cost just $39.98. The essentials package is actually a great option for small businesses because of how useful RingCentral’s apps are. We think they’re some of the best in the business.
RingCentral works on mobile and desktop, and what’s great is that you can add guest users to your account. They won’t be able to place calls, but they can receive them and can also be added to your chat groups on the app. This makes it easy to collaborate, outsource, or just get clients involved. It also acts as a cheap way to extend your connectivity to others in your business without paying full price.
Out of all the small business VoIP providers we’ve covered here, Grasshopper has to be the purest of them all. They go out of their way to specify that they work for small businesses and every aspect of their service reflects that. At $26 per month, they’re also a cost-effective option considering the service they provide, which includes a phone number of your choice and plenty of clever calling features.
Grasshopper takes a unique approach to virtual numbers. You get one with the basic plan, but you also get three extensions that you can program yourself. If you get a call, your caller can dial the extension just as if they were calling a big business. Even if you’re the only one that answers all three, you give off the impression that there’s more to your business than meets the eye.
Everything is handled with their absolutely snappy, impressive app. You can manage every aspect of your account from your phone, including routing calls to other numbers or to your mobile device. Grasshopper even has additional services available, like a pre-recorded message service complete with professional voice actors. It really is the only service here that feels handcrafted for small businesses.
4. Ooma Office
Ooma is the only provider on this list with a twist: You get a real phone! You might be wondering why you’d want a real desk phone in this day and age, but with VoIP, it actually isn’t a bad idea to have one. You can choose not to use it and leave it in the box if you want, but it might be nice to have an office phone connected to your VoIP service, especially if you have a physical office.
For $19.99 you get one line and a phone. With Ooma’s app, you can take your VoIP number with you and receive calls from your phone or at your desk. Ooma’s calls are some of the best in the business as they’ve been working on proprietary VoIP devices that use modern chips to enhance the quality of your call. Their customer service is also the highest rated in the industry.
That last point makes them a quality option for small businesses. Small businesses can’t afford downtime or technical problems, so it’s good to know you have reliable support if anything goes wrong. Finally, if you plunk down another $5, you’ll even get video conferencing to complement your VoIP service.
5. Zoom Phone
Last but not least, it’s the service you either love or detest: Zoom. Most businesses don’t even realize that Zoom does more than just video conferencing, but their phone system actually is quite good. You’ll be able to make unlimited calls in the US and Canada, with affordable pricing on international calls as well.
Best of all, it’s not going to break the bank. If you’re already paying for Zoom, then you can switch your plan to Zoom United and get both Zoom Meetings and Zoom Phone for just $25 per month. At that price, your small business will have everything it needs at one of the best rates available.
So, having examined the five best small business VoIP providers, which one should you choose? While you can’t beat 8×8 Express’s price, the drawback is that your clients may prefer using Zoom. If you’re concerned about adding another platform to your life, then check out Zoom United. If you don’t mind paying for two services and want the best small business service, hit up Grasshopper. And if you need a phone on your desk, RingCentral or Ooma have you covered.