Big-Corporation Technologies for Your Home Business By Harprit Singh
Wouldn’t it be great if the communications tools in your home office were as sophisticated as those in big corporations, but without the big-corporation cost?
Fortunately, this scenario doesn’t have to be wishful thinking anymore, thanks to the remarkable strides technology has made in recent years. Now you can have a professional communications system for your home office that fits into your budget.
Powerful communications tools and services are more affordable than ever, and they can play a vital role in your business’ success.
There are several key communications tools and services that you should consider as you build and grow your business into a competitive company. These tools can help your business stay on the cutting edge—without cutting into your budget.
The foundation of your home office system starts with the most essential communications tools.
Perhaps the most important tool is high-speed Internet. Just as the phone played a major role in helping companies launch and grow their business, today the Internet is just as vital. The Internet lets you quickly and easily communicate through text, video, and voice virtually anytime, anywhere.
In a home office, you can have high speed Internet access through DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) or cable modem. You can also get broadband Internet access for your laptop with a mobile access card through your cell phone provider. The mobile access card for your laptop will allow access to the Internet both at home and on the go, and may be especially convenient while on the road.
Likewise, cell phones or PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) are a must-have for home business owners. Even in a home business environment, you don’t want to be tied to your computer. Plus, many entrepreneurs and home business owners find the quality of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) poor for business use and choose to make their calls using cell phones, PDAs or land lines.
For on-the-go business owners, PDAs put communication and organization literally in the palm of your hand. A phone PDA with Internet access lets you make and receive phone calls and e-mails, browse the Web, store contact information and calendar dates, and use software like Microsoft Word and Excel business productivity applications from any location.
Once you have Internet access in place and a cell phone or PDA in hand, you can add more sophisticated communications tools to increase your business’ capabilities, including:
* VoIP softphone and analog telephone adaptor. VoIP softphone is a software based phone application that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet using your computer and a headset. An analog telephone adaptor connects a standard analog phone to your Internet to make phone calls. Although VoIP has a reputation for poor sound clarity, technological strides are greatly improving VoIP sound quality.
* Instant Messaging Application. There are many times when just a quick exchange of messages with a colleague or a customer is all you need to keep business flowing. Instant messaging lets you do this.
Bear in mind, most instant messaging programs carry the same security and virus risks that e-mail does. Also, to exchange messages, you typically need to use the same instant messaging program as the person you’re chatting with, such as AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger applications. However, some programs, such as the Trillian chat client, let you communicate with people using different instant messaging programs.
* Web Conferencing. Presentations and meetings are an important part of doing business. When you have to meet with people from remote locations, Web conferencing comes in handy. You can demonstrate your products and/or services online, and even share screens from your desktop with the remote party.
Unifying Your Business Communications
If you want to kick your home office communications into high gear, unified communications might be the ticket. Unified communications seamlessly connects your communications by using just one virtual phone number for all your communication needs.
When someone calls the number, a personalized auto attendant routes the caller to whichever communications device you designate, including your home phone, cell phone, PDA, and fax. Unified communications can also deliver voicemails and faxes through e-mail by converting voice mails into audio files and faxes into electronic document attachments.
Indeed, unified communications can help your company image by making your small business appear larger. The professional auto attendant quickly routes callers through the different options that you set, similar to the answering system of large corporations.
And unified communications is surprisingly affordable. You can implement unified communications using a hosted service provider, or buy specialized equipment, which is pricier.
As the business landscape becomes more global, and demand for availability and accessibility increases, keep an eye out for significant developments in unified communications in the coming years.
There’s sure to be even more new tools to help home business owners build their communications arsenal. For now though, remember professional communications tools are vital to a successful home business. By establishing your company with the basics, staying competitive as your needs change and technology improves, and implementing unified communications, you’ll be well on your way to playing in the big leagues.
Meet the author: Harprit Singh is the founder, President, and CEO of Intellicomm Inc., an enhanced communications service provider. Intellicomm is the developer of Innoport® (Innoport) mobility-enhancing unified communications service. For more information, visit Intellicomm.