How to Set Up a Phone System for Your Small Business

small business phone systems

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.

Key Considerations

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.

KSU Systems
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.

PBX Systems
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.

VoIP Systems
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.

Liz Alton

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Join the Conversation

  • Paul Bear

    Wireless phone systems seem to have taken over, but the lowly office phone is still in demand. Having the ability to communicate directly from office to office with no busy signal is desirable for large corporations. Having multiple lines in and call waiting requires something more than a cellphone. VOIP may change the computer into the phone system of choice, though.

  • Marc Brown

    I think this is a great guide for small businesses that need abusiness phone systems. In fact, I think that my business is in need of a phone system. Right now we only use cell phones, but I think a phone system would look more professional.

  • Steven James

    Really Good Information for Phone Setup for small business.

  • Very informative, it can be very confusing deciding on the best phone system for your business.

  • David J.

    I have been considering phone pbx systems from several well know companies like Avaya, Panasonic, Cisco and so on. There is enough specification in each that made me so confused what to go for.