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Telephone Systems for Small Business

A telephone system for small business will incorporate multi line phones, VoIP technology and many user friendly features to increase efficiency and productivity. The right business phone system can allow small businesses and startups the same communication capabilities as larger, more established organisations.

Contents
Small Business Telephone Systems Overview
Choosing the Right Phone System for Small Business
Small Business Phone System Costs
Provider Comparison
Best Phone Systems for Small Business

Small Business Phone System Providers

One of the biggest choices you have to make when deciding on the right phone system for your small business is the provider you choose for your solutions.

In the UK, businesses have the choice of a number of leading suppliers from the telecoms industry and each has their benefits and advantages as well as features that may suit certain types of organisations.

SupplierEst.Services OfferedCore Benefits
BT1969VoIP, Unified CommunicationsMobile Twinning, Multi-Level Auto Attendant, Integrated Voicemail
NFON2007PBX, VoIPSecure Encryption, Free Internal Calls, Advanced Call Mangement
Mitel1973VoIP, Unified Communications, Hosted PBXHigh-Definition Audio, Advanced Desk Phones, Unified Messaging
Lily Comms2009VoIP, Unified CommunicationsCost Savings, Custom Solutions, World Class Support
Cisco1984VoIP, PBX, Unified CommunicationsAdvanced Mobility, Feature Rich Handsets, Enhanced Collaboration

What Small Business Phone System do you Require?


Before entering into purchasing a small business telephone system, there are a number of factors you need to consider:

  1. How many lines do you need?
  2. How many extensions are required?
  3. What features would you like on your system?
  4. How many line provider sockets do you need?
  5. Can your telephone system expand with growth?

It is important to examine each of these questions carefully because the phone system you choose for your small business is important for a number of reasons. Communication is key to the success of any organisation regardless of the sector you operate within and a modern phone system will ensure as a small business or startup you can compete with larger, established enterprises.

 

As well as reviewing phone systems that can help the performance and productivity of your small business immediately you also need to future proof your choice by ensuring the telephone system you choose fits with the growth strategy for organisation.

Other Considerations

  • Will you require call forwarding to mobile phones, and their integration into your system?
  • Will you require call redirection to staff members who work from home?
  • Do you wish to have a data network installed, which is able to use wireless technology?
  • Is there a need for your business to be able to integrate the phone system with the IT used?
  • Will you need to be able to identify customer details and dial numbers from a computer, called Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)?

Some small businesses do not need these extras, although depending on the industry a company operates within some firms may find them essential.

Once you have answered these questions you can start to look at which system is suitable for your needs.

Choosing the Right Phone System for Your Business

What is considered a 'good phone system' can vary depending on the number of extensions and features needed. In addition, advances in mobile technology are changing the ways in which many people do business.

Hosted cloud-based PBX systems mean that businesses can move away from traditional in-house telephone lines, and communicate better than ever from just their smartphones – an ideal solution for businesses wanting to lower communication costs while still benefiting from advanced features such as call recording and personalised on-hold music or marketing messages.

1) Traditional Systems (PBX)

If you are thinking of buying a traditional phone system, you will need to think about buying a phone for each employee. If you have a small business with a handful of employees, then there is no reason why you can't just buy the same setup that you would use at home.

If you have lots of extensions for your employees, then you will need to look at a PBX or Private Branch Exchange, which will co-ordinate all incoming and outgoing calls, help to make transfers and manage voicemail on different extensions.

A PBX used to be a wall-mounted box that each phone line plugged into, but nowadays, these can be virtual as well, offering the same functionality as traditional hardware.

2) VoIP for Small Businesses

A VoIP system works by transmitting the phone audio over the Internet, so it is important to make sure that your VoIP phones don't use the same connection for the Internet otherwise if multiple people are online at once, this can caused garbled or dropped calls.

The number of lines you would need is based on how many people you expect to be using the system at the same time.

For example, a two person organisation will be likely to only need two lines, a 10 person organisation will generally need five to seven lines, and a 100 person organisation could only need up to 20 lines.

Finding the Right Match

To choose the right system for your business, it's best to mix and match from the different options open to you. Different configurations have different advantages and drawbacks. For a small sized business, the best option would be a traditional phone system with a low-end phone/PBX combo.

Another option would be to have a traditional or digital line for each employee and to use consumer level phones. Before making a decision, check with local phone and broadband providers and see if they have any packages that include digital phone service and a virtual PBX.

Business Phone System Provider Reviews

BT

BT Quantum is a communications system made for small business. With a capacity of up to 48 users BT Quantum can be used on-premises as well as via the internet remotely, allowing business users to be contact on the move and away from the office, a vital function for startups in a fast paced marketplace.

Supplier Rating: Read Review
BT
CategoriesRating
Customer Service
Reliability
Features
Price

As a leading supplier in the UK telecoms industry BT is a great option for small businesses, whether you're looking for your first phone system or to replace existing solutions. BT have a number of feature rich systems depending on your business needs

Benefits of BT for Small Businesses

  • Mobile Twinning – Connect your mobile and office phone so both ring on the same number, at the same time.
  • Remote Monitoring – BT monitor your phone system 24/7 to ensure it is working as it should be

NFON

NFON specialise in cloud based telephone systems and may suit small businesses who are short on office space or who would prefer to keep unnecessary hardware off-premises. NFON offer tailored services depending on the sector you operate within and allows organisations to build a phone system that contain features most important to them.

Supplier Rating: Read Review
NFON
CategoriesRating
Customer Service
Reliability
Features
Price

Founded in Germany, NFON now have a strong presence throughout Europe and their partnership with BT in the UK means they offer leading solutions for all types of organisations. Their secure encryption makes them a leader in the field and means you can have complete trust in your business's communications process.

Benefits:

  • Save on Upfront Costs – With no need for traditional hardware you save money on installation costs.
  • Save office space – With no in house hardware you save space within your office for more work areas or meeting points

Mitel

Mitel are one of the UK’s leading phone system providers and their feature rich services make them ideal for small businesses. You have full control over the type of system you decide to install and have a choice of both entry-level desk phones as well as sophisticated handsets packed with added functions.

Supplier Rating: Read Review
Mitel
CategoriesRating
Customer Service
Reliability
Features
Price

As a leading business phone systems provider Mitel offer state of the art technology for businesses of all sizes. This means that no matter what services you choose you can be sure that your organisation's communications will benefit from enhanced collaboration and improved productivity.

Advantages of Mitel for Small Business:

  • Collaboration – Mitel phone systems allow you to connect with colleagues, clients and potential customers through voice and video for enhanced collaboration
  • Adapt to your needs – Customise your phone system to the exact needs of your growing business

Lily Comms

Established in 2009 Lily Comms is already one of the leading providers for business telephone systems in the UK. Helping over 2,500 businesses to increase productivity and grow their enterprise. As a provider Lily Comms pride themselves on the cost effective solutions they offer making them ideal for small business.

Supplier Rating: Read Review
Lily Comms
CategoriesRating
Customer Service
Reliability
Features
Price

Another of Lilly Comms USPs is the tailored solutions they offer clients designed for their business no matter what industry they operate within. This is important as what works for one type of business won’t necessarily work for another so ensuring you get the right fit for your company is hugely important.

Benefits:

  • Completely Customisable – Tailor a phone system for your business, choosing a mix of in-house or cloud-hosted software to help you get ahead.
  • Cut Costs – Being an independent provider Lilly Comms can allow you to save up to 7% compared to major networks.

Cisco

Established in the U.S. Cisco have been leaders in the business telecoms industry for over 30 years. They produce a number of tailored solutions and handsets for small business to help you get ahead with feature packed systems. The technology on offer means you can be sure to stay ahead of competitors with the latest communications solutions.

Supplier Rating: Read Review
Cisco
CategoriesRating
Customer Service
Reliability
Features
Price

Another provider to receive a 5 star review, the scale of the desk phones and features available along with the high quality solutions offered mean Cisco are a great fit for small business. Excellent customer support also means the brand can guide you through the process of purchasing and installing your first phone system

Advantages:

  • More Options – As a leading provider with Cisco you have a wealth of choice in the type of phone systems you choose
  • Stay Competitive – Cisco’s phone system features include everything any small business needs to stay competitive and connect with new and existing clients effectively.

Best Office Phone Systems for Business

3CX Small Business Edition (3CXPSSB) with Sangoma 50 Gateway

Vega 50

Sangoma Vega 50

Sangoma's Vega 50 Media Gateway connect traditional telephone systems to IP networks by working alongside 3CX. This capability allows small businesses to run a hybrid phone system benefiting from both traditional and virtual components.

Price: From £679.00 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
More Details:
  • Combines the ease of 3CX out-of-the-box configuration with Sangoma analogue ISDN gateway
  • 8 simultaneous calls and 4 x BRI channels
  • 3CX Software based IP PBX that operates with Windows. Easy to manage and can be used with any SIP phone
  • Sangoma Vega 50 Gateway Connects a range of legacy telephone equipment (e.g. analogue phones and PTSN) to IP networks
  • Telephony features: Call waiting; call forwarding; call transfer; 3 way conference; do not disturb; message waiting indicator; caller ID; music on hold; and executive barge Best4Systems

Panasonic KX-TES824 Telephone System Bundle

Panasonic phone system bundle

Panasonic KX-TES824

The Panasonic KX-TES824 is a hybrid telephone system allowing up to 24 extensions making it perfect for small business. The system includes a number of useful features including Caller ID and Voice Message Delivery when a line is busy.

Price: From £455.00 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
More Information:
  • Specifically geared towards small and medium sized businesses
  • Maximum of 8 lines with 24 extensions
  • Auto attendant, as well as call barring, diverting, management, voicemail and conference call
  • Bundles include a Panasonic KXT7730 system phone and 2 x Panasonic KXT7750 system phones
  • Key features include caller line identification for increased efficiency and optional voice processing integration

Meridian Norstar Call Pilot 100

Norstar Call Pilot 100

The Call Pilot 100 from Meridian is an advanced voicemail messaging system that can handle up to 40 voicemail users.Designed for small to medium sized business to ensure no important calls are missed.

Price: From £100.00 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
Features:
  • State of the art messaging system for small to mid-sized businesses with 10-40 mailbox users
  • Built-in Ethernet Port
  • Supports a connection to the LAN for advanced applications such as auto attendant, customer call routing, voicemail, basic call centre, and Web based management

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Konftel 50 Conference Phone

Konftel 50

The Konftel 50 conference phone allows connection to all types of phone systems including digital, IP and cordless telephones adding an extra layer of collaboration for internal and external communications.

Price: From £195.00 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
Additional Features:
  • Portable audio conferencing unit for small business meeting use
  • Can be connected to most telephone system key phones, DECT cordless phones, as well as PC/Mac laptops and desktop computers
  • Microphone reception area of up to 30m and perfectly suited for conference calls for up to 6 people
  • Can be used together with a headset

Orchid DX900 Business Telephone

Orchid DX900

The Orchid DX900 is a feature rich handset ideal for users within small businesses. A large LCD screen allows for easy navigation and a speakerphone and headset jack mean you can tailor the phone system to your communication needs.

Price: From £24.95 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
Additional Features:
  • Additional features include 12 language options; message waiting LEDs; PABX line access code; hearing aid compatible
  • Ideal for a small and growing business
  • Feature-packed business phone with large LCD, 70 phonebook memories, and 8 one-touch as well as 10 two touch memories

Orchid PBX416+

Orchid PBX416+

With a capacity for up to 5 analogue lines and 16 extensions the Orchid PBX416+ was designed with small businesses in mind. Packed with features ideal for small to medium organisations including call forwarding and line selection for efficient communications.

Price: From £155.75 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
Additional Info:
  • Supports up to 4 telephone lines and 16 extensions
  • Easy installation
  • Features: 99 system phone numbers; auto attendant; auto fax detect; caller ID; remote programming; call forwarding; power failure transfer

Elite Telecom - Hosted Small Business Telephone System

Elite Telecom Hosted Phone System

Elite Telecom's hosted telephone system includes many of the features and functions vital for a small business. As well as being feature rich it is also easily scalable, ideal for organisations in the growth phase.

Overall Rating:
Feature Breakdown:
  • Full access to all the features of a standard PBX for a small monthly cost
  • Plug-and-play functionality
  • Feature rich and added benefits from network services such as call queuing and call recording
  • Easily scalable
  • Free DDI, voicemail, and conference calling
  • All systems come with added Disaster Recovery
  • Choice of top brands including Avaya; panasonic; siemens; and Toshiba
  • Mobile and remote working options available

Cisco SPA 504G

Cisco SPA 504G

The Cisco SPA 504G comes complete with many of the features you would expect from a leading business phone handset. As well as on screen applications the phone also includes capabilitties for external software for future upgrades.

Price: From £74.00 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
Additional Info:
  • 4 line VoIP solution designed to work for small businesses
  • Wideband audio for enhanced voice clarity and enhanced speaker quality
  • Security features
  • Full duplex speakerphone, headset, message waiting indicator, and dynamic soft keys for phone functions
  • Built in speaker phone and high quality microphone

Grandstream GXV3140 Skype Phone (no PC required)

Grandstream GXV3140 Skype Phone

Grandstream's Skype Phone allows you to receive the full benefits of VoIP without any needs for a computer, this can be ideal for many small businesses with communications often taking place online.

Price: From £125.00 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
Features:
  • IP multi media phone with 4.3'' digital TFT colour LCD, and 1.3 pixel CMOS camera with privacy shutter
  • Built in web browser
  • Multimedia features enable video calls with high definition wideband voice quality
  • Fully integrated with external connectivity options

Orchid 206 PBX

Orchid 206 PBX

Orchid 206 PBX system has functionality for up to 2 lines and 6 extensions meaning it is ideal for small offices or home businesses. Features of the system include call transfer and auto attendant.

Price: From £169.95 (ex VAT)
Overall Rating:
Additional Features:
  • Suitable for new and starter businesses with 2 analogue lines that supports up to 6 extensions/users
  • Power failure transfer
  • Direct dial extensions
  • Key features include an auto attendant with 12 second OGM
  • Programmable call restriction and call barring





Small Business Phone System Costs

Small business telephone systems start from as little as £170 and this will provide you with a 2 line system with up to 6 extensions.

Higher specification systems can cost up to £1,700, giving more telephones and extensions with extra user and customer features.

Installers are available from telephone system suppliers but can add extra unnecessary costs to your business.

Small telephone systems can be set up simply and quickly as long as the relevant amount of line sockets have been installed by your line provider.

If you would like more information about any of the models, suppliers or facts provided above, simply fill out the form at the top of this page and Expert Market UK will match you to the appropriate sellers.

Do you already have a telephone system?



Finding the Perfect Small Office Phone System

Finding the right phone system for a small office is vitally important. A lack of space means small businesses often can’t afford to house large, loud and costly hardware on-site.

Instead many of the hosted systems covered in this guide provide an excellent alternative. By hosting your phone system externally you can instead keep initial investments to a minimum while affording monthly payments for custom plans and solutions tailored exactly to meet your needs.

Keeping your small office as efficient and productive as possible is one of the biggest challenges that startups and small organisations face and putting the right communications process in place early can mean saving money, time and space further down the line.