A telephone system for a small business will incorporate multi-line phones, VoIP technology and many user friendly features to increase efficiency and productivity. These types of systems are sometimes referred to as a key system.
The right business phone system will help to future-proof your company and can allow small businesses and startups the same communication capabilities as larger, more established organisations.
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.
UK- based businesses have the choice of a number of leading suppliers from the telecoms industry. Each has their benefits and advantages as well as features that suit certain types of organisations.
|Supplier||Est.||Services Offered||Core Benefits|
|8x8||1987||VoIP, Call Centre Software, Unified Communications||Unlimited Calling Zone, Simple Administration, Multi-Channel Compatibility, HD Voice|
|BT||1969||VoIP, Unified Communications||Mobile Twinning, Multi-Level Auto Attendant, Integrated Voicemail|
|Pioneer Business Systems||1999||PBX, VoIP||Custom Solutions, Smart Computer Telephony Integration, Call Reporting|
|Mitel||1973||VoIP, Unified Communications, Cloud hosted PBX||High-Definition Audio, Advanced Desk Phones, Unified Messaging|
|Lily Comms||2009||VoIP, Unified Communications||Cost Savings, Custom Solutions, World Class Support|
|Cisco||1984||VoIP, Cloud hosted PBX, Unified Communications||Advanced Mobility, Feature Rich Handsets, Enhanced Collaboration|
Before purchasing a small business telephone system, there are a number of factors you need to consider:
- How many lines do you need?
- How many extensions are required?
- What features would you like on your system?
- How many line provider sockets do you need?
- Can your telephone system expand with growth?
Examine each of these questions carefully because the phone system you choose for your small business is important. Communication is key to the success of any organisation regardless of the sector you operate within. A modern phone system will ensure that, as a small business or startup, you can compete with larger, established enterprises.
As well as reviewing phone systems that can help your immediate performance and productivity, you will also need to future proof your choice. Ensure the telephone system you choose fits with the growth strategy for organisation.
- Will you require call forwarding to mobile devices, and their integration into your system?
- Will you require call redirection to staff members who work from home?
- Do you wish to have a high-speed 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)?
- How much are you looking to pay for line rental?
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 systems mean that your business can move away from traditional in-house business phone lines, and communicate better than ever from just their smartphones. This is 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. It goes without saying that an internet connection is a must for cloud-based systems
1) Traditional Systems (PBX systems)
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 only 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". This will co-ordinate all incoming and outgoing calls, help to make transfers and manage voicemail on different extensions.
A PBX used to be an on-premises 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 systems for Small Businesses
Unlike a premises-based phone system, VoIP phone systems works by transmitting the phone audio over the internet. It is important to make sure that your VoIP phones don't all use the same connection for the internet- otherwise if multiple people are online at once, this can cause garbled or dropped calls.
The number of lines you would need for a VolP phone system 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 phone line for each employee and to use consumer level phones. You can check with local phone and broadband providers and see if they offer a call package that includes digital phone service and a virtual PBX.
Small Business Phone System Providers - Reviews
Choosing between small business telephone systems for your business can be a tricky business in itself. But It would be hard to find a telephone company more innovative and than 8x8. Their cost-effective, industry leading technology has won them a host of high-profile awards, including the Tolly award for Superior Voice Quality and the Gartner award for Unified Communications as a Service. We love how modern and scalable their solutions are, and how responsive their customer service is.
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Your business may be small now, but who knows how large it will be in the future? Enter 8x8. With fuss-free, scalable solutions, they are the ultimate choice for any small business. With a high-profile client list (including McDonalds and NetSuite), you'd be in good company.
Benefits of 8x8 for Small Businesses
- Unlimited Calling Zone – Virtual Office Editions supports calls to and from up to 45 countries
- Work remotely, from anywhere,with feature-rich mobile app and desktop app
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.
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As a leading supplier in the UK telecoms and Wi-Fi industry, BT is a great option for small businesses, whether you're looking for your first office phone system or to replace existing solutions. BT have a number of feature rich systems depending on your business needs and offer an excellent end-to-end user experience. As a complete telecoms provider, BT also provides ISDN lines from as little as £25 per month and business broadband too.
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
- UK-based customer support
Pioneer Business Systems
Award-winning Pioneer pride themselves on creating smart business solutions, for any size business. Their feature-rich phones enable smooth, intelligent communications to ensure satisfaction from the individuals on both ends of the line.
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|Pioneer Business Systems|
A subsidiary of 4com, Pioneer are a well respected brand who offer a wealth of functions to help businesses handle their customers. Their systems make the most of Computer Telephony Integration.
- Customer Relations – Features such as easily accessible caller identification and hold message customization allow you to engage better with your audience.
- Save Time – Seamless integration and functions such as automated reporting aid maximum productivity and efficiency
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.
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As a leading business phone systems provider, Mitel’s office telephone systems go way beyond just a simple redial function. So, 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 office's phone system to the exact needs of your growing business
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.
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Another of Lily 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.
- Completely Customisable and easy-to-use – 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 Lily Comms can allow you to save up to 7% compared to major networks.
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, which includes cloud-hosted software, on offer means you can be sure to stay ahead of competitors with the latest communications solutions.
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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 business phone system
Best Office Phone Systems for Small Business
- 3CX Small Business Edition (3CXPSSB) with Sangoma 50 Gateway
- Panasonic KX-TES824 Telephone System Bundle
- Meridian Norstar Call Pilot 100
- Konftel 50 Office Conference Phone
- Orchid DX900 Small Business Telephone
- Orchid PBX 416+
- Elite Telecom - Hosted Small Business Telephone System
- Cisco SPA 504G Phone
- Grandstream GXV3140 Skype Phone (no PC required)
- Orchid 206 PBX
3CX Small Business Edition (3CXPSSB) with Sangoma 50 Gateway
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
Meridian Norstar Call Pilot 100
Meridian 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.
- 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
Konftel 50 Conference Phone
The Konftel 50 conference phone allows connection to all types of phone systems including digital, IP and cordless office telephones telephones adding an extra layer of collaboration for internal and external communications.
- 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 Small Business Telephone
Orchid specialise in functional office telephones for small businesses. Like the Orchid PBX416+ with capacity for up to 5 analogue phone lines and 16 extensions, packed with features ideal for small to medium organisations including call forwarding and line selection for efficient communications.
- 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
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.
- 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 office telephone systems include 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.
- 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 capabilities for external software for future upgrades.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 on-premises hardware.
Instead many of the hosted systems covered in this guide provide an excellent alternative. By hosting your business 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.