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The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Phone Systems (2022)

business partners deciding what phone system to use for their small business

A phone system is critical to the success of any small business. Sixty-eight percent of customers prefer to hop on the phone when seeking to make a purchase decision than going through other means. 

However, it can be challenging to know which is the best for your company with several business phone providers. This article will guide you on the available options and what to look out for. 

What is a Small Business Phone System?

A small business phone system falls into two broad types: Traditional private branch exchange (PBX) system and Cloud-based VoIP system. Traditional PBX requires hardware, is based on-site, and is mainly used by larger companies.

Cloud-based VoIP systems are ideal for small businesses. It is hosted in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere via an internet connection. VoIP offers your business modern phone system features and is managed by a service provider on a subscription basis.

What should I look for in a small business phone system? 

As a small business, below are areas you should look for when deciding on a phone system provider:

  • Quality and Reliability: Your provider is responsible for the quality and reliability of the service. You want to inquire and ensure they guarantee uptimes as high as 99.999%.
  • Ease of Installation: Make sure the installation process is smooth and easy to understand.
  • Cost: As a small business, cost management is imperative. Cloud-based VoIP systems do not require you to purchase hardware and give the best bang for your buck. 
  • Support: After installation and setup, you need a provider that provides reliable support whenever issues arise. 

Must-Have Features for Small Business Phone Systems 

When assessing your phone system options, here are the must-have features you should consider: 

  • Standard Features: Any phone system should have these basic features: call parking, call forwarding, three-way calling, caller ID, call transfers, and a conference bridge.
  • Scalability: With cloud-based VoIP, you can scale your phone system by adding or removing users on the dashboard. Traditional systems, however, need physical wires and phone lines. 
  • Compatibility: Desktop and mobile compatibility are crucial for small business phone systems. Your staff should be able to access their phones wherever they are.
  • Security: VoIP providers control all the security protocols of your phone system. You want to ensure your calls are encrypted and no one is eavesdropping on your business conversations.
  • Integrations: A phone system should integrate seamlessly with your CRM and other business applications. The integration syncs your data across platforms and improves productivity and efficiency. 

Phone Systems Options for Small Businesses 

Below are three phone system options for small businesses:

  • Business Landline Phones: Business landline phones have been the conventional system for more than a century. They rely on physical wires for connectivity and are only recommended when a business doesn’t have a reliable internet connection. When using a standard landline phone, you are not affected if your internet or power goes out.
  • Small Business VoIP Phone Systems: Small Business VoIP Phone Systems offer high-definition, video and audio calling, messaging, cloud PBX with auto-attendant, unlimited extensions, and other modern-day features, all in one platform. It allows for long-distance calls from anywhere while requiring only an internet connection. It is more budget-friendly compared to traditional PBX. 
  • Private Branch Exchange (PBX): Private Branch Exchange is a private telephone network that handles inbound and outbound calls. It requires physical space and hardware to provide connectivity to the telephone network.

Setting Up Your Small Business Phone System

The best business phone systems for small businesses are cloud-based VoIP. Cloud-based VoIP phone systems are quick and easy to set up. They do not require the complicated process of setting up hardware on-site.

Download the provider’s mobile and desktop apps. Sign up for an account and select your phone numbers. Set up other features as best for your business operations. 

If your small business has an office and no remote employees, you may use a traditional business phone option. IP desktop phones are somewhat easy to set up with plug-and-play options.


Now you have learned the things that matter most when getting a small business phone system. As a small business, you should think about getting a unified communications platform that fully empowers your employees and improves customer experience overall.

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