With the economy unstable and uncertainty about the future business climate, every small business is trying to save money wherever they can. There are many services and tools on the web that can help you save and reduce business costs for typical small business expenditures. Like fax, phone and meeting services.
Faxing over the internet
As recently as 2007, almost all small businesses had fax machines. Those that did not used faxing services at retail outlets like FedEx/Kinkos that cost over a dollar per page. In addition to the initial purchase price of a fax machine, there are recurring costs for paper, toner cartridges, and heaven forbid repairs and maintenance. The internet makes faxing documents much less expensive and it is easy to setup and use. MyFax is one of the most popular on-line faxing services.
At MyFax you can send 100 pages and receive up to 200 pages for a monthly charge of $10.00. MyFax works through most email programs including Microsoft Outlook. MyFax also supports mobile sending and receiving. Squidoo provides a list of several online faxing services for you to compare costs and service options.
Phone services using the internet
Phone service over the internet uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which is a general term for transmission technologies that deliver voice communications using IP networks (see Wikipedia VoIP for more information).
Although you can purchase an internet phone service such as Vontage, a popular option is Skype. Skype is free for calls between Skype enabled computers anywhere in the world and the fees for calling landlines are much less expensive than standard phone services. To use Skype, you need a computer and a microphone. And, through Skype services you can also share documents and chat. Skype supports video and conference calls. For mobile access, Skype offers iSkoot as a free download that allows users to access their Skype calls, voice mail, and text messages from mobile phones.
Go to meetings from the relative comfort of your office
Web conferencing has replaced travel for many small businesses and helps to reduce business costs. Participants in a web-based conference meeting can view documents together and with video support, you can talk with customers and potential clients or even offer training to small or large groups. GoToMeeting is a Web conferencing tool that provides an easy, cost-effective way to organize and attend online meetings. Their “patented technology enables co-workers, customers and prospects to view any application running on your PC in real time.”
The cost to attend a web conference hosted using GoToMeeting is free. If you plan to host meetings, you can get a monthly or an annual plan. It costs $49 per month which is probably less than your business would spend on one airline flight. Your annual fee covers unlimited online meetings with up to 15 attendees per meeting.
The internet offers many opportunities for a small business to reduce business costs by replacing fixed services with virtual services. The technology behind these services has matured significantly over the last decade and each of those listed above have invested in ease-of-use that does not require your business to have an IT staff waiting in the wings to help you use it.