Start-ups begin in all sorts of places – a dormitory room, a garage, even a hotel room. But the one thing that all successful start-ups have in common is that once they’re going, things happen fast. One minute you’re enlisting your dad to help with product assembly at the dining room table, and the next you’re managing 50 employees in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse.

As a start-up rapidly expands, the communication dynamic changes over and over again. And yet, employees need the right tools to get their work done. Customers will continue to want answers quickly. Investors continue to want to know that you’re spending their money wisely. Suddenly, a start-up must juggle all these things and more – without stumbling.

Communication is at the heart of this. A modern phone system is an absolute must-have for any start-up hoping for success; one that is designed for a growing business. Hosted IP PBX phone systems are a good example of a system that can help start-ups overcome several growth obstacles at once. The obvious advantage of using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the variety of systems it handles. As well as traditional call handling, video conferencing, instant messaging, mobility and online collaboration are also easily accessed. The system ownership and maintenance is transferred to the vendor which means the burden of IT management is removed from the pressed-upon start-up.

These are the sorts of things that can give a start-up that crucial edge in a competitive environment.

However, these are not the only competitive advantages to cloud-based phone systems. For example, they can provide:

  • Scalability: An optimistic start-up will want to plan for the future, and keeping pace with projected growth can be a constant worry. The benefit of a cloud-based system is that it is designed to adapt to changing business needs – extra people can be added easily, and in today’s global business environment, it’s easier than ever to set up offices all over the world.
  • Mobility: A disperse workforce is an inevitable part of any modern business, especially new businesses. Employees are expected to be mobile and organisations are utilising remote workers – using cloud systems to keep them all connected. Increasingly, workers want to be able to make and receive calls wherever is most convenient and on the most convenient device. Furthermore, updating or changing capabilities is simple, as a centralised software platform in the cloud can be added to quickly and without business-wide disruption.
  • Speed: One dilemma that start-ups face is how to outpace their competition armed only with a lean team. Productivity is therefore essential. Collaboration tools should be used to their maximum potential to streamline workflow and enable the fastest decision-making possible.
  • Simplicity: When a vendor is in charge of the system, IT departments can focus on more profitable activities as they don’t need to spend their time on day-to-day maintenance.
  • Customer Relationships: More and more, start-ups can be enhanced with business intelligence about their customers, which is integrated with collaboration tools. Using CRM can help the sales team to access customer information in real time during calls and thus building better relationships to, ultimately, close the deal.
  • Cost: Upfront investments can often be a daunting choice for a start-up. Cloud phone systems eliminate the need for this, with companies paying monthly fees for only the services they need. They can easily add or remove seats and offices as they grow in various locations and focus on maximizing the efficiency of their budget.
Rapid growth is exciting as well as challenging. By installing the right kind of technology, the usual risks can be mitigated, and success will be adequately supported.

By Adrian Hipkiss, managing director EMEA at ShoreTel