Until recently, all businesses needed at least the one landline and phone. Times have changed though, and now millions of small businesses rely entirely on mobile phones without a landline connection at all. Large corporations are taking a similar approach as well. “Big Four” accountancy firm, PwC announced in June this year that they are removing desk phones across all their sites in a shift to a ‘mobile first’ culture.
Business communications infrastructure is evolving and fast. But how do you know what’s going to be best for your small business? Are their consequences of not having a landline?
To help you figure that out, here are a few factors well worth considering…
Many sole traders and small businesses could potentially end a monthly business line rental charge by choosing to solely use an existing mobile phone instead. This is because both the line and mobile rental services are billed monthly and in advance. Paying for both can be an unnecessary luxury.
However, there are a few things to bear in mind:
if you need a broadband connection, you’ll require a land line rental for that anyhow
depending on how many calls you generally make, your mobile plan may need changing to include more calls, which could eat into savings from the cancelled line rental
if you have employees who need phones, you'll need to decide whether it’s better to provide them with a business mobile or reimburse them for work calls made on their own personal phones
it’s likely that you’ll have a contract in place for your line rental, and if that’s the case, there’s no sense in ending the service until it’s out of contract
You don’t want to be relying on a mobile for business calls if you are based in an area with weak/no mobile signal. That would be disastrous! So always confirm service coverage is good where you need it to be before committing yourself to mobile only comms.
Office phones are classed as a business expense by HMRC, so you can deduct 100 percent of the cost. If you chose to use an existing personal mobile, you can only deduct costs of business-related calls. And it can be a laborious task working that out accurately! Plus, you'll need to hold onto records so there’s a paper trail of your business use. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be worthwhile, but you do need to weigh it up first.
Would VoIP be better?
Depending on your business size and set up, you could be better off looking at a Voice over IP (VoIP) option. This uses your internet connection to send and received calls. VoIP can manage multiple ‘voice lines’ over a single internet connection and is much cheaper than using traditional analogue lines. Calls are cheaper too.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if your Internet connection goes down for any reason, VoIP goes down, too. You’ll also need to upgrade your office phones to make them compatible.
More and more small businesses are adopting VoIP now though because the cost-savings and benefits stack up so well. It’s worth noting that VoIP is beautifully scalable, so you can add/remove handsets and extensions without embarking on fresh contracts.
Over to you
Have a think about your businesses needs and decide on the right communications solution. All good telecoms providers will conduct a free cost saving analysis for you as part of their quote, so you can see whether a VoIP solution will stack up. Or if you’re a sole trader, you might find switching to use a personal mobile is better. Remember to consider you current commitments and contract end dates, communications needs, location and need for scalability in the future.
Whatever you decide, it’s clear that businesses across the UK are increasingly moving away from landlines. In 2010, UK firms had more than 10m landline numbers, but by the end of last year that had fallen by 35% to 6.4m, according to the communications regulator Ofcom. The time spent by businesses on landline calls has halved, from 38m minutes in 2010 to just under 19m last year.