Friday, September 18th, 2020

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Small Business Fundraising: Let Me Count the Ways

Most people only think of loans when they think about funding a business.  Financing is for sure the most common way to do it, but not all financing comes in the form a traditional term loan.  Furthermore, there are options that are not even considered financing because you do not have to repay the funds. The truth is, small business fundraising may not look the way you expect it to.

Small Business Fundraising Can Happen in More Ways than You Thin

Small business fundraising can include loans, but it can also include investors, grants, and more.  Beyond that, if you do go with financing of some sort, there are other options out there besides traditional banks and credit unions. 

Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

Small Business Fundraising: Loans

When you think of loans you probably think of traditional loans.  These are the most popular, but they are not an option for everyone.  There are other types as well. 

Traditional Loans 

These are loans from traditional banks and credit unions.  As a business, your business credit score can help you get some types of funds even if your personal score isn’t awesome.  That isn’t necessarily the case with this type of lending however. 

With a traditional lender term loan, you are almost always going to have to give a personal guarantee.  This means, personal credit will likely weigh heavy on their decision.  If your personal credit score isn’t in order, you’ll probably have trouble.

How high does your credit score have to be?  Typically, if you have at least a 750 you are in pretty good shape. Sometimes you can get approval with a score of 700+, but the terms will not be as favorable. 

If you have awesome business credit, your lender might be more flexible. However, your personal credit score will still play a large role when it comes to terms and interest rate. 

These are the most popular choice for small business fundraising because they typically have the best rates and terms. However, they are also the hardest to get.

SBA Loans

SBA loans are traditional bank loans, but they have a guarantee from the federal government. The Small Business Administration, works with lenders to offer small businesses financing solutions that owners may not be eligible for based on their own credit history. Because the government is offering a guarantee, lenders are able to be more flexible when it comes to the owner’s personal credit score. 

In fact, it is possible to get an SBA microloan with a personal credit score between 620 and 640. These are very small loans, up to $50,000.  They may also require personal collateral. 

The trade-off with SBA loans is that the application process is lengthy. There is a ton of paperwork connected with these types of loans. 

Here are some of the most popular SBA loan programs.

7(a) Loans 

These are federally funded term loans up to $5 million. The funds can be used for expansion, purchasing equipment, working capital and more. Banks, credit unions, and other specialized institutions in partnership with the SBA process these loans and disburse the funds. 

This is by far the most popular of the SBA loan programs, and the funds are available for a broad range of projects, from working capital to refinancing debt, and even buying a new business or real estate. 

504 Loans 

These loans are also available up to $5 million.  Funds can buy machinery, facilities, or land. They are generally used for expansion, and private sector lenders or nonprofits process and disburse the money. They work well for commercial real estate purchases especially. 

Microloans 

Microloans are available in amounts up to $50,000. They work for starting a business, purchasing equipment, buying inventory, or for working capital. Community based nonprofits handle the administration of these programs as intermediaries.  Unlike most other SBA loan programs, financing comes directly from the Small Business Administration. 

Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business.  

SBA Express loans 

These loans max out at $350,000.  The turnaround for express loans is much faster, with the SBA taking up to 36 hours to give a decision. The application process  is shorter also.  

SBA CAPLine 

There are 4 distinct CAPline programs.  The main difference between each is the types of  expenses they can fund. Each of them carries a maximum amount of $5 million and an interest rate that ranges from 7% to 10%. Funding can take 45 to 90 days. 

The four different programs are: 

  •  Seasonal CAPLines 

Financing for businesses preparing for a seasonal increase in sales.

  • Contract CAPLines 

Financing for businesses that need funding to fill a contract.

  • Builder’s CAPLines 

Financing for businesses taking on a real estate or construction project.

  • Working capital CAPLines 

Financing for businesses that are struggling with a short-term slump in sales.

SBA Community Advantage Loans 

This is a pilot program set to either expire or extend in 2020. It’s designed to promote economic growth in underserved areas and markets.  Those that make decisions about debt approval look over factors such as poor credit or low revenue if the business has the potential to stimulate the economy or create jobs in underserved areas. 

Private Non-Traditional Loans

These are loans from lenders other than traditional banks and credit unions that offer terms loans.  Usually they operate online.  The difference between these and traditional lenders is that the loans have looser approval requirements and a much faster application process. Most often you can simply apply online, get approval in as little as 24 hours, and the funds are in your account within 24 to 48 hours after approval. Here are just a few options for this type of small business fundraising.

Funding Circle

If you are looking for a  low APR, go with Funding Circle.  They have fixed rate term loans and require a credit score of 620 or above.  There is no minimum revenue requirement.  However, they do require you to be in business for at least 2 years.  

OnDeck

OnDeck offers lines of credit and term loans with fixed interest rates.  You can get up to $500,000 with a term loan.  The minimum FICO they require is 600.  In addition, you must have $100,000 minimum annual revenue and be in business for at least one year.  

Rapid Finance

With a large selection of financing products that includes term loans, Rapid Finance can be a great option for larger amounts.  In addition to term loans, they offer bridge loans, healthcare cash advances, and lines of credit.  Terms are from three to six months.  Amounts range from $5,000 to $1,000,000. Unfortunately, they do not make their minimum credit score readily available. Still, you can use their quote tool. It will give you an idea of what you qualify for. 

StreetShares

StreetShares offers invoice financing, term loans, and lines of credit.  There is only a one year time in business requirement.  Also, they require less minimum annual revenue than the others at only $25,000.  The minimum credit score is 600.  

Small Business Fundraising: Other FinancingSmall Biz Fundraising Credit Suite

In addition to term loans, there are other types of financing available for small business fundraising.  

Lines of Credit

This is basically the traditional lender’s version of a business credit card. The credit is revolving.  That means you only pay back what you use, just like a credit card. Rates are typically much better than a credit card however.  The application and approval process is more similar to that of a traditional term loan than a credit card.

If you need revolving credit and can qualify for a term loan, this is the best of the available business money types for you. It is great for bridging cash gaps and covering short term expenses without the high credit card interest rates. 

Unlike credit cards, there are no cash back rewards or loyalty points with a line of credit.  As a result,  some business owners prefer business credit cards despite typically higher rates.   

Invoice Factoring

If you are an established business with accounts receivable, you have invoice factoring as an option. This is where the lender buys your outstanding invoices at a premium, and then collects the full amount themselves. You get cash right away, without waiting for your customers to pay the invoices.

This is a good option if you need cash fast, or if you do not qualify for other types of funds. The interest rate varies based on hold old the invoices are.  A merchant cash advance is a similar option, in which a lender lends cash based on average daily credit card sales. Repayment is made daily credit card sales as well. 

Small Business Fundraising: Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a newer option for finding investors. While the average Joe that wants to start a business needs funding, it is not always possible to find one or two large investors. With crowdfunding, you can literally have a “crowd” of investors fund your business $5 and $10 at the time. 

There are many crowdfunding sites, but the most popular are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The platforms are similar but there are some important differences. The most obvious is the timing of when you actually receive the funds that others invest in your company.

Kickstarter requires a preset goal, and you do not receive your funds until you reach your goal. For example, if you set a goal of $20,000 when you start your campaign, you will not receive any money that investors offer up until you reach that $20,000. 

Indiegogo also requires a goal.  In contrast to Kickstarter, they offer the option to receive funds as you go if you prefer. They also have an option called InDemand. This program allows you to continue raising funds after your original campaign is over without starting a whole new campaign. It is more of an extension of the first one.

There are other crowdfunding sites out there as well. Different ones work better for certain businesses and vendors. To determine which one you might have the most luck with, you will need to do some research. Keep in mind your type of business and the specific business each one appeals too. 

Small Business Fundraising: Angel Investors

These are informal investors that generally invest at the start of a company. They typically receive equity in exchange.

Demolish your funding problems with 27 killer ways to get cash for your business

Angel investing is risky.   If a startup fails early on, investors will lose their investments completely. As a result, professionals will look for a defined exit strategy, acquisitions, or initial public offerings (IPOs).

The best way to find angel investors is to ask around. You can also try an angel investors website or network. 

Small Business Fundraising: Grants

While grants are less commonly available than other options, they are more common that you probably think. Typically, they are offered by professional organizations. There are some government grants available also. There is stiff competition, but they are definitely worth a shot if you think you may qualify. 

While requirements vary from grant to grant, and most are only awarded to a certain number of recipients, they are definitely worth exploring.  This is especially true if you fall into one of these basic categories. 

  • Women owned business
  • Minority owned business
  • Businesses run by veterans
  • Businesses in low income areas

There are also some corporations that offer grants in a contest format that do not require much other than that you meet the corporation’s definition of a small business and win the contest. 

Small Business Fundraising: Explore All Your Options

When you need to think about small business fundraising, be sure to consider all your options.  It may be that traditional loans will work best for you, but that may not be the case at all. Even if you do qualify for loans, why not consider grants and investors as well.  It’s free money. Any money you can get that will reduce the amount of debt you have to take on is a good thing. 

If you want to expand your opportunities even further, work on the overall fundability of your business. There are things affecting it that you probably don’t even realize can make a difference.  There is a lot more to it than just your credit score.  

How you set up your business, your business phone number, and even past speeding tickets can indirectly affect fundability.  If you work to reduce negative impact and increase positive impact on fundability, you can open the door to even more small business fundraising opportunities. 

The post Small Business Fundraising: Let Me Count the Ways appeared first on Credit Suite.

5 Real Estate Influencers With Exceptional Personal Brands

Real Estate is not only about selling and buying. It serves a higher purpose.  When we think about fulfilling our goals and ambitions, we want only the best for ourselves and those who surround us. …

The post 5 Real Estate Influencers With Exceptional Personal Brands appeared first on Paper.li blog.

Best VPS Hosting Plans

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

In a world filled with different web hosting options, VPS hosting has become a popular choice for websites in various categories.

Upgrading to a virtual private server (VPS for short) will drastically improve your site performance if you’re currently on a shared hosting plan. 

For those of you who are starting a new site from scratch and expecting tons of traffic from the beginning, getting a VPS hosting plan out of the gate is a viable option as well. 

There are literally hundreds of thousands of web hosting providers on the market today. That’s why finding the right web hosting plan for your site can be such a tough decision. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place—this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about VPS hosting.  

The Top 5 Options For VPS Web Hosting

  1. HostGator
  2. InMotion
  3. GoDaddy
  4. Media Temple
  5. InterServer

How to Choose the Best VPS Hosting Plan For You

As previously stated, the list of web hosting providers is seemingly a mile long. But in terms of actual contenders, there are a couple dozen at most. When it comes to VPS hosting, specifically, the list is even shorter.

But as you’re shopping around and evaluating different VPS hosting providers, these are the factors that you’ve got to take into consideration:

Site Performance Metrics

Site performance needs to be the top priority for everyone seeking a VPS plan. The term “performance” can be pretty subjective, but there are two metrics that matter the most:

  1. Uptime
  2. Speed

Most people searching for a VPS are upgrading from a shared hosting plan that they’ve outgrown. Uptime and speed are the first two things to be affected when you’re sharing server resources with other sites.

You want to make sure that your VPS plan can accommodate your traffic needs. If performance is affected at scale, then you need to look elsewhere. Lots of web hosting providers will give you a guaranteed uptime rate. However, those offers typically come with some contingencies (like planned outages). 

Some sites can’t afford any downtime or slow loading times. If you fall into that category, make sure you get a premium VPS plan. For those of you who would rather save some money, just know that your site performance might be affected.

Dedicated Resources

Technically speaking, you’re still sharing server resources with other websites on a VPS hosting plan. However, the number of sites on the same main server is much lower compared to shared hosting. Plus, each virtual server will have its own dedicated resources.

As you’re evaluating plans, consider the following:

  • RAM
  • Storage
  • Bandwidth
  • CPUs

These resources will have a direct impact on your site speed and uptime (mentioned previously). If you’re maxing out your resources, you can’t expect your site to run at peak performance. 

Optional Root Access

Not everyone needs root access. This feature only really matters if you’re a developer or need the ability to make custom changes to your virtual server at an advanced level.

If that’s the case, then you should be looking for a self-managed VPS plan. Most people will be better off with a fully managed plan (no need for root access here). It’s also worth noting that you can find fully managed VPS plans with optional root access, but that feature won’t really be utilized by the average user. 

Operating System

On the technical side, there are two main options for VPS hosting—Windows VPS and Linux VPS. 

A Windows-based platform will provide you with access levels and performance that’s similar to a dedicated server. If you’re on a self-managed plan, you would be able to install common windows databases and applications like Microsoft SQL, ASP, SharePoint, and ASP.NET.

With a Linux VPS, your virtual servers will support web features like PHP, MySQL, and POP3. Since Linux is an open-source OS, these hosting plans are usually more cost-effective. You could eventually convert your Linux server into a Windows server, but doing the opposite would be much more complex. 

Customer Service

Customer support piggybacks on our last point, especially true if you’re on a fully managed plan. 

You want to make sure that your web hosting provider has your back. What happens if something goes wrong? Who do you contact if you have a problem or question? How do you resolve a time-sensitive issue?

If your site crashes at 10:00 PM on Friday night, waiting to contact a customer support representative at 9:00 AM Monday morning isn’t going to cut it. Look for a VPS provider with 24/7/365 support via phone and live chat. 

Features like free migrations from another provider or hosting type to your new VPS plan would also fall into the support category. Some hosting providers are undoubtedly better than others when it comes to customer service. 

Budget

The price for VPS web hosting varies significantly from provider to provider and plan to plan. We’ve seen VPS hosting plans starting as low as $6 per month. Other plans start at $250+ per month. Most of you will likely fall somewhere between these two extremes. 

In many cases, you can expect to get what you pay for.

If you’re signing up for the cheapest VPS hosting plan that you can find, don’t expect to have extremely high uptime rates and fast page loading speeds. For those of you who want as many dedicated resources as possible, just know that they come at higher price points. 

So you’ll have to weigh your performance and resource needs against your budget.

The Different Types of VPS Web Hosting

There are essentially two different types of VPS hosting—managed and unmanaged plans. I’ll explain the differences between these choices below, and I’ll also provide you with more information on alternative options for web hosting (to make sure a VPS plan is right for you).

Managed VPS

If you’re not very technically inclined and don’t have a dedicated IT team, a managed VPS plan is definitely the best option for you. In short, you won’t have to really handle anything on your own. You’ll be able to just focus on running your website while the hosting provider takes care of the server behind the scenes. 

Here are a handful of examples of what most VPS hosting providers will do for you on a fully managed plan:

  • Set up the server from the start
  • Install your control panel, applications, and OS
  • Handle all application updates and OS updates
  • Server monitoring and maintenance
  • Automated backups
  • Security patches

Some providers will offer a little more or maybe even a little less, but this is generally what you should expect if you choose this type of VPS plan.

Unmanaged VPS

An unmanaged, or self-managed VPS, is just the opposite of a managed plan. You’ll be completely on your own when it comes to installing your software, control panel, security, maintenance, updates, and everything else listed above.

If you experience a hardware failure or an outage, don’t expect a ton of support from your hosting provider either. This type of VPS plan is really intended for those of you who need complete customization at the server level. 

Self-managed plans are usually cheaper as well since the hosting provider doesn’t have to do nearly as much. 

Other Types of Web Hosting

VPS hosting isn’t for everyone. So if you’re new to the world of web hosting, I want to quickly take a moment to explain your other options.

  • Shared Hosting — Shared web hosting is the best option for new websites that aren’t expecting a ton of traffic. You’ll be sharing resources with other sites on the same server. These plans are cheap, but performance can be an issue. If another site on your shared server has a traffic spike and uses up the shared resources, it can impact the uptime and loading speeds on your site. 
  • Cloud Hosting — Cloud hosting is pretty similar to VPS hosting. Think of this as a hybrid version of a virtual private server. Cloud plans come with several remote servers, each one with different responsibilities. If something goes wrong with one of those servers, the others will pick up the slack and keep your site running smoothly. Cloud hosting is generally cheaper than VPS hosting, and it’s easier to scale resources on-demand. However, customization is limited with cloud plans.
  • Dedicated Hosting — Dedicated hosting is the top of the line in the world of web hosting. It’s designed for large sites with tons of traffic. As the name implies, you’ll have one server completely dedicated to your website. This also gives you ultimate control in terms of customizations at the server level. Dedicated hosting comes at a higher price point, but the performance is second to none. 

With all of this in mind, let’s dive into the top VPS hosting plans on the market today:

#1 – HostGator Review — The Best For Reliable VPS Hosting

HostGator has been around for roughly two decades. The hosting provider powers 2+ million websites worldwide.

As one of the most trusted names in the web hosting industry, you really can’t go wrong with a HostGator VPS plan. Here’s a look at the different plans and price points:

The VPS hosting plans from HostGator come with full root access and dedicated resources. You’ll also benefit from features like:

  • Complete customization and total control of your virtual server
  • Free off-site backups of your server data every week
  • Script installers, site templates, and development tools
  • Unlimited domains, databases, email addresses, and FTP accounts
  • Ability to scale CPUs, RAM, and disk space
  • Exceptional customer support, 24/7/365

In addition to traditional web hosting, HostGator’s virtual private servers are commonly used for ecommerce sites, testing environments, gaming, and heavy application use.

All plans are backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee. 

#2 – InMotion Review — Best VPS Plans For Ecommerce Sites

InMotion has a wide range of VPS hosting plans for you to choose from. They offer managed VPS hosting and self-managed cloud VPS hosting, both powered by Linux SSD servers.

Managed plans start at $29.99 per month, and the entry-level self-managed VPS starts at $5 per month. 

Most of you will benefit from the managed plans, as these virtual servers are optimized for ecommerce out of the box. These plans are configured for speed and reliability with ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Magento, Prestashop, and more. 

Other advantages of using InMotion for VPS hosting include:

  • Free private SSLs and scheduled snapshots
  • Update databases, email, and domain settings with cPanel
  • Security updates and server management (with a managed plan)
  • DDoS protection and secure SSH keys (with a self-managed plan)
  • Fast and automatic software installs, like NGINX

Overall, InMotion’s virtual private servers are fast and reliable. Even the managed plans come with full root access. InMotion’s 90-day money-back guarantee is arguably the best in the hosting industry. 

#3 – GoDaddy Review — Best Self-Managed VPS Hosting

GoDaddy is a name that’s usually synonymous with domain registration and controversial marketing strategies. 

But if you’re in the market for a self-managed VPS plan, this will be a top option for you to consider.

Standard RAM VPS plans from GoDaddy start as low as $4.99 per month. The high RAM plans start at $9.99.

The self-managed plans are perfect for developers and system admins. Features and benefits of using GoDaddy’s virtual private servers include:

  • Full root access with SSH keys
  • Command line for complete power and flexibility
  • Scalable performance options and a wide range of custom server configurations
  • Unlimited hosting accounts with easy administration
  • Easy monitoring and alert notifications
  • DDoS protection and free SSL certificate
  • Ability to choose your data center (North America, Asia-Pacific, EMEA)
  • Backups and recovery console

These plans are great for testing environments, database servers, resource-heavy apps, email servers, and admins running multiple websites. 

GoDaddy does have fully-managed VPS plans starting at $99.99, but the self-managed option is definitely the standout from this provider. 

#4 – Media Temple Review — Best Managed VPS Hosting Plans

For businesses, ecommerce websites, agencies, and resellers, Media Temple is my top recommendation for managed VPS hosting.

The pros at Media Temple will handle all of the technical aspects of managing your server. So you can spend more time focusing on your website and business.

In addition to the best customer support team in the world of web hosting, your managed VPS plan comes with benefits like:

  • Ability to choose your control panel (cPanel or Plesk) and version
  • MySQL, PHP, Python, and Perl come pre-installed
  • Customize your virtual server with any Linux-based app, software, or OS component
  • Easily resell your hosting to clients with built-in reseller tools
  • 99.99% uptime guaranteed
  • Scale your server resources on-demand with just a few clicks

Media Temple’s servers are fast and reliable. These managed VPS hosting plans start as low as $55 per month. 

#5 – InterServer Review — The Best Cheap VPS Hosting Plans

InterServer definitely isn’t the most well-recognized name in web hosting. But for those of you who want a cost-effective VPS plan, InterServer is worth taking a closer look at.

This hosting provider offers managed and unmanaged VPS hosting, starting at just $6 per month.

Let’s takes a closer look at some of the features, benefits, and highlights of using InterServer for VPS hosting:

  • 450+ cloud apps supported with one-click installs
  • No limits on accessing or updating data
  • Full root access with total control of your OS and control panel
  • Automatically redirect server issues to another node
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • No fees for incoming or outgoing site transfers
  • Remote backup service to keep data safe and secure

Unlike other hosting providers on the market today, InterServer doesn’t offer a free trial or any money-back guarantees. However, they do offer month-to-month pricing, so you can cancel at any time.

The performance of these servers won’t be as high as some of the other plans on our list. But when you’re paying rock bottom rates, top of the line performance probably isn’t your first priority. 

Summary

VPS (virtual private server) hosting is an excellent option for sites that have outgrown a shared hosting plan. 

Which VPS is the best? Naming just one as the top pick is a tough call. But you’ll be happy with any of the options on this list. Just make sure you follow the methodology described earlier in this guide for choosing the best VPS plan. 

For self-managed and managed plans alike, there’s something for everyone on my list.

The post Best VPS Hosting Plans appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best VoIP Phone Services (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

The best VoIP phone services create exceptional customer experiences. And exceptional customer experiences work wonders for your bottom line. 

Imagine this: a potential customer calls the sales number listed on your website. Six states away, a personal cell phone rings. Your sales person picks it up, answers a few questions, and closes the sale. 

Within a matter of seconds, that potential customer turns into a paying customer rather than being transferred from employee to employee, wasting their time and testing their patience. 

With the right VoIP service, you can streamline and automate the customer journey, resulting in more money for less work. Furthermore, these services are easy to set up, easy to use, and most of the leg work happens behind the scenes. 

But choosing the right service feels like a daunting task. With countless options out there, how do you decide which one’s right for you? 

If you’re not sure how to answer that question, you’re in the right place. In this article, I cover how to choose the right service for your needs, the different types of VoIP services, and my top recommendations. 

Let’s dive in!

The top 6 options for VoIP phone service:

  1. Ooma – best for small businesses
  2. Nextiva – best for remote teams
  3. RingCentral – best for fast-growth
  4. Grasshopper – best for mobile teams
  5. Verizon – best for large businesses
  6. 8×8 – most affordable VoIP service

How to choose the best VoIP phone services for you

With countless VoIP service providers to choose from, finding the perfect solution for your business isn’t always easy. To make things easier, I want to share the criteria I considered when making this list and some must-haves regardless of the company you choose. 

You can use these to help narrow things down as you go through the process. 

Deployment options

Some VoIP phone services work with the hardware you already have, while others require proper installation. In some cases, you may need to buy an adapter or something else to enable the system. 

But others are as simple as a mobile app you download on your phone. 

So, carefully consider the amount of time and the level of support you have when making a decision. The simpler the system, the easier it is, and the less support you need to get things up and running. 

The size of your business

Most VoIP phone service providers charge per user per month. 

And while some offer discounts if you have a large team, those prices can quickly add up and get expensive. 

So it’s essential to understand how many users you have and how to get the best deal with the features you need at a reasonable price point. 

Phone call capabilities

It’s important to consider the phone call capabilities you need because each provider offers different capabilities at different price points. 

Do you need automatic call rejection, call forwarding, or caller ID? What about voicemail, voicemail transcription, and hold music? 

You may also want to consider other capabilities like:

  • Call forwarding and routing
  • Automatic attendants
  • Phone number types
  • Extensions
  • Blocking and auto rejections
  • Voicemail to text
  • Call recording
  • Call history
  • Instant responding
  • Custom greetings

Make a list of everything you need so you can choose the right provider and the right plan. 

Other forms of communication

Most VoIP providers also offer other forms of communication like SMS messaging, document sharing, online faxing, and video conferencing. 

However, they may not all be available on basic plans. 

With that said, you may not need all of them, either. So, carefully consider the additional forms of communication you need your team to have. 

Reliability

Your internet, VoIP provider’s uptime, and power source affect the quality of your phone calls.

With reliable, high-speed internet, you probably won’t have any issues. But what happens if the power goes out? 

If you use your mobile device, you’re probably fine. 

But desk phones aren’t. However, some come with battery backups that may last up to a few hours. So, make sure this is an option if you rent or buy hardware from your VoIP service provider. 

Furthermore, some VoIP providers offer network monitoring that lets them switch to wireless backups if wired data links fail. And you should also expect nothing less than 99.99% uptime, as well. 

The different types of VoIP phone service 

Device-based

For this type of service, you need to buy an adapter from the service provider and connect it to an existing phone (or a phone they provide). 

Software-based

These services are desktop programs. Skype and Google Talk are two good examples. You have to install the program and connect to the internet to use them.

However, most providers offer cloud-hosted and software-based systems.

Cloud-hosted

Cloud-hosted VoIP, or “virtual private-branch-exchange” (PBX), services are available as well. The only hardware you need is a networking router or switch and the provider handles the rest

This includes mobile VoIP services, too. These mobile apps run on Android and Apple devices through cellular internet or a local Wi-Fi network.

All of the options on this list are a combination of cloud-hosted and software-based, with most offering both types of systems. 

#1 – Ooma Review — The best VoIP phone service for small businesses

If you’re a small business looking for a reliable, no-contract VoIP phone service, Ooma is a great choice. They provide everything you need (i.e. hardware, software, and know-how) so you can start using their services in as little as 15 minutes.

Everything is ready to go straight out of the box. And you can keep your existing phone number or swap it out for a new one — for free. 

Ooma offers 35 powerful features, including:

  • A mobile app
  • Virtual receptionist
  • SMS messaging
  • Call blocking 
  • Voicemail and caller ID
  • Unlimited calls in North America
  • One complimentary toll-free number
  • One direct-dial number per user

Furthermore, Ooma has an excellent customer service team ready to help you get up and running, navigate snags, and create a seamless experience for your customers. 

However, the service is missing more advanced features. But it’s incredibly affordable and accessible for small businesses with a tight budget. 

Plus, you don’t have to worry about complicated contracts. Ooma’s pricing is simple and straightforward with two business plans, including:

  • Ooma Office — $19.95 per user per month
  • Ooma Office Pro — $24.95 per user per month

Ooma Office is suitable for most users. But you can upgrade to the Pro plan if you need a desktop application, call recording, or higher usage limits. 

#2 – Nextiva Review — The best VoIP phone service for remote teams

Remote teams face unique challenges. And they need a VoIP provider equipped with the tools and features required to conquer those challenges.

Nextiva is “made for business owners, not IT wizards” and built with remote teams of all sizes in mind. They offer solutions for small businesses, midsize businesses, and large enterprise companies alike. 

Plus, their in-house customer service team is ready to help every step of the way. 

Nextiva includes a wide variety of VoIP features, including:

  • Android and iOS applications
  • Unlimited text messaging
  • Customizable hold music
  • Multi-level auto attendant
  • Unlimited calls in the US and Canada
  • Free local OR toll-free number
  • Video and audio meetings
  • Internet faxing

Furthermore, you can make and receive business phone calls straight from your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. This service completely replaces an in-office phone system, empowering your remote team to stay connected. 

Alternatively, you can use it in conjunction with your current phone system. So, it’s also a great fit for call centers and non-remote teams, as well. 

Nextiva offers simple and affordable pricing. Their plans include:

  1. Essential — $19.95 per user per month
  2. Professional — $20.95 per user per month
  3. Enterprise — $27.95 per line per month

Nextiva boasts an “ultra-high uptime of 99.999%,” with around-the-clock network monitoring and zero outages in 2019. With relatively reliable service, various essential features, and reasonable prices, their service is among the best.

#3 – RingCentral Review — The best VoIP phone service for fast-growth businesses

RingCentral is an excellent option for fast-growth businesses. They’re the world’s #1 business communications platform with plans and features for business communications as well as customer support. 

Plus, RingCentral offers discounts depending on the size of your team. So, as your team grows (regardless of how fast), your phone service affordably scales to match your needs. 

They promise 99.99% uptime, and they maintain countless global data centers. This means you get excellent coverage and phone quality wherever you are on the globe. 

Furthermore, installation and setup are a breeze, thanks to RingCentral’s step-by-step installation and intuitive admin panel. 

You can set up new users from the admin panel, monitor service quality, and view your analytics all in one centralized place. Plus, you can even access it on the go. 

Their services include features like:

  • Unlimited calls in the US and Canada
  • Voicemail to text
  • Team messaging
  • Document sharing
  • Unlimited text messaging
  • Unlimited faxing and conferencing
  • Call recording
  • Developer platform
  • Custom integrations

RingCentral’s most affordable plan starts at $19.99 per user per month, making them a top contender for affordability. 

Their paid plans include:

  1. Essentials — $19.99 per user per month
  2. Standard — $24.99 per user per month
  3. Premium — $34.99 per user per month
  4. Ultimate — $49.99 per user per month

While their basic plans are suitable for smaller teams, their Premium and Ultimate plans allow teams to create custom-fit solutions, regardless of how fast they grow. 

#4 – Grasshopper Review — The best VoIP phone service for mobile teams

If your team works in the field, works from home, or works from anywhere in the world, Grasshopper is a smart choice. 

It’s a mobile (or desktop) app that adds a business line and an integrated phone system to your employee’s phones. So, they don’t need to carry around two phones or be present in the office to message customers and accept business calls. 

Plus, you can access and manage your entire phone system with mobile and desktop apps anywhere with an internet connection. 

The best part is that Grasshopper integrates seamlessly with the phones you already have. 

There’s no need to buy any fancy equipment or go through the hassle of messy and time-consuming installations. It’s as easy as picking a number and a plan, downloading the app, and configuring your settings. 

Plus, with Grasshopper, you get access to intuitive, yet powerful, features like:

  • Business text messaging
  • Call forwarding
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Phone extensions
  • Online faxing
  • Custom greetings
  • Instant responses
  • Ruby Receptionist

And while Grasshopper doesn’t automatically enable VoIP calling, you can quickly turn it on for free using the mobile app if you have poor cell service or prefer internet calling instead. 

Their paid plans include:

  1. Solo — $26/mo for one number and three extensions
  2. Partner — $44/mo for three numbers and six extensions
  3. Small Business — $80/mo for five numbers and unlimited extensions

Extensions can forward to any number you want. So, you can operate with three employees using Grasshopper’s solo plan. 

This is a breath of fresh air instead of per-user pricing with the other services on this list. 

#5 – Verizon Review — The best VoIP phone service for large businesses

Known for the stability of its network, Verizon provides VoIP business features for medium and large-scale businesses. However, it’s overkill for most small companies and very expensive compared to other options on this list. 

Furthermore, it’s most suitable for businesses that need to be available for customer calls, route calls to the right teams/people, or respond quickly to customer requests. 

Verizon’s VoIP phone service includes 45 features, including:

  • Customized hold announcements/music
  • A virtual receptionist
  • Complete call history
  • Administration web portal
  • Make and receive calls on your phone
  • Visual voicemail features
  • Call transfers
  • Do not disturb mode
  • Inbound caller ID
  • Selective call rejection
  • Instant messaging

You can purchase or rent desk phones through Verizon or purchase a converter to continue using your current equipment. 

Furthermore, you get free access to mobile and desktop apps to access or manage your phone system from anywhere in the world. However, Verizon’s services aren’t available everywhere, so you may not be able to use their services. 

Verizon business phone plans start at $35 per user per month plus any additional fees, taxes, or equipment charges. However, their pricing is confusing when you start reading the fine print. And you have to commit to a two-year contract, as well. 

So, keep that in mind as you’re making your final decisions. 

#6 – 8×8 Review — The most affordable VoIP phone service

If you’re looking for a basic, affordable VoIP phone service, 8×8 is a smart choice. 

Their 8×8 Express Business Phone System plan starts at $12 per user per month (with a free trial). This low pricing makes it the most affordable option on this list. 

However, with that low price point comes limited features. The Express plan includes:

  • Unlimited calling in the US and Canada
  • Global and direct toll-free numbers
  • Basic auto attendant
  • Ring groups
  • Call routing
  • Business SMS

And to access their more advanced features, you have to pay between $25 – $45 per user per month. Which… is more expensive than some of the other options listed here. 

So I don’t recommend it unless you go with the Express Plan. 

Summary

My #1 recommendation for most small businesses is Ooma. It’s affordable, reliable, and easy to set up in about 15 minutes. However, if you’re looking for a large-scale solution, Verizon is your best bet. 

Furthermore, Nextiva is perfect for remote teams, and Grasshopper is a simple, yet powerful, mobile app for small teams who are frequently out of the office. 

If you’re on a tight budget, 8×8 is the cheapest VoIP phone service, starting at $12 per user per month. However, it’s features are limited. 

Regardless of the route you go, don’t forget to consider your requirements, budget, and the criteria we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best VoIP phone service for your business.  

Have you used a VoIP service provider in the past? What was your experience like?

The post The Best VoIP Phone Services (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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