for Business
Using phone technology

Phone technology allows you to get unlimited phone service around the globe through your internet connection (called voice over IP or VOIP). Free video calling is also available, but both parties must have video capabilities. You should consider a paid service if your business will have multiple phone extensions, if you want call-forwarding, or if you want to store your messages.

Toll free numbers have a small monthly charge and per-minute charges and must be used with a regular phone number (the toll free calls are redirected to your phone number). Toll free numbers are good if you want to present your business as reaching beyond a local market or if you believe your customers are using land lines and want them to avoid phone charges. Vanity numbers are easy-to-remember phone numbers. You can search for the availability of a vanity number by clicking here.

Faxes: Internet connections and email allow you to send and receive faxes without a fax machine. There are free and low-cost online services that provide these services. If you need to fax documents that are not on your computer, you will need a scanner to get the documents on your computer. You can also get a fax machine that connects to a voip or land line.

Summary of benefits:

  • Free or virtually free phone and fax
  • Call-forwarding features can help customers reach you wherever you are.
  • Difficulty level: low

    How to implement

  • Search on the internet for VOIP phone services to compare features and prices.
  • Decide whether you want a vanity number and search to see the availability.
  • Decide how much faxing you will need to do and whether you need a fax machine or can use fax using VOIP.
  • Choose the best free or low-cost service for your needs.
Use Smart Phones and QR Codes to Increase Sales

QR codes are specialized barcodes that can be read by SmartPhones to take people to a website, a video, a telephone number, or a text-message. SmartPhones give people instant access to the Internet. Businesses are using QR codes to help potential customers instantly find more information about their products and services.

For example, grocery stores can have a QR code with a bottle of wine that goes to a website to help them choose great food to go with their wine. They have found that sales of products using QR codes have increased their revenue over 10%.

If your product is complicated and needs instant customer service, you can have a QR code that goes to your customer service phone line for instant help.

If your product or business has a "story" that makes it unique or interesting, you can include a QR code on the product or in the marketing materials that sends people to a video.

You can also have a QR code go to a video interviewing satisfied customers.

Salespeople can supplement their sales presentation with QR codes connected to videos - without the hassle of pulling out a computer and finding Internet access.

QR codes can be set up by anyone - and require no training and are free. You do need to connect the code to something (a phone number, website or a video posted on the Internet) or have a text message. If you are connecting the QR code to a website, make sure it is compatible for mobile devices (look at your website on a mobile device and make sure it looks good).

Click here to make a QR code.

Click here for a short video on QR codes.

Create your own app

Apps are short programs that are accessible on smart phones. Examples of apps include

  • An order form so people can quickly order pizza
  • Coupons
  • Pictures and information on your latest sales or newest products

There are services that allow you to write an app yourself. Some are free (if you allow them to advertise on your app) - others have low costs. Apps are either Google/Android-based or IOS/Apple-based - so if you want to reach both markets, you need to create two apps.

Computer backup options

With today's computer backup options, there is no reason for disasters and computer crashes to upset your business. There are low cost programs that automatically back up your computer files with no effort on your part. You can also back up your computer using a backup drive.

The key is to make sure that whatever system you use backs up your essential files including email, documents, and extra files that you might have stored on your computer.

Backups never include software, so you will have to keep a list of your software and the product keys so that you can contact each company to reinstall your software

Summary of benefits:

  • Avoid business crises from computer crashes, stolen equipment, or natural disasters
  • Level of difficulty: Low

    How to implement

  • Decide whether you want an online system, a physical backup, or both.
  • Decide what files need to be backed up, and how often.
  • Set up the system (usually an online system takes several hours to initially back up a computer).
Business email and vcards

You should have a business email address and all your emails should include your logo and contact information at the bottom of the email.

Most websites come with an administrative page where you have the ability to add customized emails such as Once you set up an email account, go on your computer to your email program and add your new email. You will need your web provider's outgoing and incoming server addresses, as well as the password that you used when you set up the new email address, and a username. You can get all this information (except the password which you set up yourself) from your website provider.

Once you have set up your business email, you should put a signature and possibly a header on your email. Both can be done for free in your email program. Usually it involves going into Tools, and choosing signature. You should be able to add an image or text that you want to appear on all your emails. There is a choice of putting the text or image at the top or bottom of your email.

V-Cards V-Cards are electronic business cards that can be read by contact systems such as Microsoft Outlook. With a V-Card, people don't have to spend the time setting up a new contact and entering information from a business card. Usually, you can create a v-card in the Tools section of your email software - as part of setting up an email signature.

Summary of benefits

  • Your emails need to be professional, come directly from your business, and provide people with key contact information.
  • Difficulty level: low to medium because you have to get information from your website provider.

How to implement:

  1. Go on your website administrative page and set up an email.
  2. Get your outgoing and incoming server addresses and your login information for email from your web provider.
  3. Go into your email program to add a new email address so that it will automatically retrieve your emails.

More help:

Click here for help setting up your signature and stationery in Microsoft Outlook.

Click here for help setting up a v-card

Share Computer Screens

You can access your computer remotely or have others see your computer screen - often for free. You can use this to share information with employees, partners, suppliers, and customers. You can also reverse the process, so you can see another person's screen to provide technical help. You can also set up group meetings that view a shared computer screen.

    To find these services, search for "online meetings" on the Internet.

    Summary of benefits

    • Provide instant help to people who need help on their computer.
    • Provide online demos without traveling.
    • Collaborate on projects without traveling.

      • Difficulty level: low

        How to implement:

      • Choose a provider online.
      • Usually both parties download software.
      • The person who wants to share their screen gets a code and tells the other the code.
      • The other person enters the code and clicks "connect".