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Telecommunication is everything for a start-up, says Equinox head

Telecommunication is everything for a start-up, says Equinox head

The heads of start-up companies face the risk of damaging the credibility of their business by employing an inadequate telecommunication strategy, according to Dave Millett.

Mr Millett, managing director of communications consultancy firm Equinox, outlined nine mistakes commonly made by bosses of new businesses.

The first is having a mobile number as the sole contact number on business cards. He said: “Research shows 30 per cent of people do not trust them and therefore will not contact them.  If you only have one mobile you also only have a single voicemail for personal and business calls.  It is all about creating the right first impression.”

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Secondly, utilising a home phone system for business purposes is ill-advised because of limited functionality in terms of handling a second call and personalising voicemails, Mr Millett said. He added business owners could be caught off guard without the facility to differentiate between a personal or business call.

The third mistake is the arrangement of the telecoms system itself. Mr Millet said bosses should be wary of deals that offer free installation in return for a lengthy contract, because they could face a hefty exit penalty fee if they choose to opt out of the contract.

Fourthly, Mr Millets highlights that anything other than 0800 or numbers beginning 01/02/03 for post sales service is illegal, and those who seek to use them must publish the call cost where the number is publicised - websites, business cards and vans for example.

On the fifth and sixth mistakes, he added bosses should always read the small print on telecoms contract; ensure that their supplier is signed up to the Telecoms Ombudsman and consider whether the systems are flexible and scaleable to accommodate potential business growth.

On the seventh point, Mr Millett said: “Many serviced office suppliers will expect you to use their telecoms services.  This can create two issues.  Firstly, the costs can be very expensive compared to organising yourself and secondly, they may not release the number to you should you move out. 

“Always ask if you bring your own and if their numbers are portable if you leave.”

The eighth mistake is the assumption made by some bosses of start-up companies that they can build their business around video conferencing services such as Skype. Such services can be an adjunct to telecoms infrastructure but not at the core, Mr Millett said.

On the last pitfall, he said: “Many small businesses wonder if they should use an answering service.  The key question is, what do you want them to do?  If it is to just take a message you need to ask yourself: what value is that adding? If they can handle certain queries then that can enhance your offering.”

Adviser view

Lee Clarkson, managing director and IFA at Staffordshire based Spires Independent, said: “I have a two year-old daughter who once answered the phone to a potential client. I have since moved out of the home into a small office and use a business line.”