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Making Virtual a Reality

A lot of business can be conducted over the internet, but phones aren’t going away any time soon. “For many of our businesses, their phone system is their lifeline. It’s the first thing that their customer interacts with,” says Erik Arvidson, public relations manager of GotVMail.

A virtual phone system features an automated attendant that answers all incoming calls and then connects the caller to the appropriate person (regardless of where they are). Extra features like fax handling, toll-free numbers and having calls forwarded to multiple numbers (including your cellphone) can accommodate the particular needs of any virtual business. All of this comes without having to invest in any new phone hardware.

Providers like GotVMail, Onebox (onebox.com) or RingCentral (ringcentral.com) can give you a professional edge while accommodating remote offices, home offices or your mobile lifestyle. Monthly subscriptions can start as low as $10 per month. If you have more complex needs and are interested in consolidating your internet, wireless internet and voice services, an option like AT&T’s Business in a Box (att.com/businessinabox) can handle your calling requirements as your virtual business grows. This Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution is an all-in-one hardware and services system that is designed for small businesses that don’t have their own IT person.

On the other end of the scale, simple home office setups can take advantage of VoIP cost savings through service providers such as Skype (skype.com) or Comcast Digital Voice (Comcast.com) if you have a cable internet connection.