Small Business Internet Phone Service

A good phone number is still one of the principal methods of doing business. Most small business still list the phone number in yellow pages or other small business listing service. A phone number allows your customers to reach you about your store hours, store locations, and available services. A good domain name, Twitter account, and Facebook page are important but a business phone number is essential.

There are a lot of online services that can help you manage your phone line and number for your small business. At this point I would not use a fixed land line, but a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service to provide all my telephony needs. The primary phone number I give personal friends and contacts to reach me is provided by Google Voice. For my small home business, I use Skype phone service. And there are other telephony services that can be useful for small business owners.

What I like about Google Voice is that your GVoice phone number can be forwarded to any other phone, or multiple phones. You customers call you at your GVoice phone number and Google forwards the call to your cell phone, store phone number, or any other number until someone answers it or it goes to voice mail. If the call goes to voice mail Google will transcribe the message and email you the text transcription.

I also use Skype and have a Skype Call-out account which provides me a phone number where my customers can reach me at from a cell phone or landline. In addition, Skype also has some great chat messaging, video conference, screen sharing, and collaboration option that make it an integral solution for my small business communication needs.

Yahoo! has the Yahoo! Voice phone service that fits somewhere between Google Voice and Skype. All of these services can be managed and used to call out and receive calls on your smart phone. The iPhone and Android app for Google Voice allows you to call out and receive calls. In the US, the iPhone app for Skype only allows you to call out when you are on a WiFi internet access.

The one feature I really wish either Google Voice, Skype, or Yahoo! Voice had was the ability to send and receive faxes. Fax support is a popular and commonly request feature in Google Voice that I think that Google will build support for it but there are other online telephony services that already include this feature.

Ring Central is a paid mobile business phone system that includes internet fax services. You don’t need a fax machine in your office to send and receive fax documents. Ring Central also provides a 1 800 toll free number. In addition to Ring Central, I would consider Grasshopper. Grasshopper is a virtual phone system designed for businesses and entrepreneurs. Grasshopper has toll free numbers, unlimited extension, call forwarding, voicemails transcriptions, and other feature suitable for small to mid-sized companies.

Favorite Tweets December 2010

There are some funny people on Twitter. Whenever I find a funny, witty, or thought provoking I usually retweet it and favorite it. Here is a small collection of recent tweets that stoop out to me.

  • @markos: Obama said the country was founded on compromise? What was that, the Revolutionary Compromise?
  • @5tevenw: The best gift you can give is a hug: 1 size fits all and nobody ever minds if you return it!!
  • @af: Best iPhone signature I’ve ever seen: “this msg is shrt bcuz it was sent frm my stupid iphone 4g which I hate but feel the need 2 have.”
  • @DamnItsTrue: Menstruation, menopause, mental breakdowns -> most women’s problems begin with men.
  • @bazecraze: Mom asked me today how to sign up for Twitter. So I told her it was $12.99 a month. Crisis averted.
  • @danmartell: “Money grows on the tree of persistence” Japanese Proverb
  • @swedal: Do people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water know that spelling it backwards is Naive?
  • @Ictericia: La ciudad es una composición de ventanas.
  • @youloveB: Love my women with high heels & high standards
  • @renogood: Demi’s in rehab, Miley’s smoking salvia, Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens have split. Disney has more drama than Jersey Shore.
  • @techknow: I am an idea artist, making you think is my master piece.
  • @dianadiggity: Take a shower, your attitude stinks.
  • @OmgAnnalie: As soon as I stop wanting something, I get it. What’s the point of that?
  • @PF_TELLUGLYLIES: only time will tell how long i can wait
  • @melizeche: If Assange was in China doing the same thing, the West would have called him a dissident and given him a Nobel prize #freeassange
  • @512: I wish I could Ctrl+Alt+Delete out of everything.
  • @Askmeifigaf: Whats the difference between gorgeous, beautiful and sexy?
  • @davepell: Groupon seems to be the one company in their universe NOT willing to take a discount.
  • @bobmcwhirter: I’m now corporately ethical and compliant. I have the certificates to prove it. I’d show them to you, but they’re trade secrets.
  • @MissElleCee: Just received a 6 page email from my sister with our NYE itinerary. Hopefully I will be drunk for pages 2-6 #nutjob
  • @BrettGreene: Best. Relationship Status. Ever. Just read: “I’m in a relationship w/ Facebook …and it’s complicated.”
  • @shwood: The most disquieting aspect of the Kinect occurs at 30 seconds after booting, when it looks up and down to size you up. #HAL9000
  • @lowhanyew: More contentment; less resentment.
  • @trinitysaij: Nothing says Xmas more than a star wars marathon on spike tv
  • @shauninman: Video Skyping with in-laws is a comedy of computer errors.
  • @jacksonh: Damn, was hoping santa would do the dishes.
  • @RaiselM: Sweden celebrates Christmas on the 24th. They need the extra day to assemble their gifts from IKEA.
  • @jdickerson: State of Union address will be after visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Makes sense: give annual report after meeting with top investor.
  • @wilshipley: Dear HP: Printing to one of your stupid printers shouldn’t involve you installing new fucking kernel drivers.
  • @noreaga: Most people forget that they are forgetful

Ideas for Launching Your Start-Up

The June issue of Inc magazine has a list of Ten Ideas for Launching Your Start-Up Right Now. The top startup ideas that interested me where environmental consultant, exam prep and tutoring, self-storage leasing, translation services, and mobile application design. The green sector is fastest growing area in the home construction and remodeling industry. There are new energy saving appliances, materials, and services and people are starting to invest in the area heavily. Self-storage seems attractive because there is little risk, little effort, and little capital to get started. There are a lot of new innovation in self-storage and moving services, from self packing containers, moving equipment rentals, etc. The mobile application development is on fire, mostly because of the huge success of the Apple iTunes App Store. In less than a year, 1 billion iPhone apps where downloaded through the iTunes App Store. I wouldn’t be surprised is Apple develops a way to push desktop apps through a similar model.

Favorite Tweets July 2010

There are some funny people on Twitter. Whenever I find a funny, witty, or thought provoking I usually retweet it and favorite it. Here is a small collection of recent tweets that stoop out to me.

  • @5tevenw: My father always told me, “Be bold! Don’t be italic.”
  • @momosuxx: Does my username make me look fat?
  • @jdickerson: Out back I hear crickets, birds, plane, car, hammering, sprinkler all at once. Distracting me from Twitter distracting me from the paper
  • @ButtercupD: “multi-device-ing” again…PC on lap, iPad to the left and iPhone to the right…and I like it like that!
  • @DamnItsTrue: Facebook is for friends that are now strangers, Twitter is for strangers that should be your friends.
  • @keithie: Tufte lecture: Only two industries describe their customers as “users”, computer software and drugs dealers
  • @centernetworks: iPhone marriage -Two iPhones got married. It was a lovely ceremony, but the reception was awful. Apparently they held it in the wrong place.
  • @alexia: OH: In my next life I want to be reincarnated as a computer.
  • @gurl: Never trust a man in flip flops.
  • @rands: Avoid those who use language to mystify the obvious.
  • @DaRealAmberRose: Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
  • @NatashaYi: Girls are like phones. We love to be held, talked to, but if you press the wrong button you will be disconnected!
  • @batfish: Bacon is the duct tape of the culinary world.
  • @adamjackson: “News” is just a distraction to what’s really going on in our world.
  • @laughlitmus: I need a software that controls US defense systems to remove human error from strategic decisions *must not become self-aware*
  • @SchemaCzar: The beginning of time ain’t what it used to be…
  • @DocHobbes: Outraged that the President does not have a plan in place in the event of a zombie out break / apocalypse.
  • @ladyfox14: OH: ‘It smells like SPF 50 and hash’ ‘The best two smells of summer’
  • @verowhite: I hate packing almost as much as I love traveling.
  • @spangley: OH: “rural oregon is like the west virginia of the west coast.”
  • @Susan_ld4e: If is the longest word
  • @errolmorris: Maybe 95% of all “art” is painting by numbers.
  • @Miss_Officer: Life is the best school. God is the best teacher. Problem is the best assignment. Failure is the best revision.
  • @Jason: Business plans are entrepreneurial masturbation. Please don’t send me business plans or ideas.
  • @mzkay2good: da way i am is cuz of my parents, n their both great but only when their in seperate rooms lol
  • @jlashae: Flaws r beautiful :-)
  • @iBangLSE: My mistakes have made me strong .
  • @Gbaybeeh: There’s a piece of me who leaves when you gone
  • @zpower: as a consumer, what sort of wacky decision tree would cause you to conclude that a $300 sony daily edition is a sound purchase?

Favorite Tweets April 2010

There are some funny people on Twitter. Whenever I find a funny, witty, or thought provoking I usually retweet it and favorite it. Here is a small collection of recent tweets that stoop out to me.

  • @nickbilton: Off record chat w/ Facebook employee. Me: How does Zuck feel about privacy? Response: [laughter] He doesn’t believe in it.
  • @stephenkruiser: Pants are important. Sometimes.
  • @crazeegeekchick: So grateful for salary and for direct deposit. AT least one thing is consistent in my life :)
  • @puredanger: wife: "why are these blankets always on the floor!?" me: "gravity?"
  • @godolcevita: You have to be where you are at to get where you are going….
  • @cdixon: It’s getting to the point that when a big company calls something "open" == they are about to screw you. Need a new word for actually open.
  • @ericaogrady: What to know if he’s a Man or a Boy? Make eye contact with him and hold his gaze. If he looks away, he’s still a boy.
  • @Archimage: I would rather throw down than throw up.
  • @nandoism: it smells awesome in Brooklyn. like fresh rain mixed with urine. aaah.
  • @michaelg: Overheard: "Zuck sounds like Lex Luthor" #f8
  • @Archimage: This tweet is (c) 2010 Archimage. All rights reserved. Any retweeting is a violation of applicable laws.
  • @KaciBrownMonroe: Don’t look at me; look into me. To the deepest, most real, places in my heart and soul.
  • @stevenharman: Apple, if you’re going to limit how many computers I can play my content on, please allow me to de-authorize one I no longer have access to.
  • @wilshipley: Why do DJs wear earphones? Isn’t the music loud enough? I can hear it fine from down here.
  • @girlonetrack: I’ve spent the last four hours immersed in non-stop politics: eight times as long I as give foreplay. Which I guess shows my priorities…
  • @joeracer: FUCK YOU IRS. Seriously.
  • @tedneward: Oracle’s sponsoring IronMan 2?!? What next, Microsoft Star Trek 2? "Mr Spock, where do you want to go today?"
  • @thekarladam: 290.2 MB of space for Adobe Reader!? WTF is wrong over at Adobe!?
  • @bkorte: Dear Facebook: Stop using my default notification sound for your push alerts on my iPhone – be original and come up with your own sound.
  • @hotforwords: The Average Woman Dates 24 Men Before Settling Down.
  • @dotjenna: Is it possible to hate someone you love? #love #hate
  • @shanselman: I need an online alias for some programming projects. I wonder if Slim Shady or Sasha Fierce are taken…
  • @MsLizziA: I mean Kick Ass SUCKED ASS!
  • @techknow: Is there such a thing as tofu salmon?
  • @markramsey: how the hell can ticketmaster charge a $10 convenience charge on $25 tickets, I’m buying them online, making it convenient for them!
  • @ebarrera: It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase ‘As pretty as an Airport’ appear.
  • @thediva: Some times women’s clothing annoy me. I wear 3 different sizes depending on the brand. It’s so insane of retailers to play head games
  • @adactio: This is my browser; there are many like it but this one is mine.
  • @ehthayer: My body clock needs an hour change button too
  • @RobotDeathSquad: I think there is a direct relationship between the number of tattoos and bad waitressing.
  • @gkmaestro: Software involves sending more emails that writing code!!!
  • @meph: Why do computer programmers confuse Halloween with Christmas? Because Oct(31) = Dec(25). #geekfun
  • @godolcevita: I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
  • @timacummins: Worry is a brain drain.
  • @NicoleJordan: Instead of asking what is the return on investment, we should be asking what’s the return on objectives? #digiday
  • @swedal: Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?

Fuzzy Buzz February 2010: One Month with Google Buzz

After using Google Buzz for a month I have started to find my grove and how that fits with my social networking self. If you are using Google Buzz, be sure to follow me I’ll follow back. Here are some recent buzz posts from a variety of topics.

All About Buzz

  • With any new service there is always a land rush for the best vanity url, profile name, and followers?
  • The short for Google Mail is GMail. The abbreviation for Google Voice is GVoice. Will Google Buzz be shorten down to GBuzz? What about Guzz?
  • That is the plural of buzz? Buzzes?
  • I expected Microsoft to blatantly copy Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare before Google.
  • Google Buzz is a new opportunity for the race to reach 1,000,000 followers. I hope @aplusk hasn’t heard of Google Buzz yet as it would give me a head start.
  • What I like about Buzz is that it has not been taken over by marketing and SEO bot accounts, just like the early days of Twitter.
  • What is the verb of using Google Buzz? Buzzing? Like, “I can’t talk cause I am buzzing right now.”
  • Having a buzz attack.
  • I’m going to buzz my facebook to tweet my tumblr post on myspace and blog about it.
  • Remember when following someone meant stalking… Now it means, friending.
  • I don’t know how to find the Google Buzz posts that I liked. Anybody know where to find liked posts?
  • I think that Google and Facebook are in a battle for your friends. But it feels more like a Belfast brawl cage fight… Google and Apple are battling it out in in the mobile space with tit for tat guerrilla warfare… i.e. you can use the word ‘Android’ to describe you app on the Apple App Store. Now Google will suck a lot of the hot air valuation from Facebook. I think Jason Calacanis stated that Facebook lost half it’s value because of Google Buzz… and Microsoft is trying to pick a fight with Google in the search space with Bing but it is not getting much traction.
  • When commenting in the middle of the Buzz stream, people notice the comment box flicker and jump around as other posts around the one you are commenting are updated with new comments. If you don’t like the flickering, I get’s me dizzy after a while, click on the post’s time stamp in the upper right corner. The link is to the page for this one post and it does have the jumpy flickering visible when commenting in the middle of your stream.
  • I am not sure how Google will combat the additional spam I expect because of Google Buzz and Google Profiles. But I imagine, spammers and marketers are already hard at work developing spam bots that will follow everyone possible and then it is very easy to figure out peoples email address by adding at at the end of you profile user name which is public, visible, and searchable.
  • When Twitter first came out Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose had the most followers for the longest time because the early adopters where mostly technologists. But once celebrities and mass media discovered Twitter, and after the stop laughing at the concept, they quickly gained the most followers and brought on new users. Leo Laporte currently has over 6K++ followers. Just wait until Britney Spears gets her buzz on.
  • Ansel Adams would not have had used Flickr, Shakespeare would not had has used Twitter, Ghandi would not have had used Facebook, and Columbus would not have had used Foursquare.. But I am sure they would all have had used Google Buzz.
  • How does one get verified on Google Buzz/Profile? I certify myself. Does my mom need to call Google to verify my identity? What else will Google verify? What I really need is an alibi and some receipts from a convenience store in Albuquerque, New Mexico for last night.
  • There is a lot of negative reaction regarding the privacy failures with Google Buzz. I think that the problem with Google Buzz is not that it is integrated in GMail. The problem is the defaults of Google Buzz, including auto-follow, and public profiles, and the inability to use a public profile name other than your private GMail user name, the blocking functionality does not seem to work, etc. Google pulled a Facebook move in terms of privacy… Their motto of ‘do no evil’ did not stop them from doing something so stupid.
  • There are a few things I like Buzz over Twitter. The ability to edit buzzes after they have been posted and commented on, and the ability to post more than 140 characters at a time. What I don’t like is that, unlike Facebook, is that you can’t delete comments left on you posts from trolls or stalkers or folks buzzing on their own supply. Even after you block spammers their comments are still visible in your posts.
  • Posting on Google Buzz feels like posting a medium size blog entry. First we had blogs where we can post long form articles, then came microblogs like twitter, and now we are moving back up with medium size blogs like Buzz and Posterous were we can easily post a paragraph or two.

Buzzing Enlightenment

  • For those that have not attained enlightenment it is some special to attain, for those that have achieve enlightenment it is not worth mentioning.
  • I feature I hate in my iPhone 3GS is that when listening to music, if you shake or jolt the phone it shuffles to some random song. I feel like shaking a bitch when that happens!
  • I think one problem with anything that Microsoft does is that everything they develop looks like Windows, which is based on Windows 3.1. Windows CE, Windows Tablet, Windows Mobile, it all looks like Windows. I mean, they ported Microsoft Office to their mobile platforms to look like it does on the desktop.
  • Is Comcast trying to re-brand themselves as XFINITY? Don’t they know that a rose with any other name smells as sweet, and that bad customer service with any other name sucks the same, if not worse because now they confused you as to who you are calling to complain about your cable being out?
  • Tiger Woods saying “Elin never hit me that night or any other night” is as truthful as Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
  • What is the must have Apple software? Apple Aperture, Microsoft Office for Mac, iWork, iLife, VMWare Fusion 3, MacSpeech Dictate, Pixelmator, Comic Life, Mobile Me, other? What other Mac software should I have?