When you’re preparing to start a business, you make a business plan to help organize your ideas and show your investors that your model is sustainable. As you draft this document, you focus on your product line, premises, sales system, and budget. However, your communications systems are probably not on your radar at this point. Take some time to answer these three questions to ensure that your phones work on the first day and that you’re ready to send your first work email.
1. How Does Your Phone System Work?
Do you want to purchase a standard landline phone for your office? This option allows you to clearly separate your work and home lives, but it also means that you’ll miss calls. Additionally, some clients assume that you’re able to text them, and a call-only number is often off-putting. Another option is buying a second cell phone for business use. That way, you can send texts, answer emails, and field calls at the same time. However, you still have to be available to answer the phone, and it’s unrealistic to purchase cell phones for your entire staff.
Yet another route is the softphone, or a phone system that operates through the cloud. Located in an app rather than your entire phone, softphones allow you to connect your existing phones to your company’s plan without making your number public. When you get a business phone number, you also receive access to virtual receptionists who perform more tasks than the one who sits at your front desk:
- Call transcription
- Call answering
- Call forwarding
- Text auto-responding
Reach out to a softphone company such as Ninja Number if you’re interested in this form of communication.
2. What Kind of Email Do You Use?
Your personal email is fine for messaging family and friends and signing up for newsletters, but it’s not professional enough for business use. Furthermore, you and your employees should all have similar emails so that customers know to trust your messages. If you’re using Gmail, you have two options. One is using the free version, the kind that you use now, and putting your company’s name in the username. For example, if your company’s name is Speedy Software, one employee’s email would be firstname.lastname@example.org. The other, more professional option is to purchase a domain name from Gmail, allowing you to create emails such as email@example.com. You have more control over your employees’ emails with the second choice, but if you’re low on cash, start with free accounts.
Most major providers offer similar domain services, including Microsoft, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, and Proton Mail. Many of these email hosts also include services such as document access and sharing, videoconferencing, and presentation software. Double-check each company’s plan before purchasing domain names to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.
3. What’s Your Social Media Plan?
Social media accounts are free, so many business owners don’t think to include these platforms in their business plan. However, social media accounts aren’t just about advertising anymore; they’re also a key way to communicate with your customers. Some customers put complaints in the comments section, while others direct message you with questions or requests. Understanding the different ways you can respond to them across major platforms is crucial for your success.
Although many people think that Facebook is most popular with older generations, a 2021 survey found that people between 25 and 34 are the biggest age group. As a result, no matter how old your target market is, you must understand Facebook’s communication tools. The Messenger app allows you to DM and videoconference with customers, so make sure to check your notifications regularly. Customers can tag your business in their posts, so verify that these mentions are positive or address the issues involved. Finally, anyone can comment on your posts unless you turn commenting off, so scroll through your posts to see if anyone has questions.
In addition to Facebook, if your products are aimed at Millenials or Generation Z, you should also have Instagram and Snapchat. If you’re feeling ambitious and you have someone who enjoys videography, consider making a TikTok account, too.
By answering these questions within your business plan, you prioritize communication with your customers.