Small business video conferencing: what to look for

Small business video conferencing

Small business video conferencing is increasingly popular. It has even surpassed email! And for good reason. Obviously, the current restrictions have amplified and accelerated its boom. As people have had to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses have had to ensure that they can stay in touch and maintain their growth. But even before the COVID-19 outbreak, small business video conferencing was huge. 

In fact, small businesses are one of the pioneering groups in the world of video conferencing. Small businesses use web conferencing a lot, and they do so creatively. After all, often their very existence depends upon video conferencing! That’s why there should be plenty of great options specifically for small businesses. 

Finding web conferencing software and solutions that fit your needs shouldn’t be hard work. The market should be catering carefully to small businesses in its web conferencing options. Really, the only work that a small business should have to do is understanding its needs when it comes to video conferencing solutions. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you know what to look for as you search for small business video conferencing. 

Be heard and be seen: the basics of small business video conferencing 

We’ll start with some basic requirements for web conferencing software suitable for small businesses in the UK. First is clearly the ability to hear your colleagues, and to be heard by them when it’s your turn to speak. Any video conferencing software you can find will offer some form of audio communication. There may be some plans on which not everyone can speak, but all plans across all web conferencing providers will enable audio. 

If you’re specifically searching for video conferencing for your small business, then no doubt the softwares you’re considering will include video, too. Again, some plans might limit how many users can share their video. It’s worth totting up your teammates and looking into this as you compare your video conferencing options. 

Small business video conferencing softwares should let you share your work as well as your face

Sure, your teammates will love seeing your smiling face as you present. And we know a huge amount of communication is non-verbal. The capacity for video is integral to successful remote business communication. 

But you’ll also want the option to switch to share your screen rather than your camera. That way, you’ll be able to share presentations in real-time, keeping all of your colleagues up to speed. This is really vital in any web conferencing solution for small businesses. These businesses are made up of a few people working closely and diligently together. Ensuring that everybody is on the same page is vital. You don’t have the option of ever being in a scenario in which the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. Your whole team should have all the info all the time. 

With screen sharing capabilities, you’ll ensure you can communicate clearly and effectively. All of your beautiful and informative spreadsheets and diagrams will be immediately visible to all your colleagues. It’ll be much easier to explain things if you know exactly what they’re seeing and when, rather than emailing documents ahead of time and trying to go through it. 

Limitless communication 

One great bonus of being a small business in your quest for video conferencing solutions is that you don’t need to worry too much about participant limits. While some web conference providers do have quite tight capacities, most should meet your needs if your web meetings will be just for your team. If you’re meeting with external people too – be it investors, another company you’re collaborating with, a charity you want to sponsor – you should plan accordingly as you look at web conferencing options. 

Don’t curtail your ideas!

Limits that really do matter in small business video conferencing are duration and frequency. A lot of small businesses work remotely much more than larger organisations might. Tighter budgets and a smaller staff can mean that paying rent for office space just doesn’t make economic sense. If your staffing choices prioritise quality over quantity, it’s also likely you’re keen to get the very best person for the job and the best fit for your team.

Of course, these special individuals don’t always coincidentally live around the corner. It might be that your small business has staff quite far afield, for whom travelling to frequent meetings would use up precious time and money. Small businesses are often also on the forefront of professional trends, and more willing and able to embrace change than large and long-standing organisations. That means that small businesses may be already be following the growing trend of embracing flexible and remote work that is flourishing around the globe, with proven results. 

There are lots of factors that mean small businesses are likely to do a lot of their work remotely. The important thing is that you find video conferencing software that makes it possible to do so. You don’t want to have a set number of minutes for your team to collaborate each week. Likewise, you don’t want to only be able to ‘get together’ a handful of times per month. Make sure you choose a web conferencing platform that doesn’t place any of these limits on your small business and its progress. That means choosing a software like Call.Group, which offers totally unlimited web conferencing. 

Small business video conferencing needs to be accessible for all the team, all the time

Dial-in options are always a great idea

As a small business, you might not always have the budget to keep everyone kitted out in the latest tech gear. And unfortunately, sometimes things break. You might be unable to immediately provide a colleague with a laptop for while they travel or replace somebody’s faulty desktop. That shouldn’t mean they’re cut out of meetings until you find the money. In that situation, everybody loses out. And your business’s progress will stall. You don’t want to be limited by lack of hardware or equipment.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep accessibility in mind as you review small business video conferencing software. Ideally, you should find a solution which requires only the most basic of tech: the humble telephone. Try to find a conference provider which allows participants to dial in to the meeting as they would place any normal telephone call. That way, in the worst case scenario your colleagues will still be able to stay in the loop.

Here Call.Group has you covered with simple telephone dial-in to your web conferences. 

Smartphone and tablet apps

If your team has smartphones, they can also offer a great solution. If they’re travelling or their computers are on the fritz, then having a handy smartphone app can allow seamless continuity for web conferencing.

In fact, a well-designed web conferencing app can make the whole experience seamless for everybody. An app like Call.Group’s can set a reminder for you, so that even your most forgetful or frazzled colleague won’t miss a meeting. From that reminder, you can simply click a button to enter the conference call. Your room number will be auto-filled, so just enter your secure PIN. Now we’re talking! 

The important thing to bear in mind is what hardware your team is likely to have access to. Try to avoid video conferencing softwares that might need more high-tech or expensive equipment. Standard headphones and your computer’s or phone’s in-built mic and camera should suffice. You don’t want to be spending extra money on hardware as well as software for your web conferencing. 

Great in the moment, miraculous after the fact: look for call recording in small business video conferencing

One simple but powerful tool that should be on any checklist for small business video conferencing is call recording. At the push of a button, you can save yourself all the bother of hectic note-taking, trying to keep up as people talk. In small businesses, this can be particularly challenging as often you don’t have a dedicated secretary. It’s likely the same team-member who’s trying to scribble or type furiously will also have to contribute actively throughout the meeting. 

Instead, record all of your meetings! You’ll be able to share the recordings with the whole team. Nobody will forget what was said, or what actions they need to take next. You can also take written minutes much more easily when you have time, pausing and rewinding as you need. 

In a small business everybody has a part to play – let them! 

Small businesses might often distribute the workload and responsibility quite evenly. It’s likely that everyone has to take the lead in one area or another. There simply aren’t the numbers to make up multi-levelled hierarchies! 

That’s why having just one moderator often doesn’t work for small businesses. Everyone will need to lead the meeting and present at some point. Unfortunately, many video conferencing solutions limit moderator capacities. Small business video conferencing should be tailor-made, and allow all users to moderate. That’s just what Call.Group does. Any participant who joins a conference using a Moderator PIN will have access to all the controls. 

For times when one person does want to be centre-stage throughout the call, you also have a dedicated Presentation Room. There, you’re leading the show. Guests’ cameras and microphones will be muted when they join. All eyes on you. 

Of course, the level of collaboration which small businesses tend to operate on goes beyond the duration of the meeting itself. As mentioned earlier, it’s likely you don’t have dedicated secretaries to organise and plan. That’s why you’ll want a web conferencing solution that allows multiple organisers on the account. Call.Group offers just that. Each team member who is added as an organiser will be able to schedule conferences and edit room settings as they need. 

Small businesses need growth and flexibility

Small business video conferencing software should take into account the different and changing needs of small businesses. The ideal solution will offer customisable features. This is particularly important as small businesses don’t always have the budget to be spending on conferencing features or capacities which they won’t use. 

Look for web conferencing provider like Call.Group which allow you to tailor functions to fit your needs. For example, Call.Group allows you to boost the capacity of just one room. If you’d only need extra participants for those less frequent external calls, then you won’t be spending to increase the size of all your calls. You might also only need call recording for one room, so why pay to have it on all of them? Equally, your business may be small now, but it will likely grow! So find a web conferencing solution that can grow with you, and expand to meet your needs as they develop. For now maybe you only have six participants. In eighteen months, you could have sixty. Be prepared by choosing a flexible, customisable video conferencing software. 

The bottom line: research and plan before you choose video conferencing software 

The thing about small businesses is that each one is unique. While there are often mutual concerns and goals (budgets, collaboration, growth), there are so many different forms and paths that these can take. This list of things to look out for in small business video conferencing should help you narrow and focus your search. Hopefully, it’ll get you started thinking about what you want your online meetings to look like.

But it’s by no means exhaustive; the aim is to to get you thinking! Before making any decisions, you and your team should discuss what you need and want from your web conferencing. Make a list of features, and try to rank them in priority order. Have an idea of your budget, and begin your search with all of this planning front of mind. To start thinking, you can also check out our handy comparison of some of the most popular video conferencing platforms for UK businesses. 

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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