As a home business owner, it would probably be impossible to survive without the tech staples we so often take for granted: a computer, high speed Internet connection, one or more phone lines, fax machines, cell phones, PDAs, and more. With new online services launched constantly, there are quite a few new (and often free) tech tools available to home business owners that can help you move a step beyond those staples or save you a bit of money. Here are two of those free business tools ideal for home businesses:
Free Phone Lines – While there are many VoIP services or voice chat services available which will offer you inexpensive phone numbers for incoming calls, you can actually get an extra incoming line, with voicemail, for free. An example of a service offering free incoming lines is AIM Phoneline. You can upgrade to make outgoing calls from your computer for a small monthly cost (as with similar services such as Skype), or simply use the number to collect voicemail, and then return calls from your landline. The biggest benefit of using free incoming phone numbers and voicemail for home business owners is that you don’t have to give out your home phone number to business contacts, and don’t have to have a separate phone line installed (good news for renters who may not be able to).
Free Fax-to-Email Services – While most fax-to-email services carry a monthly charge, it’s still possible to get a free incoming fax number through V7.net. If you need to be able to send faxes from your home business, but don’t need to send them from your computer, the free service will suffice. If you’d like to be able to send, as well as receive, faxes from your computer, there’s a small per-minute fee. Or, if you don’t mind spending a little bit more, you can use a comprehensive service from a larger provider like eFax.com. Fax-to-email services allow you to send and receive faxes directly through your email account, meaning you don’t need a dedicated fax line installed for your home business, or an actual fax machine. You can print received faxes on your printer, or file them away digitally.