Remote work has become increasingly common and accepted among employers worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend toward telecommuting, as many companies had people working from home in the interests of public health. This shift has been made possible largely due to modern technologies like video conferencing software.
As a small business owner, being able to have clear, high-quality video calls allows for real-time collaboration with employees, freelancers, clients, and others. Investing in the right video conferencing solution is critical. But which tools make for the best video conferencing for small businesses? It depends on your needs.
The below guide explains what to look for in video conferencing tools that will facilitate smooth online meetings.
What Is Video Conferencing Software?
Video conferencing software refers to the technology needed to host virtual meetings online. The software facilitates a simultaneous, real-time audio and HD video connection between two or more people, allowing them to communicate "face to face" even if they are in different locations. Video conferencing software allows for distributed teams to connect even if they can't meet in person, allowing for collaboration across different geographical locations and time zones.
Even for businesses with small teams that aren't distributed across long distances, video conference software can prove useful. Often, having a quick video chat online is faster and easier than scheduling an in-person meeting. Remote meetings can also be preferable because they don't require commuting, which saves time.
What Is the Best Video Conferencing Software for Small Business?
Every business has unique needs when it comes to video meetings. Therefore, it's impossible to name one single "best" video conferencing software for small businesses. The technology that works for one team may not be suitable for another. From your required technological functionality to your pricing preferences, there are various components to consider when selecting software.
What to Look for When Choosing Video Conferencing Software
When you start shopping around for video conferencing software for your small business, you're sure to come across some well-known brands. Popular providers include:
- Microsoft Teams
- Cisco Webex
- Skype for Business
- Zoho Meeting
- Google Hangouts
Don't simply opt for the first familiar name you find, though. Take the time to do your research and figure out which option best fits your business needs. Consider the following points:
Size of Conferences the Software Can Handle
Whatever software you choose, be sure that it can accommodate the size of your meetings. Keep in mind that you need to consider not only your team but also your clients and their teams. Also, remember that even if your business is small now, it may grow in the future. The great news is that most video conferencing tools allow you to scale up to meet changing needs.
Take Zoom, for example. With the free version, you can host a meeting of up to 100 participants and up to 40 minutes in length. With the Pro plan for small teams, you can host up to 100 participants for up to 30 hours. With the Business plan for small and medium businesses, you can host up to 300 participants. There is also a large meeting add-on that can accommodate up to 1,000 people.
Special Features of the Software
Modern video conferencing software can do much more than simply connect you to another person remotely. Consider which of the following added video conferencing features your small business may benefit from:
- Screen sharing: Screen sharing makes it easy to share files with everyone in the meeting room. In big group meetings, this can help focus attendees' attention and ensure clarity. People simply have to look at the screen to know exactly what's being discussed, without scrolling or leafing through presentations, papers, or tables.
- Chat support: During a virtual meeting, it's sometimes necessary to have a quick one-on-one side chat with another person. Having a messaging function makes this possible. People can quickly share files or notes privately without interrupting the ongoing meeting or webinar.
- Video recording: It's often necessary to go back and relisten to or rewatch a meeting to note a specific detail, transcribe a quote, or verify a fact. Many platforms offer meeting recording capabilities, making it easy to go back and review footage. This can be especially useful for longer meetings when people's attention may wane.
- Background images: When people are working from home, they may not want to show off the clutter in the background. Being able to set automated background images eliminates this issue. Backgrounds can also bring some fun to tedious meetings. For example, teams can choose themes and all settle on certain images for a day.
- Mobile access: Sometimes, it's convenient (or necessary) to join a meeting on the go. In these instances, it's helpful to join from a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone. Many software tools offer easy-to-use mobile apps to facilitate this. People can dial in by clicking a link that takes them to the app.
- Multi-device support: Even if they aren't on the go, people want to be able to access their video meetings from whatever tool they have immediately at their disposal, whether that's a desktop computer or a tablet. Look for software that can be downloaded and used across various devices (and, ideally, that's compatible with both Apple iOS and Android).
- Audiovisual extras: The need for high-quality audio and video is a given. Nobody wants to deal with grainy visuals or choppy audio in the middle of a meeting. However, there are also some extra characteristics to look for, such as the ability to auto-mute or noise-cancellation capabilities.
This doesn't mean that you have to select a provider that offers all of these extras. The point is to consider which of these special features are relevant and valuable for your business. This can then help narrow down the selection when you're choosing the right technology for your team.
A malfunctioning video conferencing platform can quickly derail a meeting or keep it from happening altogether, interfering with your business day. If glitches arise, you want to have a reliable customer support team you can call on. Ideally, your web conferencing provider will offer 24/7 support.
Further, look for what formats of support are available. Possibilities include live chat, ticketing, email, and toll-free phone calls. Usually, the more diverse your options, the better. Keep in mind that both you and your team may require customer support, so you want everyone to have access to a format they're comfortable with. This ensures ease of use for all.
The costs of video conferencing apps vary widely. Most providers offer free plans with limited capabilities, as well as paid plans. You can expect to pay anywhere from nothing to upward of $100 per month depending on the provider and plan. While the more expensive option doesn't necessarily equate to the better option, pricier options usually offer extra capabilities that you may find useful.
For example, a free plan may allow for basic conference calls, while a paid option may offer extras like transcription and cloud recording. Determining which add-ons you need can help you figure out which price point is reasonable for you.
Compatibility With Other Tools
You probably already rely on certain technologies to maintain your business operations, like project management, calendar, file sharing, and collaboration tools. When considering different video conferencing services, you may want to prioritize options that can most easily be integrated with the existing tech that you already use.
For example, if you already use Google Chrome for web browsing, Google Drive for cloud storage, Gmail for email, and Google Calendar for appointment scheduling, you may prefer using Google Meet. Sticking with G Suite (now called Google Workspace) allows for more streamlined organization and work processes. Your team members will also likely appreciate the simplicity this brings.
Easily Keep Track of Your Small Business Finances With Skynova
Depending on your business model, you might be able to write off the costs of video conferencing technology as a tax deduction. Consult a professional account to be sure. To track expenses like these, you can use Skynova's accounting software.
With Skynova, you can easily review incoming and outgoing expenses and manage important financial paperwork for your business, like bids, estimates, purchase orders, bills of sale, and more. With all of your money management in one place, you can save more time for the important things — like the video conferences that keep your business going.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant as general guidance and may not apply to your specific situation. Your unique business needs will determine what video conferencing software is best for you. For financial matters, always consult a professional accountant to ensure you're maintaining best practices.