Our pick for a small office with a handful (six or less) of employees is Grasshopper, a VoIP service provider. Grasshopper offers exceptionally simple pricing, and you don't need new equipment. Actually, you don't need any equipment other than your existing phones and a strong internet connection. Rather than a price per user, you'll pay $29 monthly for the single line Solo product, to $89 for five lines with unlimited extensions on the Small Business package. Rather than having to leverage capital to buy new equipment, Grasshopper's system allows your small business to make the most of what you probably already have.

Grasshopper: The Pros

Grasshopper provides a rich array of features, including custom greetings, call forwarding, call screening, and inbound fax. Voice mail and inbound faxes are automatically converted to email, so there are no documents to convert. Grasshopper will even read your voicemail to you. With Instant Response (included as part of the package), if you miss a call, a predetermined text message will be sent to the caller.

Grasshopper's features make a small business look larger. Everyone in your office can have an extension. If you want to create a more professional appearance on inbound calling, Grasshopper provides customizable main greetings, routing for extensions, a name directory, music on hold, and a voice studio (for a small upcharge) if you don't like your own voice and you'd like a voice actor to tell your customers to press 13 for new sales.

Another benefit of Grasshopper is there are no long-term contracts. Call quality is rated by experts as among the best in the business. For customer service, Grasshopper provides both a 24/7 toll-free number and access via a virtual help desk. Because there are relatively few moving pieces here, most users report that it's easy to start right up.

Grasshopper: The Cons

The only negative we encountered with Grasshopper may not necessarily be a negative for everyone: Your employees will be required to use their own phones for outbound calling. However, through Grasshopper's mobile app, the call looks like it's coming from the business, not a personal cell phone. The difference in pricing between Grasshopper and our runner-up in this category, Ooma, which provides more bells and whistles, is hundreds of dollars. Jive also has more great features but the base price of $19.95 a month per user simply isn't as cost-efficient as Grasshopper. If you find yourself needing more options (like online meetings or document sharing) your business probably already has access to these services with your office software or cloud-based options.

The key to a successful experience with Grasshopper and other VoIP systems is having an internet service provider with a robust and consistent high-speed connection. Also, if you are being assigned a toll-free number by the company, make sure that you're clear (and they're clear) about what happens if you're assigned a previously-owned number and people are calling to reach the old business.

Editor's Note: Looking for Business Phone Systems for your company? If you would like information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our partner, BuyerZone, provide you with information for free:

Editor's Note: Looking for Business Phone Systems for your company? If you would like information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our partner, BuyerZone, provide you with information for free:

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