Small business AND international?
Rajiv Choudhary shows how a Web-based business telephone system helped make his small business an international enterprise.
Rajiv Choudhary radiates passion in everything he does: in speaking his mind, in growing his business and in living his life. “You do your business with your passions,” Choudhary says. “You live your life with your passions.” He grew up New Delhi, India and, now a citizen of Australia, operates an online consumer products store with two separate entities in Australia and the United States, and with agents in Hong Kong, Netherlands and other international locations. Passion, along with knowing a good opportunity when he sees it, are key ingredients to his success.
Choudhary’s passion gave him a vision for himself outside of the normal career path. He felt he did not quite fit in college in India and left before completing his degree. He then moved to Australia ten years ago, finished his degree in electrical engineering and began work in the corporate world, selling ecommerce sites when the technology was in its nascent stage. But he never quite fit the corporate world, either, and was tired of working hard to earn money for others. “I felt like a rabbit with a carrot tied to his tail, just going round and round and round,” he says. “After the sale I was a hero for my manager, and then for the next sale, again a zero.” He saw the potential for internet marketing in the systems he was selling and abandoned the corporate world to open his own online business. His business, American Link Global Technologies, LLC, sells consumer electronics products from more than 1,000 companies such as Fujitsu and Sony.
“To be successful,” Choudhary advises, “an online store needs two things: credibility and easy ways for people to reach you.” Credibility is born through paying your bills and delivering your product. Suppliers need to believe they’ll be paid before they ship; customers need to believe they’ll get the product when they pay. As a new online business, establishing his reputation with international suppliers and customers took time. He immediately made it easy for people to reach him.
Outsourcing is a key to small business success
“I outsource everything,” Choudhary says. “Outsourcing is the single most important factor in small business. My job is to set up the store and sell. My business only works if I sell. So I’m not going to waste my time and energy on anything but selling. I let others do the other stuff: accounting, payroll, billing, systems, Web maintenance and data management. They do it for a living. They give me professional results and I don’t have the headache. I concentrate on doing my business.” So Choudhary outsourced “making it easy for people to reach him.” He signed up for a toll free number.
A toll free number is essential
“It’s a free call,” Choudhary says. “Giving that to a customer is the extra crumb. A free call is very, very inviting. It is an essential piece of this business. The cost of that one call is often enough to stop the momentum to buy right there and then. If everything else is equal, the toll free number will get the call. With a toll free number, you’re giving them a remote control to your front door: it brings the customer right inside your shop.”
Web-based business telephone systems provide more than traditional systems
Choudary did a “power research online,” he says, to find a toll free number provider. He discovered that there is a new and rapidly growing industry: Web-based, hosted business telephone systems. For the cost of a toll free number alone, Choudhary and other entrepreneurs like him can get all of the functionality of expensive large-company PBXs without any up front costs and without any hardware to maintain. What’s more, Web-based systems offer more features than traditional PBXs, such as internet fax abilities, voicemail through email and advanced mobile access: since the systems are Web-based, employees can access all functions of the system from anywhere in the world and from almost any device.
Instant international call center
Choudhary’s Web-based telephone system instantly gave him a unified, global operation. “I have the flexibility and freedom to route any number in the world into my toll free number and to route any incoming call out to any local telephone number in any country in the world,” he says. “My Web-based phone system instantly gave me an international call center. Essentially, my entire global telephone operation revolves around one toll free number. It has given me that central, pivotal point for all communications.”
Online call management
The ability to access online call management tools from anywhere is an important competitive advantage for any small business. “I can operate from anywhere in the world,” he says. “I go online and I know who called, when, how many messages are waiting, up to the second. I can check my messages from any computer in the world. I can monitor any outgoing call from anywhere so I can make sure no employee is misusing the phone. I can download and upload messages. I move at lightning speed. The service moves with me. For instance, I was in Hong Kong recently. I went into an internet café and accessed my account and my calls. Having my telecommunications online, I take my office with me.”
Ease of operation
Choudhary ranks ease of system maintenance as a distinct benefit that a Web-based business telephone system can bring. “Online account management is extremely helpful,” Choudhary points out. “All controls are centralized in one screen. I can change the system in minutes, easily add extensions. I don’t have to pay someone every time I change anything. I would have to have a staff of at least 10 people to operate a traditional business phone system as complex as I have.”
Even considering all its features and capabilities, what Choudhary likes most about his Web-based system is that it has measurably and significantly improved his bottom line. “I’m used to paying $2,000-3,000 a month for telecommunications. Now, with my online phone system, I pay $300 or so a month, so I’m saving 90% on my previous expenses for telephone services. In my business, this is money I can really use. Every dollar I invest in marketing brings me back double. It means I have money to put into marketing rather than spending it on a telephone provider.”
Choudhary has found that his toll free number and big-business phone features have also raised his business image. People have told him that they thought his small business was a huge enterprise because of the leading edge telephone technology he uses. “My mom in India called my business,” he laughs. “She thinks I’m very successful because of the system alone!”
Not all Web-based systems are the same
While there are many Web-based systems out there, not all are the same, according to Choudhary. Many tout low costs, but are short on features. Some focus on only part of a modern telecommunications solution, such as voicemail or fax. Some are not easy to use. Choudhary’s power search to find a provider led him to sign with RingCentral Online, the industry’s market leader and primary innovator.
“RingCentral is an amazing service. I just love it. I haven’t even come cross another service that comes close. RingCentral is extremely good, to the point of being almost too good to be true. I’m an electrical engineer myself. Whoever engineered it didn’t leave any stone unturned. It is like a luxury apartment, a penthouse for me, but at the cost of an efficiency apartment. The bottom-line: I don’t worry about my communications or missing messages anymore, faxes, or access; from anywhere. It’s a breeze.”
RingCentral clearly evokes a deeply passionate response from Choudhary. “I have an emotional attachment to RingCentral,” he concludes. “It has touched me so deeply, I will never get rid of it. We did one million dollars of business last year. We hope to do five million dollars a year soon. It wouldn’t be possible without RingCentral. I just love RingCentral. It’s the best thing that could possibly happen to my business. It is essentially part of my business forever.”
- Online retail
- Toll free number
- Online controls
- Ease of operation
- International call center
- Cost reduction
- Professional image
an internet café
and accessed my
account and my calls.
Having my telecommunications online, I take my office with me.”
“RingCentral is an amazing service. I
just love it. I haven’t
even come cross
another service that comes close.”