Small Business Faxing Today
Although it's not the business mainstay it once was, it would be a mistake to assume that faxing has been consigned to a business technology scrapheap.
Email and online document sharing has become much more common, but faxing (either online or through traditional machines) remains important to the basic communication needs of many small businesses.
In some industries, such as law, banking, healthcare and finance, faxing remains part of the daily routine for many companies. For other businesses, faxing can still be a convenient way to share information that you would prefer not to exchange via email.
If faxing remains part of your business routine, there are a variety of ways to exchange documents.
For many small business owners, web-based faxing provides a convenient alternative to the use of a dedicated fax machine. So-called "e-fax" applications allow you to receive fax documents directly into your email inbox by converting incoming faxes automatically to PDF documents. These are then delivered through email so you can read, print or store the document as you see fit.
E-faxing offers a number of potential advantages for small business owners, including the ability to receive a document anywhere you have email or Internet access. For business travelers, receiving an electronic fax is more convenient then having to track down a document that has been faxed to a hotel business center.
Sending an electronic fax is basically the same process as printing a document. E-fax software creates a new printer driver on your computer, mobile device or network. To fax a document, you load the software via your document's print menu, and enter the destination number. Instead of printing a document, you upload it to your e-fax provider, which in turn faxes it to your recipient.
E-fax applications are typically compatible with word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDF files, presentations and images. In basic terms, if you can print it on your machine, you can fax it.
E-fax service is available from a variety of providers that charge a monthly subscription fee, with different plans including various volumes sent and received faxes.
Despite the growing popularity of electronic faxing, some small business owners prefer to stick with traditional fax documents. Most do so either through a multifunction device that also serves as a printer, scanner and photocopier, or with a dedicated device.
In either case, companies that receive frequent faxes are typically better off dedicating a phone line to the fax machine. In contrast, companies that only use faxing occasionally may be able to connect their fax machine to a shared phone line, with the devices software helping to identify the type of incoming call.