A study by SMB Digitalscape showed a remarkable opportunity for many of the nations smallest businesses. More than 60% of the nations smallest businesses do not have their telephone number featured prominently on their homepage.

According to a study of 8,000 telephone calls by RentLinx, a property management software company, only 20% were answered live. The rest went to voicemail.

That means that only 15% of incoming leads get answered live. With small businesses increasing over 300%, from 15 million in the early 90’s to over 45 million today, many small businesses are realizing they can no longer afford to 85% of their incoming leads to voicemail.

Answering services are their only choice. But, the answering service industry has a bad reputation and rightly so. More than 95% of answering services are over ten years old and are using outdated, complex telecommunications equipment connected to the public telephone system.

A new breed of answering service is emerging, using cloud-based systems, connected to the voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) network. The VOIP network is slated to completely replace the circuit/switch public telephone network by 2018. It will be very interesting to watch what happens in the answering service industry, when this occurs.

Most likely a significant consolidation will occur. New emerging companies like USAnswer is giving entrepreneurs a new alternative to quickly and cost effectively gain a significant competitive advantage over their counterparts still using voicemail.