How to Embrace Skype to be a True-Blue, Mobile Entrepreneur!

by Chris C. Ducker · 35 comments

Skype Mobile

This is a Guest Post from Phil Montero

Creating an effective virtual or mobile office is not as easy as choosing one service or “software” that makes your business mobile.  It requires choosing different services to handle your needs and finding ways to integrate them into your workflow.

Phone, mail, fax, online document storage, sharing large files with co-workers or clients, – All of these are decisions that affect how virtual your business can be. When you find one tool that can address several of these and does them really well – that is a huge plus! Skype is just such a program and I can’t imagine running my anywhere office without it. If you’re a mobile worker, location independent professional, or run a virtual office – Skype should be at the top of your toolbox.

Why does Skype rock? If you think Skype is just an audio or video chat program – you’re wrong.  Skype can handle the bulk of your communication and collaboration needs. I’m constantly amazed at how many ways Skype has improved my workflow and remote collaboration.

To use Skype to it’s fullest you will need a microphone and webcam – but amost any recently purchased laptop (as of the last few years) should already have these built-in. If your system doesn’t have these you can purchase a good USB mic/headset and a webcam for under $200. When you see how much money Skype can save you – that ‘s short money.

Oh Skype how I love thee – lets count the ways..!

Hi-Quality Audio Conferencing

Originally Skype’s key feature and still what it is best known for – it is an excellent VOIP service for hi-quality audio conferecing.  Audio calls are Free if you are using Skype-to-Skype while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a low per minute fee using a debit-based user account system. The call quality of a Skype-to-Skype call is actually superior than a landline or mobile phone. The tone and call quality is much richer.

Because skype-to-skype calls are free you can talk internationally at no cost. Talk about a way to save your business money!  You can also have Skype audio conferences with up to 25 people.  No need for a conference call system (even though there are some good free ones available).  This makes it easy for your communication to escalate naturally from a one-on-one text chat, to a voice call, to a conference call all without leaving your computer or touching the phone.

They also sell very affordable subscriptions for unlimited outgoing calling to phones as well as the ability fo your to get a Skype-In number which gives you a phone number you can use for peope with phones to call you on skype (then you can answer from your computer). You can even get features like call fwding (so your cell phone rings when you are away from your computer to take the call) and voicemail. Many people have started using Skype as their primary business line (I choose Gogle Voice but that is a story for another article).

Instant Messenger

A good instant messenger program is key to virtual work. It can serve as a water cooler, brainstorming platform, and your quick connection to co-workers, colleagues, and clients. IM is a great tool for having an impromptu meeting, sending along a URL, or quickly getting questions answered. You can easily escalate a text chat from one-on-one to a multi-person discussion/forum so it’s easy to have a virtual meeting.

Unlike email everyone sees the messages simultaneously that are typed and can respond so it allows for a more real time flow of conversation.

Also the ability to save entire discussions as text files or copy and paste them into a document to save the conversation can be invaluable.

Share Large Files

There are lots of great services available to let you share large files with others – but the ability to do it through an IM chat makes it seemless.  Need to get that report to a client quickly?  Need to send someone a large video file that would choke their email?  You can easily do it through Skype. According to their site you can send files of any size.

Great One-to-One Video Chat

To me one of the most essential part of Skype is the ability to have one-to-one video chats. Thanks to Skype anyone with a computer and hi-speed internet connection can have desktop video conferencing with quality and features, e.g., full-screen and screen-in-screen modes, similar to those of mid-range videoconferencing systems.

I’ve tried just about every video chat system out there and tested video in all of the various IM systems (Yahoo Messenger, AIM, MSN, etc.) and Skype beats then all hands down. I can’t speak enough about how powerful it is to use video instead of just audio in your communication with remote colleagues. Video adds richness through body language, seeing someones surroundings, and the ability to literally hold something up for the other person to see on camera. It acts as virtual face time and adds so much to the conversation.

Thanks to Twitter I’ve met some amazing people from all over the world and when we take those conversations to the next level we almost always use a Skype video chat.

In fact it’s thanks to Skype video chat that I have become good friends with your fearless VBL Leader – Mr. Chris Ducker.

Shortly after we met on Twitter we started having video Skype chats. We joked about each others hair lines, shared our martial arts statues (he has an awesome Bruce Lee one, that his wife gave him and I have a great Shaolin Monk I got in China Town on a trip to New York). We saw each others families, and offices. In no time we felt like we had known each other for some times despite never having met face-to-face in person -  although we plan to remedy that soon as we share a few beers and a blues jam!

[Note from Chris - Amen to that, brotha!]

Skype recently added a feature I’ve been waiting for  multi-person video chat.  It’s a paid feature and supports up to 6 people. I only tried it once so far but I wasn’t impressed. I was on a 3 person video chat recently – performance was poor and it seemed glitchy. To be completely fair it was only one test and I’ll try it a few more times before passing my final judgment.

Share Your Screen

This amazing feature of Skype is probably it’s least known benefit but another one I use all the time.  With a few clicks you can share your whole screen or a specific window with the other person on the call.  You can screen share a presentation over a call, show friends and family photos without having to send them – even demo an application.

Being a tech guy I get asked a lot of “how-to” questions. I often find myself switching to  screen share during a call to show someone how to do something. So much quicker and easier! If a picture is worth a thousand words – what’s a screen share worth?

Mobile Apps for Smartphones

With apps that run on the 3 main smartphone platforms (Blackberry, Android, and iPhone) all the advantages of skype audio/text chat are mobile! You can actually make FREE calls to other skype users using your cellphone that won’t count toward your mobile minutes or incure extra charges if you’re talking internationally. You can also continue text chats while on the go.

If you have an iPhone – there is a bigger bonus, you also get video! I recently got an iPhone 4 on Verizon and was really excited to test the built in FaceTime application from Apple. It works great but it’s downside is that it only works on WiFi (not 3G) and only allows you to video chat with other FaceTime users.  That leaves me with a rather small pool of friends or colleagues with iPhones or Macs.

Skype for the iPhone recently added video chat and I was amazed when I found it worked on both 3G and WiFi. That means I can now video chat from my phone to any of Skypes over 560 million users. That means if I’m travelling away from my family I can easily video chat with my wife and son to say howdy or good night no matter where I am right from my phone. The Jetsons don’t have nothin’ on me (well except the flying car)!

With a laptop or smartphone all of the communication and collaboration potential Skype offers is completely mobile. Truly amazing! In an era where it takes a lot of different programs to mobilize your work – one tool that can do so much is extreme valuable.

Of all the free and low-cost tools tool I recommend for people to run their businesses online and be more mobile Skype is always near the top of the list.

Phil is about as rock solid as it gets when it comes to technology on the move. Check out his awesome blog, and follow him on Twitter to be ‘in the know’!

How are you utilizing Skype in your business? Any cool stories? And, what other virtual tools are you utilizing to make yourself more mobile..?

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Owen McGab Enaohwo June 9, 2011 at 12:45

You can also use Skype for creating content for your blog by doing either video or audio interviews, record, edit them and post on your blog. I use Vodburner in conjunction with Skype to record my side-by-side video interviews. Skype is priceless!

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Chris C. Ducker June 9, 2011 at 18:33

Yes, of course you can! Howsilly of me to forget to mention that…

All the VBL Podcast are recorded via Skype, and require little, or no editing at all.

Thanks for reminding me, Owen.

C

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:35

Great point Owen – i use it for that all the time. Vodburner is pretty much the best tool for Windows. For Mac owners you can’t go wrong with eCamm Call Recorder – http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/ – only $20.

Speaking of which looking forward to scheduling our skype interview for your site!

Phil

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Owen McGab Enaohwo June 10, 2011 at 23:32

Likewise I am looking forward to our interview. I will email you the details shortly

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David June 13, 2011 at 05:28

Hi

I totally second Phil’s recommendation of ecamm for MAC users. I use it and I am totally blown away from the great results :) And 20USD is dirt cheap for what you get, considering that there are much more expensive tools out there.

Regards from Greece,
David

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Chris C. Ducker June 13, 2011 at 17:05

It sure is, David. You’re right.

Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. Its nice to have you here.

C

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Trent Dyrsmid June 14, 2011 at 11:04

Another great use for Skype is for masterminding. In fact, you could even create some passive income by charging folks to be a part of the mastermind and then you simply facilitate the conference calls. Most entrepreneurs want to learn from others, so this approach can work very well.

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Chris C. Ducker June 14, 2011 at 17:23

I get on a MM call every week, and we all connect via Skype.

Fast, easy and FREE.

Killer combo!

Thanks for the comment, Trent – welcome to the VBL Blog.

C

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Darek Krasnicki June 10, 2011 at 17:28

Hi
I wish You put this article one week earlier, when I got stuck at my very important skype call, and not been able to share my screen /due to lack of knowleage/ !!

What kind of paid version do you recommend?
I’m a “false beginner/, bought skype camera a week ago, and need skype for a small office /5-8 people/

Best Regards

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:38

Hi Darek,

Depending on your needs you might not even need a paid account. Currently you only need to pay if you need the ability to call others on regular phones (land lines and cellphones) or need an incoming phone number that others can call using a regular line. If you are simply looking to collaborate using voice and video with your small office peers you can just use the free skype. It’s always free to call from Skype to Skype (and that gives you the highest quality audio). Screen sharing, file transfer, and all the other features are included.

Phil

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Ben June 10, 2011 at 17:56

Skype. Such a great tool for ease of use for virtual business owners.

I’m currently in the process of developing an online business that’ll utilise tools like skype on my Android to help me manage and run it on the go.

Top post Phil. Many thanks.

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:40

Glad you enjoyed the post Ben – I’m intrigued and would love to hear more about how you are using Skype in your new business. Maybe we can chat some time and I can interview you for The Anywhere Office about it!

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Ben June 12, 2011 at 04:22

Sure Phil, drop me an email or something sometime. Chris has my details.

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Steve Wyman June 10, 2011 at 18:54

Hi

A nice witer up on sjype features. I was not aware of the screen share mode ! DUH tome and thanks for that piece of info.

Ive used the phot sharing with colleagues to show them the state of my eye when on a recent trip to thailand whre i got a serious eye infection…

Form the repsonse I guess they wish i could not do that in skype :-)

regards

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:42

Steve the screen sharing works pretty well and it’s great to be able to just turn it on when you need it without logging into yet another system or launching another app.

Unfortunately there is no “too much information” filter built in to Skype . . . maybe you can suggest that as a feature . . . LOL

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Eihdra June 10, 2011 at 19:13

I’ve recently seen some clients signing in on their mobile phones. I haven’t tried it yet but I guess it’s a must for a VA like me who’s always on the go. Thanks Chris and Phil!

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:45

I am very impressed with how well it works on my iPhone. It even finds a way to sync the last few messages from IM that I was having on my desktop so it makes it easy to chime in. And it shows the text from the chat on the phone when you are back at the desktop so you truly have a history of the conversation.

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Chris C. Ducker June 11, 2011 at 00:39

Likewise.

I love using Skype on the iPhone. It’s always easy to get going, and calls are crystal clear on WiFi (not 3G, however). Having the cam is also a great option, too.

C

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Louis Lautman June 10, 2011 at 20:30

You should know that no matter what kind of Blackberry you have, Skype does not work on Sprint Blackberrys. Skype discontinued this service almost 2 years ago, you can download the app, but it will not run. In fact, I am pretty sure that the only Blackberry that Skype works on is with Verizon. I am not happy about that, since I am a happy Sprint user, but if anyone knows a workaround on my sprint Blackberry, I would love to hear it.

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:47

Hey Louis,

Thanks for that info. I was not aware that it wasn’t supported well on the Blackberry. That is a shame as I know a lot of people love their Blackberry’s. If I hear anything about a workaround I will let you know!

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James June 10, 2011 at 20:32

Chris, hoping you, Phil or one of the fans can elaborate on Google voice (as mentioned in the post) and compare this to Skype. I’m interested to see what G Voice offers that Skype does not. Overall I love amazing applications, but like take the minimalist approach to how many I use frequently for simplicity sake.

Great post, follows right along with the core of what this blog is about.

Regards,

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:54

Hey James,

Glad you liked the post! I plan on doing a whole series of posts on The Anywhere Office on Google Voice. Maybe I’ll write one for VBL as well.

Skype is great for video and conferencing while I currently use Google Voice as my business phone number. I found that in testing calling regular land lines with Skype versus Google Voice the Google Voice sound quality was superior (less echo). I wish they had a separate app I could run to make and receive calls with it like Skype but unfortunately you currently make and receive calls on your computer only through Gmail (which I usually have open so it’s not a deal breaker). Google Voice gives you a free virtual number which you can then have ring on your computer or on your cell or other phones.

I was using Vonage as a business line and this year switched to Google Voice instead. The incoming calls are free and this year they are once again allowing all outgoing calls in the US for free (continued from last year).

I’ve got lots of tips and tricks to share about how to use Google Voice effectively that I’ll be sharing in my blog posts.

Phil

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Mike Stankavich June 10, 2011 at 20:40

Phil,

Perfect timing! A friend and I were just speculating as to how many people can be conferenced in Skype. And now here’s chief wizard Phil would have the answer. Excellent!

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:55

LOL thanks Mike – I sensed you had that question which I why I included it in my post!

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Karl Walinskas June 10, 2011 at 22:07

Phil,

As often as we have chatted on Skype, I was not aware of the screen sharing capability of skype. Learn something new from you all the time my friend.

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:56

Glad I could help Karl . . . I’ve got plenty more tips and tricks in my bag to share!

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Phil Montero June 10, 2011 at 22:59

A big thanks Chris for inviting me to contribute my posts to VBL and for the kind words in the post above and the email you sent out to the VBL Tribe today. Glad to be a part of such a great group!

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Chris C. Ducker June 11, 2011 at 00:38

The feelin’ is mutual, Phil.

Whenever you would like to contribute, do it. Your content is always engaging and informative – just the way we like it here!!! :-)

Keep well, bud.

C

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Crystal Thies June 11, 2011 at 02:48

Phil!

I couldn’t believe it when I saw your name when Chris’s blog post landed in my inbox! I have to admit that I haven’t used Skype to it’s fullest potential. To be honest, I haven’t experienced the same call quality that you’re mentioning, so I’ve somewhat avoided it. I was using it in conjunction with Fuze Meeting as the audio for the weekly live Q&A sessions I host and the feedback I kept getting from everyone was that I kept going in and out so I stopped using it.

As far as the video conferencing side of things, it’s much easier for you guys to take advantage of it! One of the benefits of working virtually and from home is that if I don’t have to go out, I don’t have to get all made up! (which means more time to work:-)) An impromptu video call to me would not be a pretty site and you might even catch me still in my jammies!

I wasn’t aware of the screen sharing mode and I’ve been using a freeware program for recording from my webcam. I think I’ll give Skype a try in that respect. Also since I’m already paying for Fuze, unless I’m on Skype and need an unexpected Screen Share I might as well use what I’m paying for.

Overall, a very informative and beneficial article!

By the way…you’ve been on my list to contact! So, since I’ve got you, I just have to give you a minor scolding – you’re behind in your studies!

Have a great weekend!

Crystal
@LinkedInNinja

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Phil Montero June 14, 2011 at 11:12

Hey Crystal,

Thanks for your comment and sharing your views on this topic. As for the call quality I suspect you were using Skype along with Fuze to dial a regular conference call type number. I agree with that when using Skype to call a land line or mobile phone I was not overly impressed with call quality – it tended to break up and have some echo. That is the primary reason I chose to go with Google Voice for my business line/voip service rather than Skype. However where Skype audio quality really shines is when you are talking Skype-to-Skype.

When having a Skype-to-Skype chat the quality is nothing short of amazing most of the time and much superior to a phone call. The audio quality is much fuller and when I record the call (using eCamm Call recorder as I mentioned in another comment) I get a very rich sounding call/interview which is perfect for my blog or podcast.

And thanks for keeping me accountable . . . I am very behind in my studies. Got caught up with relaunching my Art of Virtual Leadership workshop but I promise within the next week I will be back with my LinkedIn Ninja training!

Phil

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Craig Jarrow June 11, 2011 at 21:12

Phil,

Love it! Thanks for the tips… I always learn something new from you.

DId not realize that Skype might be the easiest way to transfer large files! I will be using that feature this weekend. :)

Thanks,

Craig

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Phil Montero June 14, 2011 at 11:13

Hey Craig,

Thanks for the kind words and glad I always have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve to share with you! – Phil

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adedotun June 13, 2011 at 10:42

great post phil
i use skype and love it
didnt know about the screen share option . i will definitely try it out
thanks for an enlightening read
cheers ade

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Phil Montero June 14, 2011 at 11:14

Ade – glad you enjoyed the articles and definitely give the screen sharing a try. It’s very easy to use and great when trying to show someone how to do something or what you are seeing.

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Brian Tomlinson June 20, 2011 at 03:28

Skype truly is invaluable if you plan to run an online or location independent business these days. They do have some things they have to work on from platform perspectives such as for the Mac and Android but all in time I say. It saves so much cash for your business (and family in the long run) that you really can’t go wrong. The group conferencing does have issues though. For me I use Talk Fusion for that and it runs seamlessly and I can have unlimited guests so I think I’ll stick with that since its more cost effective for the business that Skype probably will ever be. Great post again though guys.

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