Size matters, well, at least when it comes to business. Bigger companies are normally viewed as more dependable, experienced and trustworthy. Your small business may feel like a drop in the ocean but you can still set it up to feel like the world to your client. Here are a few tips to help you beef up your online and offline presence and give your business a professional appeal.
Getting a Professional Email Address
A Gmail or Yahoo address like firstname.lastname@example.org is showing low on the professional meter. It emphasizes the fact that the business is a one person’s operation run from home. Setting up your own email address is very easy today. You can even use Gmail and set up a professional looking email address like John@mycoolbusiness.com. If you’ve already registered a domain, most registrars such as Go Daddy, offer mail forwarding for free with your domain registration. After you purchase your domain, look for this option in your domain registrar control panel.
Tip: You will also need to change your Gmail settings after you set up email forwarding: go into Gmail’s ‘Mail Settings’ and click on ‘Account and Import’. Then click the ‘Make Default’ button next to your new business email address.
If you have not registered a domain yet, have a look at this step by step guide for instructions.
Before you start developing and creating your brand, remember that consistency is the key in making your business look bigger than it is. It’s important for you to create a solid branding strategy that will constantly and effectively deliver the same message to your clients. Start with the question: what kind of a message do you want your business to convey?
Below are some basic principals of brand consistency, best to make sure you’ve taken all into account:
- Use imagery characteristics and colors that resonate
- Know your audience
- Repeat your core messaging
- Use consistent typography
Business Card and other Printables
Business card are pretty straight forward; no one really thinks they can do without them. For branding consistency, think of hiring one designer to work on all your required material from logo to website design and business card. You can get incredible work done by a freelance designer at affordable prices at the Wix Arena, DesignCrowd or abduzeedo.
Depending on your line of work, designing and printing brochures can be a great way to spread the word about your services and show some diversity in terms of what you do. It can also be a virtual brochure in PDF format that you send to clients right after the introduction mail or phone call. A printed brochure is a good marketing document to have for functions like distribution at a trade show or for as a handy mailer for people who want basic information about your company.
Time for a Website
Your website is your very own shop’s window. It might be a good idea to choose the pronoun “we” rather than “I” when writing the ‘About Us’ or ‘Services’ page. There’s no need to lie, just to display a unified front of a business that has values and tradition. Sooner or later you’re likely to hire help and become a “We”, so let the future take root.
Build your Social Networks
A linkedin profile with 500 or more contacts makes you look ultimately well connected, and that means a busy professional. Send invites to everyone you know and then use their contacts to connect even further. Next, open a company page and enter information which is consistent with your messaging to describe your business. Also, if you have a few happy customers to your records, ask them for recommendations.
Use other social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter to give your business a busy look. If you decide to open a Facebook page, update your status regularly to let clients know about deals/special offers and latest developments on products or services.
Get a PO Box
On the non-virtual aspect of your business, you may want to look at using a Post Office Box instead of your home address. Separating the two also makes sense in terms of keeping orders once you start getting more business related bills. Much like an email address, a P.O. box looks professional and adds credibility to a home-based business.
Rent Office Space
If you’re meeting clients face to face regularly, coffee shops are not going to cut it (not if you want to appear bigger). One way to do it is by renting office space or a meeting room for a specified number of hours per month, and have all your meetings at that time. Until you rent your own office, you can find great facilities for meeting rooms or other needs through companies like Regus.