Whoever coined the term "small business" most likely didn't own one. Growing a new business presents big challenges and great opportunities even if you don't own a gleaming 20-story office tower. But how can you avoid giving a "small business" impression when you are just starting out? Here are some practical tips to make your business look bigger without breaking the bank.
Tip 1: Consider turning your sole proprietorship in a Corporation or LLC
Converting your sole proprietorship into a Corporation or LLC can be a simple first step to making your small business look much much larger. Having that LLC or Inc. suffix at the end of your company name can provide a number of benefits. For instance, it can provide instant legitimacy when you begin doing business with new contacts.
Tip 2: Create a Professional Logo
A professional logo is more than a want - it is a necessity. Your logo represents you and your company to customers and partners. A customer may never step foot into your "office," but they will definitely see your logo. The better it looks, the better you and your business look. If you don't have in-house expertise, our trusted partner, Logoworks can create a custom logo for your business in as few as 3 days (to find out more, click Logoworks). Start with your own idea, or have design experts create one for you. Once you have the perfect logo, Logoworks can apply it to business cards, stationery, signage and more. Go to Logoworks now.
Tip 3: Create a Professional Web Site
Having a website is a must for businesses today. A well-designed website can dramatically increase your business. Potential customers judge your business on both the design and functionality of your website. Also, make sure your content is grammatically correct and updated regularly. There are many web designers and online services who can create and host savvy, professional sites at an affordable price.
For instance, our partner, Web.com has created thousands of professional websites for small businesses with simple 1-click publishing and hundreds of business-specific design templates. Their hands-on consulting approach makes it easy to get the exact site you want, whether your goal is to attract new customers, improve customer service, or drive sales. You'll also be able to update your website any time you want. Remember, a well-designed web site will attract new customers and keep old ones coming back. Find out more at Web.com.
Design isn't the only consideration when creating a web site. Make sure you have a respectable domain name, preferably your business name. Think firstname.lastname@example.org versus email@example.com. A good domain name offers credibility to your company and makes it easier for customers to find you when searching the web. You can find out more about registering your domain name online.
Tip 4: Developing Professional Marketing Materials
Like your web site, your print materials should also be top-notch and, again, this does not have to cost a fortune. Simple tactics like using heavy paper or card stock, or glossy paper instead of matte, can make a two-color print job look like a high-quality print job. Freelance designers often design stationery, business cards, and marketing materials for less than half the cost of a traditional ad agency. In addition, you can save money by having the designer send you the final project files then printing it yourself on a high-quality color printer or copier. Check out the options at VistaPrint.com.
Tip 5: Get Technologically Savvy
New technology has lowered the price for many services that were once very expensive. Taking advantage of these can make your business seem much larger than it is. For example, larger corporations spend thousands of dollars on expensive phone systems complete with hold music, multiple extensions, and company directories.
But online services such as RingCentral offer all these features and more for as little as $9.95 a month with no hardware to purchase or set up. You can choose a local number or a more convenient toll-free number. Callers are greeted with a professionally-recorded greeting customized for your business, then routed to your regular home, office, or cell phone. You can easily set up different extensions for different phones or employees.
Depending on your business, you may want to look at using a Post Office Box instead of using your home address. A P.O. box looks professional and adds credibility to a home-based business.
Tip 6: "Borrow" Office Space
Many small business owners either work out of the home or a one- to two-room office, which isn't conducive for larger business meetings and presentations. But, you can still have meetings with potential investors, vendors, or customers over lunch or by renting meeting rooms in hotels or in local office buildings. You can rent a meeting room for a specified amount of hours a month for ongoing meetings and presentations. Renting a formal executive suite can give your company a professional appearance and make your business seem bigger than it is, allowing for a temporary solution to spending big bucks on your own luxury meeting facility.
Using some of the above tips will help boost your business appearance, while saving money. The best part is you can work from home while projecting a professional image in keeping with a future member of the Fortune 500.