Just because you have a small business doesn't mean you can't compete against the "big boys." Leaving a home or small office sometimes is unavoidable, as overhead in a larger location can be pricey. However, there are many cost efficient ways to make your company look bigger, and you don't have to break the bank while doing so. The five tips below will help transform your small business into a larger, prominent corporation, without leaving the comfort of your small business surroundings.
Tip 1: Create a Professional Logo
Your company's logo is the main representation of your company and does not have to scream out "small business." Your logo is the first impression the outside world will see, and a professional logo will not only lend your business credibility;it will be seen by those who many never enter your small business environment and can give your customers a "big business" feeling. This is usually done through custom logo design, but don't think you need a full-service agency that charges big bucks. There are numerous freelance graphic designers who have the skills needed to create a first-class logo at half the cost of agency services.
Tip 2: Create a Professional Web Site
A Web presence is critical in business today, and a professional-looking Web site will attract new customers and keep old ones coming back. And, there are many freelance Web designers who will create a savvy, professional site at an affordable price.
Although it is important to have a Web site that is aesthetically pleasing, grammatically correct, and updated regularly, making your company look bigger virtually goes beyond the overall design of your site. One way to make your business look bigger is investing in your own domain name (i.e., Mycompany.com versus Mycompany@yahoo.com). Having your own domain name will also personalize your email, having it as firstname.lastname@example.org versus email@example.com. This offers credibility to your company and the products you are selling, and it makes it easier for customers to find you when searching the World Wide Web.
Tip 3: Develop Professional Print Publications
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. Also, like the logo and Web site discussions above, if you cannot afford an advertising agency's design services, you may be able to find a freelance designer who will design a marketing package for half the cost. In addition, you can save money by having the designer send you the final project file then printing it in-house on a higher quality color printer or color copier.
Tip 4: Get Technologically Savvy
There are little technological "tricks of the trade" that can make your business seem much larger than it is. Little things like having a big city phone number forwarded to your home, setting up a professional voice message system, or having a Post Office Box instead of a home address will give your company the image of a large corporation. For example, for a monthly fee, a home-based business in New Jersey can rent a Manhattan phone number and have the calls forwarded to the home-based office. In addition, a Post Office box can be rented through the U.S. Postal Service or another mailing house. A P.O. box seems more professional and adds credibility to a home office than a standard street address, and is affordable for smaller corporations.
Tip 5: "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 in a high-class meeting room by renting rooms in hotels or in local office buildings. Many hotels will provide lunch at an affordable price, and some office buildings will rent unused rooms by the hour or by the day. Or, 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 small business appearance, while saving money and still allowing you to work from home, in your one-room office or in that corner office. But, the outside world will see your company as the next Fortune 500 business.