Make your business more professional

When I talk to small businesses one of the top challenges they are trying to overcome is to look professional. While we choose small businesses because of the convenience, flexibility and local know how, we still expect the best from these businesses and if they are professional we trust them more.

Here are three things small businesses can do to look more professional.

  1. Be Organized: The first thing you can do to look professional is to be professional. Being professional has nothing to do with being formal in language or tone, but to be organized and accountable. The best thing to do to be organized is to write down about what your business is, how are you positioning it, your target audience and value proposition. Write down your near term and long term goals, and how you will measure success. Create a folder and save your answers in a document. Writing down about your business makes everything feel more real and also gives you clarity of thought. Once you have clarity, it will start to reflect in all your communications and actions to your customers.
  2. Make sure you have a Website: Everyone knows by now that you must have a website for your business. And yes, this cannot be stressed enough. Once I was searching for local movers on yelp, and I ended up hiring a particular mover over another company, because they had a website even though they were a bit pricey. The website gave the company credibility and I felt it was more legitimized. You do not need to have an extensive or fancy website with multiple pages. A simple, even a one-page, website is good if it contains the basic information organized properly with clear call to action and how customers can reach you.
  3. Invest in Branding: Many small businesses think that branding is all about having a logo. Though logo is an important branding element and can increase brand recognition of your company when a customer sees it, branding is not just limited to a logo. Not to say that you should not have a logo, but think through the colors and fonts that you will use in your communications, and then be consistent by using those. I also recommend thinking through what you would like the brand to mean to your customers, and then incorporating that in all your communications to the customer. For example, if you want your brand to be approachable but professional, then your voice can still be casual and professionalism will need to come through your timely communications to your customers, partners and vendors. This way you can still have a brand without a logo.

While there are many other things you can do to be professional, following the above three recommendations companies will see a big difference. If you already have customers you can conduct a before and after survey on if they perceive your company to be professional or not and quantify the impact. Repeat the survey with your partners and vendors as well.

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