Startup Guide — Tips to Make Your Small Business Looks Like a Big Player
Running a small business is very advantageous, where a person can easily avoid the corporate bureaucracy that would slow you down or be an obstacle on the way. But with all of positive things about this, there are downsides as well.
It is that potential clients usually prefer working with larger corporations, since they feel that the bigger a business, the more legitimate it is. While this may not be the case for you, in order to get larger customers, it is essential to establish yourself and make your business look as big as it can.
Further, it is imperative for new entrepreneurs to always look bigger to get into the game. It is common for large businesses or people to avoid the small companies, since they want to feel like they are working with some business that has a good reputation and many staff to support it.
Reason to make a small business look big
One of the main ways to establish the credibility and the trust in your industry is by giving the appearance of your business as a large one. It doesn’t matter how low your budget is; you can invest your money in the services and the products that would permit you to feel and even look more like a corporation. And all this can also happen even if you are a small business.
Although you may not have the office space or the expenses PBX system (as further explained below), you can show the world that you do. But how is this possible? By using all the digital tools at your fingertips to make all the small operations seem big! Here are some tips on how you can make your business look like a large and respected corporation:
- Stop Using Your Gmail Account.
A huge mistake about new entrepreneurs is that they use Yahoo, Hotmail or the Gmail addresses to communicate with clients. Email is something that the client sees at first when you connect with them, and it would be used on a daily basis; it is much better to have a company address which would look much more professional.
It is easy and cheap to purchase a website domain name (that comes for about $10) and then generate the email address with the URL for your email. The format has to be firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a simple, direct and approachable.
Also, if you add your first name and last name in the email address, it would indicate that there is more than one person who has the same first name in the company. In short, it just tells that you are highly professional with a large group of people in the business. For instance, an email address of John.Smith@yourdomain.com, may indicate a company with more staff having more than one person with the name Smith.
Alternatively, if you have no motive and budget to get a domain for yourself at the beginning, you can also use the Google Apps Standard Edition that allows you to open a company email, company intranet, shared calendars, and shared documents free for up to 10 employees. And in case you need it for other people, you can upgrade to the Google Apps for Business for just $5 per month and get the shared video feature as well. Other than this, it also integrates seamlessly with mobile devices, including iPhones.
2. Use VoIP Technology to Greet Callers.
A lot of entrepreneurs dream of the day when they have several offices scattered across the country and even the globe. But you know that it would take years to reach this place, however you can show that you have multiple offices by just being a little bit wiser.
With the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone technology, it is effortless for you to set several numbers with different area codes, which would lead the call to just one number that is in your office. A few companies also offer the application where you can track who is calling you and others, such as the Montreal’s Ubity, gives a great background music for your on-hold clients.
3. Use the Virtual Private Branch Exchange (PBX).
Isn’t it frustrating to have a customer call you and have them hear the personal voicemail message on your cell phone? That just sounds so unprofessional. But you do not need to worry since there are a lot of excellent virtual attendant services, also called the PBX systems that you can get in the market like Phonebooth, Ringcentral, etc. The virtual attendant prompts the caller with several options during the call like, “Press 1 for sales, 2 for technical support,” etc. With this, the calls can then be directed to different cell phones that have been set up.
Ringcentral Mobile is an excellent example for this, where you can pay for the complete year that would cost $9.99 per month, or pay a monthly charge of $14.9 if you are paying separately. The separate $5 extra gives you a dedicated fax number, or you can also choose to use their internet faxing service that would permit you to send faxes from your email. But even if sending faxes are not needed, received faxes get converted to PDFs formats and emailed to you.
A few might say that the Google Voice is a good alternative to any of these paid services, but may not be since Google does not have the virtual attendant. The calls automatically get forwarded to various numbers as per the instructions you set. Isn’t it better to pay just $10 and get more customers by displaying yourself a professional firm? It would impress your clients, and you would be taking huge steps to get ahead of the competition.
4. Become a Sensation on LinkedIn and Twitter.
When we talk about the social media sites where all the buzz goes to at the end of the day, having a large number of followers, is what makes you more professional and appear bigger. How can this happen? Well, begin with tweeting daily and show that you are doing the best with the new trends and developments in your business.
And do not ignore LinkedIn from this. As much as you feel Facebook and Twitter are important, so is LinkedIn these days. It is an excellent place for thought leadership. You can publish non-promotional articles that would depict you are an innovative and a smart person. Also, make sure that your articles link back to your professional looking website for a one-two punch.
5. Do not use a formal title on your business card.
It is clear that you are the CEO, and you are the one person who is working on everything in your company, But, what is not clear is that why does the CEO have to do everything in the company? It is not taken as a good sign, so until the company grows and has more employees, just avoid adding the title of CEO on your business card and others on the undersigned in any other place.
6. Use Meeting Software.
A lot of the client’s presentations are done online, which is a great thing for small businesses who might not have the budget to fly out for any face-to-face meetings. But for the web-based presentations, there would be a need for the professional meeting software like GoToMeeting or WebEx, that allows you to share what you have on the screen along with the clients. These applications come with video conference options too.
7. Go Pro with Payments.
One of the main thing that screams that you are a small business and not a professional one is not being able to sell the services or products to the customers who want them. For the B2C operations, a modern online store that accepts different types of payments is a must. Fortunately, a business like Shopify can help entrepreneurs set up an eye-catching online shop within a few hours. Even though you might be using their backend systems, but it is your business that appear big.
8. Get a Virtual Office Address.
There are many people who open businesses as a single person and list their home address as their business address. This might have been something that was alright years ago, but it is not anymore. Google Maps services today allows a person who wants to see the business, to find it with Google Street viewer, and see your house and your office address.
Imagine if you were the one looking for a person to provide you some raw materials, would you trust someone who is sitting in their home and working? No, right? The same is in this case. And if you feel it doesn’t matter since you can do better than most in the competition, then well, it is not about what you think or feel. It is about what the customer thinks. Visuals are always important since it does make a huge impression, and is one reason why people focus a lot on furniture and look of the office as well.
A cost-effective solution is the virtual office space, and no this is not the UPS store box or the PO box. You might have to spend a little more dollars in a month, but getting a mailing address in a posh office building, a live receptionist, and a conference room on an as needed basis is more than great. This would let your company look like it is a well-established one both in the real world and on Google maps as well.
These types of services are available in every place around the country and the world. Like in Hong Kong, Startupr offers these services along with many others. All you need to do is look for a virtual registered office online for your newly built company.
9. Use larger invoice numbers.
In case you are sending out the quotes or invoices, start off with the higher numbers. This is since it would show that your business has been there for a long time. If not, it would seem as though you opened yesterday that would drive the clients away.
Moreover, you do not need to worry about the online invoicing since the online solutions for invoicing such as Quickbooks and PayPal permit you to select the starting invoice number for you to keep the things organized for the bookkeeping and accounting needs.
10. Pay special attention to your website.
The website is the main face of your business that is open 24/7, and it is not tough to make a professional looking site that has a lot of quality with a small budget. With platforms like WordPress, you can invest a few dollars in the domain and begin hosting a website with a premium theme in just a few hours.
Another option is to hire a professional designer to develop a new custom look for you. Regardless of the method you choose, remember to include your hours of operation, phone number, address, email address, and a contact form to allow people to reach you easily. In case you are selling services or products online, the easiest way to make the company look big is by including the online store option.
It is very easy and affordable to open the store online due to the tools available. Just note that you need to have all the tools for shipping the orders in a timely manner. Another advice for your website is that, use the word “We” instead of “I” in the content of the website. This would automatically show that you have a large team of employees working with you.
11. Convert your sole proprietorship to an Private Limited Company
Even though this might make you spend a little extra cash, there are many online assistance services that help you such as Startupr in Hong Kong. Instead of registering your company as a sole proprietorship, open it as a private limited company directly with the help of agencies like Startupr in Hong Kong. Even new entrepreneurs can profit from a Private Limited company.
If you have a company already and are reading this now, you can easily connect with an agency like this and get the entity type changed within no time. With a private limited company, you can decide to file taxes as though you are an enterprise, which also stops the company from being taxed via your personal tax return.
And it doesn’t end here. Under a private limited company, the people who are a part of it are protected from liability. This means that you are not personally responsible for any decisions or debts against the business. Also, if your company runs into any legal or financial trouble, your lenders are forbidden from going after your personal assets, which includes your home or car.
Like it or not, everyone does judge a book by its cover. So, it is better for you to do yourself a favor and spice up you cover by getting the above tips implemented and working in your business. It is crucial to have a virtual attendant, a real business address, and Google Apps Standard for email or your own domain for it.
As you can see, technology and a bit of creative thinking can help you make your business look huge. With the help of today’s digital tools, it is relatively easy to make your small firm look big for the customers. Of course, resembling a big corporation is just one piece of the business puzzle. You have still got to provide the services and products that blow away the competition. Once you are in the game as a big company, you would be shocked by how your customers respond to you as well.
Overall, though it may feel ambiguous, there is nothing wrong with putting on a more prominent and a bigger face to show the world. As your company grows, you would bring on extra staff to manage and control the load, and by this, you would be ready for it all from the start. In short, bigger isn’t better, smarter is!