Setting up your own business is a dream for many and a reality for those brave enough to take the initial steps. Having your own business can provide a great deal of satisfaction but it can be hard at the initial stages as you are having to contend with competitors who are often well established within your chosen field. Although this may feel daunting there are many steps you can take to help give your small business a professional edge.
One of the first things you should look at is your branding. Choose this carefully to appeal to your target audience and ensure that you try to create a distinctive brand identity rather than mirroring a larger brand. Once you have created a company name and logo you need to get this to your audience.
Traditional advertising such as flyers and adverts in local papers are still effective but a professional website and social media such as Facebook and twitter are also powerful forces in today’s internet driven society. If you create a website ensure it looks professional, is functional for users and that it contains links to all your social media platforms. One important note is to keep the tone, logo and branding consistent between all the platforms. Aim to update your social media on a regular basis and keep content fresh and interesting to encourage interaction and interest.
Now that your small business is accessible to clients you will hopefully see an increase in interest in your services. This leads to your next potential problem. Larger businesses can afford office space and staff which give a professional image as they suggest you are established within the industry. This contrasts to smaller businesses which are often run from a home office. Although running the business from home works well it is not always ideal to meet customers and clients in your home. Other options such as meeting for a coffee can be problematic as discussing confidential business (and especially finances) in a public place is not appropriate and can lead to the client feeling uncomfortable.
One simple and cost effective solution is to hire out office space for important meetings. This means you can meet clients in a professional looking office space. You will be able to use things such as audio-visual equipment, wifi and flipcharts which are often useful when completing a sales pitch or showcasing your work. There will also be reception staff to meet your client which again gives an organised and professional image. Plus if you are delayed or taking a phone call they can organise a cup of tea and help your client settle in.
If you hire your meeting room you can often benefit from the use of an exclusive office address such as Fleet Street, London and if you pick carefully you can even choose office spaces with quirky talking points. Perhaps meeting in a former bank vault or somewhere with a formula 1 car on the wall will provide a talking point and it is something that will definitely be discussed between your client and their friends or colleagues!
Another benefit of hiring a meeting room is that sometimes working from home creates too many distractions so a quiet meeting room for the day is just what you need to get on top of your work.
These simple steps will go a long way in helping to create a professional image but remember that things such as your communication and dress will also be judged so ensure a professional image is portrayed at all times.