Image is a crucial component to business success. While it’s true that you have to back up your image with results for clients or customers, that first impression is always important.
Clients want to be served by a company that has all of the tools to service their needs, but they do not want to be just another piece of a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. So, while larger businesses are working on ensuring that a personal touch is added within the huge machine, smaller businesses often must attempt to appear larger, always available, and always on. How can you accomplish this as a start-up or small business? Try the following tips and tricks to create the perfect image management plan!
Utilize Business Phone Systems
Smaller businesses and start-ups often do not have the room to create a receptionist position, be it in their budget or floor plan. In order to make sure that calls are routed correctly and important clients aren’t left in the lurch, you need some sort of phone system. Some businesses still use old fashioned third party call centers. These services may be located in another state, taking messages for the client and relaying them to him or her.
A more modern approach is to utilize business phone systems that allow you to project the image of a larger company, such as the VoIP phone systems offered by Broadview Networks. They also are easy to use and set up and are perfect for companies without the capacity for an IT department. Additionally, they allow you and your employees to be truly mobile.
Through features like mobile twinning, you can receive the same calls on your cell phone that you do on your office phone, thus ensuring that you never miss an important call again. This is especially useful if you and/or your employees do a lot of telecommuting or work from home; this feature allows you to project a professional, unified image at all times.
Become a Social Media Master
One of the easiest ways to engage with customers and clients is through social media. Not only is it free (unless, of course, you pay for advertising), but it’s also a rapid-fire way to perform excellent customer service if you harness it correctly. Additionally, it can be a way to position yourself as an authority in your particular niche.
Twitter is an especially useful tool for this – start by following those you respect in the space, retweeting them, and eventually tweeting at them. You can get a good conversation going and build key relationships.
Furthermore, once you are established online in your particular niche, people will respect your brand and authority regardless of your business size. The best way to ensure that you maintain a constant stream of useful Facebook posts, Tweets, LinkedIn updates, etc., is to designate someone to manage social media. If you don’t have the resources for that, many businesses will give several staff members access to the Twitter account, with each particular employee having a special sign-off when they tweet. This helps to humanize your online feeds.
You can also plan and schedule tweets with newer apps like Buffer or the tried-and-true HootSuite to further organize your social media management plan.
Sometimes, small start-ups may not need a full office at a particular time in their development. During this time of building up your business, you can save money yet still have a professional address through the use of coworking spaces, office shares, or incubators. Such facilities are very popular among the tech and design freelance set, and office shares or incubators are great for start-ups that need to look professional but don’t quite have the capital for a full-size office. Check out places like VentureF0rth in Philadelphia or NYC-based WeWork Labs to get a sense of what coworking for start-ups and small business can look like.
And of course, the very nature of coworking is collaborative – you may find some new employees or at the very least, a great new business idea, at your coworking space! The major benefits of utilizing places like these are a professional mailing address and actual office space that you share with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
By following these steps, a small business can give the impression that it is capable, organized, and always there for customers and clients. From there, the growth of your business can only increase!