A small business usually involves either just one or two people or a team of less than ten, all of whom play a part in developing and projecting the business’s image and reputation. When a business is small, much of a client’s impression comes from how the individuals present themselves and how they act when working. This is why it is essential to convey a professional image for your small business.
Here are five things that you should focus on:
1. Your website
The first part of your business that potential clients are likely to come into contact with is your website. You must first ensure that your website design, layout and content are appropriate for the services or goods that your small business offers.
The first element to address is the look. There are fashions and developments in websites just as there are in clothing, so you risk letting your website look old-fashioned if you do not update it every so often. Psychologically, an old-fashioned website could make your visitor think that you are not up to date with the latest developments in your industry and thereby rule you out as a potential provider or supplier.
Set your content out in a user-friendly way, keeping plenty of white space around your text and images, and integrating social media into its design.
2. Your branding identity
You need to develop a consistent brand for your business. This means having a decent logo created that sums up your small business and which is replicated across all your marketing channels, meaning your website, your social media profiles and, of course, your stationery materials.
In regards to stationery, your needs may be relatively minor, but you will need to have professional business cards designed and printed, as these are essential tools for handing out at networking events and meetings, as well as being easy contact details to give to anyone who may be interested in using your business at a later date.
Business cards should feature the company logo, your name, contact telephone number and email as a basic, but could also include job title, office address and social media handles if social media plays a significant role in the business.
3. Your office space
If you have an office space where members of the public can visit you, you need to make this as professional as possible to create a great impression. Your reception area needs to be the most impressive, as it is likely that few visitors will need to go past this point, with your working office area being less important. Make sure that your reception is clean and tidy, free of clutter and inviting.
If, however, yours is a home-based business, you will need to meet clients elsewhere. Often, a coffee shop is perfectly adequate for informal meetings, but if the occasion demands a private space, then consider whether renting a private meeting room in a hotel or a serviced office complex is more appropriate. Also, while casual clothes are your usual attire for working at home when there is no probability of meeting a client, you will need to make yourself smarter for business meetings. Always have suitable clothes ready to wear for such occasions.
4. Your business vehicle
If you are required to travel to meet potential clients, then you should also consider that your vehicle needs to reflect your professional attitude and is an appropriate choice.
A flashy sports car will almost certainly create a bad impression on any client, helping to convey the idea that you too are flashy and probably making too much money out of your clients. Conversely, turning up in a battered old car may make you seem a bit ramshackle. You should aim for a vehicle that is somewhere in between the two.
If you’re a regular traveler, you could consider buying a professional and smart looking company car. A jeep or other large vehicle may be most convenient, as there will be plenty of room for equipment such as laptops, projectors, and other items. You also want to choose something with a comfy and spacious interior, as other employees may choose to car share with you, when out and about for client meetings. If money is tight, you could also purchase a used car, which will have been checked over by the dealer and have a quality guarantee.
5. Your social media presence
Social media is where many businesses make mistakes, either by making inappropriate posts, such as responding sarcastically to a customer’s complaint posted online, or being too “friendly” and using questionable language. Social media posts should be engaging and conversational but ultimately retain a professional distance to avoid giving offence.
The bottom line
So much of the business world is judged by its image that it is essential that small businesses, as well as large corporations, work hard to present a professional image that meets all their clients’ expectations and that also, hopefully, exceeds them.