Most businesses start small. We can see many examples of those who came from humble beginnings and are now global superstars, tech examples such as Microsoft and Facebook immediately spring to mind. Not many of us will reach those lofty heights, but the image of how large our business is can affect how well we do. In many instances, it can be beneficial to appear to be a larger company than we are. Many customers feel more comfortable ordering from a firm that appears to be larger and more substantial. The customer may feel that small business firms are less stable, and there is more of a corporate structure with rigid complaints procedures to follow with the big players. We have put together this handy guide to show how easily we can appear as a bigger company when we are more modestly sized.
Gone are the days when the average customer’s first impression of a business is when they walk through the doors. These days it is more common to check out the website, even if a physical visit is to follow. This plays directly into the hands of those of us who want to present as a large organization. A professionally designed and subtly themed website can make all the difference. Consider the industry you are operating within and keep to conventional styles. Always embrace the less is more philosophy that white space can be a designer’s friend. There is nothing worse than a cluttered page and avoid cheesy clip-art or stock images of receptionists with headsets.
In most instances, we are limited in our trading address. The high-value property comes with high rent. But there are ways to have a prestigious location without the excessive outlay. One idea is to see if any large organizations would be willing to sub-let part of their premises. For retailers, this could mean a store concession, or for industrial uses, it could be some workshop or warehousing space? You can also rent a virtual address, for a monthly fee, you can register at a desirable city-center location, allows you to be registered there and have mail forwarded to you.
What impression does a new customer get when they phone your business? If you are a new or small business operation, it may just be yourself answering a cell phone. Such a setup does not give the impression of a sizeable company. There are phone answering services where you can have your number answered by a professional receptionist who can pass calls through or take messages. This works perfectly when you need calls answered in this manner but are not expecting the call volume to support hiring a full-time employee.
The quality of our printed materials indicates how professional we appear to potential customers. Business cards and flyers are important in presenting a professional public image. Like the concepts in web design, these should be well laid out professionally. Flyers should be simple and convey what you do and why you are the preferable choice easily, and concisely. Even how you package any orders or samples you send out to customers can show a big or small mentality. The use of custom shipping boxes makes you look like a much more polished operation than sending items out in generic packaging.
What type of company vehicles you and your people use can say a lot about who you are? Old or damaged vehicles will give an amateurish impression. Although it can sometimes be cheaper to let employees use their vehicles and pay a mileage rate, we need to be mindful of image. Any vehicles owned by the business should be kitted out with the logo and/or contact information. This can be done semi-permanently by a vehicle signwriter.
There are different ways we can structure our business dealings. Many choose to register as a self-employed individual, declare their profits, and pay their taxes. The main with this in terms of the image is it makes you look small. Any customer looking into a business would prefer you to see you registered as an incorporated company. As a side note registering your company will also offer you personal protection in case of business failure, you will not be held personally responsible for any debts, save in the case of fraudulent behavior.
Professional Social Media Management
Social media is one of the best ways to promote your business online. If correctly done, even a small business can cheaply and effectively reach thousands of new customers. Careful attention must be paid to how we utilize this tool. If we send out the wrong message it can be irreversibly damaging, posting unpopular personal opinions or attacks on competitors can be awful as nothing ever goes away on the internet. One way to avoid this is to employ a professional social media manager.
Warehousing & Delivery Fulfilment
Getting orders out on time and in good condition can be tricky for a small business. As a small operator, you will have numerous demands on your time. Onerous tasks such as bookkeeping, staff management, and more can take your attention away and make fulfilling orders impossible. You can always hire more staff, but often this is not cost-effective. If you have regular peaks and dips in your orders you may end up with staff on the clock doing nothing. Why not consider a warehouse and order fulfillment service? This way you can concentrate on sales, and you are not tied into an expensive property lease.
Associations with Larger Brands
If you are an unheard-of, small business brand, it means customers have nothing to judge you on. If you can gain an association with a larger and more prestigious brand, it gives them something to identify with. If you have a trading relationship with one of these brands, you may be able to gain permission to promote your association with them. Once you establish positive brand awareness, making sales will become significantly easier.