“Fake it ‘til you make it.” It’s an approach used – and often, used quite effectively — in the business world.
The success of this mindset all comes down to attitude. Your small business may just be three ambitious twenty-somethings working out of a tiny apartment, but your customers don’t need to know that you’re using a spare closet as ground zero for your business’ day-to-day affairs.
Whether you’re just getting a small business off the ground or simply want to project the appearance of a larger, more rooted company, there are many clever tactics that can help your small biz “walk tall.”
Here are just a few.
1.A custom email domain
Having a corporate-sounding email is far more professional than using an antiquated Yahoo address as the main point of contact for prospective customers. You can easily accomplish this by setting up an email domain (the portion of your email address that follows the @ symbol) that echoes your website or business name.
Taking this a step further, setting up a variety of customer service-focused group mailing lists – and posting them prominently on your website — can also help boost appearances that you’ve got a fully fleshed out marketing, sales or administrative team: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or even something with a little personality such as email@example.com.
It doesn’t matter if all these emails go to the same two employees – as long as they actually read the inquiries and respond in a timely manner. A number of websites – Wix , Weebly and Squarespace among them – offer custom domain services in partnership with Gmail for Business .
When building a professional brand both on and offline, consistency is key. This means that everything – from your “About Me” section to your business cards to your company’s Twitter account – should use the same color scheme, logos, branding and even punctuation choices.
Even if you’re about as familiar with design or social media strategy as you are with underwater basket-weaving, you can hire a freelance professional on a site like Fiverr to kick start these efforts, or rely on any number of easily Google-able, free online templates.
Essentially, if you plan to be one of those companies who refuses to use capital letters in your marketing collateral, we won’t fight you on it – just make sure it’s a consistent choice.
3.A high-quality printer to deliver pro-grade prints
Along the same lines, any printed collateral – company letterheads, business cards, internal communication documents, etc. – should remain consistent and look as professional as possible.
This goes back to the “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality: Even if your company only has a whopping seven employees, developing a company mission statement and/or employee handbook early on is one way to ensure you’ll be able to scale as your business grows. (Not to mention that professional looking, colour-printed brochures and flyers look hundreds of times more legit than shoddy black-and-white photocopies.)
For professional-grade printing needs, consider the OfficeJet Pro 8700 or the PageWide Pro as a key element of your home (or even mobile) office. These high-tech machines offer cost-efficient colour printing, on-the-go portability (as well as mobile printing options) and lightning-fast speeds – and they’re environmentally friendly, too, if that’s part of your carefully constructed brand identity.
4.A press kit
If you’re selling a product or marketing a business and hoping to get the word out about your services, why not make it as easy as possible for media outlets to pick up the story?
Adding downloadable assets – high-resolution product shots, company press releases and easy-to-glean factual information about your business – to a visible part of your site not only looks professional, but it also may be the difference between that elusive mention in [ hot tech publication of the hour ] and radio silence.
5.Automated customer service tactics
As an early-stage small business, your customers are your most valuable assets. If they want to sing your praises, send feedback or complain about your services, it’s important to make this as easy as possible so you can mitigate any issues before they spiral out of control — or, conversely, so you’re able to continue practices your customers love.
But when you’ve got a super small team, it’s easier said than done to respond promptly to every inquiry or complaint that arises online. Automating customer service – at least partially – is one approach that will give off the appearance that your company has a dedicated team to handle such matters.
The simplest method of “automation” is to add an FAQ section to your website that may answer any common questions about your products, shipping, return policies, etc. If you add a customer service email or contact number, be sure that you have an automated response set up to send a “confirmation of receipt” message – and then follow up personally in as prompt a manner as possible.