Five tips for conveying a professional image as a small business

Ed Reeves, co-founder of Penelope, outlines his top tools for micro-businesses that will help present a more professional and trusted image to prospective customers.

When it comes to building a business, image is everything. Customers get a sense of reassurance and safety when they feel that they are dealing with established businesses – especially when they are a larger business themselves. Recent news from O2 Business suggests that small businesses are losing out on 13 billion annually by failing to make a mark with potential customers.

Here are some top tools for micro businesses that will help present a more professional and trusted image to prospective customers.

Mailing address/virtual office

Many businesses start from home, but advertising a home address on invoices, business cards and a website doesn’t instil confidence. Having a prestigious address makes the business seem much larger than it is. If you can’t afford the rent or don’t need a full-time office, using a registered mailing address or virtual office gives you all the benefits of a city address at a fraction of the cost.

Call handling

Telephone answering services or digital receptionists, specifically targeted for small businesses, are a quick and easy way to make your business more efficient and look bigger than it is. Standard call diversion and message taking is readily available at a price targeted for small companies. Interactive voice response (IVR), where callers are given options on which area of the business they want to talk to, will also give the impression that your business is bigger than it is. A missed call is a missed opportunity, so it’s imperative that customers and potential customers have the best experience possible from the first touch point with your business.

Bespoke internal business departments

Another clever technique to amplify your business is to segment your company into varying departments, like IT, accounts and customer service. This is especially useful if you are working with larger businesses, as the account departments will expect to liaise with someone in the ‘finance’ department. As an added bonus, micro-businesses and one man bands also benefit from a more streamlined workflow.

Marketing and website tools

The same survey from O2 Business found that 63 per cent of businesses surveyed considered small firms with a web and social media presence as modern and up-to-date. Using small business-friendly tools like Google Adwords (targeted advertising), TopCoder direct (a name your price coding website) and Go Daddy (a website hosting platform) will allow you to look and feel like a big company – without a big price tag.

Social media

Not being active on appropriate social media channels is a lost opportunity, because if you aren’t involved, chances are your competitors are. For consumer facing businesses, Facebook and its advertising mediums can be a great way to reach targeted audiences. For business to business companies, being active on LinkedIn and its groups provides a platform to be seen as an industry player and thought-leader.

Starting a business from scratch is hard work, especially in the current economy. But with certain techniques and help from third-party partners, the tips listed above will help your company punch above its weight.

Further reading on starting a business

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