During your first year in business you must continually work at perfecting a subtle, yet critically important game of projecting an image for your new business that says: “I’m established”, “I’m experienced and connected”, and most importantly, “I’m successful”.
Most of our start-up clients in our Virtual Incubator Program are solo owners, many running their new businesses out of their dens, with no other staff.
So, it can be a real challenge to come off to prospective customers as the experienced, successful service provider that you know in your heart that you really are.
I started my first business at home twenty years ago, and I very quickly faced the reality of “looking big when you are really small” when a consulting client asked to meet me at “my office”, which at the time consisted of my dining room table!
Fortunately for me, I was familiar with a nearby office building that not only rented offices but also its address for use by home based business owners.
I immediately called the building manager, introduced myself and asked if they had a conference room I could use for a hour to conduct a client meeting. Wanting to entice me to move into the building (which I later did), they were more than happy to assist me.
So, I directed my client to their address for our meeting.
On the way to the meeting, I stopped by the local office supply store and purchased a set of plastic letters that spelled out my company’s name. I placed these on the tenant board in the lobby of the building, just to give a bit more credibility to my professional image.
I think that you can see from my personal example that “playing the identity game” sometimes requires imagination and ingenuity.
Here are a few tips on building and maintaining a top-notch identity for your business:
1. Start with a professionally designed logo that “knocks their eyes out”.
2. Use your power logo on an equally impressive business card. Don’t just drop by your local office supply store and quickly order some business cards from a catalog. Remember: your business card is a mini-billboard for your business!
3. Use a well-thought-out and well-recorded message on your business voicemail.
4. Pay a bit more to use a truly artistic website designer. Websites are today to what business cards where twenty-five years ago. Prospective customers will not take your business seriously without an eye-catching and well worded website to tell your business’s unique story.
5. Consider buying and using a professional appearing “leave behind” with your logo printed on it. Popular items include: pens, envelope slitters, and notepads.
6. Make sure that any correspondence, bids, or client reports are error-free, printed on substantial paper and bound professionally, in necessary. Use your power logo on every page.
7. Return phone calls and e-mail inquiries quickly. Be sure to include a closing “signature” on your e-mails that includes: your name, phone number, e-mail address, website address, and short passage of text presenting your business’s unique offer, such as “the fastest delivery in the three-county area”.