Starting a small business is challenging! There are hundreds of variables at play that can affect whether or not your business will survive the year, never mind be successful. Using tools to make your business seem more professional and bigger than it actually is, is an incredibly effective way to attract clients, stand out from your competitors and foster growth. Here are five tips to help your business look more professional through the use of online tools:
1. Create a website
Start off by purchasing a domain that can be used to host your website and make it as relatable to your business name as possible. Your website can be as simple or as complex as you choose. Adding basic information about your business such as a business description, trading hours and contact details, will help clients to easily locate your business and make contacting you easy.
Setting-up a website with providers like Wix.com or Weebly can be done with a few clicks and carries a minimal monthly cost. Having a website allows you to enter the world of Google Ads and other online marketing platforms, which in turn can help increase your customer base (but we will save this for another post).
2. Use a professional email address
Having an email address @gmail.com or @yahoo.com can often be a sign of a less sophisticated business and can put off potential clients. Luckily this can be easily fixed by using an email address that matches your domain – it’s simple and easy to set-up. In some cases, your hosting provider will have an email set-up included, make use of it. If not, using Google G-suite is a great option as it will give you the convenience of Gmail and the professionalism of your email address in your business name for a small monthly cost.
3. Build-up your social media presence
Setting-up business pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways for you to share your business with potential clients and/or suppliers. It further helps to build-up business credibility at no cost and increases your online footprint. Each business is different, so try to find out what kind of social media your clients use and start establishing a presence, by doing this, you will be able to connect easily with your current client base whilst targeting new clients as well.
4. Get a virtual address and phone number
Sure, your business is still new and you’re not ready to commit to an office, or perhaps you don’t intend on ever using one. That’s okay, but then you need to consider a virtual address, most of the shared workspaces in SA offer them and they are a great tool to use when making your business look more professional.
A virtual address gives you access to a business address and other business services, such as a phone number, reception services and mail handling service. Making use of this type of service gives your business the tools needed to look professional whilst still allowing you to work remotely. It is essential for small businesses who are looking to increase credibility.
5. Incorporate professional best practices from the outset
This one is quite vague, but bear with me, it’s important. There are tons of small things that you can do to make your business look more professional. Here is a list of some minor changes that can be made, which will instantly give the impression that you’re a multinational:
– Have your logo professionally designed
– Use an email signature
– Use a professional tone, ensure the correct use of grammar, spelling and language in client interactions e.g. emails
– Invoice professionally and promptly
– Register your business on Google my Business
– Have clients ‘like’ your social media pages and encourage them to write reviews
– Only make use of good quality photos on social media and websites
– Register your business with CIPC and have a business bank account
6. Match your professional look with professional service
You’ve taken all the right steps to make your business stand out thus ensuring that you’re able to attract your target market. You need to make sure that the level of service that you give matches the level of professionalism you portray. At the end of the day, client retention is key and this can only be achieved by offering 1stclass service.