Ask ten people what they think when they hear the phrase "small business" and you'll probably end up with ten very different answers. Some might talk about the number of employees or type of ownership. Others might use words like "responsive" or "customer oriented." If you own a small business, here's one word you don't want to be a part of that conversation: "Unprofessional"
Most small businesses lack a dedicated IT or "tech" person to help them navigate the confusing barrage of technical jargon and products we hear about every day. For many, technology in their business ends up being a patch work of free or low-cost services. While some of these services may serve their purpose well, it's pretty safe to say that your customers are not going to be impressed with your "firstname.lastname@example.org" e-mail address. Whether you are a sole proprietor or the president of a somewhat larger business, here are a few tips to help your company appear more professional.
What's In A Name? You probably spent a good deal of time naming your company. Nowadays, choosing and registering a domain name for your business is just as important. Be sure to pick a domain name that is easy to spell and remember. You might have to get a little creative if your first choice is already registered, but don't give up. You can do it!
No Second Chances - Now that you've registered a domain name, you'll want to create a website for your small business. It doesn't need to be all fancy and flashy, but it should look professional. Remember, for many people, your website will likely be their first interaction with your company so be sure to make that first impression count.
Keep It Up-to-Date - Your professionally designed website could turn into a big negative if you never take the time to keep it up-to-date. It looks really bad for a company when their website has upcoming events that are two years old. Keep your website current and ensure that potential customers know you are a thriving and active business!
Spelling Counts - Proper grammar and spelling go a long way when it comes to creating a professional image for your small business. If you are writing the content yourself, ask a friend or family member to read it through. If you're not very good at writing, by all means hire someone to help! It's well worth the investment.
Free Is Nice, But... Using a free e-mail address for your business is a surefire way to signal "unprofessional" to your contacts. Free e-mail accounts are great for personal use but every business should make the small investment and set up e-mail addresses under their company's domain name.
Social Media Presence - Maybe you think Twitter is for twits and Facebook is for vacation pictures. While in some respects you may be right, what's more important is what your customers think and expect. Engaging in social media can not only help you to communicate more effectively with your customers, but can also help you make new connections and build your client-base. The key here is to reduce barriers for communications. If your customers are using social media, you should be too.
The internet has truly enabled small businesses to tear down barriers and compete with the "big boys." By putting your best foot forward, you are giving your company or organization the competitive edge it needs to succeed in today's world.
The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.
– Henry Ford