For every business, molding and honing an image to appeal to prospects and customers is essential. When you have a start-up or small business, image-building is even more important. Without an image that communicates professionalism, potential customers are likely to think of your business as either amateurish or simply a sideline activity. In other words, they won’t be taking you seriously.
Even if you’re the most talented entrepreneur out there, you could be turning off customers if your image is too rough around the edges. Answer the following questions and find out if your business is as professional as it should be.
Is the address on your business card a post office box?
Not having a published street address on your card is a clear indicator that you’re either working from home or not a legitimate business. Even if your office is a spare bedroom and you don’t want to use your home address, you can still get a dedicated street address for your business from a local UPS Store. It’s inexpensive and presents a much more polished image.
Do you answer your business phone with “Hello”?
Are your customers not sure if they’re calling your home or office? Does your spouse, kids or even your mom ever pick up the phone when there’s a customer on the line? If you have a business, you need a dedicated phone system. No, you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware or installations. Virtual PBX, VoIP phone service, such as that offered by RingCentral, provides a full range of features such as call management, voicemail, multiple extensions, internet fax, auto-receptionist, and more at a monthly rate that is affordable for even the smallest businesses.
Is your business lacking an online presence?
Long gone are the days when you had to hire an expensive designer or developer to create a website. Now, even the most cash-strapped business can have a site up in little time by using a pre-built template and a content management system. If you’re making excuses that you just can’t afford the time or money to get a website, you’re losing out on online business and communicating to your customers that you haven’t yet entered the 21st century.
Are you using your personal email account for business purposes?
There just isn’t any good reason to be sending messages to customers from a personal email address. Not only does it look like you can’t afford to invest in a business email account, you’re also risking the potential of mixing personal and professional communications. Your email should reflect your business’ domain name. Remember, your email address says as much about you as your business card, so make sure that it is clearly communicating that you mean business.
Are you mixing business and personal communications on Facebook?
No doubt, social media marketing has become increasingly important to small business owners. Facebook can be an incredibly powerful tool for promoting products and services and directing visitors to your website.
However, if you’re using the same Facebook account for personal and business use, you could be risking the possibility of sharing too much information with your customers. And they may not be so thrilled to see pictures of you looking tipsy at a party or read inappropriate comments and posts by your other friends. So, unless you’re absolutely positive that no controversial comments or photos will appear on your page, you’re better off having a fan page for your business and keeping your personal Facebook page dedicated to your friends and family.