One of the most daunting realizations to ever slap a startup in the face is this: to succeed, you need to compete with the big dogs in your industry. You’ve got to do all you can to attract customers to you, snapping them up from the big-money spending businesses that are vying for your small slice of the pie as you attempt to grow, and that means impressing them from the outset. It means dressing the part. It means doing all you can to appear bigger—and more professional—than the truth might agree with. It’s about tweaking your perception so create a new reality.
The problem is, well, you lack certain things that make this possible. Your budget is small, your manpower is limited and your resources are slightly left wanting, which is why you’re running your “global enterprise” from the bedroom section of your one-bed studio apartment. But that doesn’t matter to you because you know you have what it takes to compete at the highest level, which means your main objective now is trying to convince your potential customers of this. You need to dress the part and fill them with confidence.
So, without further ado, here are some super-cost-effective ways you can appear bigger and more professional while steering well clear of any hefty overheads. Enjoy taking on the big dogs.
- Your Website Should Be All Killer No Filler
There are hundreds of amazing website building platforms out there these days, from Onepager to Wix to Squarespace, all of which will help you gain an attractive web presence within minutes. If, however, you don’t know what it takes to create a great website, one that knows how to utilize whitespace, amazing imagery, clever content writing, newsletter sign-up forms, social media links and general SEO tidbits, you might be better off hiring an experienced (but great value) website designer, to help you create something truly mind-blowing. Trust us on that. Your website is your business card, your biggest brand ambassador, your first impressions, your everything.
- Get Yourself A Virtual Receptionist
Nothing is going to set off alarm bells among your clients more than a Google listing where the telephone number is clearly a cellphone. That’s about as far from professional as anyone can ever get. Instead, get yourself a virtual receptionist, revel in the fact the cost of 1300 numbers is barely 30p a day and have someone professional answer your calls and then forwards them onto you, leaving your potential clients and customers none the wiser. It’s the only way to go if you want to appear flawless.
- Escape Your Bedroom
Let’s be honest. If you have a potentially dream-making client approach you with a great offer and a retainer deal, you’re not going to invite them to your “offices” for a meeting when you work from a studio apartment above a Burger King. But that doesn’t mean you have to go out and sign a hugely long-term and costly lease plan on some fancy offices. No way. You just need to find a shared office space nearby, one that will fit your day-to-day needs as well as offer meeting rooms, lounges and all the equipment you might possibly need. That’s how to slowly make your way up the business ladder without worrying about a hefty bill at the end of each rental month.
- Logos And Graphic Design Are Essential
A brand is only as standout as its name and logo, which is why you will want to pay out for something stand out. If you have an eye for this sort of thing or know what you want, then it might be worth having a play around with some online software, such as Canva, or it could be worth asking a branding consultant that specialize in logo designs for websites, letterheads, newsletters, flyers and all of that wonderful stuff. You could even head to a freelance marketplace like Upwork or 99Designs and see what people come up with for you. Either way, you need to have a great logo if you want to stand out from the crowd and draw the eye away from your bigger competitors.
- Influence Them With Your Email Address
When you’re emailing your mates or handing out an email that you know will be bombarded by junk mail, having a Yahoo or Gmail account is absolutely fine. But when you’re sending and receiving emails with your clients and customers, you really want to embrace a professional look, not to mention consistent branding too, and to accomplish this you need to go and buy a business email addresses using your domain name. They never cost more than $5 a month but they are so important to your success. Oh and, while it’s fine to have firstname.lastname@example.org, don’t be afraid to push the boat out a little and get your creative cap on. Have something like “hello@” or “bonjourno@”, something that will make people smile for a moment.
- Business Cards Are As Important As Ever
Yup. This one is still a no-brainer when it comes to looking mighty professional, but you’ll be surprised at home many people are not doing it. Don’t make this same mistake. Business cards are one of the most excellent tools out there when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. You don’t need to spend much these days to get business cards that will make people nod in appreciation, whether you get them made with Vistaprint or Moo or somewhere local to you. The point is: you never know when you’ll bump into someone that is interested in what you do. It could be at a dinner party, a networking event, at the park with your kids, while wakeboarding, anywhere. That’s when you’ll want to whip out a card and let that stew for a while.
- About Us Pages Are Everything
According to Moz, the voice of reason when it comes to all things internet, SEO and Domain Authority, the most visited page on any website is the about us page, which is exactly why you need to spend money on a creative copywriter and bring yours up to scratch. Your “About Us” page is your chance to show and tell your customers exactly what your business is all about and how it can help them. It’s your chance to tell your very unique story, create a connection and a bond and then give them a quick overview of what you do, why you do it, and what makes you different (and way better) than the rest of your competition. The reason this is vital is pretty simple: anyone visiting your website doesn’t have the opportunity to meet you face to face, so you need to use this as your chance to convey your passion and mission. It’s as essential as that.
- A P.O. Box Is A Great Plan
When it comes to looking professional, you really need to separate what you do from your personal life as much as possible… and that’s something a P.O Box lets you do. Essentially, you are just setting up a mailing address for customers and suppliers to send you stuff without giving away where you live, which is great if you are in that studio apartment. But that’s not all. You’ll also be able to sleep well knowing any packages you do receive will be safe and secure and not sat on your building’s doorstep getting hounded by the rain. That’s got to be a winner.