Building a business from scratch takes so much work, but setting up a business, buying a domain, and perfecting your product or service is only half the work. None of those will matter if you're not perceived as a professional.
Even if you're just starting out, it's important that you try and make your business appear bigger than it actually is. That way, you're demonstrating credibility, leading to more people wanting to do business with you. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Have a well-designed website
These days, having a website is non-negotiable. But there's a difference between having a website and having a well-designed website. Anyone can set up shop and create a page on the internet, but if you want your business to be taken seriously, the site should also be well-organized, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. Having a strong online presence is a must for modern businesses, but as mentioned in our post on '7 Branded Tools That Immediately Make You Look More Professional', it all starts with your website.
Aside from laying out all the information about your business, it's just as important to make sure all content is up to date and that the design is clean and professional-looking. Don't just focus on aesthetics—you need to offer a seamless user experience so your customers keep coming back to your site, especially if it also functions as a store. You should also pump out all sorts of interesting content, so you can reach more people and increase your leads.
Have a professional email
While your personal email address would work just fine for liaising with pretty much anyone, it doesn't exude professionalism and consistent branding. In fact, it might even just confuse your customers and clients. Forbes suggests creating a business email address using your domain name, preferably on a reliable email provider like Gmail and Yahoo to make your company appear more established than it is.
Formalizing your email address also lets you build up trust with clients. When they're communicating with an official email, they know the chances of being scammed are low. The good news is that email providers offer business emails at an affordable price. Google Workspace and Office 365 start at only $5 per month, and you can even enjoy added benefits like 99.9% uptime, online storage, and security. Plus, you can even customize the address to make it more friendly and creative. Instead of email@example.com, you can also use firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choose the right legal structure
Your legal structure affects the way your business is perceived more than you think. Compared to sole proprietorships or partnerships, LLCs are officially registered companies with the state which will make your startup appear much more professional to customers and business partners. And since most states require the phrase "LLC" for businesses that use this structure, it adds credibility. Forming an LLC in Florida also has the added benefits of personal asset protection and no double taxation, making it ideal for businesses trying to make it big.
Similarly, forming or switching to an S Corp can also make you look professional. Not only because you register with your state, but because you'll get to add "Inc." or "Incorporated" to the end of your business name. Another added benefit is that owners are not subject to double taxation on income in retained earnings and that shareholders' personal assets are always protected.
Use a business address
Just like how you need to separate your personal expenses from your business expenses, you also need to have an actual address so you can appeal to local customers. But if you're only starting out, you don't necessarily have to rent out an office just to have an address. A P.O. box would suffice. Having a P.O box allows you to set up a mailing address for customers and suppliers without giving away your actual home address. You'll also know that any packages you receive are safe and secure rather than just hanging out at your porch.
If you'd like to take it up a notch, Entrepreneur recommends using a mail-receiving service, since it provides you with a street address and a suite number instead of a mere post office box number. The street address gives the idea that you do have a physical office, and you'll even get to enjoy benefits like having your packages handled on your behalf. For this option, try shopping around in your area of service that's conveniently near your house so you'll have no trouble accessing your packages.
Make branding a priority
When you're trying to grow a business, it's easy to forget things like branding. But you have to keep in mind that branding encompasses your entire business, whether online or offline. It covers not just your website, but also your business cards, stationary, advertising materials, all the way down to retail packaging. It's important to ensure that your branding conveys the message you want to get across, so be careful about selecting colors, images, and logos.
It's also just as important to keep branding consistent. Use the same fonts and colors on your website as you do in your packaging and stationary. You can use tools like the Ideal/Trodat Printy 4913 Custom Self-Inking Stamp, so all you have to do is stamp it on your envelopes, making them all look uniform and professional.
Written by Astrid Rhea Chapman
Exclusive for creativerubberstamps.com