Sometimes in business, it pays to look bigger than you are. Although many small business owners provide a level of care and professionalism that puts the blue-chips to shame, there’s no denying that on certain occasions, it can pay to look larger than life. Whether it’s convincing suppliers, earning customer confidence or looking professional for financing, there are lots of small touches you can take to perform an optical illusion – making who you are and what you do magnified. Even if you don’t think you have a large budget, the revolutionising force of technology can help to make your business appear big-league, without the big spend. With certain products and services, it’s entirely possible to fake it until you make it! Here’s how to think big when it comes to your business:
Sole trader or LLC?
If your intention is to eventually scale up your company, then you may be best placed registering your business as an LLC, or limited liability corporation. It does require an investment, but these days there are online legal services that make the process easy and guide you through what’s needed. As well as making your company appear a bigger entity, there are several other benefits to converting the legal nature of your operations. Firstly, it keeps tax and financial matters between your business and personal accounts separate. This can be hugely beneficial, both for keeping on top of the admin trail, and also for offering you some measure of protection by ensuring that in the event of financial troubles, your personal assets are kept separate from any business liabilities. Registering your operation as an LLC takes less legal set up and paperwork than setting up as another type of company. You can also set an LLC Operating Agreement up at the same time. That allows you to create rules that apply to your business in particular and govern it’s affairs. Otherwise, you are subject to default laws depending on your registered location. Members of an LLC – even if that is just yourself as a solo entrepreneur – are protected from legal liability. If you should run into financial troubles, creditors are not then able to demand payment through your personal assets, such as your car or home. It’s a smart move for a lot of reasons. When you do start to grow the business and bring on additional staff, it also means that you’re already set up to do so, legally and administratively.
Scale Up Your Communications
The lines of communication to and from your company are important, and aside from your web presence, they are often the first public face your business presents to the world – anyone from customers, to suppliers to potential investors. So it’s definitely worth making sure that they encounter a seamless, professional service that reflect well on your operation. The first thing is to look into setting up a virtual Private Branch Exchange (PBX). It’s a telephone operating system which will enable you to use a single phone system but switch calls between various lines. There are also systems that provide an answering service when there is no one available in the office and forward messages, which can stop you losing out on vital business.You don’t have to invest in a lot of physical apparatus either – there are now cloud-based options available, and these use Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), exactly like Skype. If you have an established number, don’t worry – it can easily be ported over to your new network, or choose a new one. You can also provide extension numbers if you have other staff members within the company. If you wish to provide a freephone number for customers, that can also be covered. With the phones sorted, take a moment to consider your email provision too. Still using a Gmail address? Switch to a personally hosted domain address via a web registration service for a much more professional appearance – you can have the mail forwarded to your personal account if you prefer. It also allows you to set up separate email addresses, even if you don’t have separate teams – customer service, for example, or billing enquiries. It doesn’t matter if these queries route back in to your inbox -it gives the impression of a team of people handling enquiries. It’s also worth taking a look at setting up a professional email signature. If you do have employees, ensuring they all use the same email stationary gives a streamlined appearance to your communications, and it’s super easy to set up. When it comes to matters like giving the correct impression, the devil really is in the details.
Bump Up Your Job Numbers
It may be your tenth ever paid job, but it’s not exactly going to fill your customers with confidence if they know that. It may be no reflection at all of what to expect – you know you’re going to pay the utmost care and attention – but appearing to have an established business base will give much more confidence in you to deliver. You can make a simple of change by beginning your invoices with higher numbers to generate trust from buyers. Most modern invoicing software will allow you to choose a starting invoice number, so pick one that is higher, and go from there. Keeping a handle on invoicing numbers will also keep the admin trail for your business nicely organised. Automated invoicing software also allows you to add your branding to an invoice, track and receive payments, sent automatic reminders and make getting money into the business a much more streamlined process.
Stay Away From a Job Title
There’s nothing more confusing for potential clients than you introducing yourself as CEO – even though you are – and then finding that you’re also always answering the telephones, ro chasing invoices up. It’s much better at the start to swerve having a formal title printed on your car – or even opting for a more catch-all one, such as Operations Manager. As you grow to encompass other employees and contractors, you can then start formalising roles more with appropriate titles.