As a small business owner, you have passion for what you do, and the confidence that you can do it well. But it’s also important to have certain key markers of professionalism in place, so customers can have equal confidence in your work (and you can start growing your client base as a result).
At SurePayroll, many of our customers run businesses with as few as one to 10 employees. Some have small offices; others work from home. Sometimes, the owner is the only employee.
So, how do they compete in a tough economy and crowded marketplace? The answer is that they don’t have to look small just because they only have a few employees. Here are some simple ideas gleaned from our customers that can help your own small business instill big business confidence:
If you’re considering outsourcing, consider only those services that aren’t core to your business. Whether it’s tracking shipments, getting contracts signed, managing customers or running payroll, most of these services can be handled safely and efficiently online.
A professional, easy-to-navigate website is no longer a luxury. It’s expected. But when customers come to your site and see that it’s clean and well designed, they’re not going to question where your business is located (perhaps in a home office) or how many employees you have (maybe only one).
When hiring a web designer, be sure that you look at work done for other companies, and make sure it holds up to what you envision for your own.
Part of this is social media. It’s become fairly standard to have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ pages. They’re easy to set up and can provide a nice outlet to promote your business and also connect with customers. It’s free advertising, really.
The only thing to keep in mind is that, once you create a social media presence, it won’t look good if it suddenly drops off. So make sure you’re ready to start, and that you can put forth the time to manage the pages like any big business would.
The second part of being social is actually getting out and meeting people. Whether it’s at a trade show, seminar, or charity event, get out and actually shake some hands. It lends a face to your business, sets the stage for potential partnerships with other businesses and frequently spurs that word-of-mouth endorsement small business owners crave.
If you do run a home-based business, there’s no need to make that known. The likelihood is most of your client interactions will be at remote locations, over the phone or online. Unless you’re asked directly, it’s not information you have to share. As long as you treat your customers and vendors well, they’re not going to know the difference.
Now, none of this means you can’t run your business wearing a pair of slippers and a tracksuit if you’re so inclined. As long as you’re good at what you do, no one has to be the wiser. In fact, it’s probably never been easier to run a business efficiently without the help of a large staff.
With technology, social media and the Web, you can accomplish almost anything.
The author, Scott Brandt, is vice president of marketing at SurePayroll, Inc. For more small business and payroll tips, visit our blog at http://blog.surepayroll.com.
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