Projecting a good professional image is a necessity for any business owner. At its core, your image relies on your ability to conduct your everyday business with a level of professionalism. Business that treat their customers right all the time, by being timely and cordial, develop a sense of trust. This is the ultimate secret for success. That said, appearances are important too. While they can be deceiving, appearance is the basis for most of our decisions, especially when it comes to doing business. Who has the cleaner website, better Yelp reviews, is more affordable, inspires a sense of confidence?
Especially if you are starting your business venture at the grassroots level and operating out of your home, you might find yourself struggling with a Napoleon complex, believing that there is little you can do about your “stature”—truth is, you can polish your professional image by choosing to implement several logistical services.
Five Easy Ways to Polish Your Professional Image
Maintaining a professional appearance can feel like keeping up with the Joneses, but by following several of the steps we’ve laid out for you you’ll be able to shine in no time.
- If you are currently using your home address as your business address, you’re giving off the impression that you haven’t gotten off your own feet yet—as if you were still living with your parents after graduating from college. Even if you do run your business out of your home there are many options for sidestepping this issue. Many services exist out there that allow you to rent an address and achieve an office image, without a an office price tag. To find a virtual office in your area, check out Regus Virtual Offices, Your Office, or google “Virtual Offices” to research solutions in your area.
Separate Phone Line
- When I was in high school my father ran a computer consulting small business called Larson Computers. Unfortunately we never got a separate phone line and were trained to answer the phone with an ambiguous “Larsons” that could either have referred to the business or the family. Most of the time prospective customers were jus
t confused when we picked up the phone. As kids, we were not trained secretaries. It’s very easy and affordable nowadays to either get a second phone line or a business cell phone.
Email and Website
- Since a lot of industries are no longer using phones as the main form of communication, it is important to get a professional email account that preferably includes your company name. By using a free account such as gmail or hotmail, you’re sending your clients the message that you run your business somewhat inadvertently and don’t care to go the extra mile. As far as this may be from the truth, it’s what it looks like. Along with your email account, you will want to be sure to set up a clean and well designed website that is both professional and fitting to you r line of business. If you are a massage therapist for example, you will want your website to convey a sense of tranquility. Many sites such as these automatically play soothing world music when the site appears—a function that affects me contrarily since any sort of pop-up gives me a tinge of anxiety.
- If you have printed out business cards or brochures, it is important that you are using high grade paper and printers, otherwise it is a lost cause and will paint your business in a negative light. It is easy to find high end laser printers for affordable prices online and even at thrift stores if you are vigilant. I reiterate—ensure that every image attached to your business suggests a high degree of professionalism and competency.
Payment and Scheduling Options
- You can show that you are serious about your business by allowing your customers the freedom to pay in different forms. Particularly well-suited to a small business are services such as SimplifyThis’s EasyBook online invoicing software that accepts payments from both PayPal accounts and major credit cards. Also, this service integrates quite deftly with your email account. And the cost of this service starts at only $9 a month—well worth its long term benefit.
These are all steps you can take today to improve your image. In the end, these steps will only be effective if you truly do conduct yourself in a professional manner. Assuming that you do, these steps could help communicate exactly how professional and serious you are.
See how you can use SimplifyThis’s invoicing and scheduling services to inspire confidence in your clients.