Bigger is almost always perceived to be better – almost always.
Remember those times you had to make a choice between products and you made your decision to go with the bigger and better known brand? It’s simple psychology – people will almost always go for a better established brand.
Appearing to be larger than you are is a wise strategy to fast-forward your business’s growth.
Once my company had to outsource some IT work. A young man came in highly recommended. I spoke with him on several occasions and he would always say things like “Our team is working on it”, “We will start work immediately” and, “We will get back to you”.
We had gone far into negotiations before we discovered that his “we” company was actually a small start-up and still a one-man team more or less. We gave him the job anyway because his presentation was thorough and his past record was impeccable.
In retrospect, if I had known he was relatively just starting out, or that his IT “We” Company was still a one-man team, I probably wouldn’t have believed in his capability to deliver on the job – small as the job was. But he was brilliant enough to understand that he needed to appear bigger for him to attract the kind of leads that would help his small company grow in a highly competitive market.
I am not in any way asking you to pretend to be what you’re not, but you do not have to let everything about you and your business scream “small” either.
To appear bigger than you are and portray an image of professionalism to your prospects, follow these five tips:
1. Incorporate Your Business
Your business is likely to look small and incompetent if unregistered. It goes without saying that registered businesses have better credibility over their unregistered counterparts. Imagine asking for payments and checks to be made out to you personally? It will only tip off your company size as small!
To fix that, incorporate your business as a separate entity, whether as a limited liability company or even something as simple as a business name registration. Choose a name related to the products and services you provide. You will observe that bigger companies have short and memorable names – think MTN, Airtel, Konga, Jumia, Zenith, Walmart etc. Imagine registering a business name such as Josephine Is A Winner Global Ventures???
Having a business name that screams “solo operator” or “small local firm” will severely hamper your growth. Keep your business name short, meaningful and memorable.
2. Build A Standard Website
When potential customers want to find out about you, chances are that they will look online, which is where you can come unstuck if you don’t have a website or if your website looks like a basic Do-It-Yourself job, complete with ill-matched colours, poorly chosen typefaces, terrible imagery and worst of all, badly written copy with loads of error.
On the whole, larger companies have good websites. If you want to appear bigger, build a website – it doesn’t have to be too fanciful but should be both standard and responsive.
You might be a small business but there’s no reason you cannot have a website that makes a big impression – you do not have to break the bank for this. Often, you can get an impressionable website done for a lot less these days.
Do your research. Know what bigger and better established companies in your field look like, and shop around for a good designer with a moderate fee.
While you’re at it, make sure your email address looks the part too. You probably know by now that an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org is not professional enough.
I’m always skeptical when I get a business email ending in free webmail addresses such as Yahoo, aol or even Gmail. Get dedicated email address for official use – larger companies do not use free webmail addresses for work emails, so don’t!
Any email address through a free service might deter prospective clients from doing business with you. Get emails such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for a more professional look.
3. Use Dedicated Phone Line
This may sound obvious but you will be amazed at how many small businesses that get this wrong. I can’t tell you how many times someone has called me representing a business, and I have heard kids or TV in the background. Or I’ve called a business telephone number and heard similar sounds that have no place in any serious business establishment.
It’s in your best interest to get dedicated phones lines solely for your business, that way, when any call comes through on that line, you know it’s definitely a business call and you answer it professionally – even if you are at home.
4. Look Professional On Paper
There’s no excuse for poorly printed business cards or Microsoft Word Art logos. Proper cards and other printed materials are cheap and easy to get nowadays in relatively small quantities. And if you are not a designer, don’t try to skimp on expenses by becoming one. Hire a professional to create your logos and coordinating materials.
5. Get An Office As Soon As You Can
Unless your business is designed to be run from home, get an office of some kind as soon as you can justify and afford it.
Building the most impressive image you can from the start is a key step in getting visibility, being taken seriously and getting people to want to do business with you.
Do you have more suggestions in appearing like a bigger business? let me hear from you in the comments.