Small business owners have it tough. It’s hard finding other companies or organizations to partner with if you look like a two-bit operation running out of your basement, regardless of how competent and capable you might be. But big client lists aren’t just the purview of big companies. There are ways to get around this unfair bias when it comes to how others look at your small business, and they’re both surprisingly easy and cost-effective. In fact, just about every small business can look much bigger than they really are just by keeping the following great tips and tricks that will make your small business look big.
Make Your Business Address More Businesslike
Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning: there’s no shame running your small business out of your basement. Or your garage. Or your spare room. Start-ups and small businesses all have to get their start somewhere, and unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you’re unlikely to have the resources for your own office suite in some downtown high-rise. The thing is, though, that using your home address as your business address is probably the biggest mistake you can make if you want to make your small business look big (or bigger than it really is).
It takes no time at all to lookup an address on the internet. If someone who looks down on “small” businesses finds out you’re running your company out of an apartment complex or residential block, it could sink your chances of growing your business. You can get around this easily enough, simply by maintaining a PO box at your local post office or a FedEx or UPS store. This gives you a more legitimate-looking address that won’t put off people who don’t want to work with a home-based business for whatever reason.
Your Online Presence Needs to Look Professional
If you want to make your small business look big, it’s important that your online presence — your website — conveys a professional look and feel. This makes high-quality website design crucial if you hope to show prospective clients and partners that your small business looks bigger than it really is.
It’s true that running a start-up is a numbers game when it comes to budget. It might seem like a good idea to find lower-cost options for your website, but the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is very true in the online world. A business site that isn’t designed well or doesn’t have relevant or engaging content isn’t doing you any favors. In this case, the investment in a professionally-designed website, complete with well-curated content, makes a world of difference to make your small business look big.
Give the Illusion of Size with a Virtual Phone System
On the subject of cutting corners and conserving money, you might be using your personal mobile phone number as your business phone. For a solopreneur, this presents a few problems, but if you have even one other person you are working with, this can get messy. Larger businesses with deeper pockets and expansive offices usually install a PBX phone system — a private branch exchange — so that a business can have multiple phone numbers that run through one central system. This is, of course, not typically something that a smaller business can do, either because of cost or because they don’t have the infrastructure in place.
But don’t worry! There’s a way to get around this limitation and still make your small business look big. Your business can still have more than one phone number thanks to virtual PBX systems that are available at a fraction of the cost of a traditional exchange. Thanks to cloud-based computing, Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VOIP) systems provide just as much, if not more, functionality. Want to set your virtual PBX up to have calls routed to different “divisions” of your company, even if they all lead to the same desk in your basement? You can do that easily by using a virtual PBX.
Weave a Tight Net and Cast It Wide
Finally, there’s a point to be made about how you present yourself and your business when you’re in a professional environment generating leads and networking for new connections. While you might be tempted to try to pick up as many prospects as possible as a startup or small business, this might actually result in you having less success than if you chose your targets more carefully. It’s more beneficial to weave a tight net by narrowing your focus when it comes to your prospective partners and clients. Then, cast that net more widely by taking a targeted approach when it comes to presenting yourself at industry events. Choosing a niche market for your business means you can saturate the events that cater to that niche, focusing your efforts more completely there instead of trying to spend a little time at every event under the sun.
When you focus on providing wide networking coverage to a smaller, more self-contained number of events, you will find it easier to attend these events consistently. This presents your company as one that is dedicated to your specific industry if you or a business partner shows up each time, every time. You can support this by handing out business cards at these events that don’t list your company title. This might seem counter-intuitive, especially since you’re naturally proud of your role as founder or president, but you’re not going to look like a very big company if the president shows up at every event in your niche, are you?
Is it right that potential business partners give you the cold shoulder because you’re a small business? Of course not. But instead of working twice as hard to overcome their unfair prejudices, just work around them instead by following these tips to make your small business look big. This way, you can level the playing field and compete on the merits of your business and its capabilities, not on any perceived lack of ability because you’re not a globe-spanning multinational corporation.
Give your small business the fighting chance it deserves. Defy the bias and exceed expectations, and you can grow your own small business into a force to be reckoned with.
About the Author: Benjamin Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Content. With an extensive career in digital marketing and web development, Ben’s knowledge of the industry has enabled small businesses to scale and grow through well-crafted content and strategy.