Having a small business means having many challenges, especially in the earliest phases of development. Faced with challenges such as letting people know about your new business, establishing and augmenting your brand, creating a website, designing logos, developing and implementing marketing initiatives, creating and printing real world marketing materials, procuring new clients and customers, building and maintaining a blog, initiating and executing a social media campaign, acquiring followers within your social media platforms, securing office space at a reasonable cost, book keeping and everything else that must be done during the start-up process. This seemingly endless list of tasks seems to imply that starting a new business will most certainly be a stressful and very expensive endeavor. But starting and growing a small business, does not have to cost you an arm and a leg nor does having a small business mean that your business has to look “Small.”
With the vast number of resources available to small business owners, there are a variety of ways can enhance a small business, making it look bigger, at relatively inexpensive costs. Even the largest businesses had to start off small, but with availability of reaching many competing businesses online, most consumers will skip over those businesses that appear to be small and “just starting out.”
Think about your most recent online shopping experience. Whether you were looking for business or for personal use, what did you look for? Did you look for the smallest entity you could find, or for an established business? When you found what you were looking for, did you then go to their website to learn more about them. I’d venture a guess that you had. While you may be small you want to project a big image.
I would also guess that if you went to their website and it was very basic with little information or it appeared to be quite new, too “small” or not up current, chances are you decided to look a little further to find someone you felt was more “experienced” in their field. If this is something you’ve done, then it should not be difficult for you to understand how your small business may loose customers for the very same reasons.
This is why making your small business big business needs to be a priority. Recently I wrote about Making Small Business Look Bigger and discussed 7 relatively simple and inexpensive ways to do just that. Following are some additional, fairly inexpensive steps that when implemented will make your small business look more like a larger corporate entity.
Although having a company logo is not of the utmost importance to have when you are first starting a business. However having a logo is essential to building a brand. Having a logo that is consistent in all of your online and real world marketing materials is key to building your brand identity. I am not saying that you have to go out and spend a lot of money for someone to design a logo for you. Even if you just want to use your name, using the same font size, font style and color on all online websites, blogs and profiles along with your print materials such as business cards, sales flyers and letter head will build brand recognition and will reinforce your brand regardless of how one comes across your company your information. This is especially important if you are using a play on words and your company name could fairly easily be mistaken with that of others.
If you do not already have a website, then what are you waiting for? You should create one right away. Not having a website is a red flag to potential consumers. Without a website, consumers will assume that you are a small entity that is just starting out or one who still lives in the stone age. Having a website is the first step to being on the cusp of technology that we have all become accustomed to. Having a website designed and built for you is quite pricey and can be done at a later time. But for now, WordPress is a great resource for getting started right away no matter what your budget it. WordPress provides the tools necessary to build a really nice website in a very short period of time and at a very low cost. It has 100’s of free themes you can choose from as well as many options to upgrade your themes at very reasonable prices as well. Elegant Themes is another great resource in that it gives to unlimited access to 65+ premium WordPress themes for $39 per year.
When you build your website, always keep in mind your brand identity. If you have a logo, use it on everything. Use consistent fonts throughout your website and on your social media profiles as well. Choose colors for your website that are welcoming and pleasing to the eye. Make sure the fonts you choose are easy to read and be sure to check your website view on multiple browsers. Some of the more popular are Internet Explorer (only available on PC’s), Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Netscape.
Most start up businesses are launched from the privacy of ones own personal space. Michael Dell created Dell Computers, now a multinational company whose current market value is $27 billion in 1984 from his University of Texas dorm room. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, valued at more than $50 billion in a dorm room while he was a student at Harvard University. Two PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin while at Stanford University in CA, created Google, in 1996, which is currently valued at more than $140 billion . Two friends, both named Steve (Jobs and Wozniak) founded Apple computers, which is currently valued at $330+ billion in 1976 and built their first apple brand computers from Job’s bedroom. And so you don’t think I am referring only to tech companies, two friends who were both named Tom (Scott and First) and call themselves the Juice Guys, created Nantucket Nectars in 1990 from the kitchen of the house they rented together. The Dr. Pepper Snapple group, which is currently valued at nearly $8 billion, has since purchased Nantucket Nectars. Finally Nike began as a small distributing outfit located in the trunk of founder Phil Knight’s car. Nike is currently valued at more than $29 billion.
What all of these big companies had in common when they were starting out was they needed a place to meet with potential investors and consumers. With all of the other expenses new business owners face, renting an office space is one that is often beyond their means initially. And given that the amount of time spent meeting with investors, or even important clients, is relatively few, having a virtual office space would more than suffice.
Regus Office Solutions is a company that offers solutions for home based businesses, start-ups, small & medium sized business and even corporate entities. They offer part time and full time office solutions that are customizable to your needs that include things such as private offices, conference rooms, professional call answering, drop in business facilities, postal mail boxes and mail forwarding and others. So even if you work from home most of the time, or you work from a laptop wherever convenient, having a professional office when you need one can be a real advantage.