When running a small business, you need to take care of tons of details, such as products, customer service, employees, and operations. When it comes to operations, you want your company to look as professional as possible.
Many small enterprises don’t utilize all the various tools to elevate their brand to the next level. Fortunately, it’s not hard to make your business look more professional. Here are seven ways.
If you’re running your company from home or it lives online, you may not have a physical address. No matter what kind of business you’re running, an address is crucial for a few reasons, such as:
- Keep Your Personal Address Private – Even if you’re running a business from home, you want to keep your personal assets separate from your professional ones. This way, you don’t have to put your personal information on business documents.
- Professional Correspondence – If you need customers or clients to mail you anything, a business address looks a lot better than a home or apartment.
- Confidential Documents – You don’t want your business paperwork to fall into the wrong hands. Company addresses allow you to receive sensitive documents more securely.
But, how do you get a business address? Here are a few ways:
- Virtual Mailbox – You can rent a virtual mailbox that allows you to receive mail digitally.
- P.O. Box – Post office boxes allow you to get physical mail at a centralized location.
- Business Mailbox – Companies like UPS allow you to rent a box. The main difference between this and a P.O. box is that you get an actual address for correspondence, which looks better to prospective clients.
These days, most correspondence is digital anyway, so you’ll send and receive a lot more emails than you will regular mail. Nothing says “amateur” like a personalized Gmail address. Even if you have your business name in front, ending it with @gmail.com will give your customers and clients the wrong impression.
Thankfully, you can set up a business email address quickly and securely. Ideally, you’ll have a domain name to go along with it. For example, your email could be something like firstname.lastname@example.org. Some options allow you to customize your address to be a company name, even if you don’t have a website. However, as we’ll discuss next, a website is also essential to make your business look more professional.
Best of all, when you set up a website, your hosting service will offer free email addresses. Typically, you get a few free ones to start, and you can add more if necessary. For example, if you need employees to have personalized emails.
Some excellent places to set up a business email include:
- Google Workspace – You get all the benefits of the Google Suite, but you can customize your address to be your business name instead of Gmail.
- Outlook – If you only need an email address and not a domain, Outlook can give you some excellent email management tools.
- Zoho Mail – If you have a domain address, you can create up to five free business email addresses and pay for more if you need them.
Otherwise, you can simply get email accounts from your web hosting service.
Set Up a Well-Designed Website
These days, consumers expect companies to have a fully functioning website. If you don’t have one set up yet, you need one as soon as possible. That said, you can’t just make something quick and dirty and expect it to generate leads and web traffic. Here are some tips for making sure that your site is as professional as possible:
- Have Goals in Mind – What do you want your site to accomplish? Are you going to use it for sales or brand awareness? What do you want customers to think when they first see the home page? What actions do you want them to take? Knowing these details beforehand ensures that you build a high-functioning site the first time.
- Use a Design Firm – Unless you know how to build a website yourself, you should hire professionals who can make engaging designs and layouts, or use website builder sites to do it yourself. They’ll know how to turn your goals into reality.
- Get Feedback – If possible, use A/B testing and other methods to ensure that your site is as engaging as possible. You can also rely on colleagues and customer surveys to see which elements work the most. Overall, think of your website as a constant work in progress, not a finished product.
One crucial aspect of starting a business is creating a valuable brand identity. What does your brand stand for? What thoughts and emotions do you want customers to have when they see your brand name?
A high-quality logo is necessary for establishing and maintaining your brand identity. Fortunately, tons of logo-making websites allow you to craft something unique and captivating. Best of all, most of these sites enable you to make logos for free. Then, you just pay for the one that you like best.
As with your website, it helps to use professional graphic designers. You should also seek feedback from colleagues and customers as much as possible. This way, you can be sure that your logo will stand out from the competition.
Finally, once you’ve finalized your logo, you should put it everywhere, including your website, social media profiles, marketing materials, emails, and more. Reinforcing your brand identity as much as possible ensures that customers will remember your company more easily.
Be Active On Your Social Media Channels
These days, social media is one of the most valuable tools for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Not only can you set up free accounts with all the major platforms, but you also get valuable insight into your audience. Social media sites like Facebook have tons of data on their users, which you can use to your advantage.
There are management platforms that also help you engage directly with your followers. Doing so can help you find new leads and market opportunities. Here are some tips to get the most out of your social profiles:
- Post Regularly – Some brands like to post multiple times per day, while others only do so a couple of times per week. There is no “correct” number of posts, so you’ll have to gauge based on audience engagement.
- Engage With Your Audience – Social media is a two-way street, so you have to be proactive. In addition to posting, you should comment, share, and like other people’s posts. Doing this will encourage your followers to engage with your brand more often.
- Use Targeted Ads – Rather than promoting ads at random, use the data that social media platforms have to your advantage. You can segment your audience by age, gender, location, and many other elements to ensure they’re more likely to engage with your brand.
Gone are the days where the only ways to contact a business are through email and phone. These days, consumers expect multiple communication options, such as:
- Live Chat – Artificial intelligence has come a long way in recent years. You can set up automatic chatbots to answer generic questions, such as hours of operation, product details, and more. Then, if a customer needs extra help, they can connect with a real support technician.
- Messenger and SMS Apps – Consumers are more willing to communicate via text than a phone call. You can also use social media channels like Facebook Messenger to connect with your audience.
- VoIP – Instead of having a mass of phone banks, you can make calls over the internet through voice-over-internet protocols (VoIP). This setup allows you to have multiple lines open yet use fewer support agents to field them.
Having more than one communication channel shows your customers that you’re more professional. That said, the key is to respond on each channel as rapidly as possible. Chatbots can take care of automated responses, but you’ll need support technicians as well.
As we mentioned, branding is vital for your business’ success. Once you develop a strong logo, you need to put it everywhere as much as possible. Branded merchandise not only promotes your company, but it can be an alternative revenue stream. Before slapping your logo on a bunch of items, consider these factors:
- Brand Alignment – Just because you can put your logo on bottle openers, drink holders, and sweatshirts doesn’t mean you should. Find items that align with your business. Otherwise, your customers may not appreciate your offerings.
- Customized Designs – Merchandise should include more than just your company logo. You can come up with unique designs, slogans, and color options for all your merchandise. Doing this will make it more likely to sell.
- Quality vs. Quantity – Even if you’re planning on giving branded pieces away as swag, you should invest in durable materials and products. Everything with your logo should adhere to your brand quality, especially any merchandise.
As you can see, investing some time and effort in your business can yield some impressive results. Each one of these tips can help your business stand out from the crowd, but none of them are very expensive or time-consuming. By the time you finish this list, your brand will be ready for the next level.