Running a successful small business is more difficult in some ways than it was in the past. Thanks to the Internet, you are competing, not only with other local businesses but also with virtually every other company in the world that offers the same product or service that you offer. Potential customers tend to trust well established, successful businesses. If your business phone is your cell phone and your business office is your basement or living room, how do you convey the professionalism needed to compete?
If your business occasionally requires you to meet with clients, your home is not the right setting, nor is the local Starbucks. In most areas, you can rent a virtual office in an office building at a very reasonable monthly rate. Arrangements vary with your needs. You may rent a private office with a shared receptionist if you need a professional office setting on a regular business. You may also rent a virtual office, which will give you a mailing address, receptionist services and the use of a conference room for meetings. Clients walking into the office space will not know that your main office is in your home or on your laptop. Get more information here, or in any publication showing local real estate listings.
Answering Services And Mail Drops
If you don’t need a physical location to meet clients, an answering service will make your customers believe they are calling your office and talking to your full-time receptionist. Virtual mailboxes allow you to have a business address anywhere in the country. For a monthly fee, your mail will be forwarded to your home address, and your customers will see any address you choose. Musicians and actors often use New York City addresses, for example.
No matter what type of product or service you offer, a professional appearing website may be your most important asset. Many free or low-cost website builders are available and can deliver personalized, professional looking websites that will suit many small businesses. Professional web designers can be expensive but may be worth the money in some circumstances. If you do a lot of online sales or need multiple pages with different types of media content, you may find do-it-yourself web design software too limiting. Choose where you want to spend your money, and invest in your website if that is the primary means of communicating with your clients.
Yellow and White pages are pretty much a thing of the past. No matter what you sell, your potential clients will turn to Google if they are looking for it. Even the smallest businesses can show up on the first page of a Google search with the right online marketing. Understanding the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), or hiring someone who does, can increase traffic on your website, bring in targeted customers, and keep your current customers coming back.
You can increase your online presence by starting your own blog, and by posting on other blogs that relate to your business. If you are using a blog for your business, keep the content business related. Your personal observations, rants, cute cat photos and travelogues should be saved for your personal blog.
Take Advantage Of Online And Local Resources
Help for small business owners is out there – take advantage of it! From the government’s Small Business Administration to sites like the one you are on right now, plenty of resources exist to help you in every aspect of your business. Use the experiences of other entrepreneurs to teach you what to do and what not to do, to present yourself and your small business in the best possible way. Free and paid business training reviews are available at your fingertips.
If you take some time, and maybe spend a little money, you can make your small business look like a big competitor, whether your target market is local, national or global.