During the early days of any startup, having a professional image is the last thing you need to be thinking about. Development, product design, marketing, competitor research – all these things and more take precedent. But, at some point, your startup is going to have to start looking like a professional business.
There are plenty of reasons why. You will earn more respect, for a start. It will help you and your team form clear boundaries, and work practices. And, of course, it creates an environment where people will strive to do better every day.
With all this in mind, we thought we would look at some of the many different ways you can make your startup a more professional outfit. Take a look and see if any of these tips can help your business get out of the blocks in the best possible way.
Get a professional business address
If you are a startup, there’s a good chance that you are either working from home or another, more casual place. If so, then we suggest that you make it your aim to get a more professional sounding address. In an ideal world, of course, this would involve moving to a new office.
We’ll look a bit closer at that in a moment, but, of course, your budget might not make this possible. There are alternatives, though. There are plenty of companies out there that will accept your mail for you for a small monthly fee. Or, you could get yourself a P.O. Box to use as your address instead.
Find an office
We would strongly advise getting some office space for your startup at as early a stage as possible. You don’t want to be inviting potential clients around for meetings in your garage, or the office in your mum’s house. It will give the impression that your business means business! Of course, you have to take your budget into consideration.
But there are options out there that you can look into – coworking spaces, for example. There are plenty of these springing up all over the country, and they are cheap to rent and great for networking. And, most importantly, they will give your business a more professional sheen.
Fine-tune your website
The web is a vital tool for all businesses these days, but to get the benefits, it has to be perfect. It’s an opportunity for you to build up a customer base, and help people learn a little more about you and what you do. However, if any visitors arrive on your site, and it looks cheap and messy, they will run a mile.
Make sure everything is clean and works well, and fix any broken links. Be open about what you do, and include pictures of you and your team so people can put a face to your names. You might even consider giving your visitors added value. You could sell courses online, for example, or open an eCommerce store. Don’t forget that for many people, your site will be their first impressions of you – it’s vital it looks great.
Start dressing well
You may have spent the early months of your startup dressed in your pajamas, but let’s be honest. It’s not going to cut it in the business world. Your image is all important in business, and people will judge you the first time they meet you. It’s vital that you look the part, or they could well make up their minds before you even get a chance to speak.
What you wear depends on your industry, of course. A smart suit is your only option if you work in a serious field such as finance, for example. Whereas, if you are in a more laid back industry, you can dress a little more casually.
However, try finding some T-shirt printing companies and get your employees to wear them at work. It will unify your team in a visual sense, and it’s also a great marketing ploy for when you are out and about during the day.
Get awesome business cards
Every single person you meet has the potential to be a customer or knows someone that might need your services. So, make sure you have plenty of business cards available and give them out at every opportunity. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, business cards work.
Not only are they a great way of giving out your contact information, but you never know when somebody could do with your help. And, if you never give them your card, nobody will remember to call you, even if you are the perfect fit.
Networking is essential when you are a startup, but it can be tough for some people to do well. If you have been refining a product on your own, at home, then maybe you aren’t used to talking to people. Or, maybe you are just naturally shy or an introvert.
The trouble is, a lot of businesses is based on meeting people, and it’s something you have to get used to if you want to break your business out well. Go to anything you can, from local business networking events, to trade shows in your industry. The more people you expose yourself to, the quicker you will get used to presenting your ideas in a professional way.
Work on your communications
Our final way of adding a professional sheen to your business is to work on your communications. Make sure you have clear opening hours on your website and be there for people when they contact you.
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get in touch with a business and not being able to speak to someone. And, of course, it’s unprofessional. Make sure you answer every call and learn how to talk to people. Be quick to respond to comments on your blog or social media channels, and be friendly, honest, and helpful.
Well, there you have it. Follow these great tips and you will start to look more like a proper business. The transition from startup to a genuine company can be a long one, but the quicker you embrace these ideas, the quicker you will get there. Good luck – and why not let us know how you get on?