How To Make A New Business Seem Professional

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If you’re a new business owner, it can be hard at first to compete. People like to deal with businesses that they can trust, and until you’ve proved yourself, earning that trust can be tough. When you’re just starting out, you need to work to seem as professional as you can, so someone will take a risk and deal with you.

  1. Look professional yourself. Start off on the right foot by getting your own appearance right. If you don’t look professional and arrive to meetings dressed like a student, nobody is going to take you seriously. Dress for success so people feel confident in you. 
  2. Get your office or storefront right. When you start out, you probably have a small budget for your physical space. If you’ve had to rent an office or store space that is small, or not in the most desirable area, this can start you on the back foot. You can counteract this though by making sure your space looks smart. Keep the frontage tidy and well-maintained. Keep signage clear, sweep up any trash, and maintain your parking lot with https://www.keflatwork.com/parking-lot-paving/. A few plants outside can go a long way to adding some smartness too. 
  3. Branding is essential. Strong branding is going to be your friend when you start out. If you’re not good at branding, bring in some help from a graphic designer. Start with your logo. It should communicate who you are clearly and not remind you of any other business. When you have your logo, work on other brand areas. Choose some brand colors, design your website, business cards, brochures, and any other print items you need. Keep your branding consistent across everything, so you are immediately recognizable wherever someone encounters you. 
  4. Get reviews. If you can get some reviews or testimonials, this gives someone a reason to trust you. But if you need reviews to get customers and clients, how do you get those first reviews? If you can, ask your friends or family to act as guinea pigs to test out your services or products, and then ask to write those first reviews. When you start to bring in other customers, give them an incentive to leave a review. As soon as their purchase is complete, trigger an email with an invite to review, and offer something like a discount for next time of they complete an honest testimonial. This gets you some feedback which can be useful for improving, a review to show potential customers that you’re on the level, and hopefully some repeat business too. 
  5. Change your contact details. When you have your website set up, get a business domain that you can use for email. An email address like yourname@yourbusiness.com looks much more professional than a free email service. Get a dedicated phone line for your business, so you have a landline phone number for people to call you on that is only for your business. This is better than a mobile, or a calling your home where your kids might be the ones to answer.

Bootstrap Marketing – Time Not Money

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We all have a budget. Marketing is one of those things that can eat into your budget in seconds. More so if you are throwing money into the campaign after campaign – boosting posts on the suggestion of Facebook, and then following up with some Pinterest pins. It is essential that you know why you are spending what you are spending, and if it is actually going to do you any good. 

It is easy to throw money at a problem and feel like you have done your job, but marketing in this day and age doesn’t need to cost the earth. 

We are lucky that we have access to tools and software that make the journey quick, productive with access to the numbers that are going to make a difference. Here are some tips on how you can tackle your marketing without spending anything.

Renew

If you are posting content on your blog or website, then chances are you have years worth all stacked up. Quality posts that have relevant links and great information. However, they aren’t getting the eyes on them that you had hoped and the chances are you didn’t do much with them the first time around. This is your chance to revamp and reshare. Go back through the content that you would consider high-value, and edit it. Add images and more supporting data. Update the links and reshare it. However, don’t just share it once, add it to your schedule (which we will get to in a moment). You can even create eBooks and other download content for you readers to pick up – email gated, naturally. 

Infographics

If you are pressed for research and writing time, but you need to be producing content that will get people engaged in a conversation and sharing, then take a look at infographics. You can make free infographics with something like Canva. They have a range of templates that you can utilize. Try only to create infographics that you have fast access to the data for, and that you have supporting links for. Moreover, always remember your branding. Without it, the infographic won’t be selling your brand in the way that you really should be aiming for. 

You can make a range of infographics, some for clients and customers, and some for people and businesses in the same field as you. 

Branding

Your branding is going to have to be on everything. And you can create your own logo, website, social media images, and so much more. Again this just takes time and probably a few tutorials. However, once you have the images that you feel suits what you do, you can then get it printed (yes, this costs) on things like your business cards, flyers, promotional materials. However, if you want only to put money where it matters, then put it into your packaging. People wish to receive something that is an indicator that the company cares about them, and looks good. Branded wrapped paper, stickers, and a note inside are great touches. Find custom shipping tape to really take it there. 

Email Marketing 

Email marketing is a powerful tool that so many companies just aren’t using to their full power. It doesn’t take more than a few days to create a beautiful funnel taking people from the sign up to purchase links over the space of a few weeks. There are many email marketing funnels tools that are free to use. You will have to try a few out to see what you like the most, but for the most part, you are going to really enjoy seeing it automatically being sent out. Turning cold leads into engaged readers and buyers is a great feeling. Neil Patel has some great advice on how to really amp up your email marketing. 

Content 

We have mentioned writing for your blog or website above. Now we should look at what you should be doing when you have written a piece of content. Unless you have a lot of traffic naturally, because your SEO is great and you are appearing for all of your keywords, then you’re going to need to keep producing fresh content. Not only that but your supporting links need to be of good value too. Those will help Google every further put your content where it should be in search results. All you are going to need to do for content creation is to write it. Of course, if you are writing in an area that you are an expert, it will come more naturally to you. You will need to find your tone, and also the research might take some time – but in general this is free and more than worth the time spent. 

Social Media

Every company has a platform that they are performing better on. Instagram works for images; it is a visual platform; LinkedIn works better for text pieces as does Twitter – Facebook is a bit of both. You have access to all of the analytics you’re going to need to see where you should be putting your time and effort. We have the tools now that allow us to create months of automated content. Meaning that you can have a hands-off approach to your social media, and spend time once a month inputting, a 30 minutes a day responding and engaging. This is a huge time saver. There are paid options for social media, but you aren’t likely to need them in the early days, and you can use a combination of the free options to cover all of your basis. 

When it comes to business, you can do a lot yourself with time, some tools and a few tutorials. It is essential that you always write your goals when you are doing anything to do with social media and content. Having a clear direction will mean that you always know what is coming up and what is next. Spend time, not money – and you’ll see a more significant profit in the end.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be An Entrepreneur

dark-side

Follow your dreams. Live your passions. Be your own boss.

You’ve heard it all, but for every entrepreneurial success story you hear, there’s at least 99 that failed. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but choosing to own a business means working more hours for less money at the start.

Just like learned leadership skills don’t make you a good leader, entrepreneurship is open to all, but few thrive. The influx of new businesses is a result of a couple of things: more options to choose from, a failing education system and an emphasis on lifestyle over work.

Consider these 3 areas of concern before making the jump to entrepreneurship:

Lack of a steady paycheck – Freedom is great, but flexibility without knowing when the next time you get paid is downright scary. If you get to call the shots, it means you also have to figure out how to become the company’s best salesperson. It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are if no one is paying you for them. Spend time making a business plan, building a solid culture and researching your target market, but most of all…sell. There’s no shortage of business opportunities to get involved with, but the question you should be asking yourself is: “How can I monetize this?

Lack of organizational structure – Escaping an 8-5 job sounds exhilarating, but without someone telling you when to come in and go home can be a challenge to balance. If you set your schedule, there’s no one holding you accountable to hold to it. If you work from home, distractions are multiplied compared to working in an office. Being organized becomes a necessity, not a skill set. The biggest challenge is creating boundaries throughout the day, so you can quantify your time spent. My observation is creatives have the hardest transition with this because artists want to focus on doing their work, not setting it up.

Lack of face-to-face interaction – Entrepreneurship is lonely. It’s like being isolated on an island equipped with wi-fi and a mobile phone. The conversations you took for granted at your last corporate job are now treasured. One of the reasons why entrepreneurs flock to networking events isn’t because they’re extreme extroverts, it’s because they’re looking for warm bodies to be around. Technology has given us the ability to connect globally, but it can’t replicate grabbing coffee at a meeting. If you consider yourself collaborative or a team player, think twice about this one. Tom Hanks in Cast Away may be a bit extreme, but too much alone time can drive you crazy.

The difference between a business and a hobby is money made. Owning a business is similar to the concept of branding. Your opinion doesn’t validate a successful business, your customers do.

This post isn’t meant to discourage you from taking your idea to reality. It’s just a reminder that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you don’t believe me, go outside and turn a patch of grass over.