Projecting a Professional Image for Your Business On a Limited Budget
One of the biggest reasons a business owner decides to take the momentous step of renting dedicated office space is to look professional, to clients and customers, but also to potential suppliers and financial organisations, such as banks or loan companies. Clients and suppliers alike are reassured by seeing a fixed landline telephone number and an official-looking business address.
But renting office space is a big decision for any entrepreneur, especially in the early stages where you may have limited cashflow.
So how can you project a professional image to your prospective clients, but without committing yourself to office rental payments? Fortunately, there are a number of highly cost-effective strategies for doing just that – and some of them are free!
Get Limited – Setting yourself up as a limited company shows that you are serious about being in business. Many larger companies will only work with suppliers or contractors that have limited company status, so if this is the type of client you want to attract, this will help to widen your potential customer base. There are also a range of other benefits to becoming a limited company, including protecting your home or other personal assets in the event of financial difficulty – but it does also involve a number of legal obligations, so it’s important to fully consider the pros and cons and get proper advice before going ahead. If you do decide to become a limited company, the good news is that it can be done fairly cheaply, usually for well under £100.
Get a Logo – Having a professionally designed logo used to mean spending thousands of pounds and engaging a specialist branding designer. While you can still go this route if you wish, there are now a number of online logo design sites where you can get a distinctive and professional looking logo which you can use on stationery, packaging or websites. Just Google “instant logo design” to see several sites offering online logo design for very little outlay. If you have definite ideas about how you want your logo to look, and want to have an interaction with a graphic designer while keeping costs low, try a freelancing site such as Fiverr, 99designs.com or MyLogoDesigner.com (there are many others). These sites let you browse different designers, view their past work and submit your brief.
Get a Dedicated Local Landline Number – While clients expect to be able to contact you on a mobile number, using a mobile number as your primary business number can give the impression that you might not be very well established or don’t have a permanent office. Using your home phone can be even worse – especially if there’s a chance that the phone could be answered in a less than professional manner by other members of your household. You could arrange to have a new landline installed at your home, but this can be an expensive option and may not be possible if you don’t own the property. If you’re not ready to rent office space just yet, consider using a virtual office service that provides you with a local landline number. Even better, use a virtual office service which can provide an answering service as well, to field your calls when you are out and about, or in meetings.
Get a Professional Business Address – There are a number of reasons why you might want a business address that’s different to your home address, and looking professional is just one of them. You may not want to use your home address for practical reasons: for instance, if you are renting and your address is likely to change, if you live in shared accommodation, or if you have a rental agreement which specifically prohibits running a business from the premises.
Get a Business Domain – Which email address looks more professional: mike@SmithConsulting.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org ? Getting a domain that is based on the name of your business is incredibly easy to do and costs very little or possibly even nothing – there are free hosting services that will include a free domain name as part of the deal (although you should make sure that you can transfer the domain to different hosting in the future if you want to). As well as giving a far better impression, a branded domain name is also far easier for your clients to remember.
Get Some Business Cards – This may sound incredibly old fashioned advice in the modern digital age, but having professionally printed business cards to give to your clients still makes a very strong statement about how serious you are as a business person. And there is strong evidence to suggest that prospective clients hold on to business cards for a very long time. There are a number of websites offering online business card design for very little outlay (under £10) and some will give you your first order free. Most include a wide choice of free design templates for you to drop in your logo and contact details into, and many offer fast delivery in 24 or 48 hours.
Get a Place to Meet Clients – Arranging to meet at your clients’ premises or at the local coffee shop may suit many of your clients but, depending on your business, inevitably some clients will ask to visit you. Having the option to meet somewhere that looks modern and professional can be an important asset when you’re trying to make clients feel comfortable. Even if you don’t have your own office space yet, it’s a good idea to research places locally where you can hire a meeting room at fairly short notice. Ideally, you want somewhere that provides other facilities that you and your client may require including refreshments and parking.
Basepoint Virtual Office Packages
When you take one of our virtual office packages you have access to a range of services that can give you many of the advantages of renting an office, but for a fraction of the cost. If all you need is a mailing address for business correspondence, we can provide that – but you can also add on other services as you need them, including a local landline number, fax number and phone answering service. And all our virtual office customers are eligible to book serviced meeting rooms at any of our centres.
As and when your business is ready to take the step into renting dedicated office space in one of our centres, you can keep your address and phone number, giving your customers and suppliers seamless continuity.