If you’ve been at it for a while or simply been doing some reading while you prepare to launch a venture from your home, then you know there are plenty of challenges. The work-life balance, the lead generation, the financial finagling. There are plenty of challenges, but one that needs addressing is the very fact you’re running a home business. If you’re looking to convince clients, it can give the wrong impression and not accurately represent the professional operation you’re running. Even if the business is small, a big business image could do a lot of good.
Start with the right brand
Do you give off the right vibe? If you’re new to running a business then the answer is most likely going to be ‘not really.’ Even big businesses make branding mistakes and plenty of them (anyone else remember New Coke?). However, there are a few that you should aim to avoid no matter what. After you’ve decided on an aesthetic, a brand value proposition, and the voice you want your brand to be, keep it consistent. Don’t shift from the formal professional tone to the friendly light-hearted approach from one ad to the other. Don’t try to be too profound or indirect, either. Be simple, be straightforward, and create a brand that can go the distance without needing too many major overhauls.
Keep the content coming
If you’re running the business online (as most home businesses do), then content marketing is probably going to be one of your most valuable techniques for both keeping visitors coming to the site and to build up the air of an authority. However, you cannot start producing content and then let it fall by the wayside. If you’re not outsourcing that content to someone else, you should work on a schedule. Create a pipeline that keeps delivering content on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that content has to be your one and only focus, but rather it gives anyone who takes an interest an idea that you’re consistent. If they see you’re slipping in one area such as producing content, they’re liable to believe you’re slipping in other areas, too.
Build your friends list
Networking, even if it’s done primarily online, is crucial for a variety of reasons. You can get some excellent advice from those who have tread the path before you, for instance. However, you can also get the significant boost to your image that other business owners can offer you. If you’re just starting out, your audience is going to be small. By getting into cross-promotions and guest posts with other business owners, or even getting referrals or shares through their social media channel, you raise your platform. People can see that you’re rubbing shoulders with other professionals, so it only makes sense that you’re a pro, too.
Don’t fall behind
This point is crucial for a small business owner and its importance reaches much further than helping you look like a truly professional business. When you start to fall behind on work, everything suffers, including your image. For one, you won’t be able to deliver the results promised. However, it also has knock-on effects in your marketing efforts, such as disrupting any content schedule you might have. Worst of all, it gets in the way of responding promptly to lead queries and customer support questions. If you can’t always stay on schedule, then you should at least always know a virtual assistant you can get to take care of some of the more time-consuming admin processes. That way, you can free up the time to chase that lead or support that client.
Be the talk of the town
You shouldn’t be the only one talking about your business. Building a network of other business owners is just the start, but it’s still a slow way of making progress. Influencer marketing can help you not only reach a much larger, pre-built audience whose interests mesh with the products and services you provide. It can also help give you visibility in the world of social media and content production from some of the most well established and trusted members of the online community. The right shout-out from the right person can do a lot to elevate your image.
Keep using the proof positive
Influencers and other business owners play a role in this, but at the end of the day, ending up with positive word-of-mouth spreading from customers to their friends and other contacts is more valuable that most kinds of marketing. You just have to work on it slowly. Ask people to leave reviews, incentivize sharing by offering discounts or deals if they get a successful referral to the business. Do not be afraid of using positive social proof in your own marketing, either. When you reach a significant number of social media followers or pleased customers, celebrate that fact. When your business is starting to become a trend, use it in your marketing. The social power of a business that has growing support is not to be underestimated.
Don’t give the game away
The truth is that some clients’ or customers’ aversion to smaller businesses is nothing but a stigma. They undoubtedly use services every day that are run by a skeleton crew, if not just one person, if they use online businesses. Nevertheless, it’s that initial aversion you want to avoid. Presenting yourself as a more established business can help and one of the ways to do that is by setting up a virtual address. If your content details make it clear you’re running the business from home the stigma will play its role and people will start to make assumptions that might very well have no bearing on reality. Do not give them a reason to jump to any conclusions. Create the illusion then let your work speak for itself.
You don’t have to straight up tell potential clients that you’re a big business. Rather, the tips above are going to create the impression that, regardless of size, you work like a professional. At the end of the day, that’s all they want to know.