One key way to establish trust and credibility in your industry is to give the appearance that your company is much larger than it is. Even if you have a small budget, you can invest in products and services that allow you to look and feel more like a corporation, even though you’re still a small business.
1. Get a central business address.
If you’re running your business from home, it can be dangerous to list that address online.
Whether you pay for virtual office space in your city or simply opt to get a box from your local UPS store, you’ll have a standard street address you can use to receive mail.
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Many of these services also allow you to receive packages from FedEx and UPS so you can separate home and business purchases with ease. Some services will also scan your mail, and send it to you via email, to make it easier to keep up with what’s coming in so you don’t have to physically go pick up your mail every day.
2. Use larger invoice numbers.
If you’re sending out quotes and invoices to clients, start with higher numbers.
This gives the appearance that you’ve been in business longer than you have been and facilitates buyer trust and confidence. If you use a small invoice number like 12 or 20, it may make the customer feel like you just opened your business last week. Even if you did just open your business last week, you don’t want to project that image to your customers.
Many invoicing solutions, such as PayPal and Quickbooks allow you to choose your starting invoice number, so you can keep things organized for your accounting and bookkeeping needs.
3. Use a virtual private branch exchange (PBX).
A PBX is a telephone system that allows you to switch calls between various lines while allowing all employees to share the same single phone system. Instead of investing thousands of dollars in a physical PBX system, turn to a cloud-based option that uses voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) like Skype.
You’ll get to choose your own phone number, or port an existing number over, and you’ll be able to provide multiple extensions for extension-to-extension dialing within your company. With a virtual PBX, you can also back your business with a toll-free number and have a virtual answering service direct users to the right department to address their issues.
4. Don’t use a formal title on your business card.
If you’re a one-person operation, it’s clear you’re the CEO. But, what’s not clear is why the CEO would be doing everything in the business. Until your business grows to include multiple employees or contractors, just skip using a title on your business cards and other communications altogether.
5. Pay special attention to your website.
Your website is the face of your business and is open 24/7. There are many ways you can create a professional looking, quality website, even on a budget.
With free platforms like WordPress, you can invest a few hundred dollars into your domain, hosting and a premium theme and be up and running in a couple of hours. Or, you can hire a professional designer to create a completely custom look for you.
Regardless of which route you take, make sure to include essential information such as your address, phone number, hours of operation, email address and a contact form, so people can easily reach you.
If your sell physical products or services, one way to make your company look bigger is to include an online store option. This is also affordable and easy to do with a number of solutions online. Just make sure you have the tools you need to ship orders in a timely manner.
When it comes to the copy on your website, use plural language like “we” instead of "I." This will automatically suggest you have a larger team of employees working for you.
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6. Convert your sole proprietorship to an LLC.
Though it will take a bit of cash, there are several online legal assistance services to help you. Laws and procedures vary by state but consider taking the time to convert to an LLC, also known as a limited liability corporation. Even solopreneurs can benefit from an LLC.
With an LLC, you can choose to file taxes as if you were a corporation, which stops the business from being taxed through your personal federal tax return. Registering an LLC requires less paperwork than registering an S-Corporation or a C-Corporation.
With an LLC Operating Agreement, you’ll be able to create the rules that govern your business. Otherwise, your state’s laws will be the default rules.
Under an LLC, the members are protected from liability. You are not personally liable for any judgments or debts against the company. As such, if your business runs into legal or financial trouble, your creditors are forbidden from seeking your personal assets, such as your home or car.
Though it may feel deceptive, there’s nothing wrong with putting on a bigger face to the world. As your company grows, you’ll bring on additional staff to handle the load, and this way, you’ll be ready for it all from the start.