Your business may be tiny and very new. Uncle Fred might be your Warehouse Manager (meaning he’s the person who stands in your garage packing the orders) and Marketing might just consist of your cousin Jane posting on social media in between uni lectures.
But that doesn’t mean your business shouldn’t and can’t appear to be professional. Here are our seven tips for a professional approach that will stand you in good stead however big and successful your business becomes.
Have an attractive, easily navigable website and a social media presence
If you don’t know someone who can set up a website for you properly, pay to get it done; it’s worth every penny. And pay out for your own domain name. Having your business web address end with wordpress.com or wix.com does not give a professional appearance. Ensure you update it regularly with fresh, relevant content and have a contact page. For more tips, see nine necessary features for a small business website.
You should also have a presence on at least two social media platforms. Automate posts to save time and ensure that the person running your social media accounts is level-headed and reliable. Online spats are not professional and do nothing positive for your company reputation!
Have a professional email address
These are often offered alongside a website and will tie in with your site name. Your business needs at least one dedicated email account with a signature that includes contact details and a link to your website. Keep your emails to customers or clients professional and to the point.
Remember that first impressions count
If you or your employees come face to face with the public, you should all ensure you’re smart and polite. Uniforms may not be necessary or appropriate, but name badges with a job title included are a good idea.
Similarly, if customers or clients come into your business premises, everything should be neat, tidy, clean, operational and fully compliant with health and safety regulations. Trailing cables, dusty surfaces and malfunctioning toilets aren’t going to win you any customers.
Register and advertise widely
At first glance, this may not seem related to professionalism, but if clients see your name appear on local listings, online business searches and in print, it will give your business an air of legitimacy and people will be reassured by their – and everyone else’s – familiarity with your business name.
Offer great customer service
Be dependable. If you offer services, ensure appointments are properly booked, kept and run on time. If you offer goods, make sure you’re offering quality products, deliver them on time and offer swift refunds or exchanges if there’s a problem.
Answer customer queries and complaints quickly, whether they’re by phone or email or via social media. People are quick to take to social media if they’re complaints aren’t dealt with swiftly or appropriately.
Consider VAT registration
While you may not be obliged to register for VAT, registering voluntarily can sometimes be a good idea. It’s best to discuss the implications with your accountant, who will know the ins and outs of your business. Having your VAT number on your paperwork can help with that appearance of professionalism, and some suppliers will only deal with VAT registered companies.
Keep paperwork and payments under control
Send quotes and invoices promptly and be sure to include (and adhere to) a payment terms policy. Make sure you pay your bills on time too; word of mouth can be a negative as well as a positive!
Keeping track of your finances and invoicing doesn’t need to be difficult, there are free accountancy software solutions out there.
Not only will the likes of Pandle ensure the financial side of your business remains professional, they’ll also save you time. They will allow you to keep track of your business finances and many will automatically send out reminders for due or overdue payments.
Professional, dependable companies will gain clients or customers by word of mouth and online recommendation, and they’ll retain them too. So, make sure your business looks, sounds and appears professional – and that it really is. Happy, confident customers are repeat customers!
What do you do to ensure you come across professionally? Please share your thoughts or tips in the comments.