When you work for someone else, your employer provides you with a computer, a phone, an email address and business cards. The company has a logo, a website and procedures established for how to get the work done.
But, when you work for yourself, you start with none of that. It’s up to you to provide these things for your business. And even though many solo professionals have come from a corporate past, they don’t bring many of these items into their own businesses – and that’s a mistake.
As a solo, home-based professional, you may assume that because you are small, you’re under the radar and can get by without pulling together all of the fundamental components of your business. And, because you are likely extremely busy, wearing numerous hats and juggling non-stop responsibilities every day, it’s very easy to push these things to the back burner, thinking they are non-essential.
However, ignoring these things can have a detrimental effect on the professionalism you convey to others. Whether you’re just starting out or already established and sitting pretty, there are simple things you can do to let the world know that you mean business – and they are far from non-essential. Following are five things every home-based, small business owner should consider:
Obtain a real email address. This doesn’t mean using Gmail, AOL, Yahoo! or Hotmail. If you have a registered domain (www.YourCompany.com), it’s just a few more steps to use it for email (email@example.com). It’s worth the little bit of extra effort to demonstrate that you’re serious. Please leave firstname.lastname@example.org behind!
Get a professional business card. Your card makes an impression every time you hand it to someone. A small investment in a professional-looking card will be a good one. Have one designed by someone experienced in doing this, with up-to-date information and nice card stock. It will be well worth your small amount of money and time.
Have a professional head shot taken. This should be retaken every couple of years and used on your website, your LinkedIn profile, your bio, etc. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be done by a photographer in a professional setting.
Make sure your business has a consistent look and feel. This includes your website, presentations, brochures, etc. Anything you show to clients, prospects and others should feel consistent, instead of reflecting a new expression in creativity in each piece. Use the same fonts and colors, as well as similar wording in the way you describe who you are and what you do throughout all of your materials.
Don’t skimp on your tools. Make sure you have what you need to run your business well, including a good computer, a reliable printer, and a dedicated place to work without background noises, especially important in a home-based business environment. Invest in the software you need not only to do your work, but to maintain your business on the back-end, too.
All five of these things are easy to implement and relatively inexpensive. While it may seem you have a never-ending to-do list, with other tasks taking priority, by investing a small amount of time and money into the five above areas, you will give your prospects, clients and partners a better impression of your business – which in turn can lead to greater success for your company.
A business workflow and logistics expert with 25 years of experience, RocketGirl Solutions Founder Belinda Wasser is hired by small businesses on a contract basis to act as their part-time “business manager.” For more information, visit www.rocketgirlsolutions.com.