The world is a big and noisy place. As a small business, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of megacorporations, left unable to make a real impression. Many businesses need help looking professional in a competitive market.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to look professional! The modern internet is full of software, tools, and tips to help you look the part. In this article, we’ll share some of our favorite tips on how to make your business look like the well-oiled machine that it is.
3 Concepts You Need to Understand to Look Professional
At its core, professionalism is about being able to provide what your customers need. That means you have to make a product or service needed by a specific target market, achieving what is known as product-market fit. It’s not enough to just be good at your job, though. You need to look like you’re good at your job too.
With that in mind, here are three business concepts you must understand in order to look professional.
- Basics of marketing. This entire blog is dedicated to helping you understand marketing. For more information, though, we suggest that you start with this article.
- Basics of branding. When people describe professional-looking businesses, they often describe well-managed brands. Branding is how you consistently convey the same message to your intended audience. We talk about that in more depth here.
- Basics of customer experience. The user experience can be thought of as the way people feel when they are interacting with your business. The easiest way to understand this is to think about the customer’s journey when they interact with your business.
16 Specific Ways Your Small Business Can Look More Professional Right Now
1. Get a PO Box.
Your business needs to have a mailing address. Even if you don’t ship products and don’t have visitors, you still need a physical address of some sort to use at the bottom of automated emails (a legal requirement). Using your home address, of course, is a bad idea.
PO Boxes are relatively cheap. You can keep one for about $120 per year and you can even sign up online.
2. Get a Google Voice Number.
Much like a mailing address, you need a phone number in order to be perceived as legitimate. You can use your cell phone number, but that both doesn’t look professional and it doesn’t scale. Google Voice will allow you to freely reserve a phone number that you can use for your business.
Bonus points: they will transcribe voicemails and send them to your email inbox!
3. Set up email addresses with your domain.
How would you feel about going to a dentist whose email is @gmail.com or @yahoo.com? It would probably seem a little out of place and unprofessional. It’d come across as a little too home-spun for their type of business.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to work around it. The vast majority of web hosting providers will allow you to set up email addresses with your own domain at the end. You can learn how to set that up here.
Shout out to Forbes magazine for this tip.
4. Create a website.
Less than two-thirds (64%) of small businesses have a website. It’s a surprising statistic, to be sure, but it’s also a good one. This means that by setting up a simple website – something that’s not hard to do these days – you can set yourself apart from one-third of your competition!
5. Make a good logo.
As well as having a website, all the big companies have a logo, and you should, too. People notice images before words, so a logo can make your brand instantly recognizable. Outsource a logo design on Fiverr or post your requirements on CrowdSpring and choose a design from a large variety of professionally created submissions.12 Ways To Make Your Growing Small Business Look Even Bigger, Cox BLUE
6. Start content marketing.
Content marketing can range from short social media posts to blog articles to video essays on YouTube. There are various different forms of content marketing that you can pursue, and really, it’s best to just pick one that you like.
The reason content marketing will make you look more professional is simple: people automatically begin to trust those who share their expertise freely on the internet. Just think about it! When you stumble across a web page on Google after searching for a term, you are predisposed to have at least some level of trust in the expertise of the person you are reading.
7. Don’t go cheap on photo, video, or audio.
One of the easiest ways to make your business look more professional is to invest in good photography, videography, and audio equipment. Most of these items are not terribly expensive either. Good lighting is cheap and can vastly improve the quality of your photos and videos. Good microphones can be as little as $75.
8. Set up your social media and maintain it daily.
Fifty-four percent of social media users use social media to research businesses. By simply having a presence – not a massive following, just a presence – you make yourself more visible to the people who research brands using social media.
9. Consulting? Set up Zoom and Calendly.
If you run a consulting business like we do, Zoom and Calendly will quickly become your best friends. Zoom is an easy-to-use and commonplace video chat software and Calendly helps businesses show customers when they are available. The two systems integrate beautifully, and with about an hour of work, you can set up a Calendly link where people can schedule Zoom calls with you!
10. Clean up accounting and invoicing.
Nothing looks more official than a bill on a company template. Software such as QuickBooks Online makes it easy for small businesses to create professional-looking invoices which can be paid online by credit card or bank transfer.
11. Go to industry events.
Most business owners, and people in general, understand the importance of networking. Industry events, in particular, are an especially good way to network. By attending these events, your business will appear more professional. Not only will people at the events recognize that you took the time to attend them, but people will also take you more seriously when you post photos from the events on social media.
12. Use professional job titles.
A lot of businesses like to use jokey-sounding job titles. This isn’t a good idea. Stick to well-known and easy-to-understand job titles.
13. Check all your customer-facing documents.
Every web page, social media account, and piece of paper that your customers could see needs to look good. You need to have consistent branding and error-free documents. Take some time to review every customer touchpoint with a particular focus on materials that they will keep for a long time.
14. Write a book.
Write a book. It was mentioned above before but it’s important to reiterate this. One of the easiest and best ways to gain instant credibility is to write a book. The costs are very minimal compared to the lasting impact it can have. Imagine seeing your book on Amazon or being to give a potential client a printed copy of your book. Use services like Createspace to print your own copies of your book.50 Tips To Make Your Small Business Look Bigger, Secret Entourage.
15. Get business cards.
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but business cards are an excellent tool for word-of-mouth marketing. For a very small investment you can get business cards from an online service like Vistaprint or Moo. In the long run, you’ll probably save money by getting them professionally printed rather than running through a couple of ink cartridges at home, plus they’ll look much better.9 simple ways to make your business look more professional, BigCommerce.
16. Be confident. Seriously.
Confidence goes a long way. This is not just an axiom that has been drilled into the minds of children from an early age. Indeed, this conventional wisdom is backed up by science. Confident people are more persuasive, and thus, more likely to succeed!
With a little forethought and planning, your business can look very professional without too much effort. We hope that by sharing some of our favorite tips that your business is able to look as good as it is!