Don’t get the wrong idea. We aren’t advocating trickery. What we’re suggesting you do is up the professionalism of your small business.
Does a client really need to know you work out of mom’s basement? All they care about is whether or not you can deliver. And in truth, that’s all that really matters.Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a secretary or a fax machine stand between you and a new client. Employ these seven low-cost resources and nip those problems before they cost you new business.
Mom’s basement, no more
For a reasonable rate you can rent impressive office spaces – for as little as one hour to one year and beyond. Companies like Regus, Intelligent Office, and Green Desk will hook you up with well-equipped-conference rooms, seasoned secretaries, printing stations, kitchens…the works.
We’re a fan of Regus and have used their offices a handful of times, taking advantage of their locations when on business in Hong Kong and Mountain View. They don’t display Regus branding and are always abuzz with people. The office space never fails to impress our clients.
Missed calls = missed opportunities
Often times that first call is a client’s first impression, so make it count. What kind of vibe does it give off when the head of a company is answering his or her own calls?
There are a handful of bundled service providers that offer professional greetings, voicemail, online faxing and conference calling for affordable prices.
Our personal favorite is Ruby Receptionists — a group of cheerful, live virtual professionals that are fully capable of understanding your business and support you from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. They deliver the perfect mix of friendliness, charm and professionalism.
Group screen sharing
We have a premium account with Join.Me, which has never failed to meet our needs. It’s an intuitive hassle-free screen-share that allows you to “have the conference, skip the room”. There’s a free “basic” version, but my experience with it is that it tends to be slow to display. You can also upgrade Skype to its premium Group Screen-Sharing service, which gets the job done.
There are a handful of free and cheap online invoicing tools. They offer clean solutions to digital time tracking, expense sheet organization and client invoicing. We use Freshbooks and are very pleased with its ease of use and its Basecamp and Zendesk plug-in app integration. You can also design it to custom-fit the look of your brand. Other reasonable options: Harvest and Tradeshift.
Put your company on the [Google] map
Even if you’re working out of a cardboard box, throw its location up on Google Maps and link it to your “About Us” or “Contact” pages. Just a quick glance at the Google Map screen grab will reassure potential clients that you exist somewhere on earth.
And if you’re a ten man team, with two coders living out West, guess what? You’ve just opened up a West Coast office. If you’ve got a team, even if its just two people, and they can accurately represent your company, then there’s no reason why their office space shouldn’t be listed on your site.
How are you accepting payments?
It’s hip, it’s tech-forward and it can process thousands of dollars of payments with a simple swipe. And its quick, Square will process your payments within 24 hours of being taken. The product itself is free…the only downside is that it charges you 2.75% per transaction.
Build out your LinkedIn Presence – after all, it’s free
I touched on this in a recent blog post, here. There’s a lot you can do between adding job openings, building out your product and services page, and offering promotions. These tactics will contribute to supporting your online conceptional establishment of your company as a industry player.
Now go and make your small business look big.