Starting a business and winning over clients who only want to work with mature companies is challenging for most startup entrepreneurs.
So how do you convince the industry that while your business is a startup, you and your team are not? The need for a high-end workplace is out of reach for most startups, but this shouldn’t stop you from presenting well when you meet with clients.
You’ll need to make sure prospective clients are not left with the impression that your business is just a group of friends freelancing out of a garage.
Here are some tips you can use to make sure your business has the perfect first impression to win over customers.
Look the Part
We’ve all heard the saying, “First impressions last.” This could not be truer than in the world of business. You may not have the big bucks (yet), but that doesn’t mean that you should dress poorly. How you present yourself matters. When you meet with clients and partners, you are literally the face of your business. If you look sloppy, that negative first impression may last a long, long time and affect your future prospects.
Invest in a couple of good business suits and business casual attire for meetings, presentations, and other business-related matters. To up the ante, print company IDs and wear them with custom lanyards emblazoned with your company’s logo. It not only communicates professionalism but also pride in what you are doing.
Dress to the standard expected in your industry. If you’re a new tech startup – dressing in a suit may not be appropriate. However, in some sectors like finance, if you’re meeting with top executives, then you’d wear a suit.
Online Assets That Impress
Invest in an optimized website that focuses on UX (user experience). Make sure your branding collateral is consistent and professional.
Use a design agency to create the logo, images and video and use them on your social media profiles.
For most businesses, it’s not enough to have just a Facebook or LinkedIn page. You will need to consider other platforms too, including Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and so on. Your customer demographic will dictate where you spend the most time online marketing your business.
Your website is the face of your business and is your first opportunity to impress your customers.
Whether you opt to use free DIY platforms or hire professionals to do the work, make sure that your website follows best practices in design and navigation for a smoother user experience. Your domain name is ideally the name of your business, but there’s still room for some creativity as long as you don’t step into campy territory. Lastly, make sure to include all the necessary information – address, phone number, email address, and a contact form are the basics – to make it easier for people to contact you.
Get a Business Address and Phone Number
Some businesses literally start from home. There are even well-established professionals who don’t have physical office space. However tempted you might be to list your home address as your business address, it’s a dangerous practice. The easiest solution is to pay for a virtual office space or to get a box from the local UPS store or post office to have a standard street address you can use to receive your mail.
The same goes with your telephone number – you don’t want your personal phone flooded with business-related texts and calls. It also makes you prone to sending the wrong message to the wrong person. There are several options to get a dedicated business phone number. Setting up a new cell phone line for your business is one. You can also set up a Google voice number (which is a lot cheaper), or even get a toll-free 800 number from services like Grasshopper.
Use Professional Tools
From handling your finances to managing your workload, several tools are available online to make your life a more efficient and more professional business owner. Using these tools will also orient you on most of the ins and outs of business processes, which can help you optimize your own operations.
Professional Communication, All the Time
Avoid sending emails with text messaging abbreviations and smileys and emojis (use these like spices – occasionally and sparingly). Before hitting “send”, reread your message and correct all typos. Ditch the “Sent from my iPhone” footer and compose a professional signature with all your contact details. These small, seemingly insignificant details mean big when trying to communicate your professionalism to your clients.
Another small but important detail is CC-ing all those involved in a project. This helps define jobs and roles in your company, even if your colleagues are your roommates. CC-ing, your team members, also show your customers that you are not working alone and that a competitive group of people is working to achieve their desired business results.
Once you’ve established that you are indeed capable and trustworthy, the next step is delivering on your promises to your clients. And then comes perhaps the most important part: keeping your customers happy so that they will not only stay with your company but also bring in more potential clients through word of mouth about your excellent services. Good luck!